Monday, May 16, 2011

Hatfield's - 05/09/2011

7458 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 935-2977

Last time I visited Hatfield's was on their first night at the new location and at the time they were still getting settled and didn't have a tasting menu available. After hearing rumblings of a nine-course spontaneé menu, I thought a return trip might be in order. Unfortunately when I arrived I only saw the four-course prix fixe so I settled for creating my own extended menu by adding courses.

Amuse: Hamachi - Beluga lentils, meyer lemon crème fraiche
I appreciated the juxtaposition of the succulent fish against the gritty lentils. The flavor was fairly mild all around with the fresh meyer lemon coming to the fore.

Supplement 01: Raw New Zealand Shima Aji - Oro blanco, avocado, fresno chile crème fraiche, fingerling chips
Shima Aji is one of my favorite sushi fishes and the luxuriant velvety texture is readily apparent here. The Fresno chile coupled with the avocado gives the dish a smoky Southwestern essence while the oro blanco adds a bracing citrus tang to balance the weight of the crème fraiche. The chips are key here as they provide a potent savoriness to counter the lighter elements of the dish.

Supplement 02: "Croque Madame" - Yellowtail sashimi, prosciutto, sunny side up quail egg, grilled brioche
Hatfield's take on a Croque Madame is nothing short of brilliant. The fish is accompanied by thin slices of prosciutto which has just enough salinity. This duo is then smothered in a decadent beurre blanc and sandwiched between two round pucks of grilled brioche whose toasted crispiness brings into sharp relief the supple texture of the hamachi.

Supplement 03: Monterey Bay Squid - Preserved lemon, shaved asparagus, arugula, berebere
I've had some form of squid dish at all three of my visits to Hatfield's and they have never disappointed. The salad itself is vibrant bitter and carries the barest tinge of brine from the squid. I do wish the texture of the squid was more apparent, a thicker cut of the squid would have been more effective here.

Supplement 04: Berkshire Pork Ravioli - Warm Fava bean and hon shimeji mushrooms, sherry brown butter
This was the best course of the night, the tender supple ravioli hides a bounty of exquisitely porcine braised pork. The sauce is anchored around the caramelized richness of brown butter and infused with the earthy essence of the hon shimejis. The entire melange is accented with a verdant nuttiness from the favas and the sharp tang of aged Parmesan.

01a: Raw Marinated Hiramasa - Anaheim chile, endive, meyer lemon crème fraiche, crispy shallot
Quinn seems to have a penchant for pairing raw fish with crème fraiche as this was the third course to feature it. Structurally this dish was very similar to the Shima Aji, but the flavors felt strangely muted. On its own the fish was fairly enjoyable but it lacked the emphasis to stand up to the astringency of the endive and crème fraiche.

01b: Warm Creamy Crab Buckwheat Crepe - Pickled beets, marinated radish, fine herbs
The crepe certainly lived up to its name, encapsulated within the dark toasty was a generous mound of sweet creamy crab that was quite enjoyable albeit a bit heavy. Though I normally abhor beets, they played a crucial role in this course, providing balance to the monolithic weight of the crepe.

02a: Seared Diver Scallop - Vanilla saffron sauce, marinated artichoke
The scallops have been consistently mediocre. While the interplay between soft sweetness of the vanilla sauce and tangy artichoke were challenging for me but at least I appreciated what the chef was shooting for. Less forgivable were the scallops themselves, dense, rubbery and lacking any trace of briney sweetness.

02b: Halibut with Curry Toast Crust - Soy long beans, eggplant purée
This was another miss for me. The fish itself was well cooked but the accompanying curry toast was simply too salty and though I normally enjoy bitterness, the earthy weight of the broth was too much for the delicate flavor of the fish.

03a: Pan Roasted Duck Breast - Caramelized endive and cherries, pistachio pistou, celery root puree
After a couple of shaky courses, the meal got back on track with the entrees. First up was a fantastically tender duck breast, the juicy slickness and gamy sapor of the bird need no accompaniments, but the cherries and celery root impart balanced bittersweet attack.

03b: Braised Pork Belly - Fingerling potatoes, blue lake beans, harissa
A simply faultless preparation of pork belly, the meat has a distinct richness but doesn't overwhelm the palate and the lean meat is still fork-tender. The potatoes and beans were distinctly American sides but the harissa adds a pleasant Mediterranean rusticness.

04a: Coconut Strawberry Semifreddo - Coconut dacquiose, marinated strawberry, toasted coconut wafer
This dessert was a delight, though I'd expect nothing less from Karen Hatfield. The flavor of sweet ripe strawberry headlines the attack but soon gives way to the expressive tang of passion fruit and the bright tropical essence of the coconut. The flaky phyllo crisps round things out with a rich buttery flavor, but without the typical weight.

04b: Peanut Butter-Caramel Ganache Tart - Cocoa crumble, chocolate malted ice cream
The second dessert is pure decadence, savory peanut butter and salty-sweet caramel are wrapped in a oily layer of dark chocolate. The dessert is finished with more chocolate nuances in ice cream and crumble forms.

Despite a few misses during the prix fixe menu, Hatfield's delivers a warm, honest, and enjoyable dining experience. It goes without saying the desserts were brilliant, while the "Croque Madame" and Berkshire ravioli were the standouts among the savory courses. To be sure the cuisine isn't the most inventive yet the kitchen adds enough creativity to keep the food from feeling tired. I'd recommend a trip to Hatfield's and if you've got a sweet tooth this is definitely a restaurant where you can skimp on the savory to indulge in the sweets.


Gastronomer said...

What a coincidence! I ate here about a week later and enjoyed pretty much the exact same menu. Hatfield's a great place to take parents and I love how pretty the space is, but the food isn't all that exciting.

Epicuryan said...

Did you have all the supplements as well? Agreed about the food its good but definitely not groundbreaking