The main dining room at Citrus lay at the heart of California cooking in the mid-1980s, a clean, white space opening directly onto the restaurant's vast open kitchen, where you imagined you could follow the progress of your appetizer from garde manger to hot line to the spot where Michel Richard sponged a stray bit of sauce off the acre-wide plate.
And if you've ever been to Citrus, the new Hatfield's is likely to snap your neck backward: The dining room has been scrubbed to its former glory, and there is a gravity, a sense of occasion about Hatfield's that never quite existed before it was transplanted from its smallish quarters a half-mile west. What used to seem quirky, or even chefly stubbornness — Quinn and Karen Hatfield's unchanging menu of yellowtail croque madame, smoked potatoes and date-crusted lamb — now reads more like an artistic statement. The culture-blending on dishes like seared prawns coated with Basque pepper and served on a vaguely Asian crab rice with toasted peanuts; or braised short ribs and seared hanger steak with fresh horseradish; or charred Japanese mackerel with avocado, dried pineapple and a salsa that splits the difference between Mexico City and Osaka, is assured. I visited the old Hatfield's at least half a dozen times, and it wasn't until they opened the new restaurant that I realized how well they cooked.
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HATFIELD'S: 6703 Melrose Ave., L.A. (323) 935-2977, hatfieldsrestaurant.com.