Dinner at The Hart and The Hunter
With new restaurants opening every day, it’s hard to get really that excited about all of them. But one I had been wanting to check out was The Hart and the Hunter. Dishes kept popping up on my Instagram feed. People were talking (tweeting) about it day and night (since they do breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch on weekends). But most of all, people I know with good palates were raving. And after my dinner last week, I can see why. It’s worth the raves (and the 25 minutes it took me to find parking — their valet has only 10 spots so good luck finding parking on Melrose).
The Hart & The Hunter is headed up by chefs Kris Tominaga and Brian Dunsmoor who met while working at Joe’s in Venice.
They made a name for themselves running a pop-up called Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing. I was never able to attend that successful pop-up (now run by other chefs). I’m so glad they moved “closer” to me by making it to the Palihotel on Melrose. The food is definitely Southern and Southern inspired with fresh California farmers’ market finds.
One of the items my friend wanted to get was the chicken cracklings. I have said this before and everyone thinks I’m crazy but I don’t really eat skin. I took a bite and I did finish this chicken skin “chip” because it was delicious and didn’t taste like weird rubbery skin some chicken and fish has. I’d actually eat this again but I probably would take friends who love skin so they can have the bulk of it while I have one small piece. What I really loved was the hot pepper vinegar you sprinkle on the skin.
At Joe’s, I had met Chef Kris and attended his Test Kitchen night a while back. I’ve always liked his food. It was very nice of him to not just send out the smoked trout but to bring it over himself.
We decided this plate would be the perfect lunch. A little avocado toast, some smoked trout, boiled egg and piled high with the pickled onion and capers. Melrose, let’s do lunch!
The trout is rich though so I will also make sure to order some pickles. These were so great. I loved the snap of the sugar snap pea and the okra.
One of the popular items for dinner is the Low Country Shrimp Boil. You get a very generous amount of huge, sweet succulent shrimp along with andouille sausage made by local meat mavens, Lindy and Grundy, corn and potatoes.
Oh, those potatoes? From Weiser Family Farms. And I loved that Alex Weiser walked by and my writer buddy asked if those were his potatoes. Yep and you can find plenty more of his produce on the menu as well. Although I’m really glad chefs Kris and Brian didn’t give in to the conceit of writing down every farm on the menu. It’s so overdone these days, you almost wonder if it’s just a marketing point these days. But we know chefs Kris and Brian are doing the shopping at farmers’ market. Everything tastes so fresh.
The collard greens and the sauteed pea tendrils were a little bit on the saltier side for me but we still ate them up. I’m a sucker for greens.
The hanger steak was perfect. The steak was a wonderful medium rare and because I didn’t read the menu too closely, I was overjoyed to find snails (or escargot if you’re squeamish) as part of the dish. Lovely! And the grits were very good. I can’t decide what I’m going to get the next time I go- the shrimp and the steak again or try something new?
But the most memorable item of the night? The butter biscuits and condiments (first photo). Those biscuits must have come straight from the oven. They were so deliciously hot. You didn’t need the butter or the persimmon jam or the pimento cheese but we spread that on anyway after an initial taste. I wanted to eat everything in sight. And that’s a rare thing for me since I tend to not eat very much bread.
The Hart and the Hunter deserves all the hype and accolades. Now, if only they’d move downtown.
The Hart & The Hunter at the Palihotel7950 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90048 — (323) 424-3055 © The Minty 2012
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