Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hollister Bags a Cooking Cat

While the ever with the scoop Restaurant Guy points out today that Chef John Pettitt, formerly of the Wine Cask, is now the chef at Santa Barbara's Hungry Cat, that's only half the story. For what happened to former Hungry Cat chef Dylan Fultineer? He's starting at, and I hope you're sitting down, Hollister Brewing Company.

What does this mean for Hollister, which after a bit of a rocky start got into a groove of solid beer-friendly typical brew pub food favorites, from good fries to tasty pizzas? Only time will tell (and more reporting, soon, at the Indy, I promise). Head brewer Eric Rose did confess that there will be beer dinners as a way to start the shift at Hollister; Rose wrote in an email "we are both committed to throw down some serious stuff. Barrel-aged imperial stout, short ribs, etc." Those who have had the good fortune to eat Fultineer's meatier creations at events like The Winehound's high end "wines you never tasted" tastings know his culinary skills are not limited to seafood.

This could be a marriage made in culinary heaven, two young talented men pushing each other with what they can do. Clearly Rose is a restless brewer, offering countless styles of beer in the brewery's almost two years of operation, from bier de tables (let's see Stone try to pull one of those off) to huge hop and alcohol bombs like Hip Hop Double IPA (there's no more pleasant bomb to blow oneself up with, btw). Matching him with a talented chef could make Hollister something special like Father's Office in LA. In fact, Fultineer, who came from Chicago's acclaimed Blackbird to work at Hungry Cat, almost had this opportunity before--he was slated to work at executive chef Paul Kahan's now flourishing Chicago gastropub Publican. Check that menu out, but beware of drooling.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

George, I never thought I'd be hungry for bar food at 10 a.m., but you have accomplished the impossible. Thanks for the scoop.

10:15 AM  
Blogger sygyzy said...

With such a strong pedigree you'd think that Fultineer could turn Hollister Brewing Company into the Central Coast's very own Father's Office ...

Don't get your hopes up. I've dined at Hollister plenty of times and have participated in two small semi-private tastings where I listed to the philosophies of both the owner and Eric Rose. While I respect Rose's commitment to the craft of beermaking, I think the restaurant's idea of a fine gastropub is far off the mark. Have you tried their food lately? It's a step above Chili's and half of that is credit for giving manageable portions rather than the behemoth sizes that Chili's serves.

I'd love to see Hungry Cat's books one day. How are they doing? I expect they are in the red. Quite frankly, I was surprised Suzanne Goin would choose Santa Barbara to open the second location of her famed LA restaurant/bar. This town simply does not do fine dining well. The food served at places like Father's Office, Avec, etc, are not appreciated and the prices are ironically too high for a town that is as much obsessed with looking good as it is with cheap food.

Hollister would have to do a complete revamp for this to even remotely work. It's in a "stripmall" shopping center. It's way too big for an intimate fancy type of restaurant, and the typical diner there is in a 49's jersey and on his 3rd hemp beer (because anything with hemp is cool, right?). You think he wants to eat chorizo stuffed madjool dates or smoked eel?

In the end, I hope everything I've said is wrong. I hope Hollister does step up their game. I hope someone actually teaches them what a gastropub is, because their current definition is painfully off.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Queen Whackamole said...

Too late, sygyzy. I'm getting my hopes up!

11:40 AM  
Blogger Smitty said...

Brilliant idea. Right off the bat, you get challenging beer-with-food pairings, all in-house. Love the idea. OK, George...send me along some of Hollister's stuff...

12:53 PM  
Blogger George said...

Smitty, wish I could send some Hollister but they don't bottle. I doubt the growler would survive the trip.

12:56 PM  
Blogger Cookie Jill said...

"the ever with the scoop"...ha.

1:16 PM  
Blogger Smitty said...

but they don't bottleI guess I'll just have to get out to California then.

5:39 AM  
Blogger regina said...

I read The Restaurant Guy's scoop about Chef Pettitt and wondered what was going on. Thanks for the filling in the blanks re: musical chefs.

I've been underwhelmed with HBC's menu, but now... Very promising indeed!

I went to the Father's Office for the first time last weekend. What in the world took me so long to get there?!? I'm now totally addicted to their sweet potato fries. mmm...

1:09 PM  
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2:56 AM  

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