Both restaurants' names seem to have their origin in Aesop's fables. I have not had the opportunity to get the scoop from chefs Kris Tominaga and Brian Dunsmoor on how these intriguing fables apply to the culinary realm - so I may be completely over-reaching here. But the fable of The Hart and the Hunter is about a deer who was admiring his own reflection: in particular, his 'noble' antlers, and despising his unsightly legs, when a Hunter approached and shot an arrow his way. While the Hart's legs nimbly carried him nearly out of line of fire, his antlers got caught in some low hanging branches, which allowed the Hunter to catch up with him. The moral of the story? We often despise that which is most useful to us.
My guess as it applies to food: in an uber-image-conscious town, where often (for non-foodies anyway) it's more about what NOT to eat, could the guys mean that we often despise ingredients (like animals with fat, butter, etc.) that make food not just something you consume to be alive, but a reason to stay alive, and to enjoy it? And that basically, we should be celebrating, not despising because it is what fuels our lives (and souls)?
dorkyfoodie and I decided to go check out The Hart and the Hunter for brunch, which they had just started serving that weekend.
Nestled inside the chic-lodge-style Palihotel on Melrose, The H&H is a tiny nook of a space whose layout is more laid back cafe than buzzing hotspot of a restaurant that it is. There is the counter in the very back where you place your order, then go to seat yourself in the front dining room,
whose walls are covered in pale blue tiles, in a yet airy space awash in sunlight, with a few carefully decorative items to evoke the hunting theme - like the bronze deer centerpiece at the communal table, and the 'gold' rabbit statues at each of the 'booth' tables.
We started with the Smoked Trout ($5) a perfect example of how the dish titles here may be deceptively simple - while the food is anything but. Incredibly fresh, tender smoked fish is layered with fresh avocado, capers, herbs and pops of pink pickled onion for a complex yet unfussy interplay of smokey, salty, sweet, sour, juicy, crunchy deliciousness - on hefty pieces of bread.
This dish is held up as a crowd favorite, and justifiably so - it's also a great portion size for $5.
On a 7 point scale:
Flavor - 6.5 bites
Presentation - 6 bites
Originality - 5.5 bites
Ambience - 5.5 stars
Service - 6 stars
Overall experience - 6 bites
Price - $$ (2 bite marks)
Probability of return visit - 100%
The Hart and The Hunter
Palihotel 7950 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles,CA 90046
Parking: Street meters