6.01.2008

Thoughts on Taste at Spring Hill...

I am very excited and jazzed about a new restaurant called spring hill that has opened in my neck of the woods...West Seattle! We dined there last night with another couple celebrating our anniversary. Thank's Steve & Margot for making it such a wonderful night... Good times huh! It is truly the best new american cuisine style place to hit the streets of our paradise city on the edges of Seattle. It has a great neighborhood, casual feel, with warm, comforting hospitality from the owners and staff. All of our service team was gracious, friendly and outgoing to our party. In W.S.~ one expects a warm and inviting atmosphere. Not that you wouldn't in some other city neighborhood, but in this little "island" of Seattle, a place where it is not hard to see folks you know just about anywhere you go, it is what we are. It is why we are here. It is in my case, why I have never left...well, at least for not long! Now, in a place where I used to raise hell in my youth, I have watched this community blossom into it's own. It has always been a great place to dine, albeit most places are either great family style eateries, pizza joints, brew pubs, or tasty mexican standbys like Taqueria Guaymas. There is the typical corporate fish house on Alki, but not really my choice. This place is about raising the bar, and that they have done! Enter the scene from last night...630pm...place starting to buzz. The chef/owner; Mark Fuller at the helm, center stage plating dishes and organizing his crew as they cook various ingredients for tonight's service. We are sat by the host in a very pleasant manner. Our server was at our table in moments. It was then that we were graced with the good gratitude of a complimentary half bottle of Champagne. Since I am the designated driver of the crowd, I opted for a non-alcoholic alternative. We were then welcomed with the presence of Mark's wife and co-owner; Marjorie, who I had met previously at the club. It is loud, as the room fills with guests. The room sleek, and stylish with nuances of modernism, yet without the overdoing it which can create senses of cold, sterile and impersonal. You definitely do not want that in West Seattle...not in our hood! We start to decide in random order, just looking to taste and explore what Mark and his crew are all about. As a chef, I just want to try new flavors, or enjoy the familiar ones. Either way, just as long as they are good is what I expect. Here comes the food...Bread & Butter; warm soft rolls, so much so that they delicately tear apart with minimal effort. The butter, a bit of "creme fraiche" essence to it and sea salt from Kauai, adds a touch of welcomed acidity and sea(note- they do charge for it). Butter Lettuce Salad, a basic comforting composure reminiscent of a good caesar, yet not as heavy with paper thin sliced radishes, hints of parmesan and lemon was very refreshing. Roasted Beets...a long time favorite of mine. Simply prepared, wedged and laid out with a drizzle of beet oil, herbs, bosc pears and smoked hazelnuts~ pure and natural, yet needed a bit of salt. Salmon Spread...a smooth and unctuous "mousse" of cooked salmon with thin toasted baguettes, crisp mustard brined apples, toasted pine nut gelee and a hint of dill. This was a hit at our table. Duck Egg Ravioli...a several bite offering that encased a loose duck yolk and was embellished with slices of house cured duck ham, garlic chips and herb oil. A nicely done pasta that was very flavorful. Crispy Veal Sweetbreads...these were fun. Three dipping sauces accompanied them, although were not explained by the server, but my estimation was a garlicky herb "creme", a mildly piquant grain mustard and a spicy barbecue-ish concoction that brought it around. Sampling the little fried morsels in the various sauces was a fun and inviting experience. By making the dining a fun and interesting epxerience, it creates excitement and a sense of theatre. Not the type of Alinea or El Bulli, but a neighborhood one, one that is reachable, obtainable and comprehensible. That is why one would continue to go back again and again to springhill. Second Act...Razor Clam Crepinette...a sausage made of ground razor clams, and the flavor to back that up, rolled in caul fat? and roasted. It was accompanied by three little very slightly poached kusshi oysters, adorned with a gentle pickled essence to them. Very tasty! I loved this dish. Wood Grilled Prawns...with artisan white grits(again under seasoned) which sported a nice tooth to them, with poached duck egg, morels and a light jus of shrimp. The flavors of the wood and grill was so satisfying and welcomed that I sent a dish to another table who was occupied by a couple of lovely girls "in the biz"...oh yea, they work for me. Hope they enjoyed them as much as we did. Cold Bar bringeth~ a dozen Olympia Oysters, shucked fresh and served with a mignonette of cascade hops. Nice! On with the entrees...Sauteed Alaskan Halibut...with a very complimentary smoked clam "panzanella", or large toasted bread crumbs if you will, which went well with the dish. A wilted green (which was an un-announced sub for the pea vines) and olive oil essence finished the dish. This was probably the best tasting dish of the evening. Grilled Rainbow Trout...from Snake River was laced with brown butter, lemony artichoke slices, green garlic and sauteed herbed spaztle and quite flavorful. Handmade(house?) Tagliatelle... studded with fresh fava beans, morels, cherry toms, more green garlic and parmesan. Nice and tasty, but not as engaging as the others. No worries. Roasted Duck Breast...this was probably a tie with the halibut, and maybe even a bit better(I'm still deciding), came all dressed up and ready to go with thumbelina carrots, spring peas, pearl onions, a quinoa biscuit and a slathering of an orange mustard glaze. Cooked medium rare- simply awesome! We have been tasting all night and now it was time for a little sweet tooth fix~ Not too much to choose from, but I suspect that is because they are low in labor, and wanting to get things nailed first. Or maybe this Mark's style. Not sure. Either way, it was good. Chocolate Cake...more of a fudgy-terrine, almost like a marquise with salted peanuts, like toffee style, salted peanut ice cream and nothing else but it's ooey, gooey richness combined with the wonderful marriage of chocolate, salt and peanuts~Snickers anyone? Cedergreen Poached Pear...a fragrantly infused pear with a cube of olive oil sponge, somewhat similar to the one I make, with a lemon-vanilla whipped cream and some jus naturel. Ovaltine Ice Cream...just a scoop, no more...no less. Nothing else needed. No more to say. There were cheeses from various artisans around the Northwest, but that will wait until next time. I can attest that all of the dishes presented were looked after, thought about and cared for. The flavors were simple and pure. It was by far, the most stepped up menu and sense of contemporary refinement to hit the hood in a long, long while. This gives us new purpose as diners. New exploration to fathom. New thoughts to contemplate as chefs and foodies. Please pay tribute to this wonderful new addition to W.S. by your patronage. Prosperity brings new hope and vibrancy to all. Enjoy.

5 Comments:

Blogger TC said...

Sounds good Chef. Are they open for lunch on Saturdays'? I only get to WS once a month on Saturdays'.Where are they located in WS?
T =)

2:13:00 AM  
Blogger cuisinier said...

Hi T- they are only oopen for dinenr from 545pm-mid. They are open 7 days a week. On California Avenue, left side as you are traveling North, 2 blocks north of Alaska Street. Enjoy.

11:38:00 AM  
Blogger TC said...

Thanks Chef! They are just north of the of the rubber stamp store I go to. WooHoo! Easy to find. I'll let you know how it goes.
T =)

9:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Emily said...

Since you're a fan of oysters, check out the oyster contest at MarxFoods.com. We're giving away 4 dozen fresh Puget Sound oysters.

And since you're a chef, you're also eligible to enter the Le Quebecois veal recipe contest. The prize is $1000 and a trip for 2 people to Montreal. grainveal.com/contest

11:43:00 AM  
Blogger cuisinier said...

cool, I will check it out. thx emily...

2:39:00 PM  

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