We were gifted a virtually unlimited dining experience at Hatfield’s on Melrose and we could not have been more excited.
Friand alerted the restaurant that I was vegan when he made the reservation, but I still mentioned that I was vegan when we were handed the menus. Our server, who I’m sorry I missed his name, was very quick to point out three vegetarian options that could easily be made vegan. Although, that there is a Vegetarian Prix Fixe spoke volumes for what their attitude is toward us vegetal types.
I ordered myself a glass of Tempranillo and resigned myself to an evening of boring salads and did he say carrots(?).
What was amazing to me, though, was how enthusiastic our server was regarding the carrots. This just wasn’t normal behavior for someone pushing a potential side-dish on me as an entree, so I decided to just go with it. Bring me the carrots and the Lolla Rosa Salad, what’s biggest selling point was the fried capers.
Soon, we were being treated to fresh baked bread with rosemary and fennel, and the best olive oil I have tasted in a long long time. It was so beautiful – floral and lemon – I actually drank it when I ran out of bread. Seriously, I have no shame… Do ask your server for the olive oil, though, because the default is butter, and dry bread is a crime.
The first item to arrive was my kale salad. You all know me well enough by now to know I don’t dig on salads. Also, I don’t normally go for raw kale, but I don’t shun it either. Anything is better than lettuce, and this was black kale! An easily veganized dish with the brie-dill cream left off.
I wish the lighting were better so you could get a real sense of the color of these leaves, but just trust me! This was gorgeous. Clearly not just some “salad” thrown together for some annoying vegan, but a well thought out plate. The black kale, though piled pretty high and threatening a big mess at my place setting, was quite tender and well dressed. The vinaigrette was tangy and exactly the right compliment to this less bitter variety of kale. Walnuts are always welcome to any salad party, but the fried capers stole the show! If they had just brought me a little bowl of fried capers and a spoon and I could have called it a night.
I surprised even myself by cleaning my plate. Have I finally been convinced to soften my view of salads and accept that they are viable meal options? Yes to only half of that statement…but this salad was a good start! Kudos, Chef Quinn Hatfield.
All I was waiting for now was these carrots. I admit: I had a bad attitude toward this dish and nothing short of a miracle was going to turn my scowl upside down.
Again, wishing the lighting were better, you can see for your own eyes what a wondrous dish was placed before me! Three organic whole carrots, clearly dressed in the smokey maple and pan-roasted to perfection, over fluffy couscous, peanuts, crispy black kale and microgreens. Just wow. And this is on the menu, not something made off menu. Vegetarians can indulge in the sumac yogurt sauce, but I really don’t see the point. Maybe that’s the beauty of going vegan: you begin to appreciate the unadulterated flavors of fresh veg and greens without the added fat of dairy. To me, the mere thought of putting dairy on this little gem would be a shame. (go VEGAN!)
I was honest with our server and told him that I really was not expecting much with this carrot dish, but that I had been beyond impressed. This is a meal that will stay in my memory for a long time to come. It seems that the recent trend in vegan cooking has been to take standard vegetables and turn them into something way more interesting. Last year it was purple cauliflower, this year carrot orange is the new black.
Of course there is! (and room to spare for a glass of Moscato…) As usual, the only vegan option was the sorbet trio, but who cares. I’ve become something of a sorbet aficionado, and these were probably the highest quality sorbets I’ve ever had. Karen Hatfield, co-owner, is the pastry chef, and clearly a very gifted one. Friand ordered the banana creme tart, and let’s just say, I wish there was a vegan version!
Now, I don’t like rhubarb. But, since I’d already been won over by the salad and the carrots, I figured let’s just do this thing right and order something completely out of the box for me. Well, I can report back that the raspberry rhubarb sorbet was fantastic! In the center is a pineapple chili sorbet, which I was expecting to have a little more kick to it, but was also delicious and comes highly recommended. Now that chocolaty looking thing is actually bittersweet sorbet. It was so creamy and rich that I did have a moment of panic that it wasn’t actually sorbet, but no. Our server confirmed it several times that it was non-dairy and one of their most popular flavors. And with good reason!! This stuff was amazing.
Hatfield’s comes equipped with several vegetarian items, a vegetarian Prix Fixe menu, and sorbets. This is a five-sprout restaurant if I ever saw one. Very little fuss over the vegan (which I like) and everything came out right the first time. Most importantly: it all came out at the same high level as the non-vegan dishes.
For a trendy night out, check out Hatfield’s!
6703 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038