For a city that has an amazing sushi scene, one would guess fantastic seafood restaurants would abound. While newbies like Son Of A Gun and BP Oysterette are heading in the right direction, Los Angeles still lacks a world class seafood restaurant (and no, Providence and Water Grill aren’t world class and anyone who believes so lives in a teeny, tiny world).
So along comes Hungry Cat Santa Monica, in the former space of Bruce Marder’s Brass Cap. Will this offshoot of the popular restaurants prove to be the cities saving grace?
First off, the valet parking situation is a death trap. You’re pulling up at the corner of a busy and dangerous intersection between the PCH and West Channel Road. With cars whizzing by from all directions this is a bit like playing Pacman and hoping not to get swallowed whole.
What was once a dark and depressing room has been transformed into a beautiful space with a long bar running the length of the back, an outside patio and two separate seating areas. It feels spacious, nautical, with a New England vibe. The added windows bring in light and help open up the room.
The menu looks promising. A sampling of it includes: on the half shell, oysters, littleneck clams, cherrystone clams; in the shell, shrimp, Alaskan snow crab legs, lobster, pacific blue prawns, Alaskan king crab claws, marinated mussels; fruits of the sea platters; caviar (four types); raw/smoked/marinated fluke ceviche with pisco, lime, Fresno chili and fried avocado or cured arctic char, tandoori, pickled pineapple, Greek yogurt, house made naan; dinner entrees like grilled whole fish with farro verde, charmoulah, pine nuts and pickled raisons or steamed Alaskan king crab leg with mustard butter and grilled bread; cheeses.
Minus a soup/bouillabaisse/cioppino, on offer is a large cross-section of seafood. The Monster bemoans the fact that so many seafood restaurants fail to offer a selection of soups but that’s for another time.
The order was the the marinated clams, the arctic char, the grilled octopus salad, the lobster roll special and the Texas redfish.
Marinated mussels were delicious and a nice sized portion for the price. Fresh, with a squeeze of lemon they proved a perfect start to the meal.
Arctic char was a nice second course. Loved the naan and the char was fresh. While it didn’t blow you away with taste it was a clean, simple dish that is a nice accompaniment to more powerful flavors.
The grilled octopus salad was absolutely disappointing. This should have been called lots of salad and then more salad and how about some salad and oh by the way somewhere under your salad you’ll find little bits of octopus. Making matters worse, the flavors were unique so this could have been a standout.
At this point we asked for bread to sop up some of the sauces. HC completely loses for charging $2 to “fire up some bread.” That’s just an insult when charging these prices. Actually, that’s just an insult.
The lobster roll was good, but in his life The Monster has only had one bad one. For the money, go to BP Oysterette and have their lobster roll which is a far superior version. Hungry Cat’s comes with a plate loaded with fries, perhaps to make it appear as if the entire dish is larger that is it. Nice try HC, we’re on to you.
Texas Redfish as the final course was another highlight. Even though we’d already eaten past our waistlines this went down in record time.
Ok. So now let’s talk dessert. Chocolate bread pudding. The manager said it was amazing. In fact, his eyes rolled back in his head as he rhapsodized on its merits. We didn’t need dessert but with such a glowing description The Monster didn’t want to miss a little trip to Heaven.
We should have passed. Searing hot on top, this was a cold, soupy mess beneath. Luckily, it was also foul tasting. Heaven would have to wait.
The service on this night was professional so while others have lobbed complaints that won’t be one of them for The Monster.
On the way out Mel Gibson was walking in. The Monster overheard him say to his dinner guest he hadn’t eaten all day. Add your own pithy remarks from here…
Why go? They take reservations (good luck getting one) and BP Oysterette does not.
Monster rating: 3/5 Monsters
100 West Channel Road
Santa Monica, CA 90402