Sunday, August 24, 2014

Catch Twenty-Three, Lithia, FL

Catch Twenty-Three is a pleasant addition to the Valrico/Lithia food scene.  Oh, right...we don't have a "food scene" in East Hillsbilly County.  Still, it's a warm and welcoming eatery with better than average cuisine located smack dab in the center of Stepford Fish Hawk, so it's a quick drive for those of us stuck in right-wing-conservative-good-schools-everyone-goes-to-church-on-Sunday-white-bread-and-Velveeta-land...which doesn't doesn't always provide the best audience for dining establishments that think further out of the box than Red Lobster.  I was very impressed that shiznit like coconut curry and edamame were being tossed around on the menu.

Service was fantastic from the moment we arrived.  Being more in a sampling and drinking mode than a pulling-out-the-stops gorging mode, we opted to eat at the bar where were treated like royalty by our sweet and saucy bartender, Sam.

We started with Queso Fundido (pepper jack, goat and white American cheeses, chorizo, roasted poblano peppers and tri-colored tortilla chips),  A super-fine rendition (Honey, I don't think we're at Chili's anymore)...and who doesn't love creamy, crunch, spice and heat?  Muy rico!

Coconut Curry Mussels were totally off the chain and their application was a refreshing divergence from the done-to-death pedestrian white wine or tomato broth versions that ubiquitously appear on menus around Tampa Bay.  Fresh-tasting and presented with thick and hearty slabs of garlic bread for dipping, these puppies were a winner.

$15 seemed pricey for four Salt and Pepper Shrimp, but they totally delivered.  Again, sweet melded perfectly with heat and the massive crustaceans were beautifully presented, nestled on a toothsome bed of nutty, zippy edamame.

Char-grilled Oysters Rockefeller were a tad light on the fat content for my personal taste, but beautiful and tasty nonetheless.  I prefer my O-Rocks with a serious slathering of Hollandaise...but then, that's why I'm wearing stretch pants.

Thus far, everything was fabu.  I would be remiss if I failed to mention that a generous selection of wines by the glass are available here...most priced at $10 or less.

Desserts were okay, but failed to thrill.  While every hair on my body stood on end in anticipation of Banana Bread Pudding topped with Cherry Garcia ice cream, it did not deliver.  A dry, raisin-studded concoction that channeled leftover carrot cake to such a degree that we felt compelled to ask for clarification as to its origin was left virtually untouched. It was cold and hard, and the ice cream even colder and harder

The bite I took of the orgasmic-sounding Coconut Key Lime Crème Brûlée kind of left me with a "just kissed my brother" feeling.  Put the lime in the coconut, damnit! I tasted neither. I'm not really a fan of custardy desserts to begin with, but UD is...and he agreed that this one was a bit lame.

While desserts could use some massaging in my opinion, Catch Twenty-Three is a culinary haven in the Brandon area and does a lot of things really well.  Worth a shot.

Catch Twenty-Three on Urbanspoon

My blog entries contain the unmitigated, and sometimes unforgiving, dining truths and perceptions I experience as an ordinary restaurant patron. Every meal I post about has been fully paid for by one of the participating members of my personal dining party. I do not engage in the gratis blogger freebie dining events I'm constantly invited to attend and never will. If I ooze font-like love for a restaurant in my blog, it's because they totally earned it…not because they gave me free food or knew I was going to share the experience on the internet.

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