147 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10003
(212) 477-7799

For Father's Day, the fam decided to take DudeMan out to dinner. There was much consternation and hand-wringing about where to go. We wanted a place that was different but not weird, tasty but not stupid expensive, nearby and not a bus ride away. I happen to have a little black book of restaurants and, from among my rather large list, Shrink chose Ca Tch Def Ish, an oddly-named Thai seafood house. I will, hereinafter, refer to said oddly-named Thai seafood house as "Catchedefish" or "Catch De Fish" (what the other blogs call it... but that's not what the name on the window says), which is, really, almost just as funky.

One thing about Catchdefish that I didn't see coming was just how good it was. It was, to be blunt, amazing. Not one dish was bad, and almost all were great. I'm not one to give out stars of thumbs up, or any of those other BS ratings that lots of critics and Michelin guides like spooning out, but without hesitation, Catchdefish should be at the top of many of these lists.

Catchdefish is BYOB, and I didn't notice a corking fee on the bill. Sweet. I like BYOB places. I bought two bottles of vino, one pinot grigio for the appetizers and one rioja for the entrees, and spent under $30, which is about what each bottle would have cost had I bought it through the restaurant. All restaurants should have a BYOB option. Because, frankly, most people couldn't tell a merlot from a cabernet franc and to presuppose such is a silly exercise in pomposity. But hey, whatever makes a buck, right?

Anyway, the only downside to Catchdefish was the service. By the way, for what it was, the service was excellent. I will not dis the service. Here's the problem. It was terribly slow. This is because there was one (1) overworked waitress serving all of the tables as well as meeting guests and filling up the water glasses, and one (1) overworked chef making every dish from the soup to the salmon. So let's all cut them some slack, shall we? Go to Catchdefish to relax and have a good meal, not to grab something before a show or some other tightly scheduled thingamabob. I guess you could also make the argument that the acoustics were horrible and you almost had to scream across the table, but actually, that just made it more laid back. You weren't worried about disturbing the people sleeping at the next table, as was my experience at DB Bistro Moderne.

Wine aside (and I should have bought a third bottle), what did we get? Well, the menu at Catchdefish is not your standard variety. First, you pick the type of salad or sauce that you want your fish or meat served with, then you pick your fish or meat. This allows you to have a menu combination of somewhere between 60 and 100 things, depending on what's available. You could literally eat there every day for three months and not have the same thing twice, not counting specials, even if they didn't touch their menu.

For starters, Dudeman ordered the Hot and Sour Lemongrass Soup with Sea Bass. Truly a great soup. Possibly one of the best hot and sour soups I have ever had. Not so spicy that you couldn't finish it, but spicy enough to get just the right amount of runny nose. The sea bass was perfect and the whole soup begged to be twice the size so you could eat it for another ten minutes. I will say this though. Remember my comment about the one overworked waitress and the one overworked chef? Well, the soup had come and been eaten by the time that the rest of the appetizers showed up. And it took a verrry long time to get the wine corked. But while things started off spotty, the food was good enough that we kept out mouths shut and our minds open.

DudeMan also ordered the Crab Cake, served with a spicy tartar sauce. To be fair, he was not very impressed. I, on the other hand, along with everyone else, thought that it was delicious. This isn't the standard crab cake you'd get at a European/American seafood restaurant. Instead, it was almost a crab cream. It was exceptionally smooth and flavorful. Those who prefer something heavy on the breadcrumbs will be disappointed. I was not. Shrink ordered the Grilled Jumbo Shrimp. This dish, while liked by both Shrink and DudeMan, was something that bro and I felt was generic. Not bad, but I can make my own grilled shrimp at home and it'll taste the same. There just wasn't any oomph to this dish.

Meanwhile, Bro ordered the Fresh Rolls, a shrimp and crab and basil roll, wrapped in lettuce and served cold instead of deep fried and served greasy. The fresh rolls won't be for everyone, but they are an extremely light, clean-tasting dish (if that makes any sense) and your friends on a diet will certainly appreciate this as a recommendation. Many of you will have had similar lettuce rolls in other southeast Asian restaurants and while this may not be remarkably different from those, the end result was nothing I could possibly complain about. Everyone at the table liked them. My choice was the Clam Soup. The broth, made from beer, broth, butter and garlic, was so amazing that I can't fully describe it to someone that hasn't actually had the dish. Picture the butter you dip lobster in, add that garlicyness that comes from good escargot, couple it with a seafood broth and fresh cracked pepper and maybe you'll get the gist of what I ate. Oh my God was this good. That's all I have to say. I'll come back just for the soup.

My entree was the only non-fish item we ordered during the entire meal, save the dessert. And I chose duck... which lives on the water. So there. This dish the Duck with Green Curry Sauce was very good. Not fatty, but somewhat on the tough side. I suppose that ducks generally are somewhat gamier than, say, chicken, due to their being entirely dark meat, but I have certainly had more tender examples. It came with asparagus, peppers, zucchini, and eggplant. The sauce paired with the duck very well and gave it some tang. Shrink felt that it was too spicy, but I thought it was fine. I also ordered a side of Sticky Rice and Coconut Rice. I would have liked sticky coconut rice, but alas, none was to be had. Both rice side dishes were good compliments to the meal and I think that everyone felt that the decision to order them was a good one.

Bro chose the Avocado and Mandarin Orange Salad with Red Snapper. Shrink opted for the similar Mango Salad with Red Snapper. Bro's orange salad came with avocado, oranges, olives, shallots, raisins, mint leaves and a chili-lime juice. Delicious and very light. I had a similar feeling about the mango salad, which came with shredded mango, sweet peppers, shallots, tomatoes, raisins, mint leaves and a mango-lime juice. As I mentioned, both Bro and Shrink ordered their salads with Red Snapper, which was served perfectly. So moist and tender and light and almost fluffy. Both are excellent hot summer dishes. Add a glass of cool white wine and you won't be disappointed.

The weakest entree, which was still by no means bad, was DudeMan's choice. He ordered a special, the Catch De Basil, a mixed shellfish stew. New Zealand mussels, little neck clams, jumbo shrimp and scallops served over broccoli, pepper, chives, and green beans in a chili-basil sauce. He felt that it was just okay, if not somewhat mediocre. And I have to agree that it's not going to win any awards. Nothing in the dish stood out and all of its flavors just blended into each other. With so many other outstanding dishes on the menu, this item can be easily skipped.

Finally, we ordered desserts. I ordered an iced coffee, which unfortunately came sweetened, and Bro ordered a (weak and rather generic) jasmine tea. I also ordered the Tiramisu, which came in two slices and was delicious. This may have been one of the best tiramisus that I've eaten in quite some time and Catchdefish isn't Italian. It was so light and smooth that it felt like you were eating a big triangle of fluff. I absolutely recommend it. Bro and Shrink chose the Lychee Sorbet, which Bro and I liked a lot, but which the Rents thought was just okay. I think that perhaps they have never had any lychee dishes before and weren't expecting the odd bitter raspberry tang. Dudeman picked the Green Tea Iced Cream, which he wasn't that fond of but which everyone else liked. Very smooth and creamy. Very bittersweet. Very green tea-ish. All in all, a successful dessert on top of a successful meal.

Two Soups, three appetizers, four entrees, two sides of rice, four desserts, one coffee, and one tea, plus tax and tip was just a bit under $180. (BYOB wine not included)

You Might Also Like



The contents of this website/weblog are the property of its author and are protected under the copyright and intellectual property laws of the United States of America. The views expressed within are the opinions of the author. All rights reserved.

Readers are free to copy and distribute the material contained within, but such external use of the author's original material must be properly attributed to the author. Attribution may be through a link to the author's original work. Derivative use is prohibited. The borrower may not alter, transform, or build upon the work borrowed.

The author is free to change the terms of this copyright at any time and without notice. At the written request by the borrower, the author may choose to waive these rights.