The Hungry Cat had been intriguing me for a while now, and Saturday night I had the chance to finally check it for myself
Getting a late start to the evening we arrived at the Sunset and Vine parking structure about 9:30. After squeezing the old 4 door sedan into the parking spot (compact of course) I was pleasantly surprised that upon exiting the garage we were standing right in front of The Hungry Cat. Putting our names in we learned the wait would be 15 minutes, so we decided to head to the Borders across the way and peruse the best seller section while we waited. I got my fill of poorly written boring books with eye-catching cover designs and quickly headed back outside to wait in the pleasant courtyard outside the restaurant. Soon we were seated. Given the choice of a small table inside near the server station we chose to sit outside .and with the heat lamps it was lovely.
We started off with a couple of cocktails. For her the Lukes Lemonade Vodka and Lemonade and Mint and for me the Greyhound Proper Gin and Grapefruit Juice. They were both very good. The vodka in hers was very mild so her drink tasted simply of really really good lemonade. Mine was stronger in the taste of alcohol (which I prefer) and the combination of the gin and the slightly sour grapefruit juice was good. There was definitely some simple syrup in there to sweeten, and the candied grapefruit peel was a nice touch.
We debated over a starter of either a half-pound of their shrimp, or some clams on the half shell. The waiter being a professional (by professional I mean that he was always there to recommend the more expensive choice) recommended a dozen clams over the shrimp, so I decided wed meet in the middle and wed take a half dozen oysters and a half dozen clams. It ended up being a brilliant choice as they were both absolutely fabulous. Im not sure the variety of oyster, Fanny Bay maybe?, but they were the best oysters and clams I have had in LA to date. Very cold, and very very fresh and very very very tasting of the sea. They were served with a cocktail sauce and some sort of mignonette and lemons. Now I personally think its an abortion to deface a perfect oyster and clam with some sort of sauce to dumb down the flavor, but I did taste both of the sauces and they were good in their own right. Ive been debating in my head weather the clams Saturday night were the best thing Ive ever eaten thats how good they were .but I dont think I can bring myself to say that about anything ..but they were good. And also if you think Im ever going back to Quality Seafood on the Redondo Beach pier you are sorely mistaken. After eating the near perfect clam and oyster the other night I can not see myself stooping down to that almost ghetto level of seafood.
It was time to order more drinks and the food.
We decided for drinks that she would have another of the same and I went with the Blackberry Margarita. For food we decided on a bowl of the oyster chowder, the fried soft shell crab special, and the braised clams and chorizo.
My blackberry margarita came out quickly and again it was very good. It was very different than a regular margarita but very similar. Of course there was no salt rim, but the muddled blackberry, lime, and tequila went together quite nicely. Again there was definitely the addition of a simple syrup to add some sweetness. The girls lemonade was identical to the first, and again very good.
The oyster chowder was next and it was something special. After throwing in some of the complimentary oyster crackers that are set out on the tables I dug in. The chowder broth was creamy but fairly thin in consistency and it was full of whole oysters, little chopped up pieces of oysters, little pieces of smoked ham, and greens. The flavor was amazing .it was smoky and rich and oystery and just unreal. Id almost go as far as to say that the greens, and were talking real greens here not spinach or anything, were as good in the chowder as the oysters.
The entrees arrived next. The soft-shell crab was beautifully fried and rested upon a bed of avocado and sweet corn. It was served with a dollop of aioli which went perfectly with the sweet fried crab. The dish was very very good. The crab was cooked perfectly .the light freshness of the salad underneath went very well with the fried crab and the aioli. A big winner. The braised clams and chorizo came out in a big deep bowl. It was filled with a deep red broth, about a dozen clams, garbanzo beans, and the chorizo. Served with a delicious piece of grilled bread to mop up the juices it was good as well. The clams were tender and cooked well, the garbanzo beans were good, the chorizo added some texture and flavored the broth very well, and the bread was perfect. The waiter even brought us out another couple pieces of bread for the juice that was remaining.
Halfway through the entrees I needed another drink. I hailed the waiter and asked if there was something a tad bit less sweet on the drink menu. He suggested a Pimlico. I agreed as thats what I was thinking as well, and all was good. The pimlico came out shortly. It was a perfect mix of bourbon, orange juice, and mint. It was less sweet than the others and another very solid drink, though again there seemed to be a bit of syrup in there.
Full and happy and buzzed we decided against desert.
Overall it was a very good experience. The cocktails are something else. Very fresh and refreshing and fun and averaging $9 a cocktail very affordable. Next time I will request nothing extra to sweeten .just the alcohol and fruit juice for me .but one of these weeks (when I dont have to drive home) Im going to go late and sit at the bar and drink one of each. They are that good. The food is very good as well. Quite simple, but fresh, and well prepared and very pleasing to the palette. I want to try the burger, I want to try the halibut .I want to try it all .and they have brunch. Go there soon Ill be back.