What if the best things in restaurants -- like in life -- were free? This is the parallel universe imagined by Hatfield's every time the bartender sets down a bowl of complimentary popcorn in front of you. Hatfield's, a special occasion restaurant on Melrose that becomes its own special occasion simply by sitting down at its tranquil bar, pops its corn in garlic olive oil, then coats it in a separate shallot oil, finishing it with chopped rosemary. It's intoxicating and addicting, a snack that quickly becomes the main course. And did we mention that it's free?
This is the Hatfield touch. Dessert pairings aren't -- as they often are elsewhere -- an excuse to sell you you a glass of mediocre muscat for an extra $12. Pairings are textbook examples of wine amplification, how oxidized and raisiny sweet dessert wine can pair with a fruity and crisp tart. Pork belly arrives in between roasted pearl onions, skewered on rosemary sprigs, beautifully cooked and covered in a sticky glaze of maple syrup and vinegar. Together they form a sweet & sour pork dish that would conquer food courts worldwide if it was ever let out of the bar. Eating at the bar has never been so simultaneously irreverent and sophisticated.
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Good luck trying to find a graceful way of wiping off that popcorn's shallot oil off your overeager hands. Eating the first few kernels with a very respectable thumb and forefinger turns into one heaping handful after another. And those bowls get refilled. Maximum gluttony at a minimum price.