The Hart and the Hunter
7950 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Dining date: 1/6/13
Formerly the pop-up Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, Brian Dunsmoor and Kris Tominaga opened The Hart and the Hunter last October. It’s quickly become one of the most talked-about restaurants in LA over the last few months for its hearty and flavorful food. The cuisine is an interesting mix, a blend of Dunsmoor’s southern background and Tominaga’s California flair. I first heard the buzz when I was in Japan and was eagerly awaiting a visit to the restaurant. Expectations were high.
The dining room is fairly small, with a couple of large communal tables in the center. An open kitchen provides a glimpse of the action.
Chicken Cracklins And Hot Pepper Vinegar
Our meal began with a stack of crispy fried chicken skin, something I had heard much about. There was great chicken flavor and a delightful crunch to each bite; slight acidity from the vinegar helped cut through the richness.
Butter Biscuits & Condiments
These came out warm from the kitchen, rich and buttery. They still maintained a pretty light and airy consistency though. Between the blackberry jam, pimento cheese and honey butter spreads, my favorite was the sweet and creamy honey butter.
Kale Salad, Apple, Dates, Pecan, Sheep’s Cheese
Moving on into some of the more substantial dishes, a generously portioned salad was next. Sweet apples and dates brightened up the earthiness of the nuts and kale, dressed in a fairly light vinaigrette.
Smoked Trout, Boiled Egg, Pickled Onion, Capers, Avocado Toast
I enjoyed the smoky essence in the tender trout, spread on top of crostini with a choice of accompaniments.
Chopped Steak Served With Traditional Accompaniment, Bone Marrow, Grilled Toast
I thought the crusty, soft bread went very well with the chopped steak tartare, while the rich marrow added a sort of lusciousness. However, the pile of oil draining from the steak, which formed a puddle a good foot in diameter on the table, was rather off-putting.
Melted Raclette, Butterball Potatoes, Cornichons, Ham, Mustard, Soft Bread
This may have been my first time having a raclette. Creamy, hot cheese was filled with potatoes and ham served with soft bread – there wasn’t anything wrong with it, but this wasn’t particularly memorable for me.
Hanger Steak, Soft Grits, Mushrooms, Snail, Herb Butter
The tender steak had good beefy flavor, while the squishy mushrooms and smooth grits went along quite nicely.
With the savory items done with, three desserts were available…we ended up getting one of each.
Lemon Ice Box Pie
Kind of like an almost-frozen lemon meringue, the sweet and tart flavors were well-balanced in this slice of pie.
Chocolate Pudding, Ginger Snap Cookies
A rich chocolate pudding was tasty, served with crisp cookies – perfect for dipping.
Warm Apple Dumpling, Hooks Cheddar, Ala Mode
These were kind of like mini apple pies with an interesting cheddar flavor. I liked the cheese but found it to be a little too subtle, especially with the cold ice cream. Definitely the most unique of the trio.
Our meal at The Hart and the Hunter was good, though I didn’t find any of the dishes to particularly stand out in a good or bad way. If anything, the most memorable aspect will be the sort of oily theme to the meal. Perhaps expectations were too high, but the restaurant fell short of them – I really wanted to love it here but couldn’t. I’m glad to have tried the restaurant but I’m not in a hurry to return with so many other options in LA.