Hitchcock on Bainbridge Island
This tiny restaurant opened on Bainbridge Island a few months ago. With the demise of Madoka, we were anxious to find out if there was a restaurant worth going to on the Island. The menu changes daily and the chef, who has an excellent pedigree, relies a lot on fresh, local produce. It's a little hard to find, as there is no easily seen sign. It's on the main drag, within easy walking distance from the ferry just a few doors east of the popular Cafe Nola.
Our reviews are mixed. I had an absolutely wonderful meal: sockeye salmon on top of a panzanella salad. Unlike some sockeye, this was a big, thick piece of fish, perfectly cooked with crispy skin--almost tasted like a king. The panzanella was delicious--crispy croutons sauteed or baked in olive oil, lightly cooked tomatoes and tender-crisp green beans. A real winner. My brother enjoyed his lingcod on a bed of Israeli couscous and sauteed radicchio. My step mom said her duck breast was flavorful, but a bit tough (she's normally a vegetarian and the chef was willing to make something up for her, but she was willing to try the duck). My husband's pork cheeks were a real disappointment. A generous helping of meat was served over a small amount of mashed potatoes. The meat overwhelmed the potatoes and there were no other vegetables. Worse yet, the meat did not appear to have any type of seasoning---to me, it tasted like just plain meat. Fortunately, he was happy with his liver mousse appetizer.
Portions were large enough that we decided not to have salad after the entrees, but went right on to dessert. Again, I was the person who really scored. My blueberry sorbet was a revelation: three small scoops, dusted with what I assume were lightly ground almonds, the sorbet was more flavorful than plain blueberries ever were and was a beautiful color. Who knew blueberries could taste that good? Two people were very happy with their rice pudding, topped with a generous portion of mixed fresh local fruit (raspberries, peaches, etc). But my husband's luck ran out again: his chocolate mousse barely tasted of chocolate (it was the lightest colored chocolate mousse I had ever seen). The coffee was strong and rich.
Service was VERY slow. We must have waited close to 45 minutes after ordering before our entrees arrived and other parties who had arrived after we did were served before us. Bread probably didn't show up until 10-15 minutes after you'd have expected it to. (It was very good) And while we were waiting, the waiter never came back to check on how we were doing. My husband wanted to order a beer during this time, but gave up in frustration.
The other problem was the noise. The restaurant is small with bare walls and ceiling. Music was being piped in. The noise from the bar especially was incredible and made it very unpleasant. The four of us had to shout at each other, which just made the noise even worse. Not a place for lingering after dinner. Perhaps the owner might think of taking over the old Madoka space, which was much quieter.
I really liked my meal but whether I can talk my husband into trying this place out again is anyone's guess. Cutting down the noise and improving the service would go a long way towards making this place a destination restaurant, worth taking the ferry over for.
For fresh NW/European-inspired food, Hitchcock is the best restaurant on Bainbridge. We've eaten there at least a dozen times, probably more, now. Chef just has an excellent palate, a sense of adventure, and the energy to butcher/cure/smoke everything from scratch. He watches every plate that leaves the kitchen, and checks in with every table. Once we did the "name your price" option, and we almost died (it was that great).
The only meals that didn't blow me away were on two nights that the chef/owner Brandon wasn't there (I think they were both on a Thursday, but don't rely on me). They were OK, but missed his eagle eye. Service has gotten much better since last summer.
Hitchcock is in a different league from Madoka- much, much, much better than Madoka ever was. But Madoka is gone, so I won't "speak ill of the dead."
I didn't find Hitchcock too noisy, but the Four Swallows is a certainly quieter and another good choice. Their menu doesn't change much, and it is not as adventurous, but it is reliable and good.
481 Madison Ave N, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
241 Winslow Way West, Bainbridge, WA 98110
PAO - did you happen to go on a Sunday night? Just wondering because they just started their Sunday dinners, which are a little different from other nights in style and serving size.
I've been to Hitchcock three times now, twice for dinner and once for brunch. The first dinner was just after they had opened, and I have to say everything clicked. I don't recall all of the dishes we had, but they included an incredible pork belly. The second dinner was also very good. While my wife thought the salad was a bit too salty (it had Oregon gorgonzola, which surely added to the saltiness), I found everything every bit as good as most dinners I've had in Seattle. My lamb shank was cooked and seasoned perfectly.
But the real revelation was at Sunday brunch. Everything all five of us had - including French toast, omelets, and "duck hash" topped with duck egg - was stellar. Even the coffee was beyond compare.
Hitchcock is a very welcome addition to Bainbridge Island. In my experience, they keep getting better and better. And the noise? I agree that it could be a bit quieter, but to me the noise adds to the fun atmosphere. If you really want quiet, Four Swallows is just up the street.
I give Hitchcock a strong recommendation.