Monday, February 01, 2010

Hatfield's (Los Angeles, CA) [2]

6703 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038
Mon 02/01/2010, 09:10p-12:00a

Hatfield's Exterior
On August 8, 2009, Hatfield's served up its last Croque Madame. Fortunately for us Angelenos, the shutter was only temporary. Indeed, this bastion of contemporary Cal/French cuisine was merely relocating to a new address: 6703 Melrose, the site previously occupied by Tim and Liza Goodell's pan-Asian eatery Red Pearl Kitchen. Prior to that, the space was home to the Goodell's small plates concept Meson G, Alex Scrimgeour's Alex, and Michel Richard's legendary Citrus. The rationale behind the move was that the Hatfields simply wanted a bigger space, in order to take the restaurant to the next step, with a larger menu, lunch and dinner, seven days a week--in other words, the new spot is designed to be permanent. The transition was initially slated to be completed by November 2009, but as usual, the schedule slipped, and a new opening date of February 1st was announced in January. Given my positive experience at the old restaurant, it was a foregone conclusion that I would give the new Hatfield's a whirl, opening night, of course. Joining me were Fiona of Gourmet Pigs and Ryan of Epicuryan, and I even ran into Helen of I'm Hungry.

Hatfield's Interior
Hatfield's Interior Hatfield's Interior
Hatfield's Interior
The previous dining room was famously small, seating around 50 diners on a good day. This new space, designed by Alexis Readinger of Preen Design (Akasha, Philippe Chow), doubles the restaurant's capacity. The decor preserves the essence, the intimacy, the simple sophistication of the old space, but kicks things up several notches in terms of refinement and artistry--note the "living" wall, the "molecular" honeycomb chandelier.

Hatfield's Kitchen
Diners in the rear of the room are treated to expansive views of the restaurant's gleaming new kitchen.

Hatfield's Menu Hatfield's Menu Hatfield's Menu
Hatfield's was arguably best known for its seven-course, tandem tasting menus. Unfortunately, that format wasn't quite ready yet, so we were given a choice between à la carte and four-course Seasonal Prix-Fixe options; we went with the latter, at $58 per person (adding on supplements, naturally). Lunch, as mentioned above, will be available in the coming months. Click for larger versions.

Hatfield's Drink Menu Hatfield's Drink Menu
More exciting perhaps is the new beverage program, designed by new GM-cum-sommelier/mixologist Peter Birmingham (of Pourtal fame). There is, naturally, a strong wine list, but what piqued my interest was the cocktail selection, featuring both classic and modern libations. And apparently, with the new bar comes a separate bar menu--oh my! Click for larger versions.

Chimayo Cocktail Candied Kumquat Mojito
Cocktails, naturally, to start. I chose the Chimayo [$10], a sweet, sour, spicy, delicious drink made with Arette Blanco tequila, cassis, apple cider, and lemon juice. Fiona went with my old mainstay and ordered up the Candied Kumquat Mojito [$11], comprised of 10 Cane rum, pineapple, smashed kumquat, lime, and mint; think of your classic mojito, but with a great sugary citrus tinge.

Bread & Butter
Bread was described by our server as sourdough, but it didn't taste like it to me. Sweet, spicy, and nearly unctuous, it had an almost you tiao-esque character to it. Butter, meanwhile, was mild and subtly sweet, topped with chive.

Frisée and Smoked Trout Salad
Supplement: Frisée and Smoked Trout Salad [$12.00] | Apple, avocado, warm fingerling potatoes in grainy mustard butter
All our supplemental courses came out at once, and first up was this frisée salad. The actual bits of trout were somewhat difficult to pick out, but the fish's smoky, briny essence was apparent in spades. I quite enjoyed the unabashed saltiness at play here, perked up by the salad's tangy dressing, as well as the fantastic moderating effect of the potato. The tuber also added an interesting textural element, and I likewise appreciated the crisp sweetness of the apple.

Supplement: Agnolotti [$9.00] | Mustard greens and ricotta agnolotti, parsnip, cinnamon banyuls
The agnolotti looked appealing on the menu, but wasn't nearly as successful as I'd hoped for. Though texturally, the pasta was almost spot on, the dish was overwhelmed by the intense spicy-sweet sapor of the cinnamon banyuls. The ricotta was almost completely masked, and was only slightly apparent on the finish.

Beet Cured Japanese Fluke
Supplement: Beet Cured Japanese Fluke [$11.00] | Herbed yogurt, pickled shallots, buckwheat crisps
How do you make fluke look like tuna? Give it a beet bath! Besides adding a dash of amaranth to the fish, the beet also contributed a very soft sweetness that went quite well with the fluke's naturally delicate flavor. I appreciated the fish's soft, supple consistency, and the great crunchiness provided by the buckwheat.

Warm Cuttlefish Salad
Supplement: Warm Cuttlefish Salad [$10.00] | Maitake mushrooms, sunchoke purée, baby arugula, artichoke chips
Here we have a dish that I had on my last Hatfield's visit. On that occasion, I wrote that "the cuttlefish itself could've been a bit more apparent." Fortunately, the subtle brine of the cephalopod was indeed much more conspicuous this time around, and I quite liked its interaction with the earthy gravity of the maitakes.

Anderson Valley Hop Ottin' India Pale Ale Weihenstephaner 'Original' Lager
With our supplements dispensed with, it was time for another round of drinks--beer this time. I went with Anderson Valley Brewing's Hop Ottin' India Pale Ale [$7], an intensely hoppy, bitter brew, but one with a delightful spicy-floral character. Ryan had the Weihenstephaner "Original" Lager [$9], a light, malty, refreshing beer from the "world's oldest brewery."

Charred Japanese Mackerel
1a: Charred Japanese Mackerel | Oven dried pineapple, avocado, fried shallots, nori infused salsa verde
The fishiness often associated with mackerel can be overbearing at times, so it's interesting to see what chef's do to moderate the power of the fish. Here, the key was the pineapple. Its sweetness was a critical part of the dish, while I also enjoyed the lush creaminess of the avocado bits. The fried shallots, meanwhile, gave things a nice crunch.

Pan Roasted Diver Scallops
1b: Pan Roasted Diver Scallops | Braised celery, salsify, apple froth
I despise celery, so things were not looking good here. Fortunately, the veggie wasn't as offensive as I'd feared here, adding a pronounced, but not unpleasant backbone to the dish. The scallops themselves were a bit too thin for me (I couldn't really enjoy their texture), but I did appreciate the interplay between the savoriness of the bivalve, the tang of the celery, and the sugariness provided by the apple.

Prawns a la Plancha Espelette
2a: Prawns a la Plancha Espelette | Creamy crab rice, roasted peanuts, preserved lemon, mint
The kitchen was definitely channeling the flavors of Asia here. The prawns had a delectable, almost Thai-style spicy kick to them, and were beautifully complemented by the bits of peanut. The coconut savor of the rice, heightened by hints of mint, definitely moved the dish even more in that direction. Very nice.

Olive Oil Poached Alaskan Halibut
2b: Olive Oil Poached Alaskan Halibut | Orange scented beets, horseradish crème fraîche, herbed pepita crust
The halibut was probably my favorite dish of the night. The fish was cooked to a ridiculously tender and juicy consistency, with a delightfully salty, yet delicate sapor. The crux of the dish, though, were the pepitas (pumpkin seeds). They added a perfect smoky nuttiness to the halibut that really took this dish to the next level.

Dark & Stormy Daiquiri
For our main courses, we took advantage of the new bar and ordered up some more cocktails, classics this time. I had the Dark & Stormy [$9], with Gosling's Black Seal rum, lime, and Bundaberg ginger beer. After mixing everything together, I likened it to an adult ginger ale! Ryan chose another rum-based drink, the Daiquiri [$9]. Composed of Ron Methuselum, Maraska cherry, lime, and grapefruit juice, its sour-sweet taste reminded me of Chinese suan mei (pickled sour plums).

Long Island Duck Breast
3a: Long Island Duck Breast | Whisky prune smear, butternut squash, porcini quinoa porridge
Taken alone, the duck was very flavorful, and very good. With the prune smear and quinoa, it developed an almost Chinese roast duck-like character that I absolutely loved. Unfortunately, the squash was completely unnecessary, with an overt sweetness that detracted from the bird.

Horseradish Dusted Short Ribs and Hanger Steak
3b: Horseradish Dusted Short Ribs and Hanger Steak | Spring onion confit, smoked potato puree
This was another dish that I'd had at the old Hatfield's. Again, I started with the short rib, delightfully tender, but still with a bit of bite. Ryan described it as having an almost "hot dog" flavor, while I enjoyed its mild earthy smokiness when paired with the potatoes. The steak had a more forceful flavor, with a tender, yet "toothsome" texture. I did have to be careful with the included onion confit though, which could dominate the beef if taken in large amounts.

Hatfield's Dessert Menu Hatfield's After Dinner Drink Menu
The Prix-Fixe option includes your choices of dessert. Click for larger versions.

Lime Cream 'Pie'
4a: Lime Cream "Pie" [$10.00] | Gingersnap crust, oatmeal crumble, citrus chamomile ice cream
The key here for me was the interaction between sweet and sour. The lime cream gave the dessert a tangy base on which the various accoutrements could work; I especially liked the refreshing apple-like flavor of the ice cream. And the gingersnap crust? Crisp, crumbly, fantastic.

Coconut Custard 'Macaroon'
4b: Coconut Custard "Macaroon" [$10.00] | Marinated pineapple, vanilla tapioca, passion fruit-elderflower sorbet
Here, we had a core of coconut custard intermixed with vanilla tapioca pearls. The saccharine pineapple and tartish sorbet then added layers of flavor on top. The best part of this dessert, though, was the admixture of disparate textures.

Chocolate 'Nutella'
4c: Chocolate "Nutella" [$10.00] | Ganache cake, butterscotch rosemary ice cream, hazelnut toffee
Here we have a fairly classic pairing of chocolate cake with ice cream, with the added wrinkle of rosemary, which gave the dessert a beautiful astringency. At the same time, I loved the crunch added by the hazelnuts, but I wish that their flavor would've been a bit more apparent.

Cinnamon Swirl Brioche Pudding
4d: Cinnamon Swirl Brioche Pudding [$10.00] | Pear confit, maple syrup ice cream, cinnamon toast chip
Finally, we have here the kitchen's version of a bread pudding, a marvelous one at that. I adored the soft, yielding texture of the pudding, as well as its creamy-spicy-sweet flavor, tarted up by the application of pear.

Reflecting on my last Hatfield's visit, I expressed concern that Quinn and Karen might not be able to translate the old restaurant's intimacy, honesty, and vision to a larger venue. I'm happy to report that Hatfield's is back with a vengeance. With the addition of new menus, new libations, new dining options, methinks that Hatfield's is well-poised to outdo its former self. Welcome back.


Blogger MyLastBite said...

what... no croque? I'm so JONESING for it!!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010 9:58:00 PM  
Blogger Austin S. said...

great looking space... great shots too... all the food looks good... I look forward to trying Quinn and Karen's food soon...

Tuesday, February 02, 2010 9:59:00 PM  
Blogger Kung Food Panda said...

Nice post!

Was the 4 course menu $56 (as shown on the menu) or $58?

Sad I missed the meal, but I think PepsiMonster and I are going back for their tasting once they debut. Maybe you'll go again?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010 10:01:00 PM  
Blogger Guy Soffer said...

looks delicious! especially the desserts! i have a huge sweet tooth. and what a great price for that seasonal prix fixe. definitely adding it to my list of restaurants to try!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010 10:08:00 PM  
Blogger gourmetpigs said...

Fast as usual :P I'm amazed either your camera or your post processing made it look like it was lunch time - so bright. My photos will look dark and crappy compared to yours. Oh well.

Anyway, was good seeing you and Ryan again last night, it was a solid meal - great first night on Hatfield's part. Thx for having us!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010 10:24:00 PM  
Blogger thngotiatr said...

Knew it opened the other day, I've been waiting for this post ever since heh

Tuesday, February 02, 2010 10:30:00 PM  
Blogger Charlie Fu said...

thanks for the post, my wine group debated over Hatfield's or Church and State this week. We decided on to wait on Hatfield's to make sure they work out any kinks from the move.

Glad to hear it was good tho, one of my favorite places in LA pre-move... will have to go very soon! I really like the private room.

Also looks like they kept some of the old dishes (like you noted).. I agree on the Halibut, when I had it last it was spot on.

keep up the good work kevin!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010 11:38:00 PM  
Blogger Christie Bishop said...

Great post and photos; had some friends who went to the soft launch and couldn't stop raving. Looking forward to trying out the new space for myself soon.

-Christie Bishop

Tuesday, February 02, 2010 11:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Dave -nibbleanibble said...

Good pics. Especially liked the duck breast.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010 11:56:00 PM  
Blogger nelehelen said...

it was nice running into you there as well!

i enjoyed the meal very, very much. your pictures make mine look rather elementary... (i knew it was you by your slr - haha!)

i had the prix fixe as well, but added on the croque madame in the beginning. by the 3rd course, i was stuffed! i can't drink alcohol and eat... that is my greatest downfall. and, like you, the halibut was one of my favs of the night!

oh, and i forgot to take a picture of the dessert menu so i couldn't remember what the ice cream was in the chocolate "nutella" dessert. but, thanks to your great post i know that it's butterscotch rosemary and not oatmeal ice cream (my BF thought this, I did not hahaha!)

Wednesday, February 03, 2010 10:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice! Completely salivating over the cocktails, duck and nutella cake. I agree that your pictures are at another level - new camera??? Elissa

Wednesday, February 03, 2010 11:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You misspelled Angelenos. Also, aren't you from Orange County or something?

Wednesday, February 03, 2010 1:28:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Jo: I'm regretting that decision... :P

Austin: The place is definnitely worth a try, especially since you haven't been to the previous iteration (I think). You might want to wait a bit though for the tasting menu to show up.

Danny: It was $56 on the menu, but the check showed $58--not sure why. I may go back for the tasting, though only if there's a significant difference from what I had here.

Guy: Go with a friend, and you can do your own "dessert tasting." ;)

Fiona: I think it was a combination of both camera and processing--time for you to get a DSLR!

Vinh: Lol. You know how I operate. ;)

Charlie: Hatfield's is pretty solid now, but I imagine that it'll improve as the weeks go by. How was C&S?

Christie: Thanks! When was the soft launch? I'd love to go to one of those sometime.

Dave: Duck breast was excellent...except for that squash!

Helen: So when can we expect to see a Hatfield's post on your blog? ;)

Elissa: Very perceptive! In fact, I've just replaced my Sony a300 with a Sony a500--Hatfield's was one of my first outings with it.

Anon: Yes, it is indeed "Angelenos;" I've made the correction. Also, I was born in LA county, and have lived there, though currently, I do reside in OC--not that it really matters, it's all the LA metropolitan area anyway.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010 11:53:00 PM  
Blogger Banana Wonder said...

Mmmmmm I want to go for the tasting menu. Everything looks immaculate.

Thursday, February 04, 2010 6:19:00 AM  
Blogger nelehelen said...

Haha! I am soooo backed up with my postings. =P But, I'll have it up hopefully by next week after I get my internet up! (I moved to a new apt, so setting up the internet this wknd). I'm commenting via my work computer - ssshhhh!

Thursday, February 04, 2010 4:48:00 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

I didn't realize their menu was so heavily seafood. Or maybe it was just the distribution on the menu.

Did you give up the mojito?

Friday, February 05, 2010 7:35:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Anna: Sounds like a plan, but I wonder when they're going to starting offering the tasting menu...

Helen: I'll look out for it. ;)

Aaron: I didn't notice at the time, but now that you mention it, our menu did slant heavily toward seafood, a reflection of our personal preferences, methinks. As for the mojito, I have been moving away from it as of late--branching out, I suppose.

Sunday, February 07, 2010 4:33:00 PM  
Blogger JOE PHILIP said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Thursday, February 18, 2010 12:10:00 AM  

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