Location: Houston

Date of visit: 10/18/2008

Do you ever hype yourself up for a movie before watching it, reading reviews, watching trailers, perhaps even hopping onto IMDB.com and scrolling through the memorable quotes, photos, obsessing over the actors, trolling Google obsessively for news tidbits, etc.? Then you finally go to said movie and because you know everything that’s going to happen before it happens (and are anticipating it with glee), everything is just… a hair… disappointing, especially when it ends, it’s all over, and you are a sad panda.

That was my experience with Catalan Food & Wine. I’d been anticipating the visit for so long that I was already intimately familiar with the menu. So when I ordered the highly anticipated foie gras bon bons, I was following a script… and wasn’t prepared when the restaurant deviated. I expected a gushy, melty, explosion of liquid foie gras. I got a warm, solid lump of foie gras in a hollow shell. And so on. Each dish was good, but not spectacular. I had been waiting for spectacular. I suppose I have only myself to blame for my disappointment.

Pre-wiring the meal made it worse for me, but even so, it was a more generously heavy meal than I am used to eating. Everything on the menu is laced with a shocking amount of fat (see: fried foie gras, cured lardo, pork belly). However; the hostess, ambiance, warm mood & lighting, and friendly service made the experience more than pleasant. We felt comfortable lingering over the many small plates and enjoying the dining experince without feeling rushed at any point.

The extensive wine list is accessible, but the best part is that no one came by more than once to ask if we needed help navigating it. At other restaurants, one can’t help but feel like a wine dunce when the waitstaff, manager, sommelier, second sommelier, his best friend, their cousin, and the wine guy from the street all come by to help with the wine choice because apparently you have been lingering over the wine menu for too long. And at a place with a wine menu like Catalan, one cannot help but linger. I haven’t found a white beaujolais anywhere else in town yet.

Recommended: Sweet potato soup w/chorizo, Foie Gras bon bons, Asparagus w/prosciutto, Pork Chop

Price: $150 for 2 people, including 1 bottle of wine & gratuity

Rating: 3/5 bacon slices – I’d return after I’ve forgotten about my last visit and feel like eating lots of things called LARDO.