Taste Test: Garganelli with Chicken Oysters at Catalyst


The garganelli with chicken oysters, black truffle and bacon at Catalyst. (Photo by Anthony Tieuli for Boston magazine)

Welcome to Taste Test, where Chowder contributor Fiona Coxe samples buzzy dishes around town — and finds out whether they are worth the hype.

New Area IV hotspot Catalyst excels in the details: the fireplace provides a warm welcome, water glasses are constantly refreshed and the silverware is meticulously replaced. Thanks to rustic wood accents, linen-free tables and the herb-filled “living wall,” though, the vibe is far from from formal and stodgy.

In keeping with the theme of high-end cuisine in a laid-back atmosphere, I ordered the garganelli with chicken oysters, bacon and black truffle butter ($10) — a rustic dish with elegant ingredients. For those unfamiliar, chicken oysters are round portions of dark meat that can be found near the thighs on the back of a chicken; chefs often consider them to be the most flavorful part of the bird. Here, they function as a great match for the hearty handmade pasta noodles, lightly truffled sauce and salty bits of crisp bacon. The tube-shaped garganelli was served al dente and had a great toothsome texture, while the smokiness of the bacon paired well with the rich dark meat of the chicken oysters. The rich butter sauce, which would have benefited from more truffle flavor, gave the dish its luxury.

Our evening at Catalyst was spot on from service to every dish, with an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients and imaginative fare. If the rest of the dishes are as spot-on as this one, I look forward to heading back to Catalyst in the future.

Catalyst, 300 Technology Square, Cambridge, 617-576-3000, catalystrestaurant.com