Catalyst Restaurant

4.4
1311 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 1311 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
4.3
service
4.3
ambience
3.9
value
Noise · Moderate
90% of people would recommend it to a friend
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d
New England
13 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
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 6 days ago
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 6 days ago
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
7 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Everything was great

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MC
New England
19 reviews
Dined 7 days ago
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
9 reviews
Dined 7 days ago
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 10, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

To celebrate my Birthday.

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s
New England
37 reviews
Dined on February 10, 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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T
New England
19 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
14 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
545 reviews
Dined on January 26, 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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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on January 13, 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
1 review
Dined on January 12, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

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

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LA
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on January 10, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

I ordered the spinach salad with salmon. The salmon was perfectly cooked. My co worker had the pasta special which she raved about. Decent portion size for lunch, not overwhelming. It was a little pricey for lunch, but worth it for a special occasion. Service as fast and efficient. Would highly recommend.

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OT
New York Area
3 reviews
Dined on January 8, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great menu, delicious food & good ambience. Waitress was very polite & helpful.

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KC
New England
12 reviews
Dined on January 5, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We were there for our anniversary. The food was good. We had fish and steak. Both of them are delicious. The waiter was excellent, very attentive and knowledgeable about the menu. The only complaint I have was that we were sitting next to a table. Their conversation was a little too loud. Oh, the desert was good too. We enjoyed it very much.

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KO
New England
27 reviews
Dined on January 5, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We thoroughly enjoyed our evening at Catalyst. Service was outstanding, ambiance was comfortable and contemporary. We tried the chillicillin cocktail which was well balanced. The Little black dress was also fun.
Appetizers with burrata and squash was mouth watering. We also ordered the octopus which was a bit tough but well seasoned. The Jonah crab pasta was perfect for cold night and not too heavy. The cheesecake dessert with pomegranate was divine! Thank you for a wonderful evening!

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JP
New England
1 review
Dined on January 4, 2019
Overall 4food 3service 4ambience 5

Great spacious ambiance and high quality food. The good is a bit rich and could use a little more simplicity and dependence on natural flavors. But, I've been there many times and always look forward to going back.

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EM
1 review
Dined on January 4, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Server Ryan was fantastic- professional and accommodating for our business lunch. Great food.

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SM
1 review
Dined on January 1, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

Excellent service and attention to detail. The menu on New Year's Eve was tastefully well put together and offered a variety of choices. Special note to the creativity of the kitchen as well. The oysters topped with caviar was an excellent starter. The NY Sirloin and Sea Bass were outstanding. We would highly recommend and will return when we are back in the area.

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l
Dallas
11 reviews
Dined on December 30, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 5

pasta with seafood was good, pumpkin soup was bland, swordfish and chicken were both good, convenient central location with parking garage next door and they validate the parking ticket

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SE
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on December 28, 2018
Overall 2food 1service 3ambience 3

Pleasant environment and good location. However, the food was disappointing. The Sweet Potato Cavatelli were basically a pile of pasta with little taste. The risotto (a special) had a nice consistency, but was rather bland. Spanish octopus had little taste and needed a lot of chewing. Maybe someone who prefers no spices and low salt would find it attractive.

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t
New England
9 reviews
Dined on December 22, 2018
Overall 3food 4service 3ambience 2

Very good food. Inattentive service. Little joy there. Too expensive. Many better and less expensive restaurants near by...and far friendlier...

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OT
New England
1 review
Dined on December 14, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 3

French fries cold

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J
New England
3 reviews
Dined on December 14, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 4

Good, server spoke rather quickly

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DW
New York Area
3 reviews
Dined on December 9, 2018
Overall 1food 1service 2ambience 3

The waiter was very nice but not effective. I sat and waited almost 10 minutes before anyone came to the table. (He was chatting with someone at another table). Three of the menu items we asked for during lunch were not available. This should have been made clear up front. The service throughout was painfully slow. NONE of our food was hot. I had an omelette; eggs should be served HOT. The home fries were WAY overcooked and shriveled. Overall the food was less than mediocre. I had previously gone to a bridal shower at Catalyst and thought the food was really good so I brought friends back for brunch on Sunday. I will NEVER return. Nor could I recommend this restaurant. There are too many others with really good food and better service.

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n
New England
2 reviews
Dined on November 29, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 2ambience 5

I was excited because the space is so lovely. The food was a little pricey, but I still wasn't prepared to get a kale salad for lunch for $14 that really wasn't a meal unless I ordered a protein for another $8. $22 is more than I want to pay for a lunch entree. And on another visit I got fish tacos that had a piece of fish the size of my thumb in each of the very diminutive two tacos, making my $14 lunch mostly the french fries. So not a good value in my book. As for service, our server brought us coffee with sugar but never asked about milk and didn't bring any. And then the server didn't understand that my colleague had a seafood allergy, even though she told him (another colleague had a milk allergy and he got confused with the two). He brought her falafel that she could tell were deep fried in the same oil as fish so she couldn't eat it.

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C
New York Area
1 review
Dined on November 28, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Fantastic food in a fantastic atmosphere. The food was rich with flavor.

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OT
1 review
Dined on November 24, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

Always amazing, being in this industry it’s always great to go to a restaurant and receive amazing service and wonderful food. Very hard to find places that give you both. Great job!

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m
Toronto
4 reviews
Dined on November 23, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 3

A fairly swank place, ultra-modern but comfortable decor. My only quibble is that the bar did not have the gin I wanted.

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HD
New England
19 reviews
Dined on November 20, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

This was the first time at Catalyst. All was fine / ok. Nothing spectacular. Good basic spot to have a pleasant business meeting.

Ordered a pulled pork sandwich - a bit dry and tasteless.

Service was fine.

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o
New England
1 review
Dined on November 20, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 3

Convenient to Tech Square. Reasonable menu with choices,

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n
New York Area
5 reviews
Dined on November 19, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Can't say enough about Catalyst. Despite making a last minute reservation they could not have been more accommodating with a member of our party that needed disability accommodations. Really terrific!

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JE
New England
1 review
Dined on November 18, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 2ambience 3

Our appetizers were great (beat salad and a half portion of the linguine) but my entree (chicken) and dessert (pumpkin panna cotta) were bland and underwhelming. Our server also disappeared for long periods of time. Ambiance was OK, but looked a little temporary, like a pop-up restaurant. Not worth a second trip.

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D
New England
53 reviews
Dined on November 14, 2018
Overall 3food 4service 3ambience 2

It was an incredibly busy Wednesday evening, so loud that it was almost impossible to have a conversation, even in a booth. Servers seemed stressed from the crowd, such that (1) they cleared the plates for the three diners who had just finished, while the fourth was still eating; and (2) did not split the bill as promised when we ordered. But, it’s the raucous noise level that will keep us away from Catalyst.

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BF
New England
12 reviews
Dined on November 9, 2018
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 4

I've been here a few times with friends, but last night, I brought my girlfriend and it was her first time there. Everything was delicious! We ordered beet salad, sweet potato cavatelli and linguine. We also had roasted sunchokes (compliments of the chef) and our dessert was complimentary because our food was taking a while even though, we felt like we weren't waiting too long. The sunchokes were AMAZING. Whatever aioli was in the dish paired really well with the crispy sunchokes. This should be a regular thing on the menu. The cocktails were fantastic and so was our waitress. (Wish I remembered her name!) Thanks for a great meal. Will def. recommend to friends and family. P.S. You guys should totally bring back the milk chocolate hazelnut mousse bar. That was my favorite and I didn't see it on the dessert menu :-(

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E
New England
42 reviews
Dined on November 6, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Nice restaurants that is suitable for business meetings. Quiet enough that allows a good conversation. The waitstaff was not overbearing but attentive. The food was good

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