When done with foresight and thoughtfulness, wine dinners can truly be special. Catch 35 in Chicago and Naperville partners with small, upscale wineries to create taste experiences that will open up all your senses. And, even if you can’t make one, you can still explore the carefully selected wines that only a local chain like Catch 35 can offer.
Wine dinners give guests an opportunity to learn about distinctive wines they might otherwise encounter locally, while enjoying chef-prepared meals that aren’t on the public menu. This allows the chef to experiment a bit. At Catch 35, wine dinner creations by Corporate Chef Eddie Sweeney sometimes end up on the regular menu if people love them.
But perfecting a wine dinner – at least the way Catch 35 does it – requires more than throwing a few new items together. For the staff here, it isn’t unusual to start out with more than eight wines chosen from their special wine cabinets and a giant selection of food items. They narrow everything down based on the way the foods and wine taste together. Chef Sweeney works with every course to integrate flavors that work together: starters, salads and soups, seafoods and meats, and desserts. The process can take hours.
WCG was lucky enough to sit in on a planning meeting for such an event. When a Pinot Noir was selected to pair with a coffee crème brulee, a decision was made to add a cherry to help bring out hints of coffee and cherry in the wine. When Chef Sweeney paired a steak tartare with a Sauvignon Blanc, the meeting resulted in adding pickles, onions, Dijon mustard and ketchup so that the acids in the tartare would complement those of the wine. The result: a gourmet appetizer with the flavor profile of a delicious one-bite cheeseburger.
That thoughtfulness extends to the regular wine offerings at Catch 35, so you can explore small production wineries at a reasonable price point. Large chain restaurants simply can’t offer this kind of selection, because small wineries can’t meet the demands of their diner load. If you really want to make discoveries, independent and local restaurants like this one can help you do so – at an excellent value.
Catch 35’s staff selects wines based on price, quality, and industry recognition. Several award-winners are available on the list right now. For example, it features Ramey Wine Cellars’ Sidebar Sauvignon Blanc High Valley, a wine rated #32 on Wine Spectator magazine’s Top 100 of 2017.
In keeping with Catch 35’s wine philosophy, Wine Director Carl Jensen regularly visits other high-end eateries to compare selection and value. He knows that guests are savvier than ever, so he wants to make sure Catch 35 is competitive. Look at the wine list to see what he means – the selection includes 12 great bottles of wine for $70 and under.
Catch 35 knows how to cultivate great taste off the beaten path, too. Wines from Washington and Oregon offer some of the best values in the industry because there’s no land left in Napa Valley to grow grapes. Meanwhile, the Pacific Northwest features different microclimates that allow a wide variety of varietals to thrive. The staff also knows what works in Chicago – rose wines, for instance, become popular here each summer.
But what if you’d like to learn more about wine, though you can’t attend a wine dinner and don’t know how to choose by yourself? Try a choose-your-own-adventure Prix-Fixe option at Catch 35. Pick one of eight entrees for $37, and let your knowledgeable server pick the perfect wine from 34 different options to pair with your selection. Or come in Thursdays to enjoy wine bottles at half-price!
Whether it is a scheduled wine dinner or one you make up yourself, pairing wine with food at Catch 35 makes a memorable occasion. We can’t recommend this place enough – and neither can all its reviewers!
35 W. Wacker Drive, Chicago, 312-346-3535, 35 S. Washington Street, Naperville 630-717-3500, or www.catch35.com