As December 2017 approached, the excitement built in Los Angeles. Though many chefs from outside Southern California were poised to descend upon the city, Hearth & Hound was one of the most hotly anticipated restaurants in Hollywood.
It featured one of the country’s preeminent restaurateurs in Ken Friedman, one of its best chefs in April Bloomfield, and as an added bonus, a Beastie Boy—Mike D—would curate the wine list. Bloomfield and Friedman had already successfully gone bicoastal, expanding their New York–based restaurant empire (Spotted Pig, Breslin, John Dory Oyster Bar, White Gold Butchers, and Salvation Taco) to San Francisco with Tosca. There was no reason to think they wouldn’t succeed in LA.
On Saturday, Bloomfield announced on Instagram, with no prior notice, that she would shutter the restaurant.
“It’s with a heavy heart I announce that The Hearth and Hound will serve its last supper tonight,” Bloomfield wrote. “I thank our guests, friends and supporters for the warm welcome during a tumultuous last year. I love LA and hope that one day to cook here again soon.”
She doesn’t elaborate on what was tumultuous, but the seeds of Hearth & Hound’s demise were sown days after it opened. A New York Times investigation revealed a pattern of alleged sexual misconduct by Friedman, drying up the font of goodwill the James Beard Award–winner had in the restaurant industry. Bloomfield’s reputation took a hit as well, as some of Friedman’s accusers said that the chef had not pushed back on Friedman when her employees informed her of the harassment they’d endured.
“I failed a lot of people,” she told the Times in October when she finally broke her silence on the allegations against Friedman. “That’s on my shoulders.”
Since the Times’s report and a subsequent 60 Minutes exposé, Bloomfield has tried to salvage her side of the duo’s crumbling restaurant empire. The two worked for months to formally end their partnership, divvying up the restaurants that made them famous. Bloomfield got Hearth & Hound, Tosca, Breslin, and John Dory in the divorce.
Hearth & Hound managed to stay open, while Friedman struggled with replacing Bloomfield at the Spotted Pig and had to close White Gold after its butchers quit. Hearth may have gotten a bit of a lifeline when the late, great LA Times food critic Jonathan Gold reviewed the restaurant. He grappled with whether he should write the review, weighing the allegations against the fact he regarded Bloomfield as “a force in American cooking at the moment.”
But that force has faded. With Bloomfield’s celebrity in the food world greatly diminished, eventually Hearth & Hound succumbed. No plans have been announced for what will come of the multimillion-dollar space, and whether Bloomfield will try to open a restaurant in Los Angeles again.