Monday, July 6, 2015

All Hail The Hatchet Hall!

The wait is over ... Hatchet Hall opens tomorrow! We celebrated that fact over the holiday weekend with a friends and family dinner that was one for the ages. We ate. We drank. And there was no way to not be merry.

Co-owners Louie and Netty Ryan (of Temple Bar, Townhouse, Menotti's fame), and Owners/partners from the beginning, Jonathan Strader and Chef Brian Dunsmoor took over the old Waterloo & City space, and it has been beautifully transformed into the place that we're going to constantly be hanging out at. I was in there just about a month ago when it was completely gutted inside, and the incredible amount of hard work, elbow grease, and evident labor of love that has happened is truly impressive. The place is simply gorgeous.

From the airy entrance and outdoor patio that greets you, all the way to the back bar (our new headquarters) where the wooden walls and floors are so cozy and inviting, you will never want to leave. And that's without even talking about the food yet.

The FOOD. Chef Brian Dunsmoor is back with his Southern home cooking, and it's seriously ridiculous. Plate after plate of delights would show up, and disappear before I could even do that foodie take a picture of your food thing. We ate so many perfect and delicious oysters that one in my party said, "Uh oh, this is going to make me randy." Ha! True though.

As it was the friends and family opening, we just kind of sat back and let the kitchen bring out whatever they wanted to. The menu is big, and every last thing sounds eye-rollingly delectable, so we could not go wrong. In fact, in the partying that ensued in the back bar after dinner, when comparing notes with our fellow diners, almost all of us had a different favorite. Some other peoples' favorites were things I hadn't even tried, so there will be more than enough to keep each visit interesting to the palate. Oh my goodness, is it all so good.

Highlights for me that night were the dandelion salad, super flavorful and not at all just a boring salad. The chopped steak on grilled bread ... delish. The grilled octopus was one of the best things I've ever tasted, right up there with the ridgeback prawns with carolina gold rice, oyster mushrooms and bacon. WHAT?! Yep.

The skillet rainbow trout was perfection and made you feel like you were truly in the hunting lodge that the back bar feels like, complete with antler and taxidermy decor. The grilled carrots were among the best carrots I've had prepared, and the roasted game hen with bread salad was top shelf. That already sounds like so much food (we were sharing) but we hadn't even scratched the surface.

Other friends' faves were the lamb sausage ("My favorite thing BY FAR" - Nicely), the tea smoked duck, and the beef fat potatoes (simply an ecstatic groan from our friend who had them). Maybe the top best thing I had though was when Dunsmoor came out of the hectic first night kitchen to greet us, and bestow upon us thin, delectable, melt in your mouth like cotton candy slabs of country ham, followed with a bourbon chaser. Ham and bourbon! It was pretty decadent, and I instantly felt like a smooth old man ... in the best possible way. YUM! There is even a cocktail on the impressive drink program that is called the In Fashioned, and that one has ham bourbon and pecans going on, about as Southern as you can get.

Then we got to drinking ... and forgot about dessert (But I heard the blueberry peach crisp was Summer itself). Oh well, another among a million other reasons to go back. This is going to be our SPOT.

It's just so great, I can't say enough about how wonderful it all turned out, and how happy I am for the Ryans, Dunsmoor, Strader, and all the excellent Hatchet Hall staff (many of whom have come along from other the Dunsmoor collabs: Wolf In Sheep's Clothing, Hart and the Hunter, and The Ladies Gunboat Society). It's a hot spot before it even opens tomorrow!

Lacey Kay Cowden is also back with her exceptional art, adorning the walls, menus and the sign out front. Her whimsical animals are seen fishing and hunting and wielding their hatchets, all the better for us to eat with.

As the night wound down in the wooden bar, we all just went nuts. Laughing and celebrating and rejoicing in the fact that Hatchet Hall is open, and couldn't be more awesome. There is soul in this place, from the old tile ceilings laid in the walls from Menotti's, the taxidermy from The Townhouse, and the hearts of all the longtime Venice residents who all came together to make this a clubhouse for great food and great times, for years to come.

All Hail Hatchet Hall!!!

It all starts tomorrow.

Hatchet Hall
12517 Washington Boulevard
Los Angeles, 90066

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