Hatchet Hall - Holy Fuckk

Snubbed by Jonathan Gold, but probably the best new restaurant in Los Angeles.

Not my first time last night, but it’s been a while since I’ve eaten at a place where everything felt so perfect for the most part (the only miss was the dessert).

As my brother pointed out, the ferocious list of dishes that actually carefully elaborates all of the ingredients in each dish can be a chore to get through, as the lightning is incredibly, hmm “intimate”, and the menu reads like a short 5 paragraph essay. Still, it’s worth your while to get through it. This place seems to be nearly as dedicated to the sourcing of ingredients, and reliance on the unique flavors of very particular produce to produce certain flavor in its dishes as Sean Brock’s Husk. Otherwise, I have no idea how to explain the depth of flavors coming out of the dishes here.

Red peas and rice (and smoked sausage) feels earthier than usual, yet cleaner in its flavors, with smoke pervading the dish. It almost feels luxurious somehow.

Shrimp and Grits, kind of just the perennial classic. I guess by now the standard for this dish it pretty high out here in LA even, but this was probably my favorite version I’ve tried here. Maybe because the delicately grilled shrimp were de-tailed making it less of a hassle to eat? Maybe because the grits were the most intensely viscous, creamy version I’ve ever had while not being dry. Maybe because the gravy/sauce was just right, not overly heavy and intense, nor non-existent, but providing just the right type of spiced accent. And the beef bacon expertly done, somehow not overpowering, but simply adding notes of fat, and char to amplify the other textures of the dish.

The Peads & Barnett’s pork chop is done so remarkably simply it almost doesn’t feel right. There are splashes of the most refined, savory version of maple-spiked pork jus on the plate, and some perfectly fried pieces of pumpkin, but in the center of a massive plate is just a humble looking, eminently charred piece of pork. Perhaps more an exercise in incredible sourcing, and cooking something so simply… my brother wonders why every restaurant doesn’t have a pork chop this good. “Surely you learn how to cook a pork chop in culinary school?” I suppose I am forced to admit that they must not teach you how to cook a pork chop in culinary school.

The game hen with lemon, king oyster mushrooms, and house-made ricotta is perhaps even more stunning though. The succulent nature of the game hen is enough to make one gasp with delight as the ambrosial chicken juices slick your maw. I don’t even totally know how this dish works to be honest. Ok, grilled lemon juice squeezed over chicken makes sense…even the massive, steak-like king oyster mushrooms, crisped on their floppy eared-edges, with buttery center lending blasts of umami make sense… but I’d never eaten ricotta cheese with chicken before, and oh what I have been missing apparently. The ricotta here is creamier, more composed than other ricottas I’ve had…I’m not totally sue how to describe it, but it works in the strangest way imaginable with this plate of chicken, mushrooms, and lemon. The blackened skin on the bird is exactly right by the way, just black enough for flavor without being burnt, and releasing a wonderful burst of spices on the palette…but the chicken’s flesh itself is incredibly flavorful. I am left totally bewildered by the depth of flavors coming from a simple plate of chicken, lemon, mushrooms, and cheese.

Sides at Hatchet Hall are the sleeper hits of the menu, clocking in at $8 a piece, for massive portions in most cases, all of some of my favorite vegetable preps anywhere. We got a plate of beef fat cooked mini potatoes that came out with almost french-fry crusts on them, slathered in a gorgeous garlic aioli, that were marvelous…kind of like the McDonald’s fries everyone misses so often, amped up to an 11/10 level I guess. And acorn squash, which was three gigantic wedges of the stuff coated in brown butter and pecans, and roasted to a level of outside crispness, and inside gooey splendor that I’ve never been fortunate enough to encounter in squash before. My brother’s comment, “I hate squash, but this is fucking incredible. Hell, this might be the best dish of the night.”

The roasted apple sundae we managed for dessert was the only off thing. It wasn’t even necessarily bad, the buttermilk ice cream is actually fantastic, and the roasted apples give it just the right kind of comforting apple flavor. It’s just that the apples and the apple donuts were cold, if they had been hot, I think it would’ve made the whole thing make more sense. But oh well. Great buttermilk ice cream is a kind of beautiful thing in itself I suppose.

Cocktails seem to be some of the best in LA here. Although a rather small amount for the money, their tongue-in-cheek play on the pumpkin spice latte, sort of like a fall version of the milk punch at Faith & Flower, was really wonderful. I had a fizz before dinner at the Old Man Bar that displayed a fairly high level of bartendering (sounds like bullshit, but a lot of places mess up basic fizz drinks in terms of texture). Plus, cocktails are all $12. Almost anywhere else doing similar quality drinks is charging $14-$16 in LA at this point.

Their disc-ocube wine cocktail drinks are so popular they couldn’t serve us one as people had stolen all of their disco-cubes lol

A lot of people might be pissed off about their wine list, or their complete irreverence to taking drinking super seriously, but I don’t know if there’s anywhere else I enjoy drinking more in this city (well, maybe The Walker Inn I guess, fine).

We sat next to Evan Funke, and Dunsmoor was talking to him a lot near the end of the night. So here’s hoping we see some kind of crazy collaboration between them soon. =P

I wish I had photos of this food, and I do, but they look horrible because of the ridiculously low levels of light in the place (it’s actually impossible to even read in the Old Man Bar, prompting me to order a fizz, as opposed to something off the menu).

Still, I have been eating around a lot, and have not had a meal this enjoyable in far too long. For me, Hatchet Hall is easily the best place to eat in LA right now. Just something about the cooking, the ingredient sourcing, the atmosphere, the way things are done…it feels like magic, that kind of special magic that we’re all secretly searching for as food lovers. I really hope it lasts, part of me almost feels like it’s too good to be true, and Dunsmoor has a bad habit of leaving his projects… but it’s like being lucky enough to have a one-night stand with the most beautiful person in the world… you don’t think about that, you just imagine the night will last forever.

Admission Fee: about $80/person including tip/tax/drinks whenever I’ve been. But plan to spend more if you really like drinking (more than 3 cocktails + expensive wine, etc…)


That’s funny. You drew as good a picture with words, anyway.
HH is really good.
Did you try any of the country ham? Or the yeast rolls? Both are un-freaking-believable. Only dish that was ho-hum was the octopus. No one at our table of 5 felt it was good.

Not that I need to defend jgold but I think the 101 was selected prior to HH being opened for very long - and he has not yet reviewed it, which I would think must be a requirement to make the cut. So I don’t know if they were really snubbed.


and jay gold has fucking border grill on his list ???

i rest my fucking case.

wait… is it shrimp-y grips with beef bacon ??? that’s very fucking interesting.

where is fucking hatchet hall ???

it still sounds way to fucking dialteticlly pretentious and too cute by half though, it must be fucking said.

and so it is said.


I’ve had both before, and you’re right, those rolls are fucking incredible, as is the ham. They were sold out of both last night, as a testament to how incredible they are!

Re: the snubbing. I would have agreed, but Cassia is 17 on the list…and that opened later than HH. Maybe Gold made an exception because he feels he’s really just putting The Spice Table back on the list though? (He says Cassia is just TST re-opened in SM in his review).

at the end of the day, who gives a flying fluck about the list ???

i might as well create my own list.

not that anyone would fucking read or peruse or use it as a set of procedure guidelines when dinging out.

and that ain’t no fucking joke.

my list with be the 405

in honor of the…

There’s literally an FTC’er that is going through the list systematically for review right now lmao Alkiegourmand

Yeah, it’s not gospel truth or anything, but it’s massively influential on the dining scene regardless of the few rogues that tend to eat “off list” as can be found on these here forums.

True, Cassia was reviewed by him and HH not yet. I guess you can say therein lies the snub, but it takes time I guess. I have no doubt it will get reviewed favorably and not being reviewed doesn’t seem to be hurting their business - joint is packed.

hH is located at the former Waterloo & City location on Washington in Culver City/Mar Vista area.

That is absolutely true. I didn’t expect them to be so packed on a Thursday night. We actually had to wait for a table at 9:30 (dangerously close to the end of their dinner service).

I found this particularly surprising because I ate there like a month ago for the first time, and at like 8 on a Tuesday it was far from full. And before that I stopped in once at 9:58 to see if they would serve me, and they had already shut everything down.

Since J Gold hasn’t reviewed them, or anyone else I know of with massive pull, it leads me to believe that they are packed simply due to the outstanding nature of their food.

I chatted with a few locals outside who had just eaten there, and it seemed like that was the case. People had just stopped in seeing the strange hatchet sign, and then been blown away by the cooking and brought back a bunch of friends. That was pretty much the story I heard repeated.

Though I guess the LA Weekly did do a review actually as I reflect…but I’ve never been sure how mobbed places get following their reviews. But who knows.

Cadet also didn’t make it on J Gold’s list, which I found super surprising as his review seemed quite positive some time ago. Maybe the old Hart and the Hunter boys pissed J Gold off or something…lol

oh, wow, i passed by that fucking joint on my way to Lodge Bakery and other fucked up (i.e. dope fucking joints in the CC).


that’s the one with the jack hammer on the fucking logo or whatever the fuck that thing is ???

Yeah, it’s a Hatchet I imagine lol

But yeah, it’s right by Lodge haha

Nice writeup @Aesthete! :slight_smile: Great review.

I’ve been ignoring Hatchet Hall for the longest time. As soon as I read that Brian Dunsmoor was the chef, I figured (as did all my food friends), “Eh, he’s going to ditch this restaurant in 6 months” (just like he Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, Ladies Gunboat Society and The Hart and The Hunter (seriously how do chef’s just bail and quit on new restaurants that fast?).

But the food sounds incredible. I just might have to go… before he quits this restaurant too. :stuck_out_tongue:

this joint ain’t gots no fucking shrimp and grits on it.


is that fucking correct ???

Believe me, I feel your pain…I’ve been constantly annoyed by Dunsmoor’s abandonment, hence hoping he feels he’s found a home here. It looks like he’s in complete control, and feels “At home” from observing him in the restaurant last night though. He’s never had a place that was truly “his own” before, and he seems like he’s crafted a place after his own heart at HH, so hopefully this is a place he will stick with for a while.

What’s more annoying is that his god damned food is good enough to justify putting up with his tendency for abandonment. Hell, if he wasn’t that good, why would he keep getting funding for all these projects with his track record?

It’s worth gtting in while the getting is good though for sure!

The menu isn’t updated that often online, and represents just a rough outline of what they offer every night.

I first met Brian Dunsmoor when he was brooding hatred at Joe’s in Venice - that’s where he met Mr. Tominaga. They became soul brothers at the now-departed Axe a half a block away. The rest is history. His unsettledness was very apparent at Joe’s - too many chefs in the kitchen - he seems to insist on having his own vision, which I think for a chef of his talents is a good thing. At the same time, I hope he has finally settled down into this place that is of his true vision.

Any info on that ham/liver wine shown on the menu?

They are wines that the house feels pair well with liver and/or ham.

Indeed; it seems like he finally owns a place entirely as his own where he is able to enforce his pure vision, which seems like what he has been after all this time. Let’s hope so Crosses fingers

This particular part of the Westside was devoid of restaurants with this level of dining experience until Waterloo & City arrived. I think if Mr. Dunsmoor is happy with this place in general, he also will benefit from the fact that he has a lock on the local patrons seeking this level of dining. It’s very easy to get to from most of the Westside, and they actually have parking.