Instead of the typical smooth-tech musical backdrop, at Catalyst, Mick Jagger coos about not always getting what you want. Where is the trip-hop wallpaper? It becomes clear pretty quickly that chef William Kovel is up to something different.
Where, also, is the de rigueur flatbread? Instead of pizza, along with choice rock, this new spot on Technology Square offers bold pastas with luscious roasted squash or mushroom filling.
Both are wrapped in sturdy dough that withstands proper cooking through the interior without going gooey, and ladled with a buttery emulsion. Roasted escarole tops the former and hen of the woods the latter, enriching flavor and texture. Color is notable, too: Bright orange berries (aka carrot balls) enhance both the squash’s sweetness and the marigold colored sauce. Maybe Mick was wrong. You can always get what you want?
If Catalyst is physically enormous and unfussy, and built of muted tones, wrought metal, and reclaimed wood polished up as new, then the menu is focused and small — a better bet for freshness and detail. Two wonderful fish dishes are both finished with a pan roasting to just golden: Lemon sole sits on a bed of fennel, lobster and creamed leeks; cod on mussels and crushed potatoes with olive oil. Add a side of potatoes roasted in “dripping,” that is, animal fat, and mixed with sweet cipollini onions seasoned with lemon.
Of the desserts, a butterscotch and passion fruit pudding is oversweet and the tangy fruit lost. It works OK as a dip for the accompanying warm pound cake beignets. But, a chocolate fondant is a perfect creamy milk chocolate pate served with crunchy hazelnut streusel and banana sauce. A great change from the overdense, overdone heavy cocoa tortes.
What’s it going to cost?
Dinner destination or casual neighborhood joint? Catalyst is both. Drop in for drinks around the big midcentury mod fireplace and watch the leaves gather on Technology Square. Entrees: dinner $15-$28, lunch $10-$14.