A combination of passion & talent are behind the success that Catalan has achieved since opening in 2006. The Spanish driven tapas style menu is accompanied by a highly sophisticated wine list.
Chef Chris Shepherd runs the kitchen at Catalan, and is also a managing partner with the grandest of all grand sommeliers … Antonio Gianola. They both entered into this quest with restaurateurs Charles Clark & Grant Cooper, who own Ibiza Food & Wine Bar as well.
High ceilings with chandeliers accompany the dark wood décor throughout Catalan. Wine bottles cover the back wall, which is visible from the main dining room. The open kitchen showcases staff hard at work sending out eclectic food for enthusiastic guests.
Known for having a wine list like no other in Houston, Catalan also charges little over wholesale, with a generous pour.
The lunch menu offers small & large plates, soups & small greens, sandwiches, and big salads. The dinner menu has “street food” which includes Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Barcelona, Thai, Mexican, and even… I-10 East street food.
Foie gras can be added to any dish on the menu for $9. Catalan also offers bacon & goat cheese grits, whipped potatoes, redneck mac & cheese or cauliflower puree for $5.
The $5 Happy Hour menu offered at Catalan is inventive & amazingly affordable. This menu is available daily until 7 p.m. while dining in the bar or on the patio. Changing weekly, the options exude excitement.
While speaking with his greatness, Chef Chris, we discussed the Happy Hour menu and its super fabulousness. He was especially excited about the “I picked a peck of pickled pepper cheese fries” being featured.
Flatbread with pork belly is served with arugula & tomato, with the always exciting option of adding a fried egg for $1. AVH begs for flatbread without… pork belly.
The only items not ordered on the Happy Hour menu are the Old School Wild Boar Sloppy Joe & the Plate of Hot Smoky Cracklins… Double Yikes.
Happy Hour also includes Crab Croquette, with a meringue flavor that ends with a spicy kick. The creamy crab is lightly fried to perfection.
Let us not forget the drink specials… Selected wine is $5 a glass or $18 a bottle. Mixed drinks & different cocktails are $5, with Lone Star Longnecks at $1.75 & St. Arnolds at $2.50.
The Cucumber Salad consists of local teardrop tomato & mozzarella. Catalan also serves house greens with fresh goat cheese & local citrus vinaigrette. The Caesar salad is served with baby romaine & anchovy confit.
The Crispy Calamari is served with jalapeno lime dressing. This is no ordinary fried calamari, oh no, it is extremely light and full of flavor. The jalapeno lime dressing compliments this app in the best way.
The dinner menu offers “a selection of Houston made Pola and other Texas Artisanal cheeses.” Chef Chris explained that Pola is a local cheesemaker using ingredients from local farmers. Pola, which stands for Port Lavaca, is a business located in the Montrose area, and can be found at the Urban Harvest Farmer’s Market.
The Spicy Garlic Gulf Shrimp is served with toast. Dipping the toast into the spicy sauce brought unexpected happiness, leaving a perfectly unstuffed feeling after eating every bite.
His holy chefness recommended the Gulf Shrimp & Grits for my entrée, explaining this is one of the signature items on the menu at Catalan. Gulf Shrimp & Grits is served with goat cheese, spicy piquillo butter & bacon. After speaking with Chef Chris, he approved my request for… no bacon.
This entrée will forever be the greatest shrimp & grits gift sent from the heavens above. The goat cheese works amazingly well with the grits… a masterpiece of epic proportion.
The only words that could be spoken upon meeting this iconic chef were, “Infinity nice to meet you, chef.” Instantly morphing into a super dork, words were a chore. Chef Chris was preparing for pictures & an interview, yet still spent time speaking with me about AVH. Described by a server as being “as nice & gentle as a teddy bear,” this chef is an innovative super star.
FIVE: High 5!
FOUR: Please & Thank You
TWO: Double Wow
ONE: Wow + Ouch = Wouch
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