Rancho Mirage’s CATALAN

Rancho Mirage’s CATALAN

Sometimes there are restaurants that fly under my radar, places I’ve heard of, driven by, or read about in the press, but somehow just haven’t had the opportunity to try.  Catalan in Rancho Mirage was one of these places.  But fly under my radar no more, I’m now skywriting my praises of this relatively new eatery on Highway 111’s Restaurant Row.

Having opened the eatery in the spring of 2012, chef Drew Davis and his father/business partner Mark Davis have created a delightful dining experience that revolves around the cuisine of the Mediterranean—primarily Italy and Spain.  Drew (youthful looks notwithstanding) hails from a seriously schooled cooking background that includes studies at the Culinary Institute of America followed by stints at popular midwestern restaurants in Kansas City, a prestigious run at the celebrity haunt Nick and Toni’s in East Hampton, New York, and personal chef positions with some of the biggest names in Hollywood.  All that to say—the guy knows how to cook!

He and his team have assembled a menu that offers the freshest local and seasonal ingredients available in ways that makes any foodie’s palate go pitter-patter.  Tasty tidbits “for the table” include chicken liver with caramelized onion, roasted pears, and smoked mozzarella, or a Spanish Cured Meat Plate that had our table oooohing-and-aaaahing.  First courses include a unique garlic soup with fried spinach (must be tasted to be appreciated), some beautiful salads, and for the more adventurous diners (including moi!), sweetbreads with celery root puree, crispy pork belly with candied orange and Spanish olive sugo, and charred octopus.

Main courses are even more interesting, and I have to say, the seared scallops and the roast rack of lamb were both outstanding.  A nearby table was raving over the Catalan paella, and on my next visit I’m sure to try the braised short ribs or the grilled veal skirt steak, which my friend Robert raves about.  Some nice vegetarian and pasta dishes round out the choices.

This is one place I regret not trying sooner.  The spare, nicely-lit space, professional and unobtrusive service, well-chosen wine list, interesting cocktails—and food!—all add up to an inevitable speedy return.  So don’t just drive by this place.  Stop in to Catalan and savor.  www.catalanrestaurant.com