If you're like me, you don't feel like dealing with the parking in downtown Culver City. I think they reached their restaurant density limit about a three years ago. Luckily though, the restaurant scene has picked up on a stretch of Washington Boulevard, just west of Culver City's epicenter. This new restaurant row already has A Frame, Alibi Room, Corner Door, Fin, Gravlax and Detour. Now add Hatchet Hall to the list.
Hatchet Hall took over the old Waterloo & City space. Brian Dunsmoor is the man behind it, who you may remember from Hart and the Hunter and Ladies Gunboat Society at Flores. In keeping with his interesting restaurant names, Dunsmoor's chose Hatchet Hall based on a woman who sadly went around to bars with a hatchet during Prohibition and took some swings. The unhappy woman went on to move to a home in the south, which eventually took on the nickname Hatchet Hall.
Luckily she's not around anymore to take her hatchet to the newly revamped Culver City digs. Bars abound. A sleeker, longer, more beautiful amber bar replaced the old one along Washington Boulevard. Then there's a whole separate bar with its own door at one end and another oyster bar on the other side, in the dining area.
The whole space is much lighter and brighter and they even have a nice little patio where you can eat al fresco.
This is LA and Dunsmoor knows good products, so he's working with local farmers to secure some of the best ingredients. Of course there's small plates, but we also have a wood fire oven to bring that tasty smokiness to many dishes. You'll get a who's who of seasonal ingredients which could be a fresh tomato salad one night, or sweet peaches another. The peaches are doused with a little balsamic vinegar and mint, layered on top of Surryano ham. A few different hams will be on the menu at all times.
You're going to want the carrots. They're grilled with a deep char that makes them a borderline caramelized dessert with some added warm honey, chimichurri, yogurt and sesame seeds.
The octopus does well hitting the grill too. It's tender and served over corona beans, treviso, lemon aioli and salsa verde. Each component works well on its own, but together, it sings.
Other good pairings are the wood grilled trout with bacon, as well as gently cooked white fish with lemon and shimeji mushrooms, and there's also bay scallops and shrimp with creamed corn and brown butter.
Back in the meat department, Hatchet Hall delivers with a nice tartare of well seasoned chopped steak, pickles, parsley and cilantro. Large chunks of toasted bread are there to help you scoop if you don't feel like putting it directly in your mouth, though I think you should try.
The cocktails are on point. The New East Side is a frothy and refreshing gin based cocktail with a light touch of lime and cucumber elderflower foam. Not overly sweet - perfectly balanced. The Metropolitan one-ups the Cosmo with vodka, St. George Raspberry eau de vie, lemon and house grenadine. Sipping a few of these on the patio would make for a nice summer evening.
I like all of the options Hatchet Hall gives for drinking and dining in the setting of my choice. One night I could see going for cocktails and small plates on the patio, and the next I might belly up to the oyster bar for some fresh seafood. It all sounds like a good idea to me, just leave the hatchet at home.
12517 W. Washington Boulevard, Los Angeles