By Katie Thomas Explore Big Sky Contributor

Since the publication of this article in the Nov. 25 issue of the Explore Big Sky newspaper, The Hungry Cat owner has changed the restaurant’s name to South 9th Bistro. Also, Chef Tony Anderson is no longer with the establishment. The new chef’s name is Ryan Trenton. Visit south9thbistro.com for further details.

BOZEMAN – It’s not Casa Sanchez anymore. The Hungry Cat is the new restaurant now open in the cozy, pumpkin-colored historic house renovated by owner Hank Fargot to serve Bozemanites tasty, scratch-made food.

It may be dark outside earlier these days, but the warm inside lighting is welcoming. For those who remember the interior of Casa Sanchez, the dining room layout is still roughly the same, minus the walls with open window frames between certain tables. It’s an open floor now, with a private dining room upstairs available for special occasions and meetings. And the kitchen is no longer open; chef Tony Anderson has a larger and updated space to create his culinary art.

The hostess was also our server, and was most polite and knowledgeable. She had to be; the menu is extensive and invites questions from even the least inquisitive diner. That said, The Hungry Cat offers an array of choices, including gluten-free and vegetarian options, as well as Asian, Cajun, Italian, seafood, burgers and steaks, pizzas, and salads. There is something for everyone and making a choice was a challenge, as we wanted to try it all.

We started with the sweet potato cakes appetizer, served with lemongrass crème fraiche. These piping hot, crab cake-sized savories could warrant a meal in themselves, with a lovely texture and subtle flavor. We also selected a red wine and a brut from the beverage menu, noting the good prices of gluten-free beer.

Next came the main courses, fettuccini Bolognese, which tasted just like it came straight from Florence, Italy, and the veggie pizza, made with the best homemade crust since its neighbor, Colombo’s. Tomatoes, artichoke hearts, red onions, mushrooms, red peppers, garlic, and tomato sauce made a superb combination, and Chef Anderson was willing to accommodate this picky diner’s request of trading the goat cheese for mozzarella.

The Hungry Cat’s prices range widely, a good quality in a restaurant near Montana State University: entrees range from $9 to $29. In particular, we observed with appreciation that the bison osso buco was less than the bouillabaisse, because it’s truly more local – some Bozeman restaurants mark bison dishes up unnecessarily, knowing that out-of-towners will pay for what sounds the most exotic.

Although it wasn’t easy, we saved room for dessert. And were so glad we did, because the “Crack Pie” – a caramelized custard tart in a cookie crust with chocolate sauce and powdered sugar – was just the right combination of sugary yet light, and a sweet ending to our meal.

Brunch and take-out are coming soon, but until then, visit the Hungry Cat for dinner and get warmed up for winter.

The Hungry Cat – now South 9th Bistro – is located at 721 S. 9th Avenue, just off West College and around the corner from Joe’s Parkway Market in Bozeman. The restaurant is open Tuesday-Sunday from 4-9:30 p.m.