Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hatfield's: A LA Birthday

Dad was going to celebrate his 57th in LA so I wanted to go somewhere special. Like, REALLY special. My first instinct was to call up The Bazaar but, no dice – after that four star article in the LA Times, everyone and their mother decided to pay Jose Andres' LA joint a visit and they were booked up all the way until May.

For a while, I played with the idea of Michael Mina’s XIV but they changed the menu for spring and upped the tasting menu prices so I volleyed instead between Grace and Hatfield’s. It was a tough decision but LA Magazine awarded the latter one more shining star than Neal Fraser’s restaurant so Hatfield’s it was for April 16th.


Hatfield’s was a solid experience. My first impression of the place was that it was exactly the kind of restaurant I love – understatedly elegant; laid-back but refined. There was none of that pretentious your-waiter-is-going-to-have-a-‘tude-because-you’re-not-in-louboutins situation (I can’t stand that shit). And of top of the fantastic atmosphere, this place is a STEAL. No joke. Their Spring Special prix-fixe is $49.00 for a top-notch three-course menu – no skimping whatsoever. Good stuff. And as if that wasn’t enough of a steal, every dining party gets to enjoy Quinn Hatfield’s amuse bouche of deviled quail eggs with cream of celeriac. Presentation was so beautiful – eggs served in a tiny silver spoon and the soup was put into a shot glass. This was definitely a welcome opener to our starved stomachs.

(Fatty Foie Gras)

Hatfield’s was off to a great start. The menu is so decadent. For my appetizer, I was eying the pan roasted diver scallops, marinated artichokes purée, saffron vanilla emulsion but mom and dad both had their hearts set on that so, instead, I opted for the roasted Bobo farm foie gras, pain d’epice crust, beluga lentils, apple rosemary purée. Our appetizers appeared before us in their generous portions and art-work-worthy presentation. Personally, I’m not a big fan of foie gras ALONE but foie gras with the perfect accompaniment is a piece o’ heaven and Hatfield’s nailed it. The sharpness of the pain d’epice crust worked amazingly with the creamy texture of the foie gras. I was a very happy camper.


(Duck Breast)

And onto the entrees. Mom went for the garlic and parsley crusted Alaskan halibut, zucchini coulis, roasted sunchokes, sautéed squash blossoms; dad went for the branzino filet, roasted haricot vert, red onion soubise, dried apricot, crispy almonds and caper crunch and for myself, I decided to have a poultry related fiesta so I went with the pan roasted duck breast, quinoa and maitako mushrooms, butternut squash, whiskey prune smear. Again, portions were huge and presentation was right on the spot. The duck was cooked to perfection – juicy and tender with a layer of moist fat and plump duck skin. Nothing to complain about but I guess because I’m really not that big of a poultry person after all, I wasn’t wowed away by the dish. I enjoyed it A LOT but wasn’t blown away. Plus, the dish may have been a little TOO decadent for my Asian palate – I ate the skin off the first piece but it became too much and I had to skin the rest off. Mom and dad both enjoyed their fish dish (HA – RHYME! I guess my English major wasn’t a complete waste) but also said that they’ve had better. I guess I get where they’re coming from – Hatfield’s is perfect execution but it’s not something I would crave.


But even if I wasn’t WOWED by the food, like I said before, I was definitely wowed by the value of the meal. The dessert menu kept with the theme of non-skimpy decadence. I happily sold my soul to the ‘fuck-calorie-counting’ club the second I saw the words “chocolate and peanut butter truffle cake” on the menu. This turned out to be a chocolate cake with a molten lava PB center…mmmmmmmm. It was NEAR perfect – texture was right on BUT it was a tad too sweet and a tad under-salty for me…oh well, it was good anyways. But what WAS perfect was the accompanying salted caramel ice cream with roasted peanut butter peanut toffee. Mmmmm…so good. They should make that a dessert in itself.

(A beautiful concept: PB Truffle Cake)

My only real complaint is their breadbasket system. Instead of having a basket at the table, they have a waitstaff come around before each course to place a roll on your bread plate. That fancy-schmancyness is a little out of place from the “laid-back” atmosphere I was lauding just a few paragraphs earlier. Plus, their bread roll was a little bit too greasy for our Asian tastes. But, not to end this review on a sore note, service in general is great. Awesome even. And, even better, the bill is served with a small plate of mini brownies. So sweet (literally and figuratively). And these brownies sum up what Hatfield’s is all about – small details, unpretentious pampering and a restaurant who wants their patrons to leave with a smile on their faces.

FOOD: 4/5

Hatfield's ($$$)
7458 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 935-2977

The Griddle Cafe: Discovering Coconut


Why the F did it take me THIS LONG to order the scotch on the rocks flapjacks ($10.95)? Coconut, pecans, oats, butterscotch chips --> flapjacks. ‘Tis perfect. The flapjacks were the perfect sweetness and were oh-so-fluffy. It tasted like coconut ice cream almost. Amazing. Speechlessly amazing. And, of course, I never do the Griddle without their dark roast French pressed coffee ($3.35). Just a pot of that makes me a happy, functional person. Yes, their coffee makes me want to contribute to society.

But while I was living la vida loca with my flapjacks, I could tell mom wasn’t really blown away by the turkey and cranberry sandwich. Take my advice, stick to the griddle-cooked stuff or the eggs. Come on, I didn’t even KNOW they served sandwiches. Mom’s sandwich looked pretty I-can-make-that-at-home (ICMTAH) – the bread wasn’t even toasted (non-toasted bread pisses me off).

FOOD: 5/5
SERVICE: hit-or-miss

The Griddle Cafe ($$)
7916 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90046