“All we could say at the end of the evening was.... WOW!”
It started at a charity fundraiser, popping a balloon and finding a gift certificate for Catalina inside. Three months later, on a weeknight where we are all running late, and a close friend showed up unexpectedly at 7:30PM and we're all hungry, wondering what's for dinner, and we decide to go to Catalina.
We had NO idea what to expect. I felt a bit under-dressed for the place when we walked in, but when we were greeted by Mario at the door, any and all apprehensions were forgotten. I had the feeling I/we were in over our heads, this place is fine dining, Spanish and Cuban with the emphasis on cuisine, as in an art form. I'm looking at the $50 gift certificate we won and remember thinking that'll buy us a bottle of water. Was I ever wrong.
From the time you sit down to the time you know you have to leave but don't want to, Catalina just kinda takes you over. Fresh plantain chips with homemade salsa/chimichurri is brought to the table, the wait staff offer you a wide variety of beverages from a full bar, great wine list, or simply water if you wish. The beautiful wife broke down and chose the highly recommended Mojito, and I ended up in the wine list with a nice cabernet. The meals came with a fresh greens salad, choice of entrée with sides. The wife had Jack Daniels Bourbon Pork, with perfect rice and black beans and sweet plantains. I ended up with the grilled grouper with shrimp in garlic sauce. Both servings were enough for two people, incredibly prepared, perfectly cooked, and the pork center had what seemed to be a literal shot of Jack Daniels in the center, that woke you up as you got to it. The grouper was one of the best I've ever had ever. Our friend had the chicken in garlic sauce and really enjoyed it as well.
Service was excellent, water's always refilled, Mario swings by to make sure everything's as perfect as it should be, and drops off a free Mojito for the wife half way through the meal. Had to be one of the best Mojitos I've ever had too, not sure how they did it, but months/years of experimenting obviously paid off, you can't compare it to anything else in town.
As we're drifting off into a food induced coma, and the ladies are getting to-go containers to take the remainder of their large portions home for lunch tomorrow, our waiter comes by with the 27 dessert choices (really about like 12? but it went on forever and all were AMAZING!), and we shared the Almond crusted Amaretto cheesecake. OMG. I need a nap, I'm done, the wife is done, our friend is well done.
The check arrives. And even if they didn't deserve it in the least bit, we had to kinda look to see if all the things brought out were really on the bill. It seemed like we stole the place for what we experienced and what we paid. Carefully examining the bill, the second Mojito and a couple other things never hit the bill, and we were completely just overwhelmed with the quality, service, attention, atmosphere, we had NO issues paying the bill and leaving a very generous tip. This place is amazing, ranks up there with Le Dome, The Chart House, Morton's, Rusty Pelican with ambience, food, and service. I/we highly recommend this gem, and we're sorry we didn't try it sooner.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.