Hungry Cat -- over-rated?
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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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.
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.
The Pug Burger seems to get raves, but shouldn't the seafood if that's what the restaurant claims to do best?