My friend Babs called me unexpectedly -- she's back in town from Aspen because one of her dogs is at the hospital -- so how about dinner at Hatfields? She went a month ago and really liked it, so she called yesterday for an 8:00 reservation and they called right back and told her they'd accommodate us.
When we arrived, the hostess told us she needed five minutes to clear our table, so we sat outside on the little patio in front. The building across the street would be much nicer without its grid of bars -- it looks like a prison.
Babs asked the waiter whether they have any rose'. No, they're starting small on the wine list. But, Babs says, rose' is the wine of summer -- she's right. (It's like when I called Sweet Lady Jane last Saturday to inquire about the trifle. Not in? But if not now, when?) The waiter vouched for a particular white wine and gave Babs a nice generous "taste" first. She liked it enough to order a glass.
Once at our table, out came the deviled quail eggs and coconut-watermelon agua fresca amuse. I liked both parts, but Babs pronounced the agua fresca disgusting. The worst I could say of it was that it reminded me of Gadsby's silly little juices at Noe.
Babs ordered the market menu, which started with a nice salad with butter lettuce and beets. I had the hamachi croque madam, which was really good. We both pecked at a "salad" of sweet corn raviolini with fava beans and cherry tomatoes. It's all wrong as a salad, and should have been served without tomatoes and warm. Even then, the raviolini lacked any corn flavor.
Babs' entree was the roasted chicken, which I found juicy and delicious but she said was not as good as the fish she'd had last time. I had the short ribs, which were delicious if tiny (four bites for me, two for Babs), and the hanger steak. The waitress had recommended medium, which I like, but this came out blood-rare and was not good.
For desserts, Babs' menu came with a lemon tart with strawberries and vanilla ice cream -- okay, a bit boring. We also tried the chocolate peanut butter truffle cake, much too rich, with good salted caramel ice cream. The real winner were the beignets, very light and delicious, with or without the dipping chocolate. We also liked the cute little sassafras milkshake served with them.
The space is purely functional and they use every inch of it to cram maybe a dozen tables in the small room and pocket patio. But the people are really sweet (okay, the busboy could use a few lessons in clearing food properly) -- they took the hanger steak off the bill when we mentioned it and even (unnecessarily) comped one of the desserts. Really nice people.
I would go back if in the area but wouldn't make it a destination. 7458 Beverly Blvd.