Food, drink, film and other random thoughts from The Lone Star State.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Rat Pack

The Catalina Room

4218 Lemmon Ave
Dallas, TX 75219
Phone: 214-526-5411

The Catalina Room now occupies the heavily renovated space formerly known as Lemmon Wok. It took the owner about a year to complete the remodel to his liking but it was worth the wait. I know a few people who are eternally grateful that Lemmon Wok is now gone.

Mark's mom, Terri & Mark @ Catalina

You expect Frank, Dean and Sammy to greet you at the door with a mouthful of clever one-liners and a battery of old classic tunes. This doesn't happen but the very lovely blonde in a tight black skirt and jacket does give you a complimentary glass of Rose Champagne. Its a bottomless glass that will be refilled throughout the evening. Right-o, nice start.

The live jazz band from the bar area propels you back to the 40's, as does the highback booth seating that occupies the perimeter of the dining room.

Catalina has become the date place for gays and lesbians. Each time I go I see exuberance of newly formed couples as they get their romantic evening off to a good start.

On weekdays the Catalina is a great conversation dinner spot. On the weekends, you are going to need to scream through an amplifier for the mere chance of being heard.

The Plate
Steakhouse menu with seafood options.

Seafood Gumbo: I'm a gumbo snob, its a product of having parents who lived in New Orleans for many years. Catalina's rendition stacks up nicely. Roux-based and silky, it imparts a French Quarter memory without the excessive heat that Cajun hands can sometimes add. Bits of onion, carrot and bell pepper and shrimp that have obviously been on a body building program; they were so big that 3 of them filled the bottom of the shallow bowl. Nice size offering too, this and salad would have sufficed as a meal.

Caesar Salad: Good, not stellar but still more than acceptable. Crisp lettuce, garlic crouton and a very mild (like forgot the anchovy kinda mild) dressing made for delicious start.

Fried Fish: The owner of Catalina is also the owner of Top Cat, the fish fry place further up Lemmon Ave. I had to try the fried fish just to satisfy my curiosity since I havent been to Top Cat ... yet. The flavor is fantastic! Crunchy but greaseless and the batter was so flavorful that you did not need the accomanying tartar sauce to make the fish pop. They cut the filet into four long strips attached at the tail making a kinda flower presentation. Very novel look but they left a few bones in the "boneless" offering.

Grilled Tuna: Touch my grilled tuna and I will hurt you with my fork. This is by far the best dish I've tried here. The grilled tuna comes with a sweet and garlicy soy-based dipping sauce. You will not need the dipping sauce because the tuna has been grillled over a mesquite plank and is very flavorful on it own. Of course, I got my tuna rare, so it was moist and had the consistency of filet mignon.

Kahlua Pound Cake: I normally don't do dessert but I tried someone else's order of this( no calories eating off of someone else's plate you see). OMG, this is fantastic; moist, chocolate density with just the right hint of Kahlua.

Overall I like the service here but be warned, on weekends, they are outrageously slow and prone to error. I know that the owner has been cross-training employees from his other restaurant, Top Cat, but I think they might need more schooling on how to operate in peak hours.

For the type of venue, everything is very reasonable; soups are $5, apps & salads are all under $10 and entrees are $10-20.

On Lemmon between Wycliff and the Tollway, which is conveniently located near the Cedar Springs strip should you decide to head out to the clubs post-dinner. Catalina is valet parking only.


Blogger Jim said...

Sounds awesome! I didn't think they would ever get their doors open. :) Gonna have to go try it out.

2:15 PM

Blogger The Persian said...

Ok Thats it..I'm coming to Dallas to have Dinner at Catalina's with you and Jim (above).Grilled Tuna, *drools*.You have such an incredible talent, your reviews read as if from the newspaper (probably better) Catalina sounds amazing, and relatively inexpensive.

3:11 PM

Blogger Jim said...

Definitely Jimbo, Jim and I will accompany you (since he's coming to Dallas and all :) We will be Jim cubed, an undeniable force!

5:49 PM

Blogger Jim said...

Thanks Jim, appreciate the compliment. That I love food must really come out in the writing!

Jim and I will be waiting for your Catalina run :)

5:50 PM

Blogger Adam said...

I have been sooo curious about that place. Thanks for the review!! It seemed like they would never open.

Shame about the valet parking. Oh wait, I live down the street from there now! Yay!

8:35 PM

Blogger Jim said...

Anytime Adam, enjoy the Catalina (particularly walking to it. Oh yeah, welcome to the neighborhood!)

10:14 PM


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