The Hart and The Hunter sits inside West Hollywood's Palihotel, but adorable animal illustrations decorating pastel blue subway tiled-walls and dishware borrowed from Grandma's cupboard suggest another location—a Wes Anderson film, perhaps. Then there's the menu from an entirely different place: the South. Things aren't always what they seem, which is particularly fitting given that chef-owners Kris Tominaga and Brian Dunsmoor's previous venture was a Venice pop-up called Wolf in Sheep's Clothing. Here, like there, you'll find lively dishes that are both comfortably hearty and casually refined. Fantastic butter biscuits ($6) are made outstanding with sweet and savory spreads—honey butter, persimmon preserves and savory pimento cheese—lightly-battered, fried green tomatoes ($12) are relished with chow chow and drizzled with tangy goat and buttermilk dressing, and steak tartare ($16) is complemented by buttery bone marrow. With dishes like these, location almost seems irrelevant. Wherever it is you think you are—WeHo, Moonrise Kingdom, a Fannie Flagg novel—you are exactly where you should be.
Eat This: While everything is served family-style, you might want to order an extra plate of those buttery biscuits all for yourself. Like other dishes on the main-course menu, desserts will often change with the seasons. For now, the lemon meringue icebox pie strikes a perfect balance between sweet and tart; it just might be one of the best desserts we've had all year.
Drink This: The restaurant is still waiting on its beer and wine license, so it's BYOB for now.
Sit Here: Almost every seat in the cozy space allows a view of the tiny kitchen at work. For a more intimate dining experience, ask for one of the bench seats on the patio.
Conversation Piece: In Aesop's fable of the Hart and the Hunter, a hart admires his elegant antlers, but laments his slender (but nimble) legs. Alas, he falls easy prey to a hunter when those same antlers are caught in tree branches, prompting the caution, "We often despise what is most useful to us." Whether and how this life lesson applies to The Hart and The Hunter–the restaurant is something to be pondered and discussed over shared plates of boiled peanuts ($3) and fried chicken livers ($10).