Catalyst Restaurant

4.4
1335 reviews
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$30 and under
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Contemporary French / American
Catalyst Restaurant is a reflection of Chef/Owner William Kovel’s passion for simple food delivered with warm service in a modern environment. The Catalyst dining experience centers on bright, simple food created from the season’s freshest local ingredients, serious French technique and an appreciation for the details that go into our guest's experience. Catalyst Restaurant opened in 2011 as one of the pioneer businesses in Technology Square near the MIT Campus in Cambridge, MA. Since that time, an influx of start-ups and big companies that have made Catalyst a hub for business lunches, after-work gatherings and private dining.
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Private Dining

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What 1335 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.4based on recent ratings
4.3
food
4.4
service
4.4
ambience
4.0
value
Noise · Moderate
92% of people would recommend it to a friend
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MC
New England
6 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 3

Easter Brunch. Everything prepared and served was very good, hot, flavorful. Compared to other Easter Brunch services, I'd say the selection of offerings was a bit limited. What really took away from our meal was finding out that the "mimosa bar" was NOT included with our meal. We were seated and quickly advised we could enjoy the mimosa and bloody bar, but never were we told all items were extra. Typically one beverage is included with service wherever we've dined in the past. We did not overindulge; however, we would have skipped the bar entirely - the extras added $50 to our bill. Pretty disappointed and upset about that as my Veteran son was treating his mom and partner to the meal. I was so upset about it that I covered the meal instead. Nothing on OpenTable or on the restaurant write-up for Easter Brunch indicated such. Really took away from our celebration.

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PD
New England
3 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 3

seems place was not busy, not well kept up.... decorative lights overhead were partially not working, food quality was good, not great, one of the entrees was served quite late..... not what the place had been when I visited previously.

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n
New England
2 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 2food 1service 2ambience 4

Salmon was dryer than salmon served at a wedding, despite ordered medium rare. Total lack of seasoning as well. Really poor experience. Also, my side of fiddleheads (which were well seasoned) came out in a to go box / bag, and no one in the restaurant thought it was weird I ate out of a to go box at my table despite multiple people walking by and seeing it......One nice runner offered to bring me a plate though it never came. Table next to us got up and left before food came out. We should have to. Cocktails were decent though.

Would not recommend at all.

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SS
Washington DC
28 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great food and service. Excellent menu. Not very crowded so not noisy.

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S
New England
9 reviews
Dined 7 days ago
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Food is really very good. One of the best lunch places in Kendall.

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LD
New England
2 reviews
Dined on April 11, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 3ambience 4

Service was very slow when we arrived. It took a long time to
take our order. It seemed very few people were working on the floor. We were starving and they didn’t even bring bread with our water as we waited for our food to arrive. We had to ask for bread and then when it came they didn’t even give us bread plates. Where were we supposed to put our bread? On the table? Very bizarre for such an upscale restaurant. Food was good when when it arrived and service improved as the evening progressed and there were fewer tables for the limited wait staff to attend to.

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PS
New England
7 reviews
Dined on April 11, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 4

noise level too loud (not energetic?) otherwise very good

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SA
New England
11 reviews
Dined on April 6, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 1ambience 3

Waiter was in attentive and would randomly disappear. Never asked how anything was.

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D
New England
2 reviews
Dined on April 5, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Had a great time and great food! Our wait staff was friendly and attentive without being overbearing.

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BL
1 review
Dined on March 30, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent food, service and ambiance. It’s a wonderful place to have a leisurely dining experience.

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A
New England
2 reviews
Dined on March 23, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food, atmosphere, and service were all great! My husband and I had never been, but we will definitely go back.

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SR
1 review
Dined on March 21, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Great Food and excellent service. We enjoyed it and will be back. Ambience is fairly hard-edged (Concrete, hard wood, not as intimate feeling, etc.) but that is a minor observation.

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EW
1 review
Dined on March 20, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Hi - I love the food and service at Catalyst. Both are excellent. But this time I was struck by how expensive (!) it is. It was also a bit noisy. but anyway the food and the service were both wonderful!

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GG
New England
3 reviews
Dined on March 16, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent!! They serve Charles Krug, an excellent family winery. The service was amazing, and the staff made it perfect. I would come back for date night, business, girls night...the restaurant appeals to all of the above.

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OT
New England
6 reviews
Dined on March 15, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 2ambience 2

Food doesn't have to be fancy but it needs to be good and fresh. Catalyst was sadly none of these. First of all the floors are bare so when people move their chairs it sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard. Major pet peeve people. Restaurants have dishwashers for a reason. NEVER EVER take someone's dirty silverware off the customer's plate and put it back on the table. It's wrong. Second when a server is pouring water into a customer's glass.. aim for the glass not the table and definetely not all over the paper menus. The appetizer courses : The chicken liver mousse was delicious. Creamy and smooth and melt in your mouth delicious. The salad was not. Someone in the kitchen had a very heavy hand with the salt, which practically made it inedible. The risotto was also a flop. It was greasy and gummy. It was as if everything was poured into the pot with a pound of butter and forgotten. Mains : I had the salmon which was overcooked. The highlights of the plate were the shaved apple salad and the celery root puree. The plate also only needed one type of cabbage not two. Someone else had the Stuffed Roasted Vidalia Onion which they said was very meh. They found the Turmeric Vinaigrette overpowering. Someone else had the Cider Braised Pork Shank. The Sumac Spaetzle was overcooked but otherwise they ate everything. That person also happens to be a starving college student...so happy to eat anything but college food. My husband had the Crystal Valley Chicken "Pot Pie". Always hard to compete with his mom who honestly did make the best pot pie. This was not his mum's pie. The chicken was dry and the puff pastry was not light and buttery. Sadly the desserts were a waste of calories. We shared the Chocolate Cake with White Chocolate Ganache, Cherries and Cognac, Graham Cracker Cookies and Eggnog Ice Cream. We all agreed it was heavy and basically disgusting. Loved being with our family but sadly not at Catalyst Restaurant.

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DQ
New England
9 reviews
Dined on March 14, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great place in Cambridge for lunch or dinner, in smart funky atmosphere.

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OT
New England
1 review
Dined on March 9, 2019
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 2

The food was over priced and had no seasoning whatsoever.

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RL
New England
31 reviews
Dined on March 9, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

I liked my meal (and my glass of wine was delicious), but my husband was unenthused about his appetizer and his meal.

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N
New England
15 reviews
Dined on February 28, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

Convenient location for a business lunch. Table was ready on time. Service was prompt and responsive to our needs. I had the salmon for lunch and the fish was done perfectly. No complaints!

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H
New England
11 reviews
Dined on February 21, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellebt food, service and atmosphere, 5 stars :)

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BA
1 review
Dined on February 20, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Everything was excellent. I can recommend it to my friends. Thank you.

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W
New England
12 reviews
Dined on February 19, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 4

Excellent meal — salmon with savory side dishes. A very nice space.

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d
New England
13 reviews
Dined on February 16, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This was our third visit to Catalyst and it never disappoints us. As vegetarians we are always looking for creative ways for restaurants to create vegetarian fare. Fabulous!

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OT
New England
1 review
Dined on February 15, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 5ambience 5

Food was OK. Started with some bread, which tasted old. We both got the porcini bisque which was lacking flavor and thickness. I got the lobster ravioli which were really good. My partner got the Jonah crab pasta which he thought was just Ok, especially for the price. Service was great and the place was not too loud. Probably won’t go back as there are too many great places in the area.

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c
New England
3 reviews
Dined on February 15, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

We ate at Catalyst before going to the theater and were delighted with the attentive service, calm yet warm atmosphere, and delicious food. Dishes we particularly enjoyed were the seared tuna appetizer on quinoa and the blue code main dish -- both had a host of interacting flavors that created more than the sum of their parts. We were seated near the window for dinner. and enjoyed watching the street, but on colder nights, the fireplaces looked very inviting. Highly recommended.

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RV
New England
11 reviews
Dined on February 15, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Everything was great

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MC
New England
19 reviews
Dined on February 14, 2019
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 1

We joined Catalyst for our Valentine’s Day dinner and were quite disappointed. We were early for our reservation so we had been waiting at the bar and the hostess thought this meant we will be staying at the bar (hahaha). We ordered the foie gras tartine to start and ordered the crab spaghetti and pork shank, along with raclette potatoes to share. This was the second time ever in my life to send something back - the potatoes came out before the entries and it was clear that they were premade and slightly heated before being served (this “raclette” dish had specks of cheese that were dry from sitting out in the open for too long) but didn’t want to create a fuss so we just waited to see what the entrees would be like. The pasta comes and it was decent - but the bread “crumbs” were huge and they simply didn’t go with the dish. And now this pork shank - you know how the fatty portions of slow cooked meat turns gelatinous if it’s been sitting out for too long? It was just a chunk of that. Cold and gelatinous. I actually couldn’t believe that’s what we got for dinner.

It actually took a while to even send that back - I couldn’t tell if the restaurant was understaffed but the service was very, very slow. The waitress was indeed nice but she was just mia most of the time.

I then got a cocktail that probably took another fifteen minutes and that was delicious at least- I got the Chai Bye Baby. We also asked for a dessert menu and this was nowhere to be found for another half an hr. So by the time we got the dessert menu we were just ready to leave.

All in all, the cocktail was great and the wine we had was fine and I would maybe recommend the pasta, but this place really was not worth it. Especially for a special occasion. I wish we had gone somewhere else to celebrate.

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OT
New England
11 reviews
Dined on February 14, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We brought good friends as a thank-you for a good favor they had gifted us. We’ve been to Catalyst many times, but this visit was a first for our friends. We all enjoyed our meals, the wine, the service, and your wonderful decor. This was the most crowded evening we had experienced at Catalyst (Valentines Day?) and yet, we were able to converse comfortably. Thank you, we will return, as will our guests!

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SR
1 review
Dined on February 13, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

They have very nice sitting arrangement. Even though there were lots of people and noise level was kind of high we did not feel crowded. The food was amazing so were the drinks.

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OT
New England
3 reviews
Dined on February 9, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

To celebrate my Birthday.

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s
New England
37 reviews
Dined on February 9, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

Catalyst is consistently excellent. Not flashy or trendy but solid well prepared food. Also very quiet for a restaurant these days.

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JJ
New England
7 reviews
Dined on February 8, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

Ended up sitting at the bar. Bar Chairs were very comfortable. Food was good. I wasn’t blown away...but no complaints per se. Service was good. Ambience was great. Will go back.

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T
New England
21 reviews
Dined on February 8, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

Possibly the best food in the City, at a reasonable price with good service. Expansive wine list and great cocktails. My new favorite restaurant.

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HC
New England
8 reviews
Dined on January 31, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 5ambience 4

Well, the food was just not that good. It may have been our expectations. A group of work friends had had a very nice meal here about 2 weeks prior to our date. The report was pretty good.

We had a combination of the Mushroom Soup (fairly bland), Skate starter (soaked in salty soy), stuffed sweet onion (very bland), and the roasted cauliflower (too much coating and not crispy).

The service was superb and my partner enjoyed the wine.

We will not give up because our first impression was mediocre. In other words, we will try the Catalyst out again.

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W
New England
16 reviews
Dined on January 31, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 3

We had not been to Catalyst since they first opened and it did not disappoint. There were lots of good choices on the menu and the wine list provided some interesting choices by the glass. We were seated in a corner booth which was quiet (much appreciated) and away from the convivial noise of the bar. It was a great place to meet old friends whom we hadn't seen in a while to catch up over good food.

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j
New England
556 reviews
Dined on January 25, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

comfort food prepared well. Everything was seasonal and freh.

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S
New England
10 reviews
Dined on January 22, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Very good food. I'm a repeat customer at lunch time, but also great for dinner.

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EV
New England
9 reviews
Dined on January 18, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 2ambience 4

Location is great and I keep returning, but service could be improved...

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on January 12, 2019
Overall 2food 4service 1ambience 5

Worst waiter I have ever seen. He forgot to put in one of the dinner orders , then disappeared for the rest of the meal . After the other two dinners were fully eaten, the manager finally appeared and apologized and quickly got the order put in . It was dry and over cooked. Still the waiter didn’t appear .... OMG ... what a coward ! Finally he eventually appeared and coldly offered a weak apology .
The food itself was otherwise extremely good . Hopefully they fire the waiter and improve the experience!

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N
New York Area
2 reviews
Dined on January 11, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great food. Had the monkfish and gnocchi and it was great. Would recommend

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