“The Cat” as locals call it, is a hidden gem in this quite bedroom community in North Orange County. It has been here hidden in the hills since 1979, but its root go back even further. It is part of the family run and operated El Cholo chain which was founded in 1923. But this is not your typical Mexican restaurant, or even your atypical one.
The structure and interior are English Tudor style with lots of dark wood trim and beams, and a huge Kitchen Hearth in the middle of the restaurant, though it didn’t look like they used it very often. But there are also Southwest elements to the decor. The menu is typical Cal-continental with a few unusual items such as Red Deer.
I stopped in the other day on my travels to try out their Martini. It was excellent. The stems are pre-chilled in a dedicated cooler which is always a pleasant sign for me. Their Martini was stirred, not shaken as is my preference but it was served quite cold. It was amply and promptly served by a very attentive barkeep.
I also observed something novel, at least to me. If the stem out of their cooler is not ‘cold enough’ they keep a basin of chipped ice in a drawer in a freezer just for chilling the stem. They do not use this ice for mixing drinks as there is another larger basin of cubed ice for that. The simple fact that they keep a separate container of cold chip ice for chilling your Martini glass is a great idea and contributes to their rating of two stems:
For selection The Cat gets a “B+”.
Their selection includes the “Big Five” as I now call them: Bombay, Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray, Tanqueray Ten, and Hendrick’s. Not necessarily because these are the best 5 gins, but because they are ubiquitous. Additionally The Cat stocks Oxley, Leopold, Hayman’s Old Tom, and Beefeater.
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