January 2018

Catch 22

Author: Kitty Bartell | Photographer: Photography by Anne

Distinguished restauranteur, Danny Meyer once said, “A great restaurant is one that just makes you feel like you’re not sure whether you went out or you came home. If it can do both of those things at the same time, you’re hooked.” It sounds like Meyer just may be describing Catch 22 on Hilton Head Island, where owners Gary and Penny Duren, and Bryan and Daisy Bobinchuck have been welcoming guests to their cozy, culinary tavern for 17 years, creating dining experiences that feel familiar and homey, and taste ever-so-delectable.

Laser focused on fresh, local, ingredients, including superb fish from local waters, executive chef, Bryan Bobinchuck is finding his creative energies flowing as he prepares to debut some changes to their already stellar menu for the new year. “We’re going to retool some of the appetizers, and then we’re adding a steak to the entrées,” he said. “We will have a 12-ounce and a 20-ounce New York Strip Steak; so, there’s going to be a good-sized steak, and a really good-sized steak.”

The appetizers are also getting a few newbies. “We already have a veggie pizza on the menu, but we’re going to change it to a pizza du jour,” Bobinchuck said. “It’s going to change daily, and will give the customers a little variety, as well.” A braised pork enchilada with melt-in-your-mouth pork, smoked gouda, cilantro, and a poblano pepper relish will be his foray into Mexican flavors. The plans are still percolating for his 2018 Catch 22 menu, and Bobinchuck promises several fresh reasons to find a seat at the table—or at the bar.

Speaking of the bar, seats at Catch 22’s bar are in high demand. Pulling out a stack of 50 or 60 well-worn reservation place-holders, Duren said, “These are all for people who sit at the bar. They know their preferred seat number, and when they make reservations, they say for example, we want to sit in 105 and 106.”

Reservations at the bar fill up quickly, especially on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays for their prime rib special. “Some regulars call a day or two ahead to ask Bryan to hold their order of prime rib, then no one is disappointed.”

While there are no proven formulas for success in the restaurant business, there are a few guiding principles by which Catch 22 has operated for 17 successful years: consistency and making the experience all about the guest. Paying attention to their customers is priority number one. “We’re always learning as we go,” Duren said.

“You have to keep up with what the customers are saying. We’ve learned they want to be recognized. It’s easy to greet customers by name, and it makes them feel a little bit special, which they are.” Catch 22 is also finding success working with the online reservation service OpenTable—another way in which they are giving customers what they want—a connection between today’s tech conveniences and a special fork-knife-spoon, sit down, dining experience.

Remaining consistent is certainly the foundation on which all the creative dishes and conviviality happen at Catch 22. Whether seated at the bar catching up with Penny Duren, who tends bar three nights a week and oversees the always changing wine list, or in the dining room guided by the evening’s hosts Gary Duren or Daisy Bobinchuck and an experienced, friendly staff member, guests can count on a few things:

SEAFOOD. “It is one of the things we’re known for,” Bryan Bobinchuck said. “On the menu, we have different fish from different regions, but our catch of the day will almost always be a local fish. I get all our fish in whole, so I know exactly what I’m getting. I think that gives us an advantage to have such nice fresh fish to start.”

BEEF. “We use 28-day-aged, USDA Prime beef. It’s aged in-house at Buckhead Beef in Atlanta or Brasstown Beef just outside of Atlanta. Beef gets better with age. I think of it as the fat that is in the steak kind of mellowing into the meat. Our beef is all going to be well-marbled, tasty, tender steak; that’s all our beef.” With a bandsaw in his kitchen, Bobinchuck and his team will customize nearly any requested cut; of course, some may require a day or two of prep time.

PRODUCE. “One thing that hasn’t changed in 17 years is that we’ve always bought our produce regionally whenever possible,” Bobinchuck said. “Our tomatoes come from the tomato market in Columbia. The Tomato Man goes there three or four days a week to get tomatoes. We’ve stayed true.”

THE SIDES. “When you come to Catch 22, all of our dinners always have a grain or starch and a vegetable. It’s always a complete meal.”

LIBATIONS. While there’s always a classic Manhattan or a solid gin and tonic with a wedge of lime, the team at Catch 22 is forever putting a new twist on favorite beverages. “Thursdays, we do martini night,” Gary said. “Penny makes a jalapeno martini using Altos into which she has infused jalapenos for about four or five days. Penny also keeps up with the wine and changes the list about every other month.”

Customers are invited to stay current with the happenings at Catch 22 by finding them on Facebook or by checking out their website. BOGO and BOGO-half-off special passes are available now, along with Happy Hour features, and their invitation to dine at the bar on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays, and enjoy 30 percent off any bottle of wine under $100.

Tucking into an evening at Catch 22 is comfortable and delicious, and is surely just what Danny Meyer imagined when he thought of a place where home and great restaurants meet. We’re hooked.

Catch 22 is located at 37 New Orleans Road, Hilton Head Island. For more information or to make a reservation, please visit opentable.com, catch22hhi.com, or call (843) 785-6261.

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