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Hatfield's or JiRaffe? Dinner in Los Angeles Area

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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!

                      2. I really enjoy the Monday Night Bistro Menu ($35.00 for Three Courses) that JiRaffe offers.

                        1. I vote for Hatfield's. I've always found the food excellent, and their service has been excellent for us.

                          The last time I went for a family meal, I called ahead to ask if they would have something for my vegetarian brother. They assured me that they would be able to make up a vegetarian plate for them. When it was served, my brother pronounced it excellent, and everyone in my family thoroughly enjoyed what they ordered as well (a very rare occurence indeed for my family).

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: sidwich

                            Now that's excellent news sidwich as our son is a vegetarian. Think I'll give Hatfields a try...thanks!

                          2. had my first dinner at hatfield's about 2 months ago and was terribly disappointed. after all i'd read i figured on a great meal. the food was ok....but the value wasn't there. have eaten at jiraffe a few times a year for years,and it still does it for me. can't think of a time i was disappointed. hatfield's is certainly hipper...weho vs. s monica, but i'd take jiraffe hands down.

                            1. For those of you who have dined at either, does the whole party have to take part in the tasting menu or can it be an individual thing?

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: yummfood

                                If you want to do the full tasting menu at Hatfield's, I believe the entire table must participate.

                                1. re: yummfood

                                  I'm not even sure that they do tasting menus at Jiraffe.

                                2. Gotta say, I think these are two great choices. Of course there are other great places, but I'd say go with your instinct and choose one of these. They are very different from one another, Hatfield's a bit more serious and refined, but again, both excellent.

                                  1. Hey yummfood,

                                    Totally agree with la tache burger. :)

                                    I also recently visited Hatfield's if you're curious to see some pictures and read how my dinner went.

                                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/533454

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: exilekiss

                                      Thanks exilekiss! what an amazziing review!! :)
                                      I think that I've crossed JiRaffe off my list, but now I'm having a hard time choosing between Hatfield's and all these other great restaurants people have been suggesting (Spago, Grace, Sona..)!
                                      Hahahaha, the funny thing is I posted this so that I could come to a conclusion, but instead my list of choices have expanded considerably!

                                      1. re: yummfood

                                        Thanks yummfood. :)

                                        I think ultimately if you're visiting L.A. and want a true "Destination Restaurant" maybe post up what type of Cuisine you're looking for, and what you're hoping to get out of this dinner experience in L.A.

                                        Are you hoping to find something quintessentially "Los Angeles"? Do you want a top-class, Michelin-starred Restaurant? Any type of Cuisine you're hoping to try? Is it purely about Food? Or do you want the full package: Food, Service, Ambiance, etc.?

                                        That'll probably help you decide (and help us on the CH L.A. Board suggest some places for you to try). (^_~)

                                        1. re: exilekiss

                                          Thanks exilekiss!!
                                          Well, I'm an OC'er so I visit Los Angeles frequently. The thing is I've never taken advantage of the great restaurants there and just end up eating at the same places I always go to.
                                          What I want for this visit is a nice fine dining restaurant with the whole package: food, service, ambiance (of course the food is the MOST important--I don't mind if the other aspects are lacking a little bit). I just really want my family to have a memorable dinner.
                                          Hatfield's menu just really caught my attention but I'm just concerned about not being able to converse comfortably during the meal because of the cramped space, as other people have mentioned.
                                          Spago seems like a great place but I'm seeing very mixed reviews about the food, haha.
                                          decisions, decisions, decisions...

                                          Any suggestions from other hounds?

                                          1. re: yummfood

                                            I never think of Hatfield's as being cramped at all. My personal preference for seating is the sort of alley-like outdoor patio area on the east side of the building which provides a somewhat private environment for each table, meaning all of about 5 or so of them. Fully covered, yet is a patio without the winds or the noise issue to deal with.

                                            1. re: carter

                                              I agree completely. I don't find Hatfield's cramped and that little patio feels nice and intimate.

                                    2. Just went to Hatfields last night and at best had an ok dinner. The highlights were the warm cheese rolls, the corn and melon chilled soup (the amuse), and my croque madame. The croque madame was actually very good! I got the buttermilk chicken. It had the oddest texture and really lacked in flavor. My friend had the octopus salad which was ok and the olive oil poached halibut, again only ok. Instead of getting dessert there, my friend and I went to the Bigg Chill. I had toffee and vanilla cappuccino with granola, walnuts and butterfinger. The frozen yogurt was amazing, it cost $4.50, and was the best thing we ate!

                                      For two apps and two entrees it cost $120. For me, the mediocre food wasnt worth the price. I would have been much happier spending more going to Craft!

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: ashdawg

                                        If the halibut did not do it for you and the croque was only "very good", then I know why the Bigg Chill did it for you! Just putting the thoughts of "frozen yogurt" and "amazing" in the same sentence told me everything I needed to know.
                                        ps- some of the best desserts in the LA area are at Hatfield's, btw.

                                        1. re: carter

                                          Compared to some of the other meals i have had lately where I am blown away, (anisette, craft, wolfgangs), hatfields was just alright. I only liked the croque madame because the yellowtail was great, but i could have done w less brioche. I was tempted by the pinenut tart but figured there was no way it could be as good as the one at craft or la terza. Honestly, I cant imagine how good the desserts could of been at hatfields based on the little cupcakes with chocolate merengue on top they gave us with our checks, at best they tasted like a ding dong, which isnt too appealing to me.

                                          p.s. Bigg Chill has amazing frozen yogurt. How else do you explain the long lines out the door?

                                      2. All right, given the way the conversation has evolved here, I'd have to say go to Sona. I think it's the next level of Hatfield's. Artistic but not way out of the box, not self-consciously experimental. Creative, beautiful, soulful, wonderful. Today, in my present mood, I'd say it's the best in L.A. fine dining-wise. And I think it's what you're looking for. If price is no object, 9 courses with wine pairing and you will be beyond happy. (Of course, quite a bit more expensive than Hatfield's however you slice it)