Quinn and Karen Hatfield have not only re-imagined the massive space that once housed Michel Richard's Citrus, they've given it the kind of energy the building had when Richard was developing his rigorous brand of California cooking. With an earth-tone palette, a waitstaff that treads lightly, and discreet background music, this is a restaurant that celebrates fine dining's formalism without indulging in overbearing formality. For Quinn it's about the microtones. The gradations in flavors, textures, and accents provide the torque of his understated cooking. The buttery brioche of the croque madame offers a yielding contrast to the payload of sashimi. Gingerbread streusel sends seared foie gras into the outer limits of richness before a broth of lentils draws matters back. Karen's desserts deliver fundamental pleasures. Sugar-dusted beignets with a glass of tawny Madeira in a room where you can hear yourself talk is enough to make a classicist of anyone.
Best Prix Fixe Meal, March 2007
After a day filled with decision making—whole or skim, highway or surface, paper or plastic—even the basics of a dinner menu can be daunting. Let the experts, chefs Quinn and Karen Hatfield, decide. The $42 market menu at Hatfield's comprises three courses made from peak seasonal ingredients. Recently that meant a salad of mixed peewee potatoes, English peas, Persian cukes, and Haas avocado with a banyuls vinaigrette followed by slow-cooked pork belly with carrot puree, roasted fingerlings, and seared pea tendrils. For dessert? A warm almond and Bing cherry tart with a yogurt sorbet and vanilla-aprium (an apricot-cum-plum fruit) sauce. As if you could have chosen any better.