Ask for a table on the balcony of Catal’s second floor for a view of Disneyland’s fireworks show.
Nestled in the center of the Downtown Disney District, Catal Restaurant appeals to Disney lovers and diners that want a change of scenery from the hustle and bustle of the theme park surroundings. Known for its upscale American-Mediterranean fare, the eatery’s new executive chef, Timothy McDowell, brings his culinary expertise to the table.
Inspired by his family’s love of food, Chef McDowell began his culinary profession as a line cook with Hillstone Restaurant Group in Scottsdale, Ariz. He then received his associate’s degree from Scottsdale Culinary Institute. He later moved on to work as the executive chef at Tempe’s Monti’s La Casa Vieja. After four years in Arizona, Chef McDowell made the trip back home to work as the executive chef for prominent culinary establishments such as the Cheesecake Factory, Wolfgang Puck Catering and the University of Southern California.
Most recently, Chef McDowell served four years in the United States Navy. He later found his calling while working as the executive culinary specialist for multiple admirals of the Pacific Fleet so that he could serve out his term as a United States sailor.
Intertwined with Catal Restaurant’s modern setting, Chef McDowell brings the rich flavors of nostalgia into a few new lunch and dinner menu items. I had the chance to catch up with Chef McDowell on his inspiration behind the new menu at Catal Restaurant.
“I didn’t really have a background in Spanish cuisine, I had more of a SoCal cuisine background,” says McDowell. “Shortly after getting this job, I dined at every single Spanish fine-dining restaurant in New York, and I just wanted a feel of every popular Spanish dish.”
I had the opportunity to try a few of Chef McDowell’s new menu items, and I guarantee that they won’t disappoint.
I was seated on the second floor of the restaurant overlooking the Downtown Disney District with an open view of Disneyland’s evening fireworks. (Tip: Ask your hostess for a table on the balcony of the second floor for a spectacular view of Disneyland’s evening fireworks show.)
For starters, the Ahi Bruschetta, (blackened pacific ahi, Mediterranean salsa, avocado, Sriracha, balsamic reduction on crostini) was a food item that I would happily eat for the rest of my life. As a seafood fan, I appreciated the size of the seasoned fresh cut of tuna. The appetizer was made even more heavenly with the combination of the salsa and layered avocado that complimented each other with each bite.
As for the entrées, it was a tie between the Porchetta (Salmon Creek pork loin and belly, honey sage jus, crispy sweet potato, grilled stone fruit) and the Diver Scallops (butternut squash puree, maitake, shitake and crimini mushrooms, crispy kale, olive vinaigrette).
The portion size for the Porchetta won’t disappoint. The honey sage works well with the pork loin, and it’s worth every dollar. As for the Diver Scallops, be warned that the dish included with only three scallops, but they were cooked perfectly to the point that when you finish your dish you’ll be satisfied. I enjoyed the three different mushrooms that were featured with this dish, and you can tell that it was cooked with incredible quality ingredients.
Lastly, dessert is a definite must. I really enjoyed the Tres Leches (white sponge cake, sweet milk, buttermilk whipped cream, raspberries, toasted coconut). It’s a different take on your traditional Tres Leches, but never fear it was on a whole other level. Just cutting into the cake, it was so flavorful with the combination of the sweet milk and the coconut that you just couldn’t put your fork down.
As a person who enjoys casual and fine dining eateries, Catal Restaurant is well worth your time. The menu wasn’t unfamiliar to the point that I had to check online to see what a specific ingredient was or what kind of purée was used for the dish. I enjoyed this dining experience, and I’m looking forward to making a visit sometime in the future to taste more of Chef McDowell’s newest creations.
Whether you’re visiting the parks and want a change of scenery or if you’re looking for a new romantic place to eat, Catal Restaurant should be on top of your list.
Catal Restaurant is located at 1580 Disneyland Drive, Anaheim. Hours: Sunday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, visit patinagroup.com/catal-restaurant.