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Hatfield's or JiRaffe? Dinner in Los Angeles Area

Hey Hounds! I'm fairly new to this site and am in need of some information and suggestions!

My family and I (family of 4) are heading to Los Angeles and are wanting to have a superb meal. I've been searching for some nice restaurants and the two restaurants, Hatfield's and JiRaffe have caught my attention--I'm really intrigued by the croque madame appetizer that Hatfield's offers!

Anyways, I was just wondering what your thoughts are on these two establishments! What are some items that are "must haves"? Is service good? How are the portions?

If you guys have BETTER suggestions for LA restaurants please do suggest!! Thanks!! :)

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  1. Melisse, Providence, et. al are good suggestions. Don't know if they are out of budget though? (the most usually pay for is 2 at which point the cost doesn't bother me too much.)

    JiRaffe should be a no go. The last time it was great was 4 years ago. Raphael has been phoning it in for awhile. Melisse (basic courses) is a better meal for near the same money. Hatfields is great for drinks, etc... food is good but the experience is more fun (I don't know what age group the 4 dips down to.) If you go to Spago and sit in the courtyard, you'll have a lovely time. If you want a bit more avant garde, Providence will never disappoint (unless you don't like seafood.) If you enjoy French or Californian, you can't miss with Melisse.

    4 Replies
    1. re: brunello

      Totally disagree re Jiraffe. I went less than a year ago and the food was stellar. The only miss was the goat cheese and sun dried tomato tart, which others swear by. That said, I haven't yet been to Hatfield's or Melisse, so I can't comment on the comparison.

      1. re: a_and_w

        I too disagree. I was at Jiraffe in March and thought it was fantastic. The fish there is really wonderful. The tart that night was burrata and tomato which was excellent as well.

        Haven't been to Hatfield's so I can't comment on the food. I'd just say that if you are visiting for a short time you may want to consider where the restaurant if you've got multiple good choices. If you are in Santa Monica Jiraffe is a great choice, if you're going to be in Pasadena before dinner you might want something closer, etc.

        1. re: chowbee

          And I too disagree. I was at Jiraffe about 6 weeks ago - brought a discerning foodie from New York (she is VERY clued into food, has worked at many of the better restaurants in LA, and I've met some of the better big name chefs from her) and she loved it. As well as the other people at the table. Big portions, very well done, very tasty, sophisticated and in a satisfying way. Hello, I'm going to go next week.

      2. re: brunello

        I am not a huge fan of either Melisse (overly fussy and formal) or Providence (overly precious, but i love the environment and the service). Hatfield's is wonderful, and I love the suggestion of a summertime supper in the courtyard at Spago. If the OP can make the drive, I highly suggest Saddle Peak Lodge. It would be a great way to see part of the Southern California hillside, dining outside in the summer is a blissful experience, and it is a great place to indulge in some of the culinary history of SoCal. One of my favorite tasting menus in town is at Sona, if they choose to go that route.

      3. The croque madame @Hatfield's is beyond stellar.

        5 Replies
        1. re: ns1

          Adressing the demographics issue, is Hatfields similar to Grace in terms of their client base? I can't figure out where to celebrate my 54th birthday and don't want to be the youngest ... or the oldest one in the room. Choosing between Hatfields, Craft, Vincenti, and Providence...sorry to usurp your post yummfood - thought maybe we'll both learn about some restaurants from this. Thanks all.

          1. re: Bria Silbert

            You will not feel out of place at any of the four--and they are all great in their way--more a question of the type of food and ambiance you want.

            1. re: Bria Silbert

              I noticed people from 22-50 when I was there.

              1. re: Bria Silbert

                No problem there! haha, I'm glad that you did since it'll probably open my eyes to even more restaurants and possibilities!

              2. re: ns1

                Amen to that - the croque madame, I mean. The best outside of France IMHO.

              3. I went to JiRaffe for my birthday last July and I had an excellent meal and service. My favorite part was the chocolate truffle cake. I've never had such amazing chocolate cake. Every bite was heaven!

                1. I really like Jiraffe, but I love Hatfield's...so while they are both good, I would definitely choose Hatfield's. Yes, the croque madame is a must-have. Another standout for me is the olive-oil poached fish, but everything we've had there has been delicious. Service is excellent, portions are typical (not particularly large or small).

                  1. It depends on what your criteria are, but my vote goes to Jiraffe. I went to Hatfield's for the first time a couple months ago and was underwhelmed. My food was good, but didn't wow me by any means. It's possible it was a bad night since generally reviews for this place are stellar, but can't recommend for now.

                    On the other hand everything I've had at JiRaffe was excellent especially the beet/goat cheese salad and the lamb entree.

                    Service at both restaurants is professional, informative and friendly. As for portions, the portions at JiRaffe were quite large while Hatfield's was more European style (a proper serving, but maybe a touch small if you're used to American portions)

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Newkie

                      Your post reminds me why I prefer Hatfield's, in that I do not want yet another beet/goat cheese anything, even though I like it a lot, but it has become the salad du jour and Hatfield's does not stick to just the time-tested menu items. It is more adventurous with its creativity, and executes that menu better than most any place in the city. Smaller menu, modest-sized portions and very comfortable surroundings, yet not over the top, are what the place is about. While noise can be an issue, it is not as loud as other restaurants on this post, especially if you get seated in the narrow patio on the east side of the restaurant.
                      As to portions, please set your sights on smaller portions, a la Hatfield's, and you and your waistline will thank you for it.
                      Wines at Hatfield's are very well selected, even though once again, not a list of greatest hits, as in smaller producers putting out quality product.

                      1. re: carter

                        Fantastic perspective on why Hatfield's is great - my multiple recent visits have solidified my opinion that it is easily one of the best restaurants in the city!

                        1. re: carter

                          jeez, carter -- how do you do that?! I am reading that post, thinking "how can a beet + chevre anything be wow?" and there you are, eloquently expressing my half-formed thoughts.

                          You also make an excellent point on portion sizes. We've dined once at Hatfields and it was after a movie, so one main, one drink and one dessert per three persons. Every plate was cleaned.

                          My guy grumbled that the portions seemed small, but I don't think he was still hungry...

                          In any case, he agreed he wanted to return for his birthday at the end of July, so I am sure he'll go for three courses and hope he will be satisfied.

                          I know I will be!

                          Finally - the chance to sample that legendary croque madame...

                          My review from April: (includes contact info)

                          http://la.foodblogging.com/2008/04/17...

                          1. re: Maxmillion

                            Good points. I didn't mean to imply Jiraffe "wowed" me. They have different styles. Hatfield's has an ambitious and inventive menu so I expected to be more than satisfied, I wanted to be wowed. I thought the flavor combinations were interesting, but that the execution was so so(though of course this does not include the admittedly delicious croque madame).

                            Jiraffe on the other hand is less about surprising you than being immensely satisfying. Ideally I'd like a restaurant with amazing food that is also interesting, but if I have to choose one or the other I'd rather leave the table thinking what I ate was truly delicious period.

                            1. re: Newkie

                              ^ You might enjoy Rustic Canyon Wine Bar (Santa Monica, on Wilshire) for those stated reasons (i.e. what you'd ideally like). New Chef. Astounding fare. Lovely room.

                              Highlights (small plates):

                              Soft, ripe and sweet nectarine chunks with creamy burrata, dressed with saba.

                              Crispy Stuffed Squash blossoms, oozing with warm chevre ricotta.

                              Roasted Baby Beet salad (yes!) -- paper-thin shavings of pretty, variegated beets offset by fresh sorrel leaves and mustard seed dressing.

                              Postage-stamp sized Sweet Corn Agnolotti, served with caramelized corn in a light and creamy sauce. Incredible.

                              Grilled Jumbo Scallop with a large, crimped raviolo that houses more slices of scallop and a runny egg yolk that bursts forth when you puncture the elegant square of pasta.

                              Damn that was a fine meal!

                              1. re: Maxmillion

                                Those dishes all sound amazing. Thanks for the tip!