Brunch at Odys + Penelope

I regret I never dined at Hatfield’s that occupied the former Michel Richard restaurant Citrus on Melrose Ave. Fortunately the dynamic culinary couple, Karen and Quinn Hatfield, who met when they worked at Spago, quickly opened a more fast-casual cafe nearby in 2012, Sycamore Kitchen.

img_3571Ody + Penelope’s shrimp and grits is a twist on the New Orleans favorite. Riced cauliflower offers a similar texture yet healthier alternative to grits, with three succulent, sweet shrimp on top. (photo by Jill Weinlein)

Located inside a former iconic print shop along the design corridor of District La Brea, they transformed the space into an urban bakery-eatery with an appealing front dining patio. Karen makes her delicious pastries (try the salted caramel pecan babka) and breads for breakfast, and Quinn helps with the sandwiches and salads for lunch. It became a local and social-media favorite known for their Croque Madame and cinnamon brioche French toast with crème fraiche and fruit slaw.

IMG_3540.JPGWhen an empty storefront with Greek-style columns became available a few doors down, the Hatfield’s were ready to tackle evenings again and open a dinner destination. In January, they opened Odys + Penelope, named after Odysseus and Penelope of Homer’s Greek epic “The Odyssey.”

It’s more formal than Sycamore Kitchen, where one waits in line to place their order, take a number, and find a seat outside on the garden-style patio to wait for delivery to the table.

The 80-seat Odys + Penelope offers sit down service, and a large full bar that with 12 stools and a full dining menu. The modern space offers a wood truss ceiling with exposed brick walls and metal support beams. Next to the open kitchen is a custom-built wood rack that is an art piece filled with logs of almond, hickory, white oak and apple wood to feed the fire for the churrasco and grill. Live-fire cooking methods are the rage right now to cook prime meats, sustainable seafood and vegetables atop open flames. Recently, the Hatfield’s decided to open for weekend brunch to help with the overflow of Sycamore Kitchen.

Their beverage menu offers seven craft beers and a wine list with sparkling, white, rosé and multiple red selections by the glass. If you prefer a bottle of wine with brunch, they are listed in categories that range from white wines that are bright and elegant, rich and opulent, and 10+ years of age. Red wines are listed under an earthy and rustic category, ripe and bold and 10+ years in age. Handcrafted cocktails include a cucumber Collins with vodka, citrus, Persian cucumber, mint and soda.

img_3539The full bar at Odys+ Penelope’s seats 12 and offers the full menu. (photo by Jill Weinlein)

Their eggs Benedict is made with porchetta instead of the standard Canadian bacon. Porchetta is light-colored roast pork that is wood fired and resembles turkey, yet more flavorful. It’s layered on a house made English muffin with a light hollandaise sauce, and sunny side egg. A side of paprika-rosemary breakfast potatoes accompanies the plate.img_3553

Our server Phillip was very knowledgeable about the menu, and recommended the shrimp and grits. I don’t normally order this Southern specialty that graces every menu in New Orleans, because it is laden with carbs and fat. However, I was lured to order this dish based on Phillip’s enthusiasm. The chefs mince and chop cauliflower to resemble grits and mix it with a slightly buttery sauce, spiked with paprika. It’s topped with three wood-fired, sweet shrimp for a healthier version of traditional grits.img_3570

The interesting brunch fare includes an oak wood fired beef sandwich on a Hawaiian-style bun with melted Swiss cheese, grilled onions and a mustard aioli sauce. What makes this dish visually spectacular are the large puffy onion rings stacked on top. A salmon sandwich on the same type of bread with heirloom tomatoes, dill tartar sauce and fennel salad is another delicious choice.

Another dish we enjoyed was the grilled focaccia brushed with olive oil and topped with slices of soft avocado, house made ricotta cheese (nothing like store-bought ricotta) that resembled creamy burrata. The bread was grilled perfectly with a crunchy crust, and the colorful heirloom tomatoes provide an earthy, clean flavor profile.

img_3547

There is no dessert menu yet for brunch, however nearby tables were sharing Karen’s chocolate chip buckwheat Belgian style waffles with whipped crème fraiche, or warm skillet buns topped with a maple brown butter glaze as a sweet treat.

We opted to walk over to Sycamore Kitchen for Hatfield’s pastries, like berry pie, muffins, scones, or cookies. Even at 2:30 p.m., the line was still out the door.

Odys + Penelope offers a relaxed, sit-down brunch without the lines, as long as you make a reservation. $$ Hours for dinner are Sunday through Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. On Friday and Saturday, they stay open until 11 p.m. Weekend brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. 127 S. La Brea Ave. (323)939-1033.

This article was featured in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea Newspapers on September 8, 2016.

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