Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
Published May 6th 2017
Katch-Up, Margaret River, Seafood, Local Produce
Recently I found myself in Margaret River on a Sunday night at a loose end. I was down for the weekend to be one of a panel of judges for a literary competition.
The competition had been fun, with entries of a very high standard and we'd all got along really well and agreed without acrimony (not always the case, let me tell you) but it was over and I was in that slightly gently melancholic frame of mind that sometimes comes after concentrating.
Katch-Up's Cheese platter (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
So I thought I'd cheer myself up with some good food. Driving out to the vineyard where the competition was to be held I had noticed an eatery with the intriguing name of 'Katch-Up', so I determined to give it a try.
I wasn't sure what kind of a place it was - 'Katch-Up' doesn't give much away, after all. It could be a burger joint and the name was a pun on ketchup, or possibly a cakes and tea place offering respite and catch-up time for busy mums before picking the children up after school and taking them to soccer practice.
In any case, there wasn't a huge choice handy at seven o'clock on a Sunday night, so in I bowled, hungry, ignorant and a very pale blue.
Katch-Up's lovely fireplae (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
Instantly, I was cheered by the warmth of my greeting and the rich, welcoming interior of glowing wood and glass, low lights and that indefinable something that relaxes you and envelopes you in hospitality.
One enters through an enclosed verandah brick paved with rustic outdoor tables, infrared heaters and a blackboard menu. The chairs have knee blankets draped over the backs if care it gets chilly (a nice touch).
Katch-up's elclosed al fresco area (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
Inside the restaurant proper, there is a long bar with a blackboard above with 'welcome' chalked in many, many languages - more than I could recognise, certainly.
For winters there is an open fireplace faced, floor to ceiling, with fieldstone.
Greeted, seated and with drinks and food menus, I had a chance to look around and was mightily impressed with what I saw. Busy, with swift, pleasant servers zipping between the tables, there was a pleasant low buzz of conversation.
The menu explained the name which is, in full, the Katch-up Seafood Grill and More. So 'katch' as in 'katch of the day' seafood. Which makes sense with the sea so close.
Incidentally, the name is about to change to Katch-up Seafood Restaurant and move towards a more formal presentation of signage to reflect the degree of sophistication actually presented.
Welome to the 'Welcome' bar (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
The dishes offered obviously heavily feature seafood - entreÚs, for example Salt and Pepper Baby Squid with house-made lemon aioli ($16; Australian oysters, au naturele or Kilpatrick in three's, half or full dozen (ranging from $12 to $48); Fremantle mussels in either French or Italian style ($21); Seared Exmouth Banana prawns with green tea Japanese soba noodles ($21); Poached Donnybrook marron on a salad of white beans, sumac-spiced roasted pumpkin, baby spinach, red onion, cherry tomato and Italian parsley with a citrus yoghurt dressing ($26) and so on.
In addition, they had on offer my very favourite seafood dish of all - Seafood Chowder ($19). I've eaten this all over the world and in almost every variation. I even cook what I consider a pretty fair variation myself.
Seafood Chowder (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
I've had it so thick it eats the spoon and with almost every possible combination of stuff that swims of hangs on to rocks under water.
Katch-Up's seafood chowder is possibly the very best I've ever eaten. Served in a bowl with an impossibly wide elegant lip the delicious, thin broth had great chunks of fish, scallop, prawn and black mussels alongside house-baked baguette - magnificent, balanced and supremely tasty. If I'd known how good it was going to be, I'd have ordered it for main course as well.
Mains included Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli ($34); Seafood Tagliatelle ($36); Pan Fried Barramundi ($44); Katch-Up's Seafood Platter for Two ($159) which a combination of cold and hot seafood on two tiers. I saw several of those going to other tables and that's what I'm having next time.
Katch-Up's steak (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
Instead, I ordered Eye Fillet Medallions with potato gratin, broccolini, roasted cherry tomatoes and a house shiraz jus ($43), which was delicious, although I'd call those potatoes 'dauphoise'.
The seafood 'Platter for Two' is served with a fresh salad, hand cut cajun style wedges or steamed Thai jasmine rice, aioli and tartar sauce.
Desserts are mostly cakes baked daily or mousse, pannacotta, semifreddo and the like, although one caught my eye as being unusual - Peach Carpaccio marinated in a ginger and mint syrup, served with a lime sorbet and topped with crushed caramelised, roasted almonds ($15).
However, what I craved was Margaret River cheeses - and Katch-Up serves only hand-made local cheeses 'Heidi Matured' (soft, French-style cheese from goat milk) from Koonac, Rosabrook; Petit Fromage (a soft, white mould cheese from sheep milk handcrafted in the spring flush with a smooth creamy texture) from Cambray, Nannup and Blackwood Blue (mild blue cheese from cow milk) from Cambray, Nannup all served with fresh rustic baguette and fresh fruit. (Single Serve $14, Selection of Two $26, Three $38). These were magnificent, particularly the Petit Fromage.
Rounded off with some very nice local cider (The Cidery, Bridgetown) and blameless coffee, one of the better meals I've been fortunate enough to eat in quite a while.
I had a chat to the owners, Silvia and Herbert, whose story is almost as fascinating as their food. Silvia is Swiss and in a previous career was a wine importer (which explains the quality of the wine list) and when she and Herbert were on their honeymoon they visited Margaret River and fell in love with the wines, the food and the climate so they settled here, and we should be very glad they did.
Katch-Up use and promote local produce and producers and we should support them, too. And feel virtuous while having a very good meal at the same time.