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Hitchcock, Bainbridge Island- Brunch review

f
Falchas Sep 13, 2010 10:47 AM

I've been trying to find if anyone has done a dinner review of Hitchcock on Bainbridge. Looking at the recent posts for Kitsap eats board, no seems to have mentioned it. Anyhow, new restaurant on Winslow (I want to say they opened in the spring). We went for brunch a few weeks ago and would highly recommend it for anyone looking for a relaxing weekend breakfast.
The food:
We started with some decent bloody marys. I like mine a little spicier, but they hit the spot. I admired the understated garnished (just a few olives). I have to say, when I see more garnishes than drink in a drink, I get suspicious. Bloody mary garnishes have gotten out of control! But I digress. I had the caramelized onion, Serrano ham, gruyere omelette. Perfectly cooked. Hearty and generous with the filling. My husband was happy to assist me with the abundance of onions and ham falling out. But the real treasure on my plate were the roasted potatoes. There is something wonderful when a kitchen can take a simple item that you have had a million times and make it taste new. These had the perfect amount of crisp. Each bite was a perfect combination on potato, olive oil, salt and pepper. Simple and roasted beautifully. My hubs had the french toast with straw-rhubarb compote. This was probably the best FT I've had. Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside. Just like you hear how FT should be, but can't ever seem to achieve it. One word of warning to (like my husband) maple syrup addicts out there, when they say it come with compote... that is what you get. Granted, it was delicious and went beautifully with the FT, however, if you are looking for butter and syrup slathered FT, this is not it. Our waiter nicely brought more compote was not at all snotty when my hubs asked after syrup. Husband also ordered the housemade sausage, perfectly cooked and seasoned. Again, FT and omelettes done well remind me why simple foods become staples of cuisine.
Atmosphere:
I like what they have done with the space. This was previously a really cramped Italian restaurant. I couldn't tell you what exactly they have done to change it, but it felt much more open. Lots of light from the windows in the front, dark wood and a nice combo of tables a booths with a small bar. We sat in the back where it was quiet and we had a nice view of the open kitchen. The music was interesting; classic rock... not my usual choice for a Sunday morning, but for some reason it worked here.
Price:
Comparable to what we pay at Streamliner and MorMor, our usual brunch spots. Not a cheap breakfast, but not unreasonable.
Service:
This was the only strange thing about our visit. While we had no complaints about the speed of service, the friendliness was a tad lacking. Maybe our waiter was having an off day. At the end of the meal, we noticed that we hadn't been charged for the side of sausage. When someone puts this much effort into a meal, I want to pay what is due! When we mentioned it, he seemed almost irritated that we went the honest route. I do want to mention that we had someone from the kitchen stop by to ask how everything was, very appreciated.
Over all, we had a good experience and we are looking forward to making it back for dinner.

  1. Tom Armitage Sep 14, 2010 11:36 AM

    Nice report. Thanks.

    1. s
      slabbit Sep 20, 2010 02:35 PM

      Had dinner there this past weekend. The atmosphere is nice and they have an impressively well-stocked bar with a nice cocktail list. The food by and large was fantastic. The standouts were a couple of charcuterie dishes of a rustic pate' and a duck liver mousse and a simple, but perfectly executed clam and white bean dish. I will probably measure every clam dish I ever have to that one!

      The biggest complaint we had was service. Our server was nice enough, but it took nearly 15 minutes for them to take a drink order and another 15 minutes to come back for dinner orders. It also seemed to take forever for our first course. Overall, the meal was paced a bit slow, but we weren't planning on rushing thorough it so that wasn't a big deal.

      In summary, I had some really fantastic food, and with an improvement in service, it could be a REALLY special place.

      16 Replies
      1. re: slabbit
        p
        PAO Sep 22, 2010 08:33 PM

        We had a similar problem with service. And at our dinner, the noise was overwhelming. I loved my salmon panzanella and the blueberry sorbet was out of this world. My 3 companions did varying degrees of less well, and one entree was downright boring and the chocolate mousse sorely lacking in chocolate.

        1. re: slabbit
          j
          Jeffo405 Sep 23, 2010 04:13 PM

          I have to concur. As much as we want to love this place, the service is getting to be a deterrent. Case in point. I told the chef/owner in advance that we would like to celebrate our anniversary there with his special "chef's menu." We agreed on a price (including foie gras) and I was looking forward to a special evening. The chef did greet us when we arrived, but a couple of glasses of champagne/sparkling wine "from the kitchen" would have been a nice way to start things off. After all, we were about to spend more on two dinners than, probably, any other couple in the restaurant that night.

          After we sat down, it took a good 30 minutes to receive our first course. Not even bread was offered during this time, and the place wasn't packed. Maybe a little amuse would have been a good idea. The food, as other Hounds have noted, was, by and large, very good. I especially liked the fried mussels served with mustard and crystallized chard. The meal also included a Summer Squash "Carpaccio" with House-made Ricotta; Salad with Pea Vines, Red Onion, Plum & Mint; and the aforementioned foie gras, nicely seared and served with what I seem to remember as wine-poached cherries. Counting the "house-made" flan (should a restaurant serve any other kind?), we had (I believe) eight courses.

          My biggest issue with the service, besides the initial 30-minute lag, was that no sooner than we put forks on plates than the server would sweep in and whisk them away, only to return very soon thereafter with the next course. In other words, pacing was a little off. That and the fact that our "special occasion" was hardly noted. (Not that I expect a marching band...but some kind of acknowledgement would have been great.)

          For the sake of all of Bainbridge Island, as well as anyone who wants to take a ferry ride to a great dinner, I sincerely hope Hitchcock starts putting as much attention on the front of the house as they do the kitchen.

          1. re: Jeffo405
            f
            Falchas Sep 27, 2010 07:12 PM

            I apologize if I'm belaboring some points on this board, but I think Jeffo405 has it correct: "I sincerely hope Hitchcock starts putting as much attention on the front of the house as they do the kitchen." We finally made it back for dinner and again, the food was great (we had some nice starters: lox and pate, our entrees of duck breast and pork belly were wonderful, the zucchini that came with my duck was outstanding ) and I liked the atmosphere... but the service was so off. Our waitress was perfectly nice, as was the hostess and bartender, however, we sat for almost twenty minutes before someone came over to greet us and take a drink order! Believe me, I can forgive much with a drink in my hand. As for the rest of the evening, we had similar experiences as everyone else, weird pacing (husbands bourbon sat on the bar just beyond reach getting increasingly watered down by the minute!) and a feeling of being forgotten about by our waitress. I do have to say that again, the chef and kitchen staff were out and about stopping by tables, which is always nice. I REALLY want to like this restaurant, so much potential. I prepared to give one more go before I give up on them. Maybe on a Sunday night dinner someone mentioned above.

            1. re: Falchas
              babette feasts Sep 28, 2010 05:06 PM

              Bainbridge can be a hard place to find skilled help. Experienced workers who live in the city rarely want to commute or don't last long commuting, which leaves you with high school kids and moms looking for pocket money - not that those groups can't be trained or are not good workers, just maybe not the experienced service professionals one might hope to find. And once the kids leave high school, they do their best to get 'off the rock', leaving a dearth of energetic workers in their 20's or 30's. It is what it is.

              1. re: babette feasts
                p
                PAO Sep 30, 2010 07:56 PM

                You definitely have a point there, Babette Feasts. When I first started going to the now closed Madoka, service was bad because it was local teens/early 20's doing the waiting. Later on, they got a professional waitstaff, presumably from off the island. That said, the waiter who served us at Hitchcock when we were there was no youngster. I'm wondering if something should be said to the owner. Definitely think the restaurant has potential and would hate to see it go down because of something that was fixable.

                -----
                Madoka
                241 Winslow Way West, Bainbridge, WA 98110

                1. re: PAO
                  Tom Armitage Oct 1, 2010 09:08 AM

                  "I'm wondering if something should be said to the owner."

                  I have brought the comments in this thread to the owner's attention. He understands the importance of service, not just the quality of the food, to a customer's overall experience.

                  1. re: Tom Armitage
                    p
                    PAO Oct 1, 2010 11:09 AM

                    Thanks for letting us know. May I ask how recent that was?

                    1. re: PAO
                      Tom Armitage Oct 1, 2010 01:57 PM

                      Very recent. It involved a series of four e-mails, two from me, and two from the owner/chef, Brendan McGill. My first e-mail was sent on 9/23 and Chef Brendan’s last response to me was on 9/28.

                      1. re: Tom Armitage
                        p
                        PAO Oct 2, 2010 08:46 AM

                        Thanks. Would appreciate hearing from people whether service improves. It will be hard for me to get my husband back there otherwise . . .

                        1. re: PAO
                          f
                          Fatman Jan 24, 2011 01:09 PM

                          I was there in December twice - once to sit at the bar and eat oysters with my wife, and once for dinner with another couple. The service both times sucked. I didn't have any complaints with the speed or the pacing, but rather the obnoxiousness. At dinner, there was an attitude of haughtiness about our apparently too-low price point for the remainder of dinner (after ordering several appetizers, drinks, and a bottle of wine, so it's not like we were taking up a table); at the bar, a making-conversation question about the bartender's favorite wine was met with a curt "That's a silly question" before the wholly useless explanation "I have different wines I like at different times" Yes, don't we all, but can't we know if you're pouring anything right now that you're really excited about?

                          I know it's unfair to compare it to Four Swallows, whose servers have been there forever, but at FS the service is warm, welcoming, hospitable, etc., and they certainly never make you feel like you're not doing the great chef's creations justice by not spending enough money -- even when you just order a bowl of tomato pasta and a beer in the bar.

                          As everyone else has noted, the food is very good. So Lord willing they will put everyone through hospitality training and it will thrive for a good long time.

                          -----
                          Four Swallows
                          481 Madison Ave N, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

                          1. re: Fatman
                            f
                            Falchas Feb 14, 2011 02:31 PM

                            I was walking by this past weekend and noticed that Hitchcock had stopped serving brunch? Does anyone know if this a permanent change? Might they start back in the summer?

                            1. re: Fatman
                              f
                              Fatman Apr 18, 2011 11:50 AM

                              I wanted to add to this string; I was back there recently for dinner and the server was a *lot* better than the last one I had (who is now working at Book Bindery, weirdly). A little overfamiliar but certainly no one you'd complain about. And the food was very good again; I'm going to post a longer review on someone else's Hitchcock thread. The place is a keeper.

                              1. re: Fatman
                                j
                                Jeffo405 Apr 18, 2011 11:55 AM

                                I just had a great experience at Hitchcock: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/779067

                                1. re: Jeffo405
                                  Tom Armitage Apr 18, 2011 12:19 PM

                                  Ironically, I was recently having dinner at the Agate Pass Cafe in Suquamish with some food-savvy folks sitting at the table next to my wife's and my table. During our conversation with them about good places to eat in the Bainbridge/Poulsbo area, Hitchcock came up. In their opinion, based on recent experiences, the service was still weak. I still have no personal experience at Hitchcock, but the last two posts seem at least hopeful that the service has improved -- enough so that I'm up for checking it out myself.

                                  1. re: Tom Armitage
                                    f
                                    Falchas Apr 18, 2011 01:08 PM

                                    I've been meaning to add to this post, I'm glad for the reminder. I had a very nice dinner about a month ago and found a lot of improvement in the service. Dinner was delicious and I love the $1 oyster happy hour. I'm looking forward to some nice dinners at Hitchcock this summer (whenever that finds it's way here.)

              2. re: Jeffo405
                s
                sweetpotater Apr 18, 2011 01:06 PM

                I don't think it's fair to expect free champagne just because it's your anniversary (just like you shouldn't expect free dessert on your birthday), no matter how much you are spending. Maybe it's just me but we don't expect free stuff from any other business on our birthday, do we? The other service issues are concerning though.

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