I heard about Chefs Brian Dunsmoor and Kris Tominaga a few weeks ago when I learned of their pop-up kitchen in Venice, Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. Unfortunately, they closed the kitchen even before I got the chance to try them out.
When I heard that they had opened a brick and mortar restaurant at the core of Melrose Shopping District, I decided I must try it out as soon as I could.
The first floor of Pali hotel plays host to The Hart and The Hunter. The restaurant features a Southern-inspired menu that has rapidly gained a good reputation. Luckily my friends had heard about the restaurant too and wanted to try it out as well.
About The Venue
We were just 4 of us, so we weren’t able to get any reservations; the restaurant has a policy of only making reservations for parties made up of at least six people. Nonetheless, the waiter swiftly showed us to a table.
The restaurant has a fresh atmosphere that ultimately makes one feel like they have entered a farm located right next to the ocean. The restaurant has a relaxed but at the same time, trendy atmosphere.
Music also plays in the background although I must admit I found it rather loud and sometimes even annoying. This small restaurant also features a mixture of wood and metal furniture.
Probably one of the best things about the restaurant is that it has a kitchen prep area that allows patrons to watch the chefs as they prepare the food. You feel like you are sitting in the chef’s kitchen at home.
About The Food
Since we were four of us, we had the opportunity of trying out quite some items on the menu; all of which we shared. In addition to that, the restaurant serves food in a really interesting collection of small mismatched plates.
Our first order was of butter biscuits and condiments ($6). We loved how fresh the biscuits were (in fact they were still hot). They were soft but at the same time, not too flaky. The biscuits were served with three condiments; honey butter, persimmon jam, and pimento cheese. I particularly loved the honey butter as it was sweet and creamy to my liking.
Next on our list were the chicken cracklins ($6). This is simply deep fried chicken skin. The skin was crunchy, salty but rather bland. However, the hot pepper vinegar enhanced the flavor of the skin. In truth, the vinegar was the only thing that kept me devouring the skin.
None of us had even eaten kale salad before, so we decided to all give Hart and Hunters Kale salad ($11) a try. The salad was generously portioned and included apple, dates, pecan and sheep’s cheese. The apples and the dates added a rich, sweet flavor to the salad while the nuts added crunchiness to the salad.
On the downside, I didn’t quite like the Kales themselves as I felt they were a bit wilted. Nonetheless, I would order the kale salad again simply because of the combined taste of nuts, apples, and dates.
We ordered a second salad; Brussels sprout and peanut salad ($6). This salad also features aged cheddar and bacon sherry vinaigrette. This salad was fresh, and for some funny but welcome reason, my Brussels sprout tasted just like bacon.
The Hart and the Hunter also have its version of the raclette which is a Swiss delicacy. The restaurant’s raclette consists of melted raclette, butterball potatoes, ham, mustard, soft bread and cornichons ($15).
However, one of my best items from the Hart and the Hunter menu on that day was the smoked trout. This came with a boiled egg, marinated onions, capers and best of all avocado toast (slices of toast smeared with avocado). All these combine quite well resulting in a salty yet at the same time, tangy flavor.
Our last savory dish order was the skirt steak. It was well cooked and well spiced too. Surprisingly, the meal also features creamy grits, snails and a mushroom butter sauce. While I totally ignored the snails, I cannot say the same for the mushrooms which were quite delicious and crunchy.
Our next step (after filling our stomachs) was ordering some of the restaurant’s signature desserts. We ordered three different desserts; lemon ice box, coconut cake and warm apple dumpling. I particularly loved the coconut cake which was delightfully juicy.
I also loved the warm apple dumpling ($6). It features apples topped with Hooks cheddar cheese and further topped with a ladle of vanilla ice cream.
The Hart and the Hunter is a welcome addition to the eatery scene in LA. We loved the food, we loved the service, and we also loved that it wasn’t too pricey.