Catch 15

Seafood
$$$$ ($15-$24)
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Editorial Review


By Tom Sietsema
Wednesday, February 26, 2014

With the new Catch 15, downtown K Street reels in a keeper
By Tom Sietsema
Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Now here’s a bulletin you haven’t read in a long time: K Street has a new place to eat. It’s called Catch 15 and it comes from the owner of the recently shuttered Tuscana West downtown.

The concept won’t set off any trend alerts: small plates in dozens of flavors, from veteran Washington chef Vincent Torres, formerly of Mio.

Even at high noon, Catch 15 feels like 8 at night. The long and narrow restaurant is lighted as though OkCupid has a stake in it. The design details ---- brown velvet chairs, sheer curtains between booths, Sinatra crooning in the background ---- only heighten the romantic effect, which feels a little weird when it’s just you and a pal from the office out for a bite to eat.

Meanwhile, low seating and a dancing fire seduce patrons from the rear of the 118--seat restaurant, a former print shop. At a time when many new restaurants forgo offering bread baskets, a cone of warm, seeded flatbread with a couple of tapenades is a welcome departure.

Working from a basement kitchen, Torres dispatches some pleasing dishes. Here comes a juicy ground--lamb kebab bedded on basmati rice and escorted by a cucumber--and--yogurt sauce, a taste of the Middle East for $7. Four shrimp in a haze of garlic and butter nod to Spain; flaky spanakopita does Greece proud. Empanadas stuffed with artichokes, goat cheese and green olives call to more than just vegetarian appetites.

Looking for something in a different size? One of the larger plates finds slices of sauteed veal jazzed up with sweet and hot peppers alongside a turban of spaghetti.

Catch 15 plays up its raw bar, but the oysters I’ve slurped here ---- scrawny and cool rather than cold ---- are no match for the models dispensed at Old Ebbitt Grill near the Treasury building. And I could hardly taste the tuna tartare for all its bold accents ---- pickled ginger and pomegranate, among others ---- that masked the raw fish.

Otherwise, good catch, K Street.