Saturday, December 02, 2006

They've Delayed That Lovin' Feline

Thanks to my ability to use the internets, my voyueristic nature, and my tall frame, I can actually do some reporting on this website for a change. I've been patiently waiting for the opening of David Lentz's Hungry Cat in Santa Barbara, as Amy and I are big fans of the one in LA, which is not only delicious, but quite close to the Henry Fonda Theater, where all kinds of great shows happen, from Yo La Tengo to the Decemberists. The LA Times reported Lentz, who partners with his wife, killer chef Suzanne Goin (of Lucques and AOC in LA) to own the Hungry Cats, was going to open a branch right here in SB, in the spot vacated by L'Ombretta on Chapala and Anapamu. It was originally scheduled to open this December.

The other night we walked by the location and decided to peek over the paper covering the windows. As I perilously dug in the toes of my size 12s on the slight window ledge and Amy supported me from behind, what I took in inside isn't encoraging--basically they hollowed out the L'Ombretta space but little has been put in. The closest hint to cooking is a microwave on a folding table, something I assume won't make it to the final stage of the restaurant. Indeed, the Santa Barbara space seems quite difference from the Los Angeles one, which is equally small (75 seats), but ultra modern to the point of austerity--visible Pompidou-esque pipes (without the art smartiness) and metal and concrete of the Sunset + Vine complex (clearly modern as it turns to math and ignores primitive languagy things like "ands" or amerpsands). As much as L'Ombretta was erratic in food and service (if a brilliant idea--small plates and big wines from one of the great lands of small plates, Venice), the spot was homey and charming, and well, warm. It's going to be fascinating to see what Lentz ends up with when the Hungry Cat is finished.

Sure enough, if you go to the Hungry Cat link above, you'll see that when it used to say "Santa Barbara--Opening December," it now says "Opening Winter 2007," which more than likely leaves us arguing what winter means in Santa Barbara. In the meantime we can dream of perfectly prepared peel and eat shrimp (the labor makes you feel noble and able to eat more). And dream of brilliant cocktails, or at least I hope they find a bartender here as good as the ones in LA, but squeezing fresh fruit and muddling mint is always a very good start.

For more, go read what I wrote about the Hollywood location back in May 2005, or read Jonathan Gold's review in LA Weekly, or read S. Irene Virbilia's in the LA Times.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm still waiting too! Actually I plan to work there (I'm good).


7:28 PM  

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