Catalyst Restaurant

4.4
1346 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 1346 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
4.4
ambience
4.0
value
Noise · Moderate
89% of people would recommend it to a friend
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OT
New England
5 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Business dinner.

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OT
New England
1 review
Dined on May 17, 2019
Overall 2food 1service 1ambience 3

Food was okay, service terrible with a frown

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JC
New England
1 review
Dined on May 15, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Party of four with reservations for dinner seated promptly in cozy booth where we could all talk. Excellent service. Draft beer variety was very good. My dish was excellent (blue cod). Desert was visually beautiful but just ok from my sweet tooth perspective (chocolate raspberry ... wished there was more chocolate than cake). Validated parking and close proximity to T made Catalyst an easy pick.

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PB
New England
3 reviews
Dined on May 13, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 5

Catalyst is one of my go-to-places when I bring guests into town and they always deliver. They didn’t disappoint. We were a large group (12) and it took a bit longer than usual to get but the quality and quantity was excellent. Will definitely keep using them.

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M
New England
4 reviews
Dined on May 12, 2019
Overall 4food 3service 4ambience 4

Mother’s Day Brunch was nice and the staff was friendly, but much of my food was cold. Tons of desert, not as much regular food.

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M
1 review
Dined on May 12, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 3ambience 3

Understand they are trying to market to a different clientele by offering a Mother's Day brunch, but they should stick to what they do well - which is a normal ala carte menu, not a buffet.
Food was cold, children's buffet was pathetic (overfried chicken nuggets + mac & cheese), and the tableside service with champagne offered a chocolate covered strawberry, which they charge you for but don't really inform you ahead of time that it'll cost a lousy $3....
just....underwhelming. All of it.

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D
New England
27 reviews
Dined on May 12, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 3

Mother’s Day brunch a bit disappointing. Very nice spread of food with typical fare, but very overweight on deserts. Restaurant ran out of plates, coffee cold. $52.00 per person felt quite high given the experience.

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MT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on May 12, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 3

Mothers Day Brunch. Pretty meh for $60 a person . Great baked goods and oatmeal. Cold scrambled eggs like you find at a free hotel breakfast and very cold and uninspired eggs Benedict .

Bacon was good and again , baked goods were nice.

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DD
New England
9 reviews
Dined on May 12, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 3

Special Mother’s Day brunch not very special. For $52 per person not even a glass of champagne included. Dining room not cleaned up completely from the prior night’s dinner. Below the standard of this restaurant.

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OT
New England
4 reviews
Dined on May 7, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 5

The prices seem particularly high given the portion size; however, the food was tasty. The cocktails tasted watered down.

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KE
Minneapolis
2 reviews
Dined on May 6, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 3

We were a group of 7 but were seated at a long rectangular table even though circular tables were available. Conversation was difficult because of this geometry and the fact that the table was directly under a loudspeaker piping in music.

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MC
New England
6 reviews
Dined on April 21, 2019
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
4 reviews
Dined on April 20, 2019
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 on April 20, 2019
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 on April 19, 2019
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 on April 18, 2019
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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P
New England
8 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
12 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
33 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
14 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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