The Hart + The Hunter (Brunch): Expanding on Comforting Cal-Southern Repertoire in West Hollywood
7950 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90046
323 424 3055
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Date of Visit: January 27, 2013
It’s not exactly like The Hart + The Hunter chef-owners Brian Dunsmoor + Kris Tominaga were tentative out of the gate. Hell, their opening dinner menu at West Hollywood’s Palihotel included a dish of hanger steak and snails. Still, each month brings new dishes, and even though the talented duo dialed back weekday breakfast, deferring to eggslut, they’ve ramped up Sunday brunch, allowing them to expand on their Cal-Southern repertoire.
The space, which previously housed a youth hostel, is a natural for brunch. The airy setting includes walls lined with aqua tiles, banquette seating, a central communal table and a clear view of Dunsmoor and Tominaga, who stand at a counter and serve as the last line of defense between the kitchen and the dining room. Christopher “Nicely” Abel Alameda, a talented barista who previously worked for Handsome Coffee Roasters and Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea, helms the coffee program, which is undoubtedly among the best in L.A. restaurants.
Shrimp and Grits ($17), a Lowcountry staple, is becoming more prevalent in L.A., and The Hart + The Hunter hits the sweet spot on their version, with grits that aren’t soupy or gummy, topped by a shallow, savory pool containing plump shrimp, smoky bacon and mushrooms. Shaved scallions provide complementary crunch.
Fried Green Tomato & Crab Benedict ($18) is an original take on the breakfast classic, with poached eggs and herb Hollandaise spilling over sweet crab meat and firm, tangy tomatoes, and no English muffins in sight, at least in this case.
Pecan Praline Pancakes ($10) provided a temporary sugar rush in the middle of our meal. Thin, supple, and crisp edged pancakes support scattered clusters of sweet, crunchy pecan, a judicious amount of maple syrup and a generous pat of butter.
Maple Glazed Pork Chops ($18) were juicy, thin-cut, and touted inviting sears. The pork graced slightly sharp cheddar grits and greens and arrived in a silky blanket of silky red eye gravy crafted with coffee, pork drippings and bits of bacon.
Butter Biscuits & Condiments are always obligatory when visiting The Hart + The Hunter, and the buttery, pull apart pastry arrived on a wood plank with pitch perfect pimento cheese, fluffy whipped butter and sweet-tart blackberry preserves.
The Hart + The Hunter crew continues to endear themselves to the neighborhood due to their deft comfort food, homey setting and high value, which was all evident at Sunday brunch.