Hatfield's - The Good, The Bad, The Outstanding
That area of Melrose is becoming quite the food destination, with Providence, Mozza, and now Hatfield’s.
After being open only a week, the front of the house is well staffed, clean, rehearsed and well managed. Service is very good, with the order-taking, food delivery and clearing duties divided among different teams. There’s a modern bar area with no customers.
Don’t expect a private table. There are none. It’s entirely banquette and shared-booth seating.
The kitchen is open, which makes for an interesting diversion from your table conversation.
Diced hamachi served over a dab of curry cream sauce. This was very fresh; and the curry is an interesting flavor that works with the fish. The portion is perfect: just enough to tease the appetite.
Croque Madame – More fresh hamachi, this time cut into larger pieces served between two pieces of brioche. Unfortunately, the brioche was badly overcooked and hard to the point that any attempt to cut it necessarily mushed the delicate hamachi. And to make matters worse, it was so over-saturated with butter as to completely ruin this dish. Rather than an appetizer, this quite nearly destroyed my appetite. Note to anyone finding this in front of them: lose the top piece of brioche altogether. It’s superfluous and completely unnecessary. This dish sounds good on paper, but on the plate it’s a non-starter.
Warm Cuttlefish Salad – On the other hand, this dish was delightful. The cuttlefish was cut so delicately that it seemed like flower petals. And the play in texture and flavor of the cuttlefish with the mushrooms was a perfect way to start the top-notch meal we expected from Mr. Hatfield. This was a proper appetizer: mildly sating our immediate appetite, but awakening our real appetite to the main course.
Lamb - They don’t even ask how you want the lamb cooked. But they don’t need to. It was cooked perfectly….tender, juicy and full of flavor. And it’s crusted with a date-mint crumb that bursts with mint flavor, expertly complementing the lamb. It comes with a spoonful of jus, delicate baby parsnips, pearl onions and fava beans, all cooked perfectly. And it’s served over a potato chive puree. Unfortunately, this was over processed and under seasoned...no flavor.
New York Steak – Don’t expect a “New York Steak” in the traditional sense. Instead, expect slices of meat… salty meat. The accompanying béarnaise is spot-on, and a delicious accoutrement. The beans’ soy glaze also makes for a nice dipping sauce. And it’s served with a small pot of spaetzle. I’d never seen spaetzle prepared this way. You get four-inch noodles, not the typical little dumplings. It’s fun to eat, and it comes with a creamy tarragon sauce. It’s also quite good dipped in the meat sauces. This is an interesting dish.
So that was dinner. The serving sizes are precious, but not overly chintzy. And the quality of the ingredients comes through loud and clear.
But we were still hungry.
Beignets – These were divine. Soft, fluffy hot puffs of dough, coated with cinnamon sugar. It comes with a chocolate dipping sauce that was rich, a little bitter in a good way, and deep in flavor…Perfect to offset the sugary coating on the beignets. I normally don’t have dessert, but this was nothing short of outstanding.
Macaroon – Another interpretation of something else, so we were a little leery after the croque incident above. But this was a home run. The coconut was toasted, so it avoided that chewiness that sometimes ruins good coconut flavor. The passion fruit sorbet was refreshing and instead of crushing the taste buds with sweetness, this had a delicate tropical flavor. And the tapioca and pineapple mixed together to give the dish some sweetness and body. This was also outstanding.
These desserts rivaled or bettered those at Providence…outstanding on all levels.
Overall, the meal didn’t quite meet our expectations. But I think our expectations were too high. After all, they’ve only been open a week. And given that, I think in retrospect they’ve done a remarkable job.
I will also bring up the price. All of the above, with 2 glasses of wine and a pot of tea was $150 before tip. And we ordered the two most expensive entrees. A couple could easily get out of here for $100 for two.
Driving away, we agreed that we’d be back. The price is right, the quality of ingredients is good, dessert is awesome, and it’s so darn convenient.
6703 Melrose (at Citrus, a block west of Highland)
Full review with photos: http://twofoodiesonejourney.blogspot....
It is always interesting when we look around in our circle of friends to realize how many couples work in the same occupational area. But if you really think about it, it is not that surprising that if you don’t know your partner from school days it is very likely that you will meet him/her during college or job years when the interests and life styles are very similar. So it is not surprising that in the culinary world where unusual working hours require a lot of understanding, chef couples are not unusual.
Karen and Quinn Hatfield first met when they both worked at Spago. They both then worked separately at different restaurants in New York (Jean Georges, Bouley, Gramercy Tavern etc.) before they decided to work together again at Cortez in San Francisco. In 2006 they decided to open up their own restaurant in Los Angeles – Hatfield’s.
We always enjoyed our nights at Hatfield’s as this restaurant provides in interesting contrast to most other high-end restaurants since in its original location it was a very small and intimate place with very few tables and a small kitchen. One of the highlights of Hatfield’s for us was their 7-course tasting menu which featured well executed French-Californian cuisine. As an interesting sidenote – when we ordered the tasting menu with two people both of us would get different dishes for each course which gave you a chance to taste 14 different courses. Due to the small number of tables it was always difficult to get a reservation at Hatfield’s and it wasn’t a real surprise that middle of last years the Hatfield’s decided to do the next plausible step and move to a bigger location.
They moved their restaurant from Beverly Blvd to the new location on Melrose Ave formerly occupied by Red Pearl Kitchen and several other restaurants including Michel Richard’s Citrus. The first thing one recognizes is that the number of tables has at least doubled compared to the old location. The dining room has an interesting vibe somewhere between intimate and minimalistic with a very eye-catching honeycomb chandelier.
One of the most interesting changes to us is the new open kitchen. Many restaurants claim to have open kitchen but you often can only see parts of the kitchen or just a few of the line cooks – not so at the new Hatfield’s. Here you have a very large window with a fantastic view of the whole kitchen from everywhere in the restaurant, you can even see Chef Quinn in action.
Another nice new feature at Hatfield’s is their bar with gave us a good opportunity to start the evening with two excellent cocktails.
Candied Kumquat Mojito – 10 Cane Virgin, pineapple, smashed kumquat, lime and mint. The cocktail had a nice balance between sweetness and tartness of the kumquats.
Winter Bellini – Prosecco frizzante and rhubarb puree. Unusual but successful variation on a bellini which had a nice tartness from the rhubarb, loved it.
Unfortunately Hatfield’s was just two weeks open at the time we visited and didn’t have the tasting menu up and running so that we decided to go with the 4-course prix fixe menu and covering all dishes.
Amuse Bouche: Diced yellowtail, squash, lime, curry. A very light and fresh start of the evening which showed already how Hatfield’s combines many different flavors from all over the world.
1st Course A: Pan roasted diver scallops, braised celery, salsify, apple froth
Nicely roasted scallops which had the typical sweetness and as a contrast the slight bitterness of celery and apple.
1st Course B: Charred Japanese mackerel, oven dried pineapple, avocado, fried shallots, nori infused salsa verde
Mild fish with some sweetness from the pineapple and an accompanying aromatic/herbaceous salsa verde
2nd Course A: Pan seared dorade, carrot puree, Chinese broccoli, mushroom ragout
Very moist fish with a crispy skin. The sweetness from the carrot puree is balanced from the slight bitterness of the Chinese broccoli. The mushroom ragout added some “meatiness”
2nd Course B: Prawns a la plancha espelette, creamy crab rice, roasted peanuts, preserved lemon, mint
One highlight of this dish was the creamy crab rice. The prawns were crusted with pepper and sprinkeled with peanuts. A very Asian influenced dish.
3rd Course A: Long Island duck breast, whiskey prune smear, butternut squash, quinoa porridge
Sous-vide cooked rosy duck breast with a nice crispy skin, sweet butternut squash and quinoa porridge which reminded of a risotto.
3rd Course B: Horseradish dusted short ribs and hanger steak, spring onion confit, smoked potato puree
Very tender short ribs which got some spiceness from the horseradish accompanied by a surprisingly “smokey” smoked potato puree. The hanger steak was also very tender and was accompanied by a sweet-garlicky onion confit.
For the desserts we could pick anyone from the dessert menu.
4th Course A: Coconut custard “Macroon”, marinated pineapple, vanilla tapioca, passion fruit-elderflower sorbet
The coconut custard was the center of the dish and came along with many different flavor profiles from the sweet pineapple, tart sorbet. This dessert reminded us of desserts we had at Providence that we are completely addicted to.
4th Course B: Chocolate “Nutella” ganache cake, butterscotch rosemary ice cream, hazelnut toffee
Interesting take on a chocolate cake with a twist by the rosemary flavor of the ice cream.
Mignardises: Chocolate cupcakes
Overall we were very happy with the reopened Hatfield’s. The ambience is very different from its old location but it is still not too large and especially the open kitchen makes the atmosphere unique. Service was professional while friendly, and the food was as good as we remembered. The only small complain was that the portion size tends to be quite small. We normally feel that most restaurants in the US serve way too much food but Hatfield’s was one of the rare occassions where we felt that we should have added some supplements for the prix fixe. We are really looking forward to go back when the full tasting menu is available.
Interesting your comment on the croque. It has always been one of the featured attractions at the previous location, so I wonder what actually happened to yours, or might it just be that it is getting used to a different kitchen, staffing issues, or ?
Also, did you ever eat in the building under the names of either Red Pearl Kitchen or Meson G? What kind of decor changes beyond the seating comment?
ps - Karen is a sensational dessert/pastry chef, so no surprise that your sweettooth took a liking to her contributions to the menu.