A food blog from yours truly would not be complete without an entry on Hatfield’s, the Jimmy Choo of restaurants in LA.
Hatfield’s is a place we frequent every few months, whenever we get a craving to spend some cheddar on a very decadent meal. It’s one of my old faves, and is, in my opinion, one of the best restaurants in the city. But you don’t have to take just my word for it: Bon Appetit named them one of the best new restaurants in North America in 2010.
So let me start by saying on this particular occasion, I was high as a kite on cold medication. I’m the type of person who believes in self-medicating with the good stuff whenever a cold arises, because that’s what over-the-counter medication is for: to be enjoyed. Also, I was not under any circumstances going to miss out on Hatfield’s, because that’s just crazy. Plus, my friend David Hewlett was going to be joining us, and he hates/is almost irrationally afraid of sick people. And I like to watch him squirm.
Every Hatfield’s experience starts out the same: we hum and haw (is that how you spell haw? why is haw a word?) over the menu, debating on what we’re all going to get, and then my friend Martin Gero inevitably says, “Guys. Why don’t we just do the tasting menu?” Then we all gasp like he’s a madman and mutter things like, “there’s no WAY we’re going to be able to eat that much food! Remember the last time we got the tasting menu? It was a mistake! It was too much!” etc. etc. etc. Then Martin gets his way and we order it regardless. Subbing one of the courses for the croque madam, of course. Because it’s epic.
So on we went with the 8 course tasting menu, which went a little something like this:
Course One: my beloved croque madame. A little baby grilled brioche sandwich of yellowtail sashimi, prosciutto, and garnished with the prettiest sunny-side up quail egg on the top. I know this sounds weird, I know it sounds like it wouldn’t work. But I’m weird and I don’t work most of the time, and look how I turned out! It’s simply the best croque madame I’ve ever had in my life. Trust me. Even David liked it.
Course Two: warm cuttlefish salad with artichoke, maitake mushrooms and arugula. Perfectly salty, creamy and delicate. Which was a good thing, because we were about to get hit with the heavy.
Course Three: Butternut squash flan served in a coconut soup with hon shimiji mushrooms and crispy sweetbreads. This was rich. Like Oprah rich. It cut through my Advil Cold and Sinus like a warm, sticky knife, hitting my tongue first with the gooey flan and then blasting me with that thick and luscious coconut soup. Totally bizarre, but strangely comforting, especially when you managed to scoop up a nibble of those luscious little sweetbreads. Oh, and friends? Don’t shy away from sweetbreads if you know what they are. And if you don’t, best not to find out. Just eat them. Remember what I said last time about things that are deep fried? Fried things make the world go ’round.
Course Four: pan roasted scallops with a lovely puree of salsify, some braised celery, and an apple froth. I love scallops, I really do. Especially when they’re deeply caramelized and buttery like these ones are. But these purees and sauces were starting to knock me out a bit, in that “I may have a heart attack tonight” kind of way.
Course Four and a half: another Advil Cold and Sinus.
Course Five: buttermilk chicken, steamed and sitting in a pool of cauliflower puree, with royal trumpet mushrooms and a little bit of foie gras. If you don’t eat foie gras, I get it. When you really think about it, it’s gross, and sort of sad, and maybe even a wee bit shameful. Kind of like how I feel when I lie at the doctor’s office about how much I drink. But wow, is it delicious. (I’m sorry, little ducks.) And so was that chicken.. Moist and sweet, beautifully tender and light as a feather. So far, besides my precious croque crack, this was my fave.
Course Five and a half: cancel pilates class in the AM due to cold
Course Six: braised pork belly with a smoked white bean puree (yeah, more puree), roasted baby broccoli, and something called a meyer lemon confiture, which was sorta like a thick and sweet lemony paste. I was full, guys. I’m not one to abandon a pork belly dish, especially one as succulent and lovely as this one, but at this point I was starting to feel slightly nauseas, like my stomach was coated in five different purees. Because it was. I was starting to sweat.
Course Seven: Wagyu flat iron steak, creamy swiss chard, pickled red onions, and chiodini mushrooms. They really like their wild mushrooms at Hatfield’s. That’s really all I was thinking about as I willed myself to eat this dish. That, and why the hell do I let Martin Gero talk me into this all the time? Again, it was rich and heavy and deliciously, gluttonously, insanely indulgent. And I finished it, because it was Wagyu, and I cannot will not MUST not leave a perfectly good piece of Wagyu on a plate. Neither should you, ever.
Palate Cleanser: a tart and welcoming cold bowl of green apple “slush” with a wheat beer sabayon. This is what my tummy was calling for, something acidic to cut all that richness.
Course Seven and three quarters: Re-book pilates class.
Course Eight, the finale, thank god: A duo of desserts- Chocolate caramel semifreddo with salted peanut crunch and bitter chocolate sorbet, and cocoa dusted beignets with Venezuelan chocolate fondue and a Mexican chocolate mini milkshake. My favorite was the semifreddo, like a sweet and salty little caramel ice cream cake, but those beignets, which I’ve had a few times at Hatfield’s, never really disappoint. I was just having a problem choking down a doughnut at this moment in time. Because I am a human.
Listen, tasting menus are great. It’s a really good way of experiencing all a restaurant has to offer, and I’ve had some very enjoyable, very innovative tasting menus in the past. And I’m not writing off the whole tasting menu experience completely. But I’m a bit over feeling like I’m about to give birth to a beach ball and rolling around in bed in fatty agony while trying to digest 8,000 calories. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s just too much food.
My advice is, go to Hatfield’s, have their fabulous sommelier Peter suggest a cocktail to start (they made me one sans booze to help my cold, a spicy ginger something that was just what the doctor ordered), order the croque madame, and stick to one main course and a dessert to share. You’ll enjoy yourself immensely, I promise. Or, if you really need to, go die-hard and order the tasting menu. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.
PS I’ve been reading your comments and suggestions, and I love them all. I promise, more pictures will accompany these excursions in the future. I’m just getting warmed up.