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.

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.

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