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The Dining Guy - Food, Fun and David
2367 Market Street
San Francisco, California 94114
Cuisine : Seafood and more
Loved: Fun see-and-be-scene ambiance on their heated outdoor patio
To Die For : Seafood stew, Dungeness crab sandwich, ahi tuna tartare
Prices : $-$$ (Inexpensive-moderate)
Hours: Brunch: 11:00 AM.-3:30 PM Saturday-Sunday;
Lunch: 11:30 AM -2:30 PM Monday-Friday
Dinner: 5:30 PM -9:30 PM Sunday-Tuesday;
5:30 PM -10:00 PM Wednesday-Thursday
Noise Level: Tolerable
Service: Little slow, but for the most part, quite attentive
Good to Know : Reservations accepted in person, by phone or online
Major credit cards accepted
On-street parking and on-street smoking
Once, on a fishing trip with my family, my dad told me how important it was to throw a bad catch back into the sea. After several recent visits to Catch, located in San Francisco's Castro District, I must readily admit this one is a keeper.
The building has been home of the first theater in the Castro (built in 1912 by a local businessman, Merle Smith), one of the sites of Harvey Milk's famous Castro Camera and the offices of the world famous NAMES Project Foundation offices. In the late 1990s, the building fell into disrepair and was vacant for three years until owner David Weiss bought the building and began an extensive three-month renovation. Catch finally opened in September of 2002.
A San Francisco native, Weiss opened his first restaurant at age 19 in British Columbia, and later opened several sandwich shops and restaurants throughout the Bay Area in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1995, Weiss, along with two business partners, opened the first Pasta Pomodoro restaurants, eventually expanding the chain to more than 20 restaurants.
"I love the challenge of being in the restaurant business," says Weiss. "This is the hardest business to succeed in, but it's what I love to do."
The atmosphere at Catch is comfortably modern, with seating for 90 people throughout the restaurant and 14 people at the back-lit bar topped by salt water aquariums. Diners are surrounded by a player piano (used for nightly jazz performances), 150-year old former horse troughs used as planters, and modern works of art lit by hand-blown glass wall sconces. On a recent breezy weekend afternoon, brunch goers chatted noisily while watching people strolling down Castro Street. Several stopped in to ask Weiss, who was acting as host, about making reservations or to look over the brunch and dinner menus.
And speaking of food, it's quite tasty. Chef Amy Dittmar's menu, as mentioned on Catch's website, is best described as "Californian style seafood with Mediterranean influences." Dittmar owned and operated several restaurants in the Southwestern United States. After attending the University of Texas and the California Culinary Academy, and joined Catch in 2003.
Starters are excellent, including a superb ahi tuna tartare ($12.00), rich fried kalamata and green silician olives with crumbled feta cheese ($3.50) and tender grilled artichokes with lemon pepper aioli ($7.95). On previous visits, the tuna tartare was too salty and overpowered by too much lemon juice. However, a recent brunch visit provided a pleasant surprise of no tartness and a wonderful, rich tuna flavor. Our server mentioned the recipe had been changed. In a word," Kudos!" The butter lettuce and arugula salad with pine nuts and shaved asiago cheese ($7.50) was also a hit, satisfyingly simple but quite filling. The pine nuts added a nice texture to the mix and complemented the cheese well.
The Dungeness crab sandwich with melted gruyere ($13.50) was outstanding.
The crab was fresh, flakey, and delicate; the gruyere blended perfectly with its subtly seafood flavor. The accompanying French fries were light, crispy and delicious. Sauteed mussels with French fries and pernod ($10.95) also were fresh and delicious. In case you don't like seafood, don't miss the burger on a foccaccia bun ($9.50) , which was big and juicy, accompanied by the above-mentioned light and crispy fries. The grilled chicken sandwich with roasted red peppers and smoked mozzarella ($8.75) is also a good choice.
With several mediocre restaurants in the Castro District, Catch is a refreshing place to see and be seen. If you're looking for a great place to socialize and eat good seafood, Catch is the place to be.
Betty's List Restaurant Review
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