My birthday and my mom's birthday are on the same day. We often trade off birthday celebration locations, and this year I happened to be in Southern California for the big day. It was going to be a low-key celebration this year, and is often the case with family get-togethers, we spent a long time considering where we could go that the grandparents would like. Being 86 and 87, my grandma and grandpa are adventurous to a point, but really like very specific restaurants. Ideas like brunch at Trump National Golf Club or dinner at Kincaid's were brought up and then discarded for one reason or another.
Suddenly, I remembered Stephanie's advice to me earlier in the week when she heard I was in Southern California: "Go to Hungry Cat and taste a cucumber martini for me -- Evan Kleiman raves about them and I'm craving one." Upon perusing the menu, mom and I weren't completely sure that grandma and grandpa would love it, but decided that it sounded delicious enough that we would give it a try anyway.
Driving to Hollywood with the grandparents was a fun experience. They have so many memories of the area from when they were young: Grandpa had a job in the forties making deliveries to the large movie studios, and he and grandma had a great time talking about the old dance clubs that they used to go to in the area.
The Hungry Cat is located in a building right at Sunset and Vine. It's around the corner from the Hollywood Farmers' Market and is a casual, fun place to get a drink or brunch after the market.
With five of us, we were able to sample a large portion of the brunch menu with standout items including the peel n' eat shrimp and the PUG burger and fries. We ordered vanilla beignets with blackberry compote for the table and they arrived in a paper bag, which the waiter shook to disperse cinnamon sugar on the outside. I loved the flavor, and eating them straight from the fryer was sublime.
The Hungry Cat has a very small kitchen, and they bring food out as it's cooked in order to accommodate the kitchen size. Despite this disclaimer, all of our food was well-timed. The service was good, and the waitress, Heidi, took a particular shine to my granparents and talked to them about "old Hollywood".
The star(s) of the afternoon were the fantastic cocktails that we ordered. Grandma and grandpa had Virgin Marys, and the rest of us tasted cucumber martinis, "lemonade" made with vodka and mint, greyhounds, and bloody marys with pickled vegetables. While each drink was expertly made with fresh ingredients and delicious, the cocktail I will dream of is the greyhound made with fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, plymouth gin and candied grapefruit.
Whether you are passing by after the farmers' market or in the area for a special get-together, the Hungry Cat in Los Angeles is a fun place to celebrate.