Hatfield’s in West Hollywood a few blocks from the Grove on Beverly is another in a long line of California cuisine at its skimpiest, priciest and most self-conscious.
The gimmick of this converted closet is that most of the ingredients – particularly the veggies – come from the Farmer’s Market down the street. A terrific idea, if those ingredients were put to use in a simple way that allowed the flavors to stand on their own free-range merit.
Instead the chef over-indulges all ingredients with such a flurry of butters, creams and seasonings that you’re merely left gasping for more ice water to scrape the salt lick that has become your tongue.
Leslie and I sampled two appetizers. The supposedly “charred” Japanese mackerel was spongy and more gamey that mackerel you’d order off a sushi menu. The pineapple and avocado slices could barely mask the muskiness of the fish.
We also ordered the kabocha squash Agno loti with fresh purple eyed peas, sherry brown butter and armentizia cheese. Thank god we split the already tiny portion, as the brown butter soup was over-whelimingly rich and the peas too al dente; so the textures missed the mark.
Of the half dozen entree selections, we decided to split one, opting for the sautéed wild striped bass, with wild mushroom, leek and cauliflower fricassee, creamy spaetzle and some things call “champagne grapes.” The fish was nicely prepared with its crispy seared skin concealing the buttery flesh. With a fish already so delicately rich, the unctuous spaetzle and cauliflower fricassee which was basically buttery mashed cauliflower were gratuitous and overwhelming. The chef simply doesn’t know when to say when with his flavor combinations.
With tiny appetizers scraping $20 and paltry entrees in the mid to high $30s, I suppose the restaurant feels that less really should be more.
The service is friendly and polite (although with the tongue-numbing repast, those water glasses need to be filled almost by the minute and not the half-hour). The atmosphere is warm and cozy. But there are far better ways to spend $100 on dinner for two. Have I mentioned Osteria Mozza just down the street?