"This restaurant is very much a sign of the times," said John Sedlar of the new restaurant Kate Mantilini. And Sedlar should know--he's the owner of Saint Estephe, a Manhattan Beach restaurant serving cuisine he once described as "post-modern Southwest cooking."
Sedlar sits at the counter of Kate's--as it is referred to by those in the know--on a Saturday night around 12:30 a.m. A waiter plunks down a platter of frog legs and Sedlar asks rhetorically, "Now where can you go for frog legs at this time of night? A new day has come to Los Angeles."
Sedlar wasn't the only one rhapsodizing about this city's chic eatery du jour owned by Marilyn and Harry Lewis of the Hamburger Hamlet chain. (Kate Mantilini was a boxing promoter in the '40s and a close friend of Marilyn's uncle.) Other patrons were equally enthralled as they gobbled up late-night menu items like steak, meatloaf sandwiches on Wonder Bread and hot-fudge sundaes served in a glass. Kate's is now open from 7:30 a.m. to 3 a.m. and plans are in the works to go to a 24-hour schedule, giving L.A. another much-needed late-night/early morning haunt.
While Kate's was under construction at Wilshire Boulevard and Doheny Drive, it was nothing but a big tease. Passers-by watched its slow metamorphosis from a boring, blocky bank building to a hip restaurant, complete with a huge mural of boxers and a row of wooden booths reminiscent of train compartments (Thom Mayne and Michael Rotundi of Morphosis were the architects). New York-y is the term most often used by people to describe the atmosphere, referring to its late hours and its sleek gray, black and white interior.