Catalyst in Cambridge is a new American restaurant in the same neighborhood as MIT, and the atmosphere seems to fit right in. The room has a very modern, NY feel with metallic tones and decorations, and a wide-open kitchen. I was excited to try it and when I sat down and looked at the menu had trouble deciding because everything looked so good.
Despite being a hundred degrees outside, I ordered the parsnip soup, which is always one of my favorites. I love the flavor of parsnip; it always reminds me of potato but lighter and healthier. This came topped with fresh Jonah crab and swirls of olive oil; it was delicious and a perfect appetizer even in a heat wave.
I also tried the tortilla crusted soft shell crab. The tortilla batter was a little crunchier than the typical tempura batter soft-shell crab is so often fried in. I like the twist and the flavor of the avocado puree, which was light and airy, and brought some balance to the dish.
I chose the roasted blue cod as my entrée. The fish was cooked perfectly, crisp on top, and tender and flaky inside. It was served in a bowl over clam chowder, with plenty of clams, potatoes, and bacon. The components of this dish worked really well together, almost like a deconstructed fish chowder. It was a hearty portion, and although I really enjoyed it I had trouble finishing.
I also sampled the spit-roasted chicken. The meat was tender and juicy; the skin nice and crisp, and the pan drippings gave it a great flavor. The chicken on its own tasted like it could have used a little salt, but was perfect in combination with the mushrooms and onions.
The dessert menu was tempting but I just couldn’t do it. I would definitely try this place again, and maybe share an app or entrée to leave room for dessert!