Last month I had the pleasure of dining at the newly opened Catalyst in Kendall Square. Prior to this meal I had a chance to take a tour of the space while it was still under construction and speak with chef William Kovel. The finished space is attractive both inside and out. Chef Kovel indulged us in a tasting of several of Catalysts offerings from starters all the way to desserts.

Pickled vegetable salad with pepper cress and crispy onions

photo courtesy of Daisy
I never would have thought to order the grilled scallions with almond pesto but they turned out to be an unexpected delight. They were silky and tender and drenched in a rich pesto of olive oil and chunks of almonds. The crunchy and slightly sweet almonds were a fabulous complement to the soft scallions.

       Chicken liver mousse with grilled country bread; crispy quail with black mission fig gastrique, mizuna, and autumn berry jam; spice crusted hiramasa with orange-yuzu syrup and cucumber radish salad

One of my favorite dishes was the Jerusalem artichoke soup. Jerusalem artichokes, sadly, are not easy to find around Boston, though I have spotted them here and there at markets. Jerusalem artichokes, also known as sunchokes, are a favorite of mine, and hard to describe. Whole, I think they resemble small ginger root but with a smoother skin. When you roast them, the white flesh gets slightly translucent and the edges become a caramelized golden brown. I rarely have them in soup form and this was delightful–earthy, very creamy and just a hint of sweetness.

      Garganelli pasta with chicken oysters, bacon and black truffle butter;  squash tortellini served with braised escarole and pearled carrots in a creamy parmesan sauce; mushroom ravioli with hen of the woods mushrooms.

I always have high hopes for dessert and Catalyst’s delighted me. Catalyst’s chef de cuisine Anthony Mazzotta also serves as pastry chef. We were each presented with an elegant tasting of four desserts. The butterscotch and passion fruit pudding was my favorite even without the accompanying warm pound cake croutons. It was a unique flavor combination with the acidic and pungent fruit flavor perfectly complementing the richness of the butterscotch. I love creamsicle-flavored desserts and was excited for the coconut cake sandwich with creamsicle ice cream topped with chocolate ganache. I ended up eating it deconstructed though, as I found that the components, tended to cover up one another and I quite enjoyed the coconut and creamsicle flavors and wanted to be sure I enjoyed them fully. The Bosc pear tart was pleasant but more akin to a cake. The cantaloupe sorbet with hazelnut brittle was a wonderful flavor pairing, and as part of a quartet of otherwise decadent desserts, it was a welcome and refreshing component. I admit though I would probably never order it on its own.

I had a thoroughly pleasant experience at Catalyst and I am eager to return for small plates, pasta and certainly that sunchoke soup. The restaurant occupies a large space and I am curious to dine there as part of a smaller group. Other diners have raved about their experience at the bar. Chef Kovel does a wonderful job of incorporating seasonal ingredients so there are frequently new additions to the menu. Many thanks to William, Anthony and the staff at Catalyst for the delightful experience.

300 Technology Square
Cambridge, MA
Catalyst on Urbanspoon

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15 Responses to Catalyst

  1. Adam LIpkin says:

    That sounds scrumptious, Elizabeth! Did you happen to get any sense of how the restaurant handles gluten-free dining? I can’t find any info on their web page, but a lot of restaurants have GF menus (or info about GF choices) that aren’t mentioned online. Since my wife has celiac, that’s an important consideration for us (especially since the scallions and quail both look so tempting!).

  2. Erica says:

    Yum yum yum! I’d be all over those grilled scallions and the artichoke soup! Looks classy and delicious!

  3. It looks like this was a wonderful meal. I’m going to try to grill scallions at home!

  4. YAY! So glad you had a good experience at Catalyst! I was in the space during its construction as well- it’s AMAZING how beautiful it turned out!

  5. This dinner was excellent – I just wished my follow-up visit had been as impressive. I’m hoping it’ll be better when I decide to return in the coming months!

  6. Daisy says:

    such a great dinner!! i haven’t gotten back since but I’d love to go here again!

  7. That soup looks amazing! I would have never thought to take any variety of artichoke and make a soup. I went to Catalyst once for drinks and have been eager to return and try some of their food options…

  8. I still haven’t been back since our scrumptious meal – I will definitely get pasta again! Thanks again for arranging the dinner. hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend!

  9. Megan says:

    Such a great dinner! I went back a week or so later and was excited to get the squash pasta and garganelli again, but both were undercooked. I still want to go back and try again though! I also had an interesting onion soup on my second visit… it was pureed instead of served like typical onion soup.

  10. Emily says:

    I’ve been wanting to try Catalyst since it opened and your post/pictures just made me want to go even more! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  11. Shannon says:

    Haven’t made it back yet, but you’re reminding me that i want to 😉

  12. Joanne says:

    In my opinion, the desserts stole the show here!

  13. Catalyst looks so great! I love sunchokes as well, they are delicious!

  14. Taryn says:

    Everything looks so delicious – I’ve been dying to try this place. The desserts look particularly tempting!

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