The line was out the door at the Echo Friday night, so a late dinner seemed a more reasonable course of action. My fiance and I had read the JG review of the Hungry Cat earlier in the day and had wandered by it curiously when running errands at the shopping complex wherein it resides. The clincher was not the JG review- it was one point of information within that review. The chef was the former chef from Opaline. I *mourn* the loss of Opaline, where I've had some of my favorite meals in Los Angeles, and where a relative incompetant regarding wine like myself was safe in the hands of the house selections. (I'm still kicking myself for not writing down the name of their house Syrah, unfortunately my enjoyment of it interfered with such little details as remembering its name).
Anyway- rambling aside- the Hungry Cat. Wandering in the space is assymmetric and a bit odd- it gives it a bit of the feeling of a cavern, or some odd crevice in the monolith of corporate concrete which surrounds it. The patio is nicely sheltered from Sunset by the buildings around it- should be a good site for a lunch visit after a trip to the bookstore.
For starters- a half dungness crab in a tasty butter of red peppers and other goodness. It comes uncracked and hot- a messy proposition. Extremely tasty, the sweetness of the sauce complements the crab without obscuring it. I can't help but think that having the crab and the peel and eat shrimp on the menu is a way of keeping the place informal. It's hard to be too pretentious when covered in crustacean bits. Alongside the crab- a special- broiled oysters. Jaw-droppingly, lick-the-shell-clean good. Capers and butter and shallots and a clean light breath of tender sea air that is the oyster. I could eat just these. Forever. We split 6 between the two of us and were sorely tempted to get another half-dozen, but restrain prevailed.
The main dishes. My s.o. got the lobster roll. She's developed a serious maine lobster addiction, and needed a fix. Now, even given the emotional difficulties inherent for me in paying $22 for a sandwich, I've got to say, that having had a bite, this is worth it. A light lobster salad rife with sweet lobster chunks, mayonaisse, and a taste of onion on a roll which definitely owes something to brioche fried in butter- probably with some garlic involved. Tasty fries and coleslaw alongside, too. In front of me drops a good sized bowl of clams and chorizo. This was apocryphal for me, like seeing Sante Sangre for the first time (lime covered shanty dwellers shredding the corpse of a baby elephant- Jung never listed that one)- a cuilinary archetype I'd never conceived of before, yet, which on first encounter seems like a fundamental pairing. Spicy pork sausage and the funky strong pure clam taste together, cut by the starch of garbanzo beans in each mouthful, married in a rich velvety broth. Absolutely delicious, I must figure out how to cook this at home.
To finish- a chocolate bread pudding. Streaks of dark chocolate with a crisp caramel top- Very nice.
The damage- two appetizers, the six oysters being a double order, actually, two main dishes, and dessert with one double bourbon, and three glasses wine + tax and tip $130 or so. The drinks added up- while the wine was excellent- $8-12 a glass will get you.
All in all a wonderful evening, and the the first time in an age that restaurant has floored me.