Saturday, 1 March 2014

Catalano - and let there be brunch

Catalano Restaurant and Cicchetti Bar is located in/beside the Magnolia Hotel at Courtney St. and Gordon St., just a block up from the Empress Hotel.  Many restaurants have graced this space ($teak, steak, pub, etc) so it was exciting to hear that two veteran restaurants (Ferris' Oyster Bar & The Tapa Bar) would be partnering to open up something new and different. Touches from each restaurant can be found here at Catalano.

The interior has been spruced up - the entrance is more open and the bold coloured paintings & wood finishes give a warm feeling throughout.

Tiered seating breaks up the space, with the top portion eking out a view to the Inner Harbour. Our group was seated near the entrance, at a large reclaimed wood table that comfortably fit the 10 of us.

Brunch is newer to the restaurant's repertoire - but it fit the bill for a recent gathering of friends (rumours of good food, reservable tables and virgin visits for most of us).

Brunch menu and a cup of lovely loose-leaf tea.

The menu is wide without being tedious; from four types of 'continental' breakfasts (including juice & coffee/tea) to open faced omelettes, eggs benny, soft polenta & chorizo, granola, corn pancakes and more. Also - if you're having a later brunch, there are lunch options are available starting at 11am. Drink selection is also plentiful - both alcoholic and non-, coffee and a great selection of loose-leaf tea (a Ferris trademark).

First up - a pair of bennies. The Weekend Crossword - creamed leeks, crispy prosciutto topped with perfectly soft-poached eggs and lightly truffled-hollandaise. It was served with a wedge of a potato rosti and a little mason jar of cubed fruit. This dish was excellent - the egg yolks were practically orange and the prosiutto-leek-hollandaise was a great salty-creamy-tart combination. The second benny was a little more traditional - built on house-made pea meal bacon - lovely thick cuts that essentially translated to slices of pork loin (no skimping here!).

Weekend Crossword - creamed leek & prosciutto benny (check out those eggs! perfect!)

Eggs Benedict - poached eggs on house made pea meal bacon (thick!)

Next up - the Gina Lola - an open-faced omelette with caramelized onions, roasted veggies and goats cheese. Topped with a handful of fresh salad greens and served with grilled baguette & fruit jar. And the Traditionalist - eggs as you like (nicely scrambled fluffy here) served with thick slices of bacon (or sausage), potato rosti wedge, toast and homemade jam.

Gina Lola - opened faced roasted veggie omelette

The Traditionalist - eggs, bacon & potato rosti

And my last photo is one of the lunch items - a house made chorizo sandwich - with goats cheese, arugula & peperonata (stewed sweet peppers) on a portuguese bun served with a nice mixed salad (or fries, if you choose). The sandwich was a really good pairing of temperature (warm chorizo + cool accoutrements) and taste (spicy chorizo, sweet peppers, creamy cheese and peppery arugula).

House made chorizo sandwich & salad.

Overall, great food and service. I don't like writing about things that cheese me off, but I do like to 'toot' about things that are done right: nice, polite, knowledgable, seasoned servers make for a smooth dining experience. Catalano does just that. From important things, like detailed explanations of ingredients for allergy-concerns, to small touches, like hot-water refills offered to tea drinkers….and seeing the owners around the place (on a Sunday no less!) - you know it means they're dedicated to their restaurant.

We're already planning a return visit - both for dinner (reservations made already!) and another brunch (the Mr. Douglas' poached eggs and local octopus is calling my name).

Catalano Restaurant and Cicchetti Bar
619 Courtney Street

Mon-Fri from 11:30am-11pm (midnight on Fridays)
Sat/Sun Brunch 8am-2pm
Sat (regular menu) 3:30-midnight
Sun (regular menu) 3:30-11pm
Facebook: Catalano Restaurant & Cicchetti Bar
Twitter: @cicchettibar

Catalano Restaurant & Cicchetti Bar on Urbanspoon

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