It shouldn’t be long before Karen Hatfield is celebrated as one of the country’s leading pastry chefs. Sure, she was already turning out serious desserts at Hatfield’s, the high-end restaurant she just closed with husband Quinn after a long run in two locations. The world got to see more of her range at The Sycamore Kitchen, an industrial chic cafe on La Brea where she fills the counter with delights like donuts, salted caramel pecan babka and chocolate rye cookies. Now, Karen’s back with plated desserts at Odys + Penelope, the fiery restaurant she runs with her husband, and her desserts have never been better.
People are already falling hard for Karen’s chocolate pie with rye crust, as they should, but I’ll argue that her Warm Apple Almond “Toast” ($10) is even more impressive. The hot slab, with crisp edges and supple core, is kind of like a cross between French toast and a bostock. The topping consists of sliced apple, marzipan and thin-shaved almonds, which get toasty and caramelized when cooking, are plated with a scoop of fennel ice cream anchored in crumble, fennel fronds, a decorative dehydrated apple slice, and cascading whipped cream. This dessert is the ideal balance of hot and cool, crunchy and soft, and the flavor is terrific.