Walking to The Hearth & Hound in Hollywood brings back so many memories. While the restaurant is new, it took over the very beloved The Cat & Fiddle, whose patio was one of the best places to while away with groups of friends that seemed to ebb and flow throughout the afternoon or night. The pub was there forever, a central figure in the nightlife scene—a local’s hangout for celebrities, comedians and musicians. It had soul.
The stunning new restaurant from April Bloomfield, the award-winning chef from New York City’s famed The Spotted Pig, among other places, definitely taps into some of that history, if not uncovers and puts it on full display. Walking through the arches of the historic building—which was built in the ’20s by Western film star Fred Thomson and his wife, Francis Marion, as a Spanish-themed shopping court—the verdant patio is still there, with a century-old olive tree and a restored Malibu tile fountain on display. Only now, the space is encased with white booths and green-tipped white awning-umbrellas giving it an almost Hellenic feel—a good match for the California-inspired Mediterranean food coming out of Bloomfield’s kitchen.
The entire outpost was torn down to the studs, especially in the dining room, where the ceiling was lifted and skylights were put in. Brick walls have a wash of white-milk paint; the hardwood floors look all of their age; and columns and booths separate the restaurant, making each corner feel intimate. At night, when dim lights cast a golden hue, the brightness of the bustling open kitchen is that much more of a focal point. You can see flames dancing in the hearth, a cornerstone to the menu.
Bloomfield is part of the wave of celebrity chefs planting their feet firmly in our sun-drenched culinary scene. Although we all know eating here has always been amazing, this influx of big names is a testament to Los Angeles being seen as the hottest food city in the country right now, a place where chefs of every ilk can try something new and break out of their mold. In a way, that’s The Hearth & Hound for Bloomfield.
With her places in New York and one in San Francisco, the British chef is widely known for all things meaty—crispy pig’s ears, chicken liver on toast, pancetta in everything, and one very high-profile burger—and cooking with the seasons. Her first cookbook was A Girl and Her Pig, after all. And The Spotted Pig was what everything became across the country: bars with elevated food, no tablecloths, laid-back but still elite. What she isn’t known for is working the room, chatting with guests and making a ton of TV appearances. That seems almost an anathema to L.A.
At Hearth, she’s often seen in the kitchen, most likely with her back turned to the room, chopping, cooking, plating and delegating to her culinary army. Her menu isn’t at all heavy, with exception to the depth of flavor and wood-fired char that’s seen on everything from vegetables to fish and fowl. On one visit, I nibbled on addictive grilled prawns swimming in brown butter with a dollop of rouille. They played nicely with the grilled spinach that came with smoked chickpeas and tahini, as well as the pinot blanc I was sipping. A perfectly satisfying solo meal at the bar.
Another night, my husband and I sat in a corner spot with a direct view of the kitchen, and we tried something from every portion of the menu. Among the snacks, creamy whipped cod roe on toast is probably my favorite anything-on-toast in L.A. right now. The hearty grain kamut adds a nice toothsome texture to beef tartare, while harissa gives it just a touch of kick. Bloomfield’s salad with charred chicories, juicy citrus and fromage blanc is the perfect segue to one of the best roast chickens in town. It’s air-dried and smoked before hitting the wood fire and comes with big slices of grilled trumpet mushrooms; the jus is a bit salty but divine.
Everything is cooked to perfection, including pork with roasted quince on the side. Order the little hasselback potatoes with chard and creme fraiche with absolutely no regrets. You know it takes effort and skill to make something look so simple on the plate, but taste so complex on the palate.
For someone known more for meatcentric dishes, it’s actually the smallest category on the menu. The seasonal rotation of vegetables and seafood is well-suited for L.A., along with Mediterranean flourishes and fiery hearth cooking. Even desserts are lighter, like banana bread with kefir cream. That is, if you’re not getting the apple fritter with spiced glaze and creme fraiche ice cream (you should).
Wines are overseen by Maxwell Schnee, with a little collaborative help from République and Mozza vet Taylor Parsons, and a secret bottle list from Mike Diamond—that’s Beastie Boys’ Mike D to most of us—who let go of certain selections from his personal collection for the restaurant. It definitely adds some rock-star cache to the place, as do the actual rock stars you’ll probably see dining here.
Sometimes it’s impossible to love a new spot that took over a beloved bar and eatery. Hearing that The Cat & Fiddle would close in Hollywood was a gut-punch to so many people in Los Angeles, but the magnetism, the food and vibe at The Hearth & Hound is hard to deny. The place got off to a slow start, but it’s already starting to buzz later in the evening, and the patio will surely be full come summer. It’s not quite the come-as-you-are spot as the former tenant, but Bloomfield fits the landscape here as easily as she does on the East Coast.
6530 Sunset Blvd., L.A., 323.320.4022
Hours: Mon.-Thu., 6-10pm; Fri. & Sat., 6-11pm; bar opens at 5:30pm
Prices: Snacks, $6-$10; starters, $12-$21; vegetables, $12-$16; meat and fish, $32-$130; dessert, $8
April Bloomfield will unveil her highly anticipated brunch menu this spring.
What to Drink
Barman Nick Meyer oversees the cocktail program, so anything is good, but especially the Buddha’s Hand white negroni, or the Thomson Martini topped with a floating chamomile flower.
Where to Sit
The patio is the biggest draw on warm nights, but for any other time, a seat inside by the fireplace is great for a meal and cocktails.