Hatfield’s

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Hatfield’s Restaurant in West Hollywood has been a solid establishment for many years, receiving recognition and praise from numerous gourmet magazines and critics.  I don’t know why I waited so long to dine there- in fact, I dined there the week before they closed down the Beverly location.  It was high on my radar since the time I read the article in Los Angeles Magazine some few years back when they won Best Restaurant of the Year.  I was excited to finally try Quinn Hatfield’s food and wife Karen Hatfield’s famed desserts.

The store front is almost easy to miss, but once inside it’s a peaceful zen haven from the hectic streets of Los Angeles.  Soft glowing candlelight on top of perfectly ironed white tablecloths illuminate the simple minimalist decor which is tended to by courteous and attentive servers who stand tall, straight and confident.  We were offered complimentary starters of sweet corn chowder and deviled quail eggs with smoked trout.  The deviled eggs with smoked trout were wonderfully flavorful with a smooth creamy texture, and the sweetness of the summer corn chowder reminded me of happy childhood memories.

The warm cuttlefish salad with sunchoke purée, sautéed maitake mushrooms, baby arugula and crispy artichoke was my favorite dish of the evening.  It was only their 2nd day of serving this dish, and I hope it will remain a staple on their menu.

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The cuttlefish was thinly sliced and cooked rare to maintain a tender and delicate consistency.  The components of this dish were all simple and  uncomplicated, and the preparation was unassuming and unpretentious.  Yet, it was one of the most incredible dishes.  It paired wonderfully with the sharp dryness of a glass of Voignier.

I was interested to try the roasted Bobo Farm foie gras with pain d’epice crust, beluga lentils and apple rosemary purée.  I’ve had plenty of Hudson Valley Farms foie gras, but never tried the Bobo Farm version (both from upstate New York).  It was quite lovely with a nice fatty robust flavor and delicate tender consistency.

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I wasn’t crazy about the apple cider purée at first when I tasted it solo, but when paired with the foie gras it mellowed out the fattiness of the foie really well.  The maitake also when eaten solo was just okay, but when combining all of the components of this dish together in one bite, it made sense.  This dish paired fabulously with a glass of Albariño that had a wonderful sweet intensity and depth yet with a light finish.

Next we had the slow roasted pork belly with brown butter asparagus, apricot mustard and fines herbes salad.  This was another dish, like the foie gras, where all of the components needed to be eaten together to truly enjoy the chef’s vision.  Still, the apricot purée was way too sweet for my taste and overpowered all of the other flavors.  The asparagus and leeks were cooked to a perfect consistency and the pork was nicely tender.

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I’m not one to ever order fish entrées as I’m usually never impressed, and this was another experience in which I was right.  My dining partner ordered the Branzino filet with roasted haricot vert, red onion soubise, dried apricot, crispy almonds and caper crunch which was just okay.  The dish was plated beautifully wtih vibrant colors and layers of different textures, but none of the flavors really popped out, and the apricot bits added an overwhelming sweetness to the dish.

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On the other hand, my meat dish of pan roasted hanger steak and slow cooked horseradish dusted short ribs with spring onion confit and smoked potato purée was a delight.  Both cuts of meat were superbly tender, but I especially enjoyed the perfectly roasted hanger steak.  There was a lot of incredible flavor and juice in each slice of steak, and the reduction sauce was simple, classic and delectable.  A beautiful pairing with a rich glass of Malbec.

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I was really surprised that the component I enjoyed the most on this dish was the smoked potato purée.  In case you haven’t noticed, all of the dishes have some type of vegetable or fruit purée generously carpeted under the other components.  I didn’t particularly enjoy the super sweet apple cider or apricot purées in the previous dishes, so I wasn’t excited to pick at yet another purée.  This was probably the best mashed potatoes I have ever tasted in my life.  With a perfect rich and creamy consistency and the most insane smokey flavor, these potatoes were marvelous.  I think I put down my fork and used my fingers to wipe off the last visible bits of potato.

For dessert I thoroughly enjoyed the sugar and spice dusted beignets with Venezuelan chocolate fondue and vanilla malted milkshake shot.  The cinnamon dusted beignets were heavenly- these warm pillows of delight were so cushiony soft like big marshmallows that I had to eat them quickly before they floated up into the sky.  The warm Venezuelan dark chocolate fondue was rich and sumptuous, and the vanilla malted milkshake shot was even better.  I can’t believe they only give you a small shot glass- give me a pint! This dessert was aptly paired with a glass of 10 year Tawny port.  Perfection.

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The chilled Santa Rosa plum soup with vanilla-candied ginger ice cream and almond macaroon sandwich was okay.  The plum soup was certainly refreshing with a nice balance of sweet and tart, but I wasn’t crazy about the macaroon sandwich.  A bit too heavy and starchy for the end of this meal.  However, it was elegantly paired with Moscat d’Asti dessert wine that was light and fruity.

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Overall my meal at Hatfield’s was pretty impressive.  Quinn Hatfield has good command of seasonal ingredients and I love his no-fuss style.  In this age where chefs try too hard to fancy up their cuisine with powdered this, nitrogen frozen that or foamed these, it was refreshing to have a no-nonsense good meal with simple fresh ingredients and solid execution.

Hatfield’s

6703 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 935-2977

Hatfield’s recently closed down their Beverly Boulevard location, and re-opened in the previous Red Pearl Kitchen space on Melrose Avenue.  Meanwhile, Chef Mark Gold has taken over the Beverly space and opened his new restaurant Eva.

Random trivia:  Maitake in Japanese means ‘dancing mushroom’, named because the shape of the mushroom resembles that of a dancing nymph.  It is also believed that the origin of the name comes from the fact that maitake are rare and precious, so those who found it danced with joy.

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