Had an amazing chef's spontanee tasting last night at Hatfield's. I was at the old location twice. Once a la carte. Once for the terrific bargain 4 course prix fixe. I was also back a few months after it reopened. I again had the 4 course prix fixe and also ordered the addictive hamachi croque madame just to confirm everything was good and well with the new location. It was. Last night, I decided on the chef's spontanee tasting. We were told 7 courses which I assumed to be 7 courses including desserts for $98. About industry standard for a mid-high tier restaurant. It was actually 7 courses of savory and 3 dessert courses. The meal was pretty much flawless and at under $10/course a tremendous bargain for this quality of calibre of cooking.
Course 1: cured mackeral salad with cantelope, cucumber, and nori chip. This was wonderfully refreshing without any hint of fishiness from the mackeral. It put to shame London's much talked about 2 Michelin star Hibiscus' version of cured mackeral.
Course 2: cuttlefish with roasted maitake mushrooms and artichoke puree. The cuttlefish was cut into ribbons, amazingly tender, sweet, and slightly briny. It was easily one of the top cuttlefish preps I've had.
Course 3: Corn custard soup with sweet onion puree and fried PEI oysters. The corn custard was very sweet, almost dessert like. The hint of lime zest in the puree was interesting. The fried PEI oysters were amazing. I wish I had a troughful of that stuff. From an academic point of view, I didn't find the two to necessarily to together, but hey, it was damned delicious.
Course 4: Hamachi collar with blackeyed peas an aromatics emulsion. The piece of hamachi collar was coated in in round rice crackers and pan fried. The rich fish went well with the very elegant and subtle emulsion.
Course 5: Buttermilk steamed chicken with foie gras, sauteed pea shoots, and pea puree. This dish was very french in appearance but very asian in taste. A genius dish actually. The chicken was very tender and the pairing of lean breast to rich foie was perfect. The foie gras had the faintest whisper of asian spices...some 5 spice, anise, maybe even some curry. It went very well with our burgundy. This dish showed off the chef's immense talent and his ability to layer very nuanced flavors. This dish was as good a dish as I've had anywhere.
Course 6: Braised pork belly with beluga lentils and meyer lemon compote. Another killer dish. The pork belly was not glazed in any cloying or heavy sauce. It was almost light the way it was prepared. The meat was silky soft and the crisp skin was the essence of pork skin. Delicious.
Course 7: Mint and date crusted lamb chop with heirloom root vegetables. Yet another wonderful meat dish. Meat dishes can be pretty monotonous and a bit of a let down in high end restaurants when compared to appetizers but this lamb chop prep was excellent in every way. I was absurdly full at this point but could not stop eating the delicious lamb. The sweet date paste crust helped keep each bite interesting and irresistible.
Palate cleanser: strawberry slush with prosecco sabayon. Excellent. Would have been happy with a huge bowl of this as dessert
Dessert 1: warm chocolate cake souffle with mint ice cream
Dessert 2: sugar and spice beignets with molten venezuelan chocolate. I have a thing for beignets and asked if they could include it in the tasting. They made the adjustment and swapped out the dessert that usually comes with the tasting.
Service was excellent all around.
I've always liked Hatfield's and thought that the cuisine was excellent. Now I like it even more. The tasting menu shows that there is some very sophisticated and high end cooking going on here. For me, I'd have to say tops in LA goes 1. Urasawa 2. Providence 3. Hatfields on cuisine and experience alone. If you take quality/price into consideration, it's easily Hatfield's #1.
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