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Hungry Cat -- over-rated?

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Curious as to what y'all find to be the most over-rated of our great city's plethora of offerings. Have been thinking a lot about Hungry Cat in this regard. Frustrated that I don't like it more. Fresh seafood close to the Arclight -- a matrimonial connection to the brilliant Susan Goin. Sounds great on paper and I have gone back a number of times because I don't know of any other sea-food focussed restaurants in the area but my experience always falls a little short. Seafood is fresh and appetizing and basic battered-fish type food turns out well (if you don't count the bread which is tasteless and a bit awkward sandwhich-wise as it doesn't always hold the fillings together well).

The biggest disappointments I have had involve their more involved/creative dishes (most notably their use of chorizo with seafood which I've had elsewhere to great effect). The components don't always meld. Some hits some misses.

Dessert-wise beignets have been the only offering a couple times when I've gotten around to ordering desert. Cute how sometimes the waiter brings them to the table in a paper bag and shake them around with some cinnamon sugar then roll down the sides to serve. But the doughnuts themselves are either dry or super oily and not flavorful.

Service is another sticky point -- in concept the idea of bringing food out when it's ready is all well-and-good and works smoothly at a place like AOC, but here it often this seems like an excuse for a badly organized kitchen. Is not uncommon in my experience to wait 10-15 minutes after finishing one course before the next plate appears. If you have a vegitarian eating out with a carnivore, this can make for two kind of lonely diners at the same table. Also the cocktail pairings do not always make it out with the food they are accompanying (underscoring a feeling that the quite-sugary cocktail pairings are more about hocking hooch than complimenting the meal). A guy next to me that had the temerity to comment on the wait between courses was snippily upbraided by his waiter for not knowing that they bring the food out when it's ready and not before. "Have you been here before? Well then you should know that..." Blah blah blah. Poor guy got this on Valentines day (when everyone was ordering from the same prix fixe dinner which one might think would have allowed the kitchen to be better organized)

Anyway, the restaurant's expanding so obviously they're not hurting for business and I'll probably go back (being careful with how I order). Just had to put it out there that I think they could be better.

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  1. Agreed

    1. The H is supposed to stand for "Humble," right?

      1. ANYWAY.

        Back to Hungry Cat. Totally overrated. I want to like it, I really do. Location is perfect post-Arclight and late night seafood is an undeniably great concept. Although the oysters are terrific, little else manages to hit the spot. The pug burger's flavors are tasty, but it's just a big ol' sloppy mess and the proportions feel off. As for the lobster roll, the lobster itself is quite good but the portion is disappointingly puny and the brioche is just too greasy. With the VERY salty accompaniment of the fries, there's no way to order that dish and leaving feeling human. It's at once underwhelming and overwhelming, if that makes any sense. As for the peel and eat shrimp, they are beyond repulsive -- overseasoned to the point of being inedible (and I love salt). The first time I ordered the shrimp, I had to send them back (which I never do); I gave those shrimpers a second chance on a different occasion, but that only served to prove the "fool me once, fool me twice..." adage. And the worst part? I keep going back because, sometimes, it's the best possible choice.

        www.infinitefress.blogspot.com

        2 Replies
        1. re: hungrygirl106

          I know. Diabolical.

          1. re: hungrygirl106

            Put me in the over-rated column too. Hungrygirl106 & bite bite, I really want to like Hungry Cat for all the reasons you name, but wasn't so thrilled with our experience there that I'd rush back.

            http://cynematic.wordpress.com/2007/0...

            The Pug Burger seems to get raves, but shouldn't the seafood if that's what the restaurant claims to do best?

          2. I love Hungry Cat. I've never had a bad experience with the food nor the service. Maybe it's what I order? I don't know. I know that many on this board really dislike it, and I only have my experiences to go by, so I can't really relate.

            http://myculinaryadventures.blogspot....

            2 Replies
            1. re: Bon Vivant

              Second.

              1. re: Bon Vivant

                You obviously aren't alone. People love it. Wish I did too. Just feel there's more potential than what's being delivered. What do you order? Maybe I'll have better luck next time. Might try sitting at bar...

              2. I think the Pug Burger is the best in town (not counting Father's O b/c that's just outside burger category for me). Service at bar is best. I'm a fan. Just one man here.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Dover Sole

                  I second the Pug burger being the best in town, plus their mojitos rock. We had terrible service last time we were there, but they did apologize and give us a free round of drinks.

                  1. re: jenngen

                    Yes the Pug burger is great and tastes fantastic, but I'm often put off from going to HC to get one because of how big of a pain in the ass it is to eat. It's just too tall to fit in most humans mouths and the patty is less of a patty then a loaf. Seems strange that they would make something so intentionally difficult to eat. When it comes to the burger wars, as long as I'm already ready to drop $14 on a burger I would rather spend a couple bucks more and get the easier to eat and just as delicious (or more) kobe bacon blue burger at Lucky Devils :)

                2. The yearly crab boil is great. Blue crabs galore!!

                  1. I had a fantastic chorizo-stuffed squid dish not too long ago. If you think the cocktails are too sweet (I think all cocktails are, by default, too sweet), then ask not to have simple syrups added or to have extra citrus juices added. My bartender was quite accomodating with both requests, and I had two great drinks: a strawberry daiquiri (with lots of added lime juice) that was that night's special and a kumquatini (without simple syrup and added grapefruit and lemon juices). Seriously, restaurants and bars ought to-- and often DO-- work for and with you, not against.

                    1. Point taken re cocktails. Not a big cocktail person -- but doing away with syrup would also cut down on hang-over factor. Wasn't wild on the chorizo-stuffed squid -- kind of a little too much like chili-stuffed squid for my taste.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: bite bite

                        As my ex would point out, people probably ought not to expect drinks that aren't sweet unless they specifiy exactly what they want. Whenever I order a _-sour, I ask the bartender to hold the sour mix and to add lots of lemon and/or lime juices. Why have the added sugar when there's already a dangerous amount in the alcohol itself? That said, I normally just order Makers on rocks and ask for some lemon slices.

                        I was pretty happy that I didn't order that default drink and tried something new. That kumquatini (mmmm...muddled kumquats at the bottom~) was seriously worth it.

                      2. I love Hungry Cat's chorizo and clams with the Tecate beer they offer. I just wish it was a lot closer and a bit cheaper

                        1. I love the HC's food but never seem to book far enough in advance to get a reso of late. I have felt that service has suffered a bit since the previous manager left, though I have still liked the food. The inconsistent dish for me has been the sashimi, which I sometimes love so usually order, but sometimes find overdressed. Never misses for us are the crab legs in mustard butter (oh god is it good - especially the smoky, grilled bread), the chorizo and clams, and the oysters. I have also enjoyed the chowder, though I have not gotten it in a while, and most all of their salads (like Suzanne, I think David makes very good salads). Often the specials are delicious as well. I actually love the cocktails, particulary the cucumber martini, which is refreshing and not overly sweet. However, after one I usually transition to wine.

                          http://meganinlosfeliz.blogspot.com/

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: meganinlosfeliz

                            I miss their old crab salad with avocado which was amazing. I recently had their bizarre cobb salad with shrimp, crab, and tuna which is served with the different ingredients arranged in strips. I thought it was skimpy, bland, and overpriced. I hate to rag on HC, because I do like it and keep going back. I thought the chorizo stuffed squid was very tasty, especially the fideos at the bottom of the bowl!

                          2. "The biggest disappointments I have had involve their more involved/creative dishes (most notably their use of chorizo with seafood which I've had elsewhere to great effect). The components don't always meld. Some hits some misses."

                            Completely disagree with this. Their chorizo and clams dish is one of the best in town, especially when you're soaking that broth up with their crunchy, buttery bread.

                            1. Haven't tried Hungry Cat yet, but just a short walk down the block is a place where I've always had good seafood, Los Balcones del Peru. They're closed Mondays but open for lunch/dinner every day otherwise.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: katydid13

                                I'm a big fan of both. You can have your seafood Peruvian style or Chesapeake Bay style.

                              2. I agree - HC is highly overrated. You should all stop going there now!
                                While we're at it, if everyone would stop visiting Scoops and Father's Office too, my life would be much simpler! ;)

                                1. I think it's overrated and the service is not great and the seating is uncomfortable. I don't know if you were drawn to it by the lobster roll, but I started a thread looking for lobster myself and ended up with a great lobster and leftovers for a kick ass lobster roll that puts Hungry Cat to shame for a fraction of the price. So, if you're cooking/lobster roll inclined you should check out the thread I have going a few ahead of yours "Native Bostonian...lobster." Cheers!