Tuesday, July 6, 2010


I'm making good headway on my lists of "To-Try restaurants." This list is mostly of higher end restaurants, which doesn't mean I only want to eat fancy foods. It's just that these types of places are good to keep in mind in the event of any special occasions that happen to come up. Our outting to this particular place was just that, a celebration for Dumpling Man's graduation from residency and a bon voyage to Portland.

Zhu Zhu told me Hatfield's was sooooooooooooooooooooooooo good, like soooooooooooooooooooooo good. Zhu Zhu has been to many restaurants in LA, so I trust her. It was a rather large group of us: my mom, Dumpling Man and his parents, Triple T and her mom, and RCM. We tried to have an earlier dinner, so that Triple T could get her mom to the airport in time to catch her flight to the great country known as Canada! We got there around 6:15 and it was rather empty, but of course come 7-8pm it starts to fill up.

Hatfield's recently moved locations to this newer and larger space. It has this beautiful completely open kitchen. I was quite fascinated at how clean and orderly the whole place was. It didn't really seem like a restaurant kitchen, but maybe more like a test kitchen? There just didn't seem to be a lot of "cooking" going on. I guess I imagined things to be more on a large scale. Like giant pots of things, or large open flames, or multiple ovens with things being put in and pulled out. If you paid attention more closely you could see people working with small pots and saute pans on the stove. Maybe this is just how high end restaurant kitchens operate.

The amuse bouche was a salmon tartar served on a cabbage slaw. It was just OK I think. I'm not a big fan of slaws that much.

After reading a lot of the Yelp reviews, it seemed imperative we try the Croque Madame, their signature dish. It was not part of the seasonal pre fixe we went with, but I figured it was a good idea everyone order it in addition. Unfortunately given our later than planned start to dinner, our waiter did not think the kitchen could get 8 orders of the Croque out in time, so he instead suggested 4 orders to split. The waiter was a wise man. This dish was heavenly!! The brioche bread was perfectly crisped and buttery. The yellowtail sashimi was slightly warmed through from all the other accoutrements which I didn't like so much but I'm sure was what they were aiming for. The prosciutto added a great saltiness to the dish. The sauce served as a great binder for all the flavors. The sunny side up egg contributed more richness which probably was unnecessary but I think thats what makes it a croque madame. All in all, it really was as fabulous as everyone said it would be.

For the remainder of our meal, the majority of us went with the $59 Seasonal Pre Fixe which consisted of any combination of 3 courses plus our choice of dessert. Between me and Dumpling Man, we tried all possible courses.

I started off with the Monterey Bay Squid Salad served with sauteed blue lake and yellow wax beans, ginger chermoula. The dish had good flavor, I suppose from the chermoula although I don't remember much ginger going on. The BIG downside, the beans for overcooked! A place like this overcooking something as simple as green beans? Tsk Tsk. Also the squid was tender, maybe too tender? Overall the dish was lacking any punchy texture.

Marinated Yellowfin Tuna served with mint, watercress, Urfa Bieber creme fraiche. I had only a few bites, but this was a far superior 1st course than the latter. The tuna was fresh and the flavors were clean and simple. I don't remember much to the yellow stuff on the plate although I'm sure it went well with the dish.

Charred Octopus served caramelized fennel, saffron vanilla braied palm of hearts, red wine olive puree. I do like octopus, but theres always the fear you might end up with something chewy and tough. This was at the other extreme. I dunno what they did to that octopus but it was like super duper soft, unpleasantly so. I enjoy the bit of chew to octopus, but this was so soft, bordering on mushy, I had to remind myself what I was eating. If I ignored the lack of texture, I could really enjoy the taste of the octopus which was really enhanced with the char. The palm of hearts had this odd flavor which was probably the vanilla, and it didn't fit in with the rest of the dish. As for the puree? I dislike olives for the most part.

Santa Barbara Black Cod "En Croute" served with oven dried tomato, kalamata, roasted eggplant puree. The fish was well cooked, moist, and light on flavor. Another puree missed the mark again. At this point my brother was beginning the place liked to serve baby food.

Pan Roasted Wagyu Flat Iron Steak with yukon gold potato puree, herbed fava beans, maitake mushrooms. One of the more solid dishes of the night. The meat was perfectly cooked, tender, flavorful. And the baby food on this plate was actually tastey and complimentary. How can you go wrong with mushrooms too?

Mama Dumpling Man did not go with the pre fixe because she can only eat chicken and cooked fish. So she got the Pan Roasted Alaskan Halibut with herbed asparagus, hom shimeji mushrooms, pickled scallion vinaigrette. Another solid, well cooked fish. Don't think I'm much a fan of fava beans, but they went well with the dish.

Braised Pork Belly with carrot vadovan puree, caramelized corn and barley, sweet and sour onions. The pork belly was pretty tender, but the skin lacked any sort of crisp to it. The puree actually did have a baby food taste to it because it was so carroty and sweet. I didn't like the barley either. And the sweet and sour onions? I thought it was sauerkrat! The dish wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. My brother got the same dish but was sitting in a different part of the table and his picture came out way better than mine.

Ahh, dessert! One of the best parts of dinner. Because of our late start, half the party had leave to go to the airport before dessert was served. Boy did they miss out! Dessert was just amazing. Papa Dumpling Man was in heaven. I never seen him smile so much.

Cinnamon Swirl Brioche Pudding with pear confit and maple syrup ice cream. This was probably the most special dessert. The bread pudding was served warm, it was moist with light cinnamon flavor. I also loved the ice cream. All ice creams served in these fancy restaurants have such interesting flavors and always taste so rich, creamy, and smooth, not anything you could get in your grocery store aisle.

Hot Chocolate Souffle Tartlet with chicory chocolate chip ice cream. This dish was good, but nothing special. Just a good chocolatey cake.

Some sort of lemon tart. If you like lemon things, this tarts for you. It had a sweet but wonderful tartness. The ice cream really complemented it well.

Sugar & Spice Beignets with Venezuelan chocolate fondue, preserved ginger milkshake. These were so nice and crispy (maybe a bit too crispy?) on the outside yet still pillowy on the inside. The chocolate fondue made a nice dipping sauce, but it was the milkshake that was the most special. Papa Dumpling Man looooved it. He was drinking it up with a big smile on his face. Ginger in sweet things is a more common thing I'm coming across these days. I think it really works.

Banana Cream Daquoise with pecan toffee, bitter chocolate sorbet. I don't like bananas thaaat much so I didn't actually taste this dessert, but my mom didn't think it was so good.

Tangerine Semifreddo Bombe with honey nougat glace, fresh citrus compote. I just had a bit of this and it just tasted like orange ice cream, haha. Nobody seemed that impressed.

We parked on the street, but some parked in the valet lot. I thought this was great.

I doubt they would ever take more than 2 minutes to get your car considering its just behind the restaurant, but its nice they put it out there.

Overall, the Croque Madam and desserts really won me over and I would definitely come back just because of them. In retrospect, it would seem I thought the majority of the dishes were just OK if not total misses. This is true, but for some reason I really enjoyed myself here. Our server was friendly and accomodating, better than our server at Grace who didn't even attempt to engage. The ambiance was very comfortable. If I come back I'll try to avoid dishes with any purees and I'll send back any dishes that have overcooked beans.

6703 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 935-2977

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