If you have been to Paon in Carlsbad Village, you get a sense that they spared no expense to provide as many quality dining experiences under one roof as possible. That same ownership group recently opened The Catch right across the parking lot on Carlsbad Village Drive and while not as upscale as Paon, there is certainly something for all seafood lovers under one roof. From the two expansive dining rooms, to the lounge and the sushi bar, they have it covered.On a recent Thursday evening, The Catch was buzzing with a diverse crowd. The dining room seemed to cater to an older demographic while the lounge and sushi bar were filled with young professionals and surfer types. We opted for the dining room and the soft sounds of the ‘70s soundtrack had us feeling that old school California vibe.
My first test of any seafood restaurant is to sample the chowder. I can tell in one taste if there was some care and individual touches put into it or if it is simply ingredients thrown together, or even worse, if it’s pre-made in a pouch from a foodservice provider. The chowder at The Catch was good stuff, full of flavor and some texture on the top in the form of crispy onions.
As mentioned, there is a full sushi bar so we decided to sample a roll from there and try their suggested calamari fritti with chipotle mayo. We went with the shrimp tempura crunchy roll with crab, cucumber, avocado and eel sauce. The calamari portion was huge and could easily be split up between two or three people.
The crunchy roll was a nice combination of textures and very tasty. The appetizer menu is extensive and includes Baja and traditional shrimp cocktail, local Carlsbad Aqua Farms mussels and oysters, crab cakes and ceviche. There are some really nice looking salads on the menu also including the shrimp and crab Louie with asparagus, boiled egg, tomato, cucumber, chopped romaine lettuce and mixed greens.
Prices range between $10 and $15 and as I said before, the portions are healthy.
We were there for fish and were happy to see they offer three types of preparation — sautéed in olive oil and lemon butter, pan seared, or blackened. The menu changes with what’s fresh and the night we were there they were offering seared ahi tuna, tilapia, salmon, mahi mahi, rainbow trout and local sea bass.
Two sides are offered from a selection of red skinned or mashed potatoes, house vegetables, cole slaw, buttered carrots, Spanish rice and organic creamed corn. I’ve not seen creamed corn on a restaurant menu in a long time so I had to give that a shot. It was not so much creamed as it was whole corn swimming in a rich, buttery sauce and it definitely worked.
We went with the sautéed local sea bass and seared ahi tuna pairing the veggies and creamed corn with the sea bass and the Spanish rice and cole slaw with the tuna. Both were cooked perfectly and were full of flavor. Most of the time, simple and straightforward is the way to go with seafood and that is definitely the case with the preparation and presentation at The Catch. Seafood entrees range from $18 to $25.
There are additional dishes available including fish and chips, sautéed Gulf of California shrimp, a 10-ounce flat iron steak, fish tacos, local mussels with creamed fussily pasta, shrimp penne pasta and Asian marinated fish kabobs.
The sushi menu is also available in the lounge and dining room and it is extensive with a full list of innovative rolls, sushi and sashimi. The Paon influence is very evident in the extensive selection of sake and wine. While I am not a sake expert by any means, I counted more than 30 options. I really liked the simple way they arranged the wine list with all wines by the glass at $7 and all bottles $24. It’s a perfect way to set it up for a seafood restaurant and there are pairing for everything on the menu on that list.
Another Paon bonus connection is the really nice looking dessert menu. Traditional flan, banana split, lime curd tart and the chocolate terrine are all solid options. Desserts are all under $10.
The Catch is a nice addition to the Carlsbad dining scene and worth checking out. The full menu, hours and location can be found at catchcarlsbad.com.