I first heard about Dunsmoor, while at dinner at Hatchet Hall & Old Man Bar with Matt. I absolutely loved every dish that came out from the kitchen. Our waitress told us that the chef opened a separate restaurant, Dunsmoor, in Highland Park. Right next to the place that makes Hatchet Hall’s bread, Bub and Grandmas.
Curious, I made a mental note to try Dunsmoor later.
Fast forward to later. After playing musical chairs with who would join me, I was delighted when Johann had availability. With a reservation time set for 5:45pm, I was excited to see what the fuss was about.
When I arrived, I entered the restaurant from the bar side, I was visually extremely pleased. The natural light cast a warm glowing texture on the wine bottles along the shelves on the wall and behind the bar. Knowing that Johann was running a bit behind schedule, I took a seat at the bar.
Simone, the bartender du jour, was a co-creator in the start of my lovely evening. Browsing the menu, I was first interested in the orange, the Kolfok 2022 Grüner Veltliner Blend. But, after having a tasting of it, I just wasn’t feeling it. It was orally interesting, as most orange skin contact wines are. However, it just didn’t fit my mood for the night.
Simone described some suggestions and had me taste the Fumey Chatelain 2020 Arbois Savagnin Ouillé and the Mortellito Frappato & Nero 2020 D’Avola ‘Cala Niuru’. After tasting, I immediately settled on the Savagnin. It was light and refreshing, while still having a body that could lend itself toward being a solid flavor accompaniment with my meal.
Talking with Simone set a vibe. I learned that Brian left Hatchet Hall in 2021, to focus on opening Dunsmoor. Then, seemingly out of no where, I found myself talking to the Chef himself, who appeared to make himself a drink at the bar. Simone and I were in a conversation discussing screen time of children when he appeared and said that our conversation was interesting.
In surprised shock, I said hello and thanked him for creating such a gorgeous space. I then asked him, since he created the menu and it was his restaurant, what his favorite item on the menu was.
Without hesitation, he immediately said “the stew”.
Frankly I was shocked and rather confused to see him in person, at his restaurant. I honestly thought that chef’s in Los Angeles create meals and open restaurants – but then have another head chef step in while they relaxed at home, collecting checks. Especially, chef’s with multiple restaurants. But here, the namesake and backbone of the restaurant stood in front of me with a relaxed but focused demeanor, proving me wrong.
When I asked if all chef’s actually are present in their restaurant for day to day operations, Brian gave the best answer possible.
“The good ones are,” he wisely responded.
Shortly after, Johann arrived and we were able to be seated.
The restaurant was illuminated with natural light and designed brilliantly. The bright and airy space was filled with long communal tables.
We started with the BABY ALBACORE (young ginger root relish, shallot).
Next came the CIDER GLAZED BANDERA QUAIL (strawberry preserves, rosemary). Now, I normally don’t even give a second look to quail on a menu. It’s simply not a meat that I regularly have or see offered. But, at Johann’s desire, we ordered it.
The fire charred rosemary with the sweetness of the strawberries was downright delicious.
Next out, came the EDNA’S SOUR MILK CORNBREAD (white cheddar, hatch chili, cultured butter, honey) alongside the famous AUNT EMMY’S PORK & GREEN CHILI STEW (cheddar, flour tortillas).
This was a revelation. This was Southern goodness. This was perhaps the absolute best combination of flavors I could imagine to represent southern heritage cuisine. The cornbread, with the cultured butter and hatch chili for a sweet and spicy combo was perfect. Added to that, the chunks of pork in the stew were savory and delicious. Together, they created a taste in the mouth that is indescribable.
I literally don’t know how he created such a masterpiece of flavor.
For the main dish, we split the MUSHROOM-CRUSTED PORK CHOP (smoked lard, thyme) and ordered the DRESSED LETTUCES. But, was accidentally brought the BRAISED GREENS.
The mix up actually was better suited for the pork chop. The greens were served with a bottle of vinegar hot sauce, complete with the garlic cloves and peppers in the bottle.
Now, what I appreciated the most from this course – besides the taste itself – is that the dishes weren’t heavy. From personal family experience, I know how heavy with animal fats Southern cuisine can be. Each dish at Dunsmoor was rich in flavor – and not in fat. It tasted clean, without coating the mouth.
We finished with desert from the rotating ice cream menu: HAM ICE CREAM (ice cream flavored with smoked ham hock). I know, I know – I was shocked as well.
The resulting taste was smokey and rich. It was not bad at all. In fact, when I told friends about it later, they were as curious as I was before I tried it.
Overall, my time at Dunsmoor was absolutely delicious. The amount ordered was well rounded and truly a sample of the best Dunsmoor has to offer.
3501 Eagle Rock Boulevard
Glassell Park, California 90065