Karen and Quinn Hatfield relocated from San Francisco to make an impact in L.A.
Considering how trendy Beverly Boulevard has become, it was a matter of time before Le Chine Wok was jettisoned from the neighborhood. In its stead is Quinn and Karen Hatfield’s eponymous, market-driven restaurant. The husband and wife team met at Spago, spent time at separate high-profile Manhattan restaurants, and worked together at lauded San Francisco eatery Cortez before returning to Karen’s hometown. The decor may be plain, but the cooking is precise and flavorful.
The Hatfields offer a nightly three-course market menu for $42, a relative bargain considering the premium ingredients.
Since we were at Hatfield’s to celebrate a landmark birthday, we kickstarted the evening with a Ginger Caipirinha. The specialty cocktail combined Leblon Cachaca sugar cane liquor, ginger syrup, and muddled lime. Strong but compelling.
Each amuse bouche paired a shot glass of hot ginger carrot soup with a demitasse spoon holding a deviled quail egg topped with smoked trout. I can’t say this was a natural pairing, but both tastes were very good.
Instead of boring French bread, Hatfield’s treats diners to warm, chewy, pull-apart gougeres with a soft herb-dusted butter pat. These gruyere-topped flavor bombs were delicious, but I didn’t want to jeopardize my appetite, so I stopped at two.
Roasted kabocha squash ravioli was easily our heavier appetizer. The orange packets were certainly supple, but could have used more vibrant flavor. No fear. Paired with thin-sliced cheese, sherry brown butter and black-eyed peas that would make a homesick Southerner weep, the dish was remedied.
A simple but substantial salad combined crisp butter lettuce, two colors of beet, Maytag blue cheese, fennel confit and balsamic vinaigrette.
Things really got interesting by the time entrees hit our tabletop. This feathery fillet of pepita and herb crusted halibut was set atop orange scented beets, paired with quarter-sized fingerling cuts, and tender mushrooms, plus horseradish-infused creme fraiche.
I’ve always been partial to monkfish, AKA the poor man’s lobster, and since it was the centerpiece of the evening’s market menu, I couldn’t resist. Enticing breaded medallions, crispy outside, tender inside, came topped with roasted onions and rested on tender baby artichokes and rows of saffron sauce.
Airy sugar and spice beignets came with Venezuelan chocolate dipping sauce, a vanilla and bay leaf milkshake, and a special birthday greeting.
Warm almond brown butter cake didn’t come with a message, but the scoop of ginger ice cream and the fresh huckleberries were still worthy companions. The chewy yellow cake was terrific, studded with almond slivers.
With the check, we were each treated to half-dollar-sized Devil’s food cakes, each topped with espresso meringue and packing the intensity of cakes several times larger.
Overall, Hatfield’s was a worthy choice for such a special occasion.