There is nothing wrong with a small plates restaurant. But when every LA dinner involves a waiter explaining that they “do things differently and recommend sharing 2-3 small plates per person,” it becomes a bit ridiculous. We don’t always want to spend the night picking at an apricot crostini with three grown adults, sometimes we want a meal that’s not going to have us hitting up a drive-thru on the way home.
At Hatchet Hall, a small plates restaurant in Culver City, that’s not a problem. The food at the Southern-leaning spot is so hearty and so stick-to-your-ribs delicious, small plates are the only way you’re going to get through it all. Sharing isn’t merely a suggestion, it’s a requirement.
Of course, the purpose of any small plates restaurant is to be able to try as much of the menu as you can. But when the menu includes things like shaved country ham, deep fried cabbage leaves, and white cheddar cornbread topped with an ice cream scoop of butter, portion size becomes crucial. You want to walk out feeling full, not resenting the food itself - especially when the food tastes as good as it does at Hatchet Hall.
During our last visit, right after we finished the chop steak with fried oysters (but just before the roast duck smoked in its own fat hit the table), it occurred to us that you simply don’t find this kind of food in upscale LA restaurants. If it wasn’t for an aggressive decor scheme that reads somewhere between a bespoke lamp store in Silver Lake and The Haunted Mansion, and a wait staff that looks like they fell out of a Portlandia fever dream, you’d think you were somewhere in Savannah, indulging after a long day of architecture carriage tours.
Dinner here definitely feels like a meal you’d have on vacation, where calories aren’t real, one cocktail easily leads to three, and even if the final bill is a bit more than expected, you’re too happy and full to care. But not too full.
This arrives to the table looking much more like a prosciutto board - and that’s exactly why we order it first. It’s salty, savory, and not nearly as heavy as you might think.
If Hatchet Hall has a signature dish, it’s the cornbread. Served in a cast iron skillet with a fistful of butter on top, this is an indulgent plate of food, but one that has to be ordered. With bits of shishito pepper mixed into the bread, it also has a needed kick as well. Warning: Take it slow, this baby will fill you up fast.
It’s not immediately apparent by the title, but this is a steak tartare. And damn god one at that. Mixed with horseradish and lemon, the meat itself is excellent, but it’s the fried oysters on top that take the dish to a level we didn’t know existed for a tartare.
If you order this as a means of getting something green on the table, you’ll be disappointed. If you order it so you can eat one of the best things on the menu, you’ll get what you wanted. Served with dill yogurt and caraway, this is definitely a heavy dish, but one that tastes so good you aren’t worried about it.
A version of this dish has been on Hatchet Hall’s menu since it opened in 2015 for a reason - it’s tremendous. The current edition includes toasted grits, bacon, crimini, and a mushroom-based hunter’s sauce, and it’s one of our favorite octopus dishes in town.
Of Hatchet Hall’s big entrees, the roast duck is easily our favorite. Topped with smoked duck fat, honey, and fried thyme, there’s a definite sweetness to this dish that we fully endorse. Especially because we’re always too full to get dessert.