There were no illusions about what you were going to get when the infamous Texas-born Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens was on the mound: a flame-throwing power starting pitcher that dialed up a steady diet of wicked fastballs. You can’t employ the same sentiment of certainty, however, when describing the restaurant recently opened by The Rocket’s son Kory Clemens and the second generation of the venerable Ragin’ Cajun restaurant, Luke Mandola. The baseball-themed name is more than just a play on Kory’s famous father with a full-on sports bar treatment for the interior. There are football helmets behind the bar, jerseys from all the major sports and local teams (all adorned with the No. 22) lining the walls and a TV with sports being played within eyeshot of all the seats in the place. But there aren’t enough TVs flashing around the modestly-sized bar area and spacious dining room to compete with true sports-only establishments like, say Buffalo Wild Wings.
Katch 22 is set up more like a nice casual fine dining restaurant than a neighborhood hang out. And the (glow in the dark) menu is a dead giveaway that this place isn’t Dave & Buster’s. The starters are a notch above your usual place for catching games with Bacon Wrapped Quail and Crab Cakes replacing the typical chicken tenders and fried stuff (although Katch 22 has kept Chicken Wings on there). They’ve got what look like pretty solid pizzas and beef and seafood sliders. There are high-end salads and steak-stuffed sandwiches. In fact, Katch 22 has a decent offering of steaks, patterning itself after a medium-end purveyor of grilled beef with Bone-In Ribeye, a 6-ounce Filet and even Surf & Astroturf (get it?!). But is Katch 22 a sports bar or a steak house? I can see the allure of being a hybrid of both. It is disheartening sometimes when you roll into a sports bar and all you can get is fried mushrooms, so having a place to go with a tidier menu is nice. But do you really want to have Case Keenum flickering in the background while you try to enjoy a porterhouse and glass of wine (I do, but my better half probably doesn’t!). Better places than Katch 22 have been undone by waffling between casual and formal.
On my stop by the place on Durham Street just south of Washington Avenue, Leader Eater went with the Boston Lobster Roll; an obvious ode to Kory’s dad’s run at Fenway Park in the 1980s and 1990s, mainly because it was later in the evening and the place’s big entrees looked too heavy. That was my sentiment for the Extreme Mac, one of the sides that come with Katch’s sandwiches and entrees. But I was steered towards the macaroni dish by the sociable bartender, who told me it was a much better choice for the Lobster Roll than the Fried Asparagus. He was right. The modestly-sized cup that held the bacon and white cheddar shells was ideal and, at his suggestion, was better enjoyed dumped out onto the plate so all the oily additives could be enjoyed and not stuck on the bottom of the dish. I shouldn’t have expected an award-winning Lobster Roll so far from New England and Leader Eater wasn’t expecting a cold lobster and lettuce medley inside to the buttered bread-wrapped exterior. But the choice between a hot or cold interior for a Lobster Roll is a point of preference and was really pretty satisfying with a conscious restrain on the amount of mayonnaise making the difference.
I’m sure I’ll be back to Katch 22 but the debate between it being more sports bar than steak and seafood house will likely continue on longer than, well, a certain fastballers Major League Baseball Hall of Fame ballot.