When I experience a restaurant that is worth my money, worth my time and worth my praise - I like to tell you about it. I also like to attempt a re-creation of one of their dishes and pass it along to your kitchen.
This worthy restaurant is called Hatfields. And, one of my favorite dishes from there is a Brown Butter Roasted Cauliflower with Golden Raisins, Sauteed Plantains, and Toasted Almonds on a Parsley Root Puree (below is my recipe for the remake.)
My husband and I used to enjoy Hatfields when it was a small cottage opened by the husband and wife team of Quinn and Karen Hatfield. I was excited, last year, when they opened their larger place.
(Amuse bouche: Crab Salad, 1st course: Raw marinated Hiramasa, Black Cod with Curry Toast Crust)
Most of us know (even if it's only from Top Chef's Restaurant Wars) that opening a new restaurant or even keeping one open is difficult. In fact, 85% of restaurants close within the first 5 years. The work is your life, and often your whole savings. When one does well, it deserves applause. And when a restaurant creates, serves and sustains quality food and attitude, it really deserves our support.
(Seared Diver Scallop w/ Vanilla Saffron Sauce, Brown Butter Cauliflower, Croque Madame w/ Sashimi, prosciutto and a quail egg.)
I'm not forgetting how many things need our attention and help around the world right now. It's not a "more than other" issue, just an also one. Independent restaurants are very often owned by people, couples and families who are risking it all to follow their dream of creating food and a feeling of fun, pleasure and escape for all who enter. Frankly, I still miss a little of the "out on the porch at our little place" feel that we enjoyed at the original Hatfield's, but I let that go once my attention is hypnotized by the "all to see" wall of glass that exposes the busy, working kitchen (including the owner/chef personally taking care of his creations.)
Since the room is cozy (the booths modern yet soft) and our server knowledgeable, attitude free and stealth, it gave us the freedom to relax and sink into our own world of moans and murmurs with each perfectly flavored nibble.
(Pan Roasted Duck Breast w/ cherries & pistachio pesto, Slow Cooked Short Rib)
A couple times, we thought it took just a tad too long between courses, but the bread and herbed butter was a quiet and constant delivery. My husband and I finished the meal feeling like we had been cared for, had just the right privacy to reconnect with each other after a tedious week of work, and quaintly guided through our culinary choices.
(Chocolate Caramel Semifreddo with Apple Miso Ice Cream and Coconut Custard "Macaroon" with Passion Fruit Sorbet)
That is worth paying for, that is worth applause, that is worth returning to, again.
The Mignardise (a tiny sweet served at the end of the meal with coffee) was a Tart Pomegranate Pate de Fruit. A perfect sugared jelly drop that caused my mouth to pucker, like a kiss.
RECIPE: BROWN BUTTER CAULIFLOWER w/ Sauteed Plantains, Toasted Almonds and Raisins on Parsnip Puree -
1 head Cauliflower
salt/pepper to taste
4 Tbls. Butter
1 ripe Plantain - peeled and cut into bite-size cubes
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup raisins
2 Parsnips - peeled and cut into chunks
2 cups milk (or coconut milk)
1) For the Parsnip Puree: Pour the milk into a saucepan on Med. heat, add the chunks of parsnip, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer for about 15-20 minutes. When the parsnips are tender, pour all into a bowl and using an immersion blender (or put in food processor) puree. Season to taste and keep warm. If too thick, add more warmed milk.2) Break apart the cauliflower into large chunks and florets, place them on a parchment covered sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt/pepper, and roast in an oven preheated to 350F for 15 minutes.
3) While the cauliflower is roasting, place the butter in a skillet on the stove and melt on Low/Med, then turn heat up to Med. and cook (carefully) until the butter is a golden brown. It will start slow, but happen fast, so watch it well.
4) Pour the browned butter over the partially roasted cauliflower, toss to coat, then replace the pan in the oven and roast for about 10-15 more minutes. Remove and keep warm.5) In the same pan you browned the butter, add a drizzle of olive oil to the residue of butter and reheat the pan on Med/High. Saute the cubes of plantains allowing them to brown well. Then add the almonds and raisins to the skillet and toss together.6) Serve the Cauliflower on a bed of the Parsnip Puree, spoon the plantains, almonds and raisins on top, garnish with fresh cut parsley.
** Hatfields served this on Parsley Root Puree, but I couldn't find that at the farmer's market so went with Parsnips. We loved this recipe, not sure if it's even near Hatfield's - but it was fun trying to remake a great taste. I hope you'll have the chance to try this fine restaurant.