Pop-up restaurants come and go in Los Angeles, so when chef Kris Tominaga announced that he and chef Brian Dunsmoor would bring a temporary dining engagement called Wolf in Sheep's Clothing to Capri restaurant on Abbot Kinney, nobody batted an eye. Until Venice locals descended upon the restaurant, falling for the chefs' seasonal, Southern-inflected fare, and within a flash Wolf in Sheep's Clothing became Venice's white hot baby. The pop up extended its stay several times, until it ended its run last summer. But, the silver lining was that Tominaga/Dunsmoor struck a deal with Avi Brosh of Paligroup to bring a permanent version of the popular pop-up to Mid-City. Enter, The Hart and the Hunter at Palihotel. With a liquor license finally in place, The Hart and the Hunter is in full swing, attracting the same crowds once found at WiSC. Here now Jonathon Strader on long waits, what to order, and industry curiosity.
Why did you guys decided to open at Palihotel? The opportunity presented itself from Wolf in Sheep's Clothing because Avi [Brosh] was a regular of ours and offered this space to us for us to kind of partner up with them and rent the space off of them and be able to utilize their space in more of a permanent pop-up.
So, do you consider this location a pop up or permanent space? Permanent.
Do you take reservations? No we do not.
How do you describe your clientele? A lot of female clientele. A lot of entertainment ... advertisement, pr, foodie.
Did any other staff come over from WISC in Venice? Yes, all of us moved over together.
How did people take to the concept after the move? Um, I think a little bit of coaching to get everyone with everything to figure out who we were, where we came from, and the style of things. Because on this side of town I feel like we have a little bit more of a different style than everyone else. Kind of more of a casual-esque, small plate, no reservations thing. So it took a little bit of time to get everyone comfortable and used to what we're doing.
Have you found that diners are confused by The Hart and the Hunter versus the Wolf in Sheep's Clothing brick and mortar that opened on Abbot Kinney? Yeah but you guys thankfully have done a good job clearing the air and everyone else as well. It reads pretty well all over the blogs and the press so everything translates for what it is.
What's the busiest time of the week? Saturday night.
What is the wait? About an hour and a half.
Wow, that's long for LA. Yeah, but we have a nice lobby where people can enjoy a glass of wine or a beer while they wait for their table, so.
Is the food here different than the food served at WISC? It's a little bit different. We still have a lot of our regulars from Venice that make the trek from the westside to be able to come in and eat with us which we are very fortunate of especially in the first couple of months while we got everything where it needed to be. But it's become more of a neighborhood restaurant on Melrose as well.
Who are your favorite guests? Favorite guests. Everyone's our favorite guest. We love seeing new faces, we love seeing everyone that comes in all the time. The repeat business, the people that are just really stoked about our food and about who we are, being young guys in the industry, being able to put out a consistent product. And hospitality driven food too.
What is the most popular dish on the menu? I'd have to say butter biscuits that's kind of the most buzz we get about it and the Brussels sprouts salad.
Have there been any requests that you have not been able to accommodate? In terms of what?
Do diners try to make menu alterations? We're pretty good in terms of allergies and gluten-free stuff. We are strict on the 'no modifications' policy, but if we're able to do something to make sure that someone has a good experience we're all for that.
Do you get any chefs from the neighborhood in the restaurant? Yeah, we've had a couple in. A lot of people from the industry are very curious about what we're doing and how everything came about because of the pop-up.
When you're not here where are you eating? I travel a lot to go surf. But, me and my girlfriend love to go get brunch in the morning, so I would say we go to Oscar's a lot on Rose. Kind of our go-to spot.
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