The Cat’s Out of the Bag

Walking into The Hungry Cat is confusing — the candles, the size, the wine list, and the music all give the atmosphere a sense of fine dining, but the service and the food make you instantly comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt. They seem to have molded every dining experience and every edible option into one restaurant.

The menu has everything from a $27 filet mignon to $9 pizzas; while eating that $9 pizza, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald serenading from the speakers remind you that you’re dining in a fancy environment.

As I looked over the menu, my biggest question was whether I wanted a traditional burger or something more adventurous — either option, readily available. Wanting to try something new, I ordered the grilled Portobello sandwich on a toasted bun, fries on the side. My guest ordered the Linguini Carbonara and we ordered Rosemary Flatbread as an appetizer.

The bread came out first, with wine and a French press full of Townshend’s Tea. Covered with fig chutney and sprinkled with bits of gorgonzola, the bread was tastefully contradictory — but it worked deliciously. The bitter gorgonzola and the sweet chutney were blended well by the subtle taste of rosemary in the bread. The only aspect I couldn’t quite get around were the huge bits of fig in the chutney, but with those picked off the flatbread was a perfect introduction.

The main dishes arrived shortly after: a reasonably sized Portobello sandwich and a mountain of linguini. The huge amount of pasta was unnecessary due to the richness of taste. Barely into the meal, my friend said, “The flavor is wonderful, but I’m almost already done and I’ve hardly made a dent.”

The grilled Portobello was interesting; served with sweet caramelized onions, it is bitter due to the abundance of gorgonzola, with a mushroom flavor reminiscent of biting into a buttery steak. The fries were the hit of the entire meal; they were obviously regular potatoes, but I was constantly double checking they weren’t sweet potatoes; the taste was marvelously different. They complemented the sandwich perfectly.

Dessert options change sporadically. At the time, The Hungry Cat offered a Cracked Pie and a trio of éclairs — lime coconut, Dulce Leche, and chocolate. We ordered both desserts, but the cracked pie absolutely stood out. It had an oatmeal cookie crust, filled with caramelized vanilla custard. It was small, perfect to split between two.

The dining room wasn’t full when we arrived; there was one family, one date, and a student studying. As we sat, only a few more guests arrived. Each server had one table to tend, so the service was excellent. Our waitress, Alex, said, “We opened four weeks ago, but we didn’t start advertising until two weeks ago, so this speed,” as she gestured to the dining room, “has been pretty normal.”

While The Hungry Cat does offer expensive options, it would be easy to have an inexpensive dinner or date. An appetizer, pizza, and dessert would amount to about $20 for the entire meal. Because it molds nearly every restaurant into one, it would perfectly suit a family dinner, date, girls’ night out or quiet place to study. The serve plenty of vegetarian and gluten free options also.

Right now, The Hungry Cat is open Tuesday – Saturday from 5 – 10 p.m. In November, they plan to also serve lunch and offer take-out service. “I like the take-out service because you don’t usually see food like this for take-out,” Alex said. There isn’t a date yet for when the service will begin. Alex went on to say, “We’re not ready yet for that much business. We’re still figuring it out.” I, for one, am looking forward to seeing more of The Hungry Cat and I’ll definitely return.

The Hungry Cat is located just off campus, at 721 S 9th Ave. They can be found online at or contacted at 406-404-1244.