That area of Melrose is becoming quite the food destination, with Providence, Mozza, and now Hatfield’s.
After being open only a week, the front of the house is well staffed, clean, rehearsed and well managed. Service is very good, with the order-taking, food delivery and clearing duties divided among different teams. There’s a modern bar area with no customers.
Don’t expect a private table. There are none. It’s entirely banquette and shared-booth seating.
The kitchen is open, which makes for an interesting diversion from your table conversation.
Diced hamachi served over a dab of curry cream sauce. This was very fresh; and the curry is an interesting flavor that works with the fish. The portion is perfect: just enough to tease the appetite.
Croque Madame – More fresh hamachi, this time cut into larger pieces served between two pieces of brioche. Unfortunately, the brioche was badly overcooked and hard to the point that any attempt to cut it necessarily mushed the delicate hamachi. And to make matters worse, it was so over-saturated with butter as to completely ruin this dish. Rather than an appetizer, this quite nearly destroyed my appetite. Note to anyone finding this in front of them: lose the top piece of brioche altogether. It’s superfluous and completely unnecessary. This dish sounds good on paper, but on the plate it’s a non-starter.
Warm Cuttlefish Salad – On the other hand, this dish was delightful. The cuttlefish was cut so delicately that it seemed like flower petals. And the play in texture and flavor of the cuttlefish with the mushrooms was a perfect way to start the top-notch meal we expected from Mr. Hatfield. This was a proper appetizer: mildly sating our immediate appetite, but awakening our real appetite to the main course.
Lamb - They don’t even ask how you want the lamb cooked. But they don’t need to. It was cooked perfectly….tender, juicy and full of flavor. And it’s crusted with a date-mint crumb that bursts with mint flavor, expertly complementing the lamb. It comes with a spoonful of jus, delicate baby parsnips, pearl onions and fava beans, all cooked perfectly. And it’s served over a potato chive puree. Unfortunately, this was over processed and under seasoned...no flavor.
New York Steak – Don’t expect a “New York Steak” in the traditional sense. Instead, expect slices of meat… salty meat. The accompanying béarnaise is spot-on, and a delicious accoutrement. The beans’ soy glaze also makes for a nice dipping sauce. And it’s served with a small pot of spaetzle. I’d never seen spaetzle prepared this way. You get four-inch noodles, not the typical little dumplings. It’s fun to eat, and it comes with a creamy tarragon sauce. It’s also quite good dipped in the meat sauces. This is an interesting dish.
So that was dinner. The serving sizes are precious, but not overly chintzy. And the quality of the ingredients comes through loud and clear.
But we were still hungry.
Beignets – These were divine. Soft, fluffy hot puffs of dough, coated with cinnamon sugar. It comes with a chocolate dipping sauce that was rich, a little bitter in a good way, and deep in flavor…Perfect to offset the sugary coating on the beignets. I normally don’t have dessert, but this was nothing short of outstanding.
Macaroon – Another interpretation of something else, so we were a little leery after the croque incident above. But this was a home run. The coconut was toasted, so it avoided that chewiness that sometimes ruins good coconut flavor. The passion fruit sorbet was refreshing and instead of crushing the taste buds with sweetness, this had a delicate tropical flavor. And the tapioca and pineapple mixed together to give the dish some sweetness and body. This was also outstanding.
These desserts rivaled or bettered those at Providence…outstanding on all levels.
Overall, the meal didn’t quite meet our expectations. But I think our expectations were too high. After all, they’ve only been open a week. And given that, I think in retrospect they’ve done a remarkable job.
I will also bring up the price. All of the above, with 2 glasses of wine and a pot of tea was $150 before tip. And we ordered the two most expensive entrees. A couple could easily get out of here for $100 for two.
Driving away, we agreed that we’d be back. The price is right, the quality of ingredients is good, dessert is awesome, and it’s so darn convenient.
6703 Melrose (at Citrus, a block west of Highland)