My husband and I visited Hungry Cat last night. We were excited to try it because the chef had a recipe for a softshell crab sandwich with bacon in an issue of _Food and Wine_ last year. We had never thought of adding bacon to our seasonal crab-wichs. We were pretty sure that this was a brilliant idea, this was a brilliant chef, and the food at his new restaurant would combines treif in many fine and delicous ways. We love shellfish and pork products.
The chef, David Lentz, previously worked at Opaline.
The Hungry Cat is a modern space with high ceilings, exposed duckwork, and a large patio area. It is carved out of the mall but doesn't feel mall-like. The location is excellent for before or after Arclight dining. The plan is to have the restaurant serve food until 1p.m. Large bar area makes it convenient to dine by yourself. Friendly service.
In addition to the food, they have a specialized bar set up where they make cocktails with fresh juice. Someone obviously cares about their cocktails which always makes me happy to see. The wine list is short and has a good selection of beer and French whites which pair well with seafood. Nice to be able to get a glass of muscadet in a restaurant. Mr. JudiAU started with a cocktail made with burbon, mint, and freshly squeezed orange juice. Nice.
The menu is primarly seafood, heavy on the shelfish, with one or two veg options and one burger. Portions are on the smaller side with prices to match. Various raw bar items served with a cooked skate, trout, clams and chorizo, crab cake, lobster roll, and oyster stew. Most of the dishes were $12-14.
We ate a dozen oysters in peak condition. I don't remember the variety, something unusual, but they were were firm, briny, and filled with juice, a good indicator of quality. $12/half dozen Good mignonette.
At some point we asked for bread and they brought some sliced pieces brown on the grill and rubbed with a little olive oil. Delicous and wonderful with the stew. I don't know if this the bread they plan to serve all the time or the kitchen did it because they weren't busy but I love grilled bread and I hope they have it in the future.
We also had a terrific oyster stew which emphasized the briny quality of the oyster. Oysters were roughly chopped and quickly poached in a more milky than creamy base with smoky bacon, cavolo nero, paprika, and some spice. Truly excellent with what I thought were Portugese flavors. $8 The kale makes it healthy.
Also tried a lobster roll served with good fries and good slaw. Lobster roll was very tasty but a little tarted up for purist New Englander Mr. JudiAU. Also, a little small at $22. I would rather pay the going rate of $32 in New York and have it be bigger.
We are planning on returning soon. I hope to see them have enough business that their raw bar offerings can expand.
The Hungry Cat, 1535 N. Vine Street, Hollywood, (323) 462-2155.