2.5 stars for South Beach's Catch

 

2.5 stars for South Beach's Catch

catch_lobster

Victoria Pesce Elliott

Catch and South Beach make a perfect pair. They’re both hip, stylish, quirky, a bit garish and extremely expensive. Plus, they’re sprinkled with celebrity dust.The twin of a Manhattan Meatpacking District hot spot, this eclectic but mostly Asian eatery is owned by the EMM Group, which has more nightclubs than restaurants. It shows.

Once seated, be warned that meals are quick and squatters not happily tolerated. Young, actor-handsome servers are enthusiastic if a little pushy as they sing the praises of the celebrity chef, Top Chef season-three winner Hung Huynh, whose vibrant flavors and dramatic presentations are well suited to this clubby crowd. The menu he has created is competent and tasty, if mostly borrowed, with the best dishes combining salty, spicy, sweet, fresh and crunchy elements.

Ambience: If you want a coveted table upstairs, where soaring ceilings lend awarehouse vibe, you need not only a reservation but a name to drop. Cameron Diaz, Naomi Campbell and J Lo have been spotted nibbling up there. Easier to score, tables downstairs on the hotel lobby’s pretty terrazzo floor seem reserved for families, ahem, older folks and walk-ins.

What Worked

  • Vietnamese-style lettuce wrap served with half heads of iceberg lettuce, a cute, cup-sized copper pot of sake-marinated chicken chunks, a thin hoisin-like sauce, perfect squares of sliced cucumbers and tiny fried sweet potato threads
  • $89 Cantonese lobster (pictured) - two meaty Maine tails hacked down the middle and served, plump and juicy, in a
  • seriously spicy, green onion-laced brown sauce with hits of garlic, ginger and pepper
  • A stir-fried mélange of green beans withloads of ginger, shredded savoy cabbage and bits of scallion
  • The chef’s delicious signature scallop dish with a drizzle of caramel sauce and flourishes of microgreens
  • Fresh & large sushi rolls that do not pack extra rice
  • A spectacular Key lime donut - a warm pillow puff of fried dough drenched in a cheek-suckingly tangy lime glaze and served with a scoop of ultra creamy vanilla ice cream, dollops of lime curd and toasted swirls of merengue

 

What Didn't Work

  • A soft, slightly clammy round of pretzel
  • Rubbery lobster claws
  • Sushi rolls loaded with one too many ingredients and inexplicably served in orders of three or five
  • Terse menu descriptions are terse that require staff explanationa
  • Intrusive waiters that seem to have been schooled on how to oversell diners

 

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