Hatfield’s is the perfect place to make out-of-towners seethe with jealousy. Sure, L.A. has enough sun and sand to turn tourists green with envy, but my guests were from San Diego, so a stellar neighborhood restaurant was much more effective. As anyone from San Diego knows, fine dining in “America’s finest city” ain’t so grand.
The Astronomer and I, along with Cousin Phil and his gal Tannia, dined at Hatfield’s on a Saturday evening. While Hatfield’s would normally be a special occasion dining destination, their unbeatable Spring Special made it an affordable splurge. For $49, diners can choose an appetizer, entree, and dessert from the a la carte menu. Not too shabby for a Michelin starred restaurant.
The restaurant was packed and happening when we arrived for our 8:30 reservation. Our party of four was seated toward the back of the small patio that runs along the front and down one side of the building. Being located next to the kitchen was a ball, especially with Chef Quinn Hatfield popping in and out all evening, and pastry chef and front of the house manager Karen Hatfield constantly surveying the dining room. Quinn and Karen’s hospitable energy and tremendous love of good eating permeates the entire restaurant.
While perusing the menu, we were each served an amuse of warm apple and fennel soup and quail eggs with smoked trout.
After we selected our firsts and seconds, we were served cheesy rolls with chive and black pepper dusted butter. I love it when rich breads are paired with superfluous butters; it makes for a decadent start to an even more decadent evening.
For my appetizer, I selected Hatfield’s beloved “Croque Madame.” In place of traditionalham and cheese were hamachi sashimi and prosciutto sandwiched between buttered, grilled brioche. A quail’s egg was cracked on top. The contrast in textures and flavors between the fresh sashimi and the lavishly buttered brioche was really dynamite.
The Astronomer chose the Japanese octopus with creamy oat groats, English peas, preserved lemon, tarragon, and sweet pea emulsion. Although the octopus received top billing on the menu, it played a supporting role within the chunky groat porridge. The Astronomer was hoping for a bolder octopus experience.
For my entree, I chose the Branzino fillet with roasted haricot vert, red onion soubise, dried apricot, crispy almonds, and caper crunch. The beautiful plate was well balanced and a treat to eat from top to bottom. The crunch factor was especially appealing.
The Astronomer’s pan roasted duck breast with quinoa, maitake mushrooms, butternut squash, and whiskey prune smear was another visual stunner, with its dainty cubes of squash amidst the saucy swipe. The duck was prepared medium-rare, while its taut skin was mildly crisped. The bed of quinoa had a bit of a bite and was a hearty accompaniment.
Karen Hatfield, who has spent time in the kitchens of Spago, Gramercy Tavern, Jojo, Vong, and Cortez, has a magical way of transforming flour, sugar, and butter into sigh-inducing creations. As much as I enjoyed our firsts and seconds, it was the desserts that inspired me to plan my next visit to Hatfield’s.
My chocolate and peanut butter truffle cake with salted caramel ice cream and roasted peanut toffee was baked to order and delivered hot out of the oven. With its sweet and salty peanut butter filling, the creation tasted like a tricked-out, upscale interpretation of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. An ideal dessert for any chocolate-peanut butter lover.
The Astronomer’s sugar and spice dusted beignets with Venezuelan chocolate fondu and vanilla malted milkshake shot was superb as well. The milkshake was so appealingly cool and creamy that The Astronomer was tempted to pour it atop the beignets.
Tannia ordered the Market Special dessert, which consisted of a chocolate chip shortcake with strawberries, whipped crème fraîche, and strawberry cocoa nib chip ice cream. Phil ordered a most spectacular chilled cherry soup with a vanilla macaron (not pictured). Neither Tania nor Phil particularly love desserts, but Karen’s sweets had them gushing with each bite. I really appreciate how Hatfield’s puts as much creativity and passion into their sweets as their savories.
As a finale to our sensational dinner, we were presented with a plate of mignardises—dark chocolate brownies topped with a soft espresso meringue. We were much too stuffed to eat them after three courses each, so we had them packed to-go. I ate mine the following day—nothing brightens up an ordinary Sunday at home like a Karen Hatfield brownie.
7458 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036