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.
1518 K St. NW. 202-969-2858. catch15dc.com. Small plates, $5 to $13.