The Hungry Cat- Best Restaurants in Los Angeles
Where to go for lunch or brunch in Los Angeles? If you’re looking for something more casual than the lavish spread at LA’s prolific hotels like Ritz Carlton, The Hungry Cat is a fantastic choice. Located right in Hollywood, The Hungry Cat is tucked away in the back of a small quadrant of restaurants, giving the feeling of a minor escape from the hustle and bustle outside. Casual and contemporary, this quirky restaurant entertains first timers with adorable cat photographs and paraphernalia all over the place.
You’ll see an unobtrusive slinky grey cat (statue) sitting in one corner and a row of dancing kitties up in the air. Odd, you think? Not really when you realize that the cats are an allusion to the restaurant’s specialty- seafood. I began lunch with their fresh oysters, a little weary given that raw seafood at local restaurants is always a hit or miss event. Much to my great pleasure, the oysters were spectacularly fresh, served with a trio of tangy, savory mignonettes. Cool, refreshing and imparting that quintessential sea flavor on my tongue, I wanted more oysters but exercised restraint given the other dishes to come.
House smoked salmon with marinated red cabbage was deliciously salty with the right firm, moist texture that eludes many restaurants. Not usually a fan of seafood in a sandwich, I was surprised to find myself thoroughly enjoying the Soft Shell Crab sandwich, whose cornmeal crispiness held to the last bite within soft buns, savory house smoked bacon and a creamy remoulade. One of the more innovative dishes on the menu was the delicately crispy squash blossom stuffed with minced squid and shrimp atop a swirl of red pepper sauce.
By the end of the meal, I wished we could eat the same dishes all over again- the obvious sign of a restaurant that is doing things right. The gracious staff was knowledgeable about the entire menu, particularly when I needed a recommendation on a light beverage to finish off the splendid lunch. Despite the tempting selection of custom house cocktails, I settled on trying their “Virgin Cats,” the Mint Limeade and the Blood Orange Ginger Soda. Both were spot on, beautifully and accurately flavored with their respective ingredients. The Mint Limeade made me feel like I should be lying on a tropical beach with a huge sun hat snoozing away the summer, while the Blood Orange soda had an addictive blend of bold citrus notes and just the right touch of ginger that wasn’t overpowering. The latter seemed almost deceptively healthy.
Weekdays at The Hungry Cat bring about the locals- both business folks in suits and the thirty-something crowd with time for a leisurely lunch in the patio portion of the restaurant. Weekends do get crowded so make sure to call for reservations.