Friday, August 25, 2006

Hollywood and Vine Metro Portal - The Hungry Cat as a Destination

The ExperienceLA Metro Adventures originally were car-based cultural tourism sightseeing tours developed with community groups by the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau for the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. In 2003, the adventures were updated and integrated with the respective Metro Red, Blue, and Green Lines portals along with the Wilshire Raoid Bus. During these six years, the area around the Hollywood and Vine Metro portal has become a destination onto itself. When my wife and I began going to the restored Cinerama Dome and Arc Light Theaters, the number of restaurant choices in the immediate area were limited. As the Sunset and Vine residential complex and shopping center was nearing completion, I heard about one of the restaurants that would be in the inner courtyard off of Vine. This was The Hungry Cat. The word on the street was that David Lentz, husband of Suzanne Goin, owner/chef at Lucques and AOC, was developing a small informal upscale seafood restaurant that would be open for dinner along with brunch on the weekends. Our first introduction to the restaurant was on Sundays during the early days of the restaurant, as we wandered over from the Sunday Hollywood Farmers Market. One of the specials that we loved was the soft-shell blue crab omelet. Also, whenever we go for brunch, the beignets are a must. Possibly the best, west of New Orleans. Earlier this year, Hungry Cat extended its hours to lunch during the week.

Since the early days of the restauant, I have been telling everyone about The Hungry Cat hidden inside the courtyard of the Sunset and Vine complex. Now with all of the awards and publicity, reservations for dinner and brunch are a must. For those without a reservation, the restaurnt serves the entire menu at the bar. Thus, on the spur of the moment, you can get there when the restaurant opens for dinner, eat at the bar, and make an early movie at the Arc Light or even a show at the Pantages. Many of the articles that have been written about David Lentz and The Hungry Cat have been about the mixed drink specials. Making use of fresh fruits from the local farmers markets, he has even created a drink using cantalope. There was also a lime cocktail with lavendar.

One of the great things about The Hungry Cat are the specials which reflect was is available from the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers Market, Sunday Hollywood Farmers Market, and their seafood purveyors. I am always on the lookout for the fried Ipswich clams, while the lobster roll is a menu staple. With David Lentz growing up in Maryland, he delivers a standout crab cake, and he has been known to Maryland crabs as a special. A meal can be ordered in stages, as the mood fits, and makes for much fun in sharing dishes with friends. For those who don't like (or can't eat) fish and shellfish, there is the outstanding Pug Burger. Maybe one of the best burgers in LA.

Finally, there is the wine list, and from a family who brought you AOC, you will definitely enjoy this small wine list that pairs well with seafood. And with always a choice of roses, including one of the best champagnes from France, I feel that I might be in one of the small seafood restaurants of Nice. Treat yourself to this restaurant, before or after going to the movies, theater, or clubs. And like me, you will keep on coming back. The Red Line for lunch at The Hungry Cat.

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