86 Spring Hill, Welcome Ma'ono Chicken & Whisky
- babette feasts Jan 31, 2012 03:11 PM
It's not the first of April, so it must be true, Spring Hill is going all Hawaiian(ish), all the time, extra fried chicken.
I can't say I'm happy about this, it was nice to have one good (upscale New American) restaurant in West Seattle. The menu actually looks pretty interesting, but I'm nervous....
E babette, Aloha:
It's all good with the cuisine, but highbrow Hawai'ian grinds in Seattle? Not sure this is such a great biz idea, what with the other local Hawai'ian choices (Kaua'i Family, Kona Kitchen, Bobby's). Seems what happened at Lu'au and 'Ohana also bode ill for this working out. I think this might be a very good ting for the "lesser" resto at a luxe hotel in Hawai'i nei.
You go stay go. I go stay come after your review.
But I wish them well. Wonder where they're sourcing the pa'akai o Hanapepe (salt ponds there are family-use).
I didn't think it was Hawai'ian, or actually native to anywhere. Do peanuts even grow in HI? They are definitely taking some pan-Asian liberties. I would associate the spicy peanut butter combo with Thailand or Indonesia. Other Asians use chiles and peanuts, but Indo seems to use more peanut butter (as opposed to pieces), especially in satay sauce. I'm sure it will be good, desserts there usually are, and I'm a fan of the spicy peanut dessert genre, limited though it may be.
My one visit to the Big Island a year ago was too brief, and I didn't really get a sense of Hawai'ian food. I do prefer the spicier cuisines, and didn't get a lot of spice in what we had. OTOH, I do like a little Spam every now and then.
re: babette feasts
As far as I know, peanuts are as much of an import to Hawai'i as SPAM, and nearly as popular (Hawai'i being the biggest per capita SPAM-consuming state by far). Boiled peanuts are also consumed by the hundredweight.
IME, Hawai'ian cuisine (at least since Cook and his "boat people" arrived) has always been a melange. Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Philipino influences have been there for >150 years. The food that passes for "traditional Hawai'ian" now is more like what was served there 50 years ago.
You should try Kaua'i Family Restaurant if you want an immersion.
Agreed. Never understood the hype behind Spring Hill. Even forgetting about price. Been twice and was unimpressed both times. Felt like people were settling since there isn't that much in the way of that type of dining in the area. Just my feeling. I didn't even think the chicken was all that either. Ours was overcooked to nearly burnt.
I will miss the ol' Spring Hill. Being also from West Seattle, it was nice to have a nice modern American cuisine place to go to.
Sometimes we ate 'upscale', sometimes, it would be the burger...
I have not done the Fried Chicken dinner, as the BF is not a fried chicken fan, but will have to go and try this with another friend once it is a 7-days thing.
I sure will miss the sweetbreads, and the popcorn ice cream tho :(
I stopped in last night for a quick dinner and to see what had changed. The menu did not seem as long as the version they had posted online as a preview - no peanut butter sriracha pie :( The additional bar seating will be fine for the happy hour crowd but felt a little cramped. I had the ceasar salad with spicy oyster dressing and the ma'ono dog, a housemade portuguese sausage on a squishy (seemed possibly steamed - as in kept warm in a steamer, not cooked via steam) bun with liver pate and pickles. Both were good. Maybe I was too tired, but the new menu just didn't thrill me. There were a few large parties in the front of the room enjoying heaping piles of fried chicken, so it must appeal to plenty of people, but I'm still skeptical about this new direction. I mean, I'll go again, because the cooks are talented and there are limited options on the west side, but for me it's fallen a few places on my list of where I want to go when I go out. Maybe once I try the fried chicken I'll see the light?
I was heartbroken to read about this. We only discovered Spring Hill a few months ago and had about 6-7 small plates during our visit. We were blown away. I know there was some controversy about over salting food, snobby waitstaff, etc. but they were definitely on their game that night. I live about a 2.5 hour drive from Seattle, so I can't just pop over for brunch, but Spring Hill was definitely on my list to revisit. After reading a few articles about the change I have to think it is economically related. The fried chicken nights seemed to be a smashing success, so Chef Fuller is putting his eggs in one basket and hoping that can carry through to the rest of the week.
We went on Monday. We'd actually reserved the fried chicken dinner a couple of months ago, back when they were called Spring Hill and the chicken was a Monday-only thing.
Conclusion: I miss the old Spring Hill. The food we ate was good (kalbi app, manapua, chicken dinner) but I don't see us going there monthly like we used to. Prices are the same (high, albeit for a high-quality product) but the new menu is smaller and doesn't appear to be terribly seasonal.
Also, it's a huge error to name your place "Ma'ono Chicken & Whisky" and not have enough chicken to serve everyone. Friends of ours went last week & had a reservation - but because they hadn't reserved the chicken, specifically, at the time they made it, no chicken for them. Absolutely a bone-headed move.
The minor changes to the space are fine, but I really hope they cut their losses and return to the old concept before they alienate all of their old regulars.
I have not been to the new iteration, but at Spring Hill I always found odd and slightly frustrating the extremely limited portions of chicken available and vague airs of exclusivity surrounding its availability. It is not as if chicken is a rare commodity. Were they deliberately trying to drive demand through apparent scarcity?
I too would have thought that the new concept would have ended this campaign of false urgency for the fryers. Too bad.
We went for the first time last night with friends. Everything we had--the chicken (and the rice and kimchee that come with it), sides of choy, apple salad and grits, and pie for dessert--was delicious.
That said, prices are high and portions are small. I can't remember the last time I've been someplace where I thought portions were small--usually I think they're too big (I even think this in France, to give you an idea). The sides were each $11-$12, and for that we got exactly 5 stalks of choy, 4 apple wedges with sauce and bacon, and a small (12 oz?) bowl of cheese grits. The chicken, at $38, didn't strike me as a terrible value--it fed 4 of us, and it's humanely raised. But that's a lot more than, say, Chicky Pub. Our cocktails were all $11-$12, and for that we got basically a Maker's and Ginger Ale, and a so-so Manhattan. Ouch.
Service was the most indifferent I've had in years. They were 15 minutes late with our reservations, it took ages once we were seated to get our order taken, and our waitress was pretty unconcerned with waiting on us.
So I'm glad we went--the food really was quite good--but I am not making plans to return.
Went last night for the first time.
Arrived about 9:30.
Had the pork buns.
2 large pork buns for $7. Bargain.
One would have filled me up but had to devour the 2nd with another beer.
I'll be back to try out the rest of the menu.
Nice environment, music, ambiance.
Looked at the prices of the other items.
There are a lot of comments in these posts about high price.
My opinion, this is unique, high quality, special and well worth our support.
If you know about pork buns, they aren't a made to order thing.
How they can serve up such a delicious bun at 9:30 at night is amazing.
I'll be back and eat through the menu. (And turn into a pork bun myself!)