Please start here with Part 1
NOTE: BOTH CHEFS DUNSMOOR & TOMINAGA ARE NO LONGER AT THE HART AND THE HUNTER. THEY'VE SINCE GONE ON TO HEAD OTHER KITCHENS.
Prior to opening The Hart and the Hunter in its new location, Kris and Brian took a twelve day culinary tour across the Southeast through Charleston, Athens, Atlanta, and New Orleans visiting both contemporary Southern concepts like Charleston’s The Hominy Grill, and local more vernacular “no name” places for oyster roasts and low country boils. Despite putting on a few pounds, the trip helped further shape their new menu that blends these southern influences with lots of California’s fresh greens. Though this new menu emphasizes flavor and freshness over health consciousness, there are only two fried items on the menu: the fried green tomatoes (with chow chow, herbs, goat and buttermilk dressing) and fried chicken livers (with arugla, radish, apple & onion jam).
Flavor and freshness are somewhat necessitated by their kitchen’s small food print with its limited reach in and under counter refrigeration. Lack of storage space requires frequent trips to farmer’s markets where due to their quantity of purchasing, they've gotten better pricing from the vendors. Many meat items like the andouilli sausage in their low country shrimp boil are procured from their friends Lindy & Grundy, who butcher local, pasture fed, humanely raised animals.
The restaurant’s family style of service both reinforces the food concept as well as allows the sous chef to get the food quickly through the pass through on an item by item basis and crossed off each table’s respective ticket by either Kris or Brian, who then assemble and garnish each mismatched plate before placing the item on a plate stand for a runner to run to its table. Considering the spatial limitations and limited equipment, it’s quite amazing how quickly Kris and Brian get food to their seventy seats. Though a few of their older customers aren't as keen on this family style of service, their primary demographic of 25 to 40 year olds enjoys this dining experience. The pickling jars as glassware, plus mismatched plates, silverware and furniture all work well to further effectively define the casual neighborhood friendly nature of the concept. Already 20% of their business is repeat customers.
In another two weeks time, after the publishing of this profile, the restaurant will be getting its liquor license and start serving California wines and many unique crafted beers from across the United States. To further reinforce the concept and its lack of pretense, a draft beer will be served in a growler. Though with great food served in generous portions at fair price points, Kris and Brian’s desire to remain a local humble location for their neighborhood, and not a destination restaurant, may be difficult to maintain since once word of mouth spreads, and more people become aware of the quality of the food being plated, more people will drive out of their way to try Kris and Brian’s evolving menu. Though considering the authenticity of each of their respected roots, it’s safe to assume that neither Kris or Brian will ever become so enamored with their antlers that they ever forget the legs and effort that have carried them so far so quickly to their new location, The Hart and the Hunter, in the PaliHotel on Melrose two blocks west of N. Fairfax Avenue. Where the legs of these two eventually take them from here will be another story worth following.
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