Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Hungry Cat

Suzanne Goin [and David Lentz have] some great food going on at The Hungry Cat. Though you won't see Garfield's lasagna on the menu, you'll definitely see a ton of fresh seafood.

The restaurant sits in the back corner of a random done up alley with large windows, but little natural light. This makes the restaurant feel a little stale on the inside, but the warm service makes up for the cold interior.

Afternoon happy hour also helps to warm up your spirits. The cocktail list is great, but tends to lean towards sweeter drinks.

The Luke's Lemonade was a nice mix of lemonade, mint, and vodka. I could see this drink being a bestseller on hotter summer days. The Greyhound featured a strong dose of grapefruit. I love the sour sweetness of grapefruit, and this cocktail does those flavors justice. Overall, however, I felt like the grapefruit was trying to hide the alcohol, rather than balance it.

The Sleepy Jean was like nectar, complete with chamomile, honey, and tequila. This was probably one of the more subtle drinks I had that day, and I would definitely get this drink again. My favorite was a special they were making that day, which was essentially a Manhattan mixed with some muddled tangerines. While the tangerines covered any trace of bitters, the drink was still deliciously refreshing.

Enough with the booze.

First up was the Clam Chowder with Manila Clams, Bacon, and Rustic Croutons. The chowder was sweet, hearty, and comforting. There were just enough clams to balance out the heavier bacon, and the croutons added a nice crunch to the dish. Overall, the dish kept my attention, but was more or less straightforward.

The Oyster and Pork Belly Beignets with Celery Root Remoulade was heavy. The greens didn't do much to contribute to the plate, but the addictive celery root remoulade helped to lighten things up.

The actual beignets were basically a fried, juicier version of the clam chowder. The flavors were similar, with the batter, oyster, and pork belly mirroring the chowder, clams, and bacon.

Each entrée I had came with a generous portion of fries. While unassuming, the fries were actually really good in that class, perfectly fried way.

The Pug Burger with Bacon, Avocado, and Blue Cheese was our first main. Suzanne Goin takes the classic pub burger to a new level with perfectly fatty and crispy bacon, traditional beef, light avocado, and intense blue cheese.

The bread is the star: cloud-like on the inside and crispy on the outside. Notice how the bottom bun's interior gets compressed by the burger's weight and juices. While there was plenty of runoff from the beef, the actually patty itself tasted a bit brittle and dry. The avocado and blue cheese are a great combination and do nothing to make you feel like you're eating something healthy. Though this isn't the best burger I've ever had, it's a great piece of grub to have with a beer.

One of the specials that day was a Crab Cake Sandwich Bacon. This was basically identical in value with the pug burger. The sandwich, or burger really, had equally great bread and bacon. The sauce was tartar-like and heavy, much like the crab cake it sat on top of. The cake was crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside, with a generous amount of crab meat. While the beignets and crab cake feature different proteins, they tasted similarly flavorful, but overbearing.

The best dish of the day was by far the Maine Lobster Roll on a Butter Toasted Bun with French Fries. The humungous pieces of lobster were perfect. While the mayo grew dangerously close to overpowering the natural deliciousness of the lobster meat, the roll was a perfect combination of textures and flavors: crispy bread, scrumptiously soft lobster, soothing mayo, and a light twist of lemon. The impressively buttery bun is something I wish I could eat every day with every meal. The only thing I'd want next time is probably a heavier spritz of lemon. By the end of the meal, I felt spoiled by the amount of lobster I'd eaten on the lobster roll, but still found myself craving more.

Next time I find myself hungry and feeling like an alley cat, I'll probably pounce my way over to The Hungry Cat to snatch up another lobster roll. I'll probably make it a point to get something from the raw bar, too.

The Hungry Cat
1535 N. Vine St.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 462-2155

GET: Maine Lobster Roll on a Butter Toasted Bun with French Fries.


  1. Very nice timing. I'll actually be coming here for the first time soon.

    "Suzanne Goin has some great food going on at The Hungry Cat."

    Don't you mean David Lentz?

  2. I totally agree about the burger and the lobster roll. I thought the pug burger was going to blow my mind, but it wasn't even memorable for me. The lobster roll, though...yum.

  3. kevinEats: Good catch. I forgot that they co-owned the place. I'll be keeping an eye out for your post on The Hungry Cat! Hopefully the lobster roll is as juicy as a I remember!

    Steph: I want the lobster roll. Now...

  4. kevinEats: Thanks for reading, by the way!


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