Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Cat Cora's Kitchen, SFO

I often fly in and out of Terminal 2 at SFO, but I don't generally dine there.  I do of course grab tasty salads, snacks, and desserts from Napa Farms Market to bring on board, will frequently cruise through Pinkberry, and Natalie's Candy Jar is *always* on my agenda pre-flight, but actually eating a meal in the terminal?  Nah.

But on a recent flight, I was delayed, and arrived at SFO around 7pm.  I didn't have checked baggage, and I didn't want to deal with figuring out dinner once I finally got home, so, I decided to just eat at the airport, for literally the first time.

I almost just grabbed food at Napa Farms to bring home, but it was late, I was exhausted, and just having dinner seemed to make sense.  Plus, I had walked by Cat Cora's Kitchen so many times before ...

Cat Cora is known most for being an Iron Chef, but, she got in that position due to successful restaurants originally.  Her empire has expanded to include some casual bar and tapas style places, located in airports.  Like SFO.

Now, celebrity chef's airport locations are usually not worth checking out, but, I dunno, I decided to go.  I wish I had just grabbed a reliable Napa Farms Market salad and gone home.
Counter Seating.
Cat Cora's Kitchen is located inside the terminal, but it has a nice bar and counter area looking out into the terminal.  Power outlets are supplied.

The bar had all seats occupied, with patrons watching a game on the big screen TVs.  They looked happy to be hanging out there.

I sat at the counter on the side, in a quiet place, happy to decompress alone.
Menu.
The cocktail menu actually sounded great, but, I had wine (and lots of snacks) on my flight, and needed to work early in the morning, so, I just went for a light meal.

The menu did have some good sounding dishes, like lobster mac and cheese and sweet potato fries, but, I wasn't feeling something that heavy, so opted for something from the salad section (note, I don't say I had a salad ...).

The menu had only a single dessert, chocolate budino, which was disappointing as I don't have chocolate at night, but then I remembered that my partner had a slice of eggnog cheesecake waiting for me at home, so, I quickly got over my disapointment at the lack of dessert menu.
Grilled Octopus Salad. $16.
"Heart of palm, cucumber-tomato salad, crispy garbanzo, romesco."

I was impressed, visually, when my order was delivered.  It really did look quite good.  This was really airport dining?

Except ... it was.  It looked great, but, wasn't actually well prepared.

I'll start with the good.  The romesco.  It was very flavorful, and I actually loved it.  I coated all the lackluster veggies in it, and used my knife to scrape up every last bit.  The romesco was fantastic.

The crispy garbanzos were also quite good, well seasoned, crispy, nice crunch.

The cucumber, tomato, and hearts of palm, basically, the "salad" components, were all ... fine.  None of it seemed particularly fresh or ripe, and I don't really like cucumber in the first place.  The hearts of palm was the most disappointing, it seemed like jarred stuff.

But the real disappointment?  The octopus.

It did look pretty decent.  A huge piece.  Good color on it.  It looked grilled.  But ... it was soft.  Soggy.  Kinda rubbery.  I still don't really understand how it looked so grilled, yet seemed so soft.  It wasn't crispy anywhere, not even the thinest tail piece.  I tried bites from all sections, hoping to find a good piece, but alas, it just wasn't well prepared at all.

Overall, this was just not good.  Horrible octopus, kinda old tasting hearts of palm, mediocre veggies ... the flavorful romesco couldn't save it.

I also ordered it because I was craving some greens, and thought the "salad" would include some salad greens, but I realize now the menu never said that, so, that was my bad.  Still, this was poorly done enough that I wouldn't return.
Taro Chips (Side).
I love taro chips.  The menu had a ceviche served with taro chips, so I asked if it was possible to get just a side of taro chips.

My server happily said yes, commenting on how good they were, and how she didn't blame me.

The taro chips were ... fine.  Crispy.  Over-salted.  Not much taro flavor.  I don't think freshly made.

I'm glad I tried them, but not worth getting again.  I think my server didn't charge me for them ... my bill had them on as a "Special Prep", but, the price for the octopus was the same as the menu price, so, uh, score?
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