THE HUNGRY CAT IS COMING

Once again, another local restaurant has changed hands. David Lentz and his wife, Suzanne Goin, of Los Angeles, have purchased L’Ombretta, on the corner of Chapala and Anapamu Streets, and will rename it The Hungry Cat. Rest assured, this is not their first restaurant.

Goin and her business partner, Caroline Styne, are quite well known in the L.A. area for A.O.C. (named after the French system for maintaining the quality of wines & cheeses) and Lucques. Their résumé is peppered with praise, with commendations coming from the likes of Food & Wine, which called Goin one of the “best new chefs of 1999,” Condé Nast Traveler, Gourmet and Los Angeles Magazine.

By the end of the year, we just may have a real treat in store for us. Chef Lentz tells me all seafood will be sustainable and all produce will be locally grown. “Santa Barbara lends itself to our concept,” Lentz says.

Lentz and Goin discovered Santa Barbara while on vacation, and decided it was a place they would like to live in. Because Lenz will be commuting between both here and Los Angeles, he has chosen sous-chef Dylan Fultineer, of Chicago’s Blackbird, to run the kitchen.

The 50-seat restaurant will be totally remodeled with an open kitchen and highly visible copper bar where a raw seafood bar will be the center of attention. Lentz insists that mixing a cocktail is a craft, and “if you go about it with the right ingredients, made to order, I don’t see how you can go wrong.” So expect to also see citrus squeezers, martini shakers and muddlers (a wooden tool used to crush an ingredient in order to get it to release its oils and other flavor components) at the bar. “The object is to have the restaurant fit the community and we’re really excited to be part of it,” Lentz says.

The Hungry Cat will be open for dinner seven days a week.