Every time we head to Gastown it seems like a new restaurant, bar or coffee shop has emerged in a formally derelict building; it’s almost impossible to keep up. Blocks that previously had been lined with boarded up storefronts and flophouses are now bustling with trendy hotspots. On a recent weekend stroll in the neighbourhood, we happened upon Gastown’s latest addition, the bistro Catch 122. Located in the stretch of Hastings Street across from the Woodward’s building that very much remains in transition, the restaurant’s subtle exterior signage is easy to miss. We narrowly avoided the brunch rush and were able to snag a table without a wait though the restaurant was lively and bustling with energy.
With the requisite exposed brick walls, retro and industrial inspired décor, and open concept kitchen, the space is very much in line with what we’ve come to expect from a Gastown spot. Two large tables can accommodate groups while a slew of smaller tables line the east side of the restaurant to ensure quick turnover during peak times. The atmosphere is relaxed and inviting and we’re already eying the large table as an ideal venue for our next after work drinks date; the space seems perfectly suited for a casual early evening rendezvous with friends. Care has been taken in all aspects of the design including charming corkboard menus and vintage-style place settings; we loved our coffee mugs so much we were tempted to ask where we could purchase them.
The menu is ambitious and packed with simple, classic bistro fare with a contemporary twist. After perusing the extensive options we settled on a caramelized onion omelette and our friend selected smoked salmon and poached eggs on a croissant. While we were waiting for our food to arrive, we spent considerable time staring longingly at the basket of baked goods that a couple was sharing a few tables over. Although consuming sizable muffins and croissants as an appetizer seemed a bit too indulgent, the pastries looked divine and we will definitely be back to sample a few. We were far from disappointed with our own selections, however, and gorged ourselves on the expertly prepared omelette oozing with tasty caramelized onions which was accompanied by a small salad, delicious potato hash, and Swiss cheese toast. Our friend’s poached eggs were equally as scrumptious and the croissant, with a perfectly flaky exterior, was the highlight of the dish. While the pairing of the pungent gorgonzola and the smoked salmon was a bold and unexpected combination, after the initial surprise, it was quite pleasing, if a tad unusual.
With a takeout pastry counter and coffee bar conveniently situated by the entrance, and a large freezer stocked with hearty and home-style frozen dinners, there are a myriad of reasons to stop by Catch 122 next time you’re in the neighbourhood. They’ve recently added a dinner service with a menu that boasts simple bistro dishes such as steak frites and coq au vin and we can’t wait to return to try it out. If it’s half as good as the brunch offerings, Catch 122 is destined to become one of our perennial Gastown favourites.