I’m surprise that there aren’t really many mention of HiPPO on FTC.
The restaurant is located in the same complex as GGET and sandwiches between fan favorite Triple beam and Highland Park Wines. Leading this chef-driven restaurant is former James Beard Best Chef Award winner, Matt Molina, formerly of the highly acclaimed Osteria Mozza. For 8 years, he helmed the chef de cuisine role there under Nancy Silverton, earning a Michelin star in both 2008 and 2009 before departing the restaurant in 2015.
Parking: It’s a pain in the butt since the restaurant doesn’t have a parking lot nor is valet service offered, but I always park at the nearby CVS lot which is always empty.
Decor: The restaurant is in the Highland Park hipster mold but tastefully done with high bow-truss ceilings. The wooden tables are relatively close together but sans tablecloth which caters to a casual feel. If you’re in the mood, you can ask to be seated in a heated patio out in the back where Triple Beam fans enjoy their pizza during the day.
Food Price Point: Surprisingly “affordable” - $3 - $10 for HH and $9 - $26 for main menu
Service: Disjointed. Perhaps because I sat at the bar? I had to ask for the complimentary bread and food came out at a furious pace at times. In addition, our happy hour dishes seem to come out at random time and in no particular order either. We got the cauliflower toast after we finished with our pasta course while our cocktail didn’t even come until we were halfway through our meal. Also, do note the 3% healthcare surcharge on the bill!
Partial dining room shot. I really should’ve grabbed a wide angle lens for this shot but oh well…
Chef-Owner Mat Molina, the person wearing a white hat, is in the house working the line all night!
Freshly baked foccacia from Triple Beam 20 feet away from the restaurant. These are essentially the crust of Triple Beam’s pizza (?)…lightly salted, fluffy in the middle with a bit of chewiness, and finished with a healthy dose of olive oil on top. It seems like HiPPO gets a delivery of these goodies every 30 mins or so.
ahi tuna tostada | radishes, cilantro, scallions, ponzu sauce
It’s refreshing enough but the subtle flavor of the tuna is slightly muted by the ponzu.
cauliflower “tahini” toasts | walnut, raisin, and caper relish - HH portion
Bread is griddled to a crisp and offers great contrast to the silky smooth cauliflower puree and the intensely garlicky salty-sweet relish.
fresh ricotta raviolo | tomato, petite basil - HH portion
Can you really go wrong with anything pasta given Matt Molina’s pedigree? The answer is no!
The perfectly al dente raviolo filled with soft ricotta is lifted by an unusually bright tomato sauce and fragrance of the fresh basil.
shaved brussels sprouts | toasted almonds, mint, lemon, parmigiano reggiano - HH portion
This dish is a crunch city with the slightly softened raw sprouts and nutty toasted almonds, but the complexity and tang of the parmigiano reggiano and brightness of the lemon vinaigrette really carried this dish. By the way, am I the only one that feels bloated whenever there’s raw brussel sprouts involved?
striped bass crudo | basil pistou, dahila farms herbs
Highlight of the night. The provencal basil sauce added tons of depth and brightness to the fatty bass.
tagliolini | duck ragu
This dish is the ultimate comfort food. It’s super homey with just the right amount of richness from the delicious ragu. The pasta, as expected, is cooked perfectly al dente again.
It’s not often that there are leftover ragu after we finished the pasta, but when that happens, it’s “crostini” or “Roman-style pizza” time at HiPPO.
barbecued quail wrapped in pancetta | treviso, honey, sage
The breasts are just a touch overcooked while the thighs are definitely overcooked.
Surprise! Cutting open the oddly puffed up quail reveals the onion and pancetta lardon stuffing. They go really well with the tangy balzamic sauce and glazed cabbage that are sitting under the quail.
espresso pot de creme | dark chocolate, candied hazelnuts, sea salt
A play on Osteria Mozza’s classic butterscotch budino?
There’s the familiar thick custard topped with a thick sauce and crunch from sea salt. However, rather than the good old butterscotch pudding, caramel sauce, and texture contrast from a rosemary cookie, we now that bitter espresso pudding, a dark chocolate sauce, and differing texture from candied hazelnuts. It works equally well!
With Triple Beam delivering fresh foccacia throughout the night, rock solid food, and a lower than average price point, Matt Molina has a winner in my book. If you’re looking to have food that will blow your socks off with creativity, modernist techniques, or unusual flavor combinations, you should stay away. But if you’re looking for truly delicious food that will nourish your soul, then this is The Good Place. Anyone got that reference?
5916 1/2 N Figueroa St
Los Angeles, CA 90042
Update #1 - Stuffed! Serviceable HH meal after work but not travel worthy.
I like how that they reused the end grain chopping board
complimentary sparkling water
Noticeably more bread-like than what I had last time which was almost Triple Beam pizza crust-like.
Mr. Sergio giving me death glares
cauliflower “tahini” toasts | walnut, raisin, and caper relish
italian chicken meatball burger | black olive tapanade aioli, mozzarella, dill pickles, egg brioche bun, hippo fries with ketchup & garlic aioli
Super soft and light bun with fantastically charred but equally light chicken patty. Sadly, it came with the In & Out style soggy fries.
Venom, is that you?
Crunchy, tangy, a touch of sweetness. It’s a good palate cleanser.
Update #2: Sergio’s here everyday and every shift. Solid brunch.
burrata di bufala imported from lazio - italy, fett’unta
Sergio cooked these fett’unta himself!
flakey buttermilk biscuits, honey butter
Crazy flaky crust.
griddle’d buttermilk hotcakes - gluten free
eggs benedict, sourdough toast, prosciutto, arugula, hollandaise
Love the charred sourdough that offers a crunchy texture.
fettuncine with heritage pork ragu
Handmade pasta with a bolognese like meat sauce. What’s not to like?