I figured since this has a new name, new location and new menu it deserved a new thread. I will try to link @corvette_johnny reviews to this thread. I was flying solo last night so I decided to check this place out due to the extensive steak listings on their menu. I should start this with the fact I was never at the prior Catch, so I cannot compare the two.
Let me start with I’m not a big “Red Bank” guy. I’ve lived in the area a long time, I was “there” when Ashes first opened and Bueno Sera was a serious restaurant, but Red Bank jumped the shark a long, long time ago and I really gave up on it. I went to Catch19 really hoping to like the place as I have so far with 26 West. Especially to get a great steak without having to throw support towards the “Char Culture”.
Anyway, I arrived solo at 7:00 pm on Thursday night and found a seat at the mostly full bar. I was only at Gotham once, and I don’t really remember the decor but from what I remember it was heavy maroon / burgundy colors and a much darker environment. This is much brighter with light blues and a very glitzy towards somewhat gaudy decor. The front dining room was nice, the bar area is excellent and although I didn’t go in the back dining room or upstairs the rear dining room is centered around an open/glass kitchen which I do not remember Gotham having. Although leaning towards gaudy I did like it.
As I said the bar was crowded but the single bartender handling the bar was doing an adequate job with keeping people hydrated and serving food etc. (there was another bartender doing service). Honestly for the size of the bar and the amount of people he did an excellent job keeping things flowing, although his service was lacking in many finer aspects besides getting drinks and food placed in front of you, those details will follow.
I was greeted by the bartender, given menu’s and my drink all in a timely manner. Shortly after sitting next to two women, I heard them questioning the bartender where their food was, apparently they were waiting awhile. Maybe 5-10 minutes after their inquiry a dish came, they immediately inquired where the other dish/appetizer they ordered was and the bartender responded it would be out shortly. The one woman was waiting for the others dish to arrive before eating, it was easily 10-15 minutes before the other woman’s appetizer arrived. The bartender replied as he served her “Sorry I guess they had to go to the Mediterranean for those shrimp”. (oddly both women ordered the exact same appetizers a shrimp and lobster in a vodka sauce?) Then within 5 minutes of the second appetizer being delivered her entree was delivered and sat on the bar as she at her app.
Back to me, I ordered the popcorn (because who isn’t going to order popcorn when its actually on the menu @ $4. per order) while I was figuring out my other choices. When I ordered the popcorn the bartender said: “It’s just a bowl of popcorn, not sure they made any today let me go find out”. They apparently did make some because it arrived about 5 minutes later. While it was “good” it was certainly not worth $4. for the bowl and Steak 85 in New Brunswick truffle popcorn at the bar blows this away for free!!
It was at this time I noticed there were no raw bar options on the menu, however I could clearly see a raw bar, I inquired with the bartender and there was another raw bar menu. I ordered 3 jumbo shrimp @ $6. per and 4 west coast oysters I do not recall the price. The menu said the type oysters varied per day, and each day there was a mignonette du jour! The bartender did not know what oysters they had today, since I generally prefer west vs. east coast so I ordered them anyway. As the picture will show it came sans any mignonette and without even cocktail forks. Also the cocktail sauce is obviously jarred/canned. The shrimp were true colossal and the oysters were fine, although slightly too warm/room temp for my comfort. (the bartender then came to me to ask if I still had the raw bar menu, he needed it, there is only one menu for the entire bar)
My steak arrived a short time later, and it was a very nice cut of rib eye. (FYI there are two rib eye’s on the menu one for $50 and one for $54. the $54 said it came with caramelized onions and asparagus - this is the one I ordered, by pointing to it on the menu, since there was no name differential between the two rib eyes) I received a rib eye with a double stuffed potato! (Not sure where that came from) The steak was very good, delicious rib eye, however it was left standing a bit too long. I don’t know if was by design with the chef leaving it to stand before serving or just sat under hot lamps too long but it was luke-warm at best.
While I was eating the couple on the opposite side of me were given a bread basket after they were more than half done with their appetizer, as the bartender placed it down he said: “I guess they had to go to the bakery to get your bread”. (I was never offered or delivered bread)
I ordered a double espresso and a sambuca for desert. (it’s finally sambuca weather again!!) Now with a fully belly I decided to sit back and do some people watching, there was the owner of Co-co Pari with his entourage, down the bar from him was some other RB local with his entourage, Co-co’s entourage is shouting across the bar to the other entourage and then there’s the other guy in the corner and so on and so forth. The bar is loud however the music being pipped in is even louder. I arrived at 7pm and by 7:30 they had a DJ (in a tee shirt) playing, mixing, scratching music throughout the place. Directly next to where I was sitting is a grand (or baby grand I really don’t know the difference) piano, being used as a wait station with small trays sitting on it. etc. Let me ask you a question: “Where is management focused if they have a restaurant with multiple dining rooms and a vacant piano just sitting there, while DJ Whomever is blasting and scratching music?” Tell me…what is management focused on.
While I said I noticed the manager actively participating in supporting the staff saying hello to certain patrons while ignoring others like me. Never did anyone besides the bartender check on how things were. Although there is an espresso machine behind the bar, I noticed after a long delay 10-15 mins of not receiving my coffee, I noticed the bartender run up the stairs, while he was half way up, the elevator doors opened and a food runner emerged with a coffee cup in hand and left it behind the bar. 2 minutes later the bartender comes running down the stairs and finds my coffee behind the bar and delivers it to me along with: “Sorry they must have had to go to Columbia for the beans for your coffee” (notice a trend?)
To conclude: This place pretty much embodies why I hate Red Bank. There is so much potential here that they just seem to turn a deaf ear to, probably because the DJ is so loud. I will go back another time or two to see how things work out as they grow into their new space, but I honestly don’t hold up much hope that this will be anything besides Red Bank’s latest flash in the pan. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong, but I doubt it.
Give it a try yourself and let me know what you think.
*****ETA I merged comments over from the Red Bank to this one, I think I did it out of order so I apologize if the comments after my post here are somewhat out of order