When Quinn and Karen Hatfield opened Hatfield’s in 2006, they were young chefs with a fine-dining dream that they quickly made come true. At both its original Beverly Boulevard location and the larger Melrose Avenue space the restaurant moved to in 2010, Hatfield’s was showered with critical acclaim, from national top-10 lists to a four-star review by Los Angeles magazine’s Patric Kuh.
A lot’s changed in recent years, though. Kuh just released a Best New Restaurants list that has exactly zero restaurants with white tablecloths. And the Hatfields, who just closed Hatfield’s at the end of 2014, noticed their own palates had evolved.
“Our style changed,” says Karen Hatfield. “It maybe wasn’t as easy to conceptualize dishes when it just wasn’t where we were at. We had stopped eating at restaurants like Hatfield’s when we were traveling or even just in L.A. Our sensibility has just changed, and we don’t want a restaurant that’s not a representation of us.”
On Monday, the Hatfields will open Odys + Penelope, a grill-focused La Brea Avenue restaurant that expresses where they want to be now.
Where they want to be now is around open fire. There will be Argentinian-style and Uruguyuan-style grills, offering different levels of char, along with a churrasco and a smoker. The Hatfields already plan to use four kinds of wood–almond, hickory, white oak and apple–and might try other wood in the future.
They’ll be slow-roasting large cuts of meat from suppliers like Snake River Farms while also serving sustainable seafood from Sausalito purveyor TwoXSea and grilling vegetables. Karen’s looking forward to being in a restaurant that has “that hickory smell of the south” but also will make the kind of slow-grilled tri-tip that’s associated with Santa Maria barbecue.
“It’s one of California’s very few regional foods,” she says. “It’s fun to put a spin on that.”
Other potential crowdpleasers at the 80-seat Odys + Penelope include flash-grilled Santa Barbara spot prawns with salsa cruda, and smoked lamb-neck lettuce cups with green hummus, pickled onions, and yogurt.
Plus, there’s another ingredient that the Hatfields started discussing this week: foie gras.
“Quinn was really known for foie gras [at Hatfield’s],” Karen says. “When it went away, we had like 100 people calling us. We were always big sellers, but people were hysterical when they found out it was going away.”
As the 2012 ban approached, “we were selling 60 orders a night,” Karen recalls.
Now that foie gras is legal again, the Hatfields are thinking about how to serve it at Odys + Penelope. Obviously, they’ll be able to grill it many different ways if they go that route.
After seeing the success of their nearby Sycamore Kitchen bakery, where Karen says she is thrilled to encounter visitors who come every single day, the Hatfields want Odys + Penelope to be a relaxed neighborhood spot where locals can dine again and again.
“We know that it’s harder with a dinner restaurant,” Karen says. “But we want it to feel comfortable enough for people to come multiple times a week. We really want to be somewhere that’s casual and accessible.”
One element that might help bring in regulars is Karen’s dessert menu, which will be heavily seasonal and quite different than the sweets at Sycamore Kitchen.
“Sycamore Kitchen is a bakery, so all of our things there are more about cakes and breads and pies,” Karen says. “At Odys + Penelope, it’s more about having plated desserts and having a balanced pastry menu. The desserts are not ginormous. I think it’s about spontaneity and what’s at the market, sustainable produce put into fun rustic applications, and changing it up a lot.”
Odys + Penelope will open for dinner seven nights a week. The restaurant will start accepting reservations tomorrow.
Odys + Penelope, 127 S. La Brea Ave., 323-939-1033