Friday, 23 May 2014

A Unique Tasting Menu Experience at Hitchcock

Tastiness Factor: 8.5/10 (range 6/10- 10/10)

Atmosphere: 4/5

Service: 5/5

Locavore Approved?  YES- Chef Brendan McGill, winner of the 2013 "People Choice" best new chef by Food and Wine Magazine, is a locavore through and through, so much so that farmers in Bainbridge  reportedly banded together to support Mcgill in his quest for this prestigious award.  He only uses the produce, meat and seafood sourced on/around the island and he operates under the "nose-to-tail" philosophy.  His genuine devotion to locally-sourced ingredients is enough in itself to make him deserving of his award!

First of all, I must start by saying "thank you" to Hitchcock for being the hook that lured me to beautiful Bainbridge Island.  Chef Brendan McGill earned himself quite a bit of fame by winning the Food and Wine "People's Choice" award and this is indeed how he, and the existence of Bainbridge Island, was brought to my attention.  McGill now has two venues on the island- the original Hitchcock for which he won the award and also Hitchcock deli right next store.  On this visit, we had the pleasure of dining at Hitchcock and, although we missed out on the amazing looking sandwiches offered by the deli, we did try their ginger-pistachio biscotti and their ooey-gooey salted chocolate cookies (both were great, especially those cookies!!!).

Hitchcock is located along the "main drag" of Bainbridge on Winslow Way.  Its storefront is quite unassuming so you really need to keep your eyes peeled to find it.  Immediately upon entering, there is a long bar with booths on the opposite wall.  The open kitchen, equipped with a large brick oven, is located at the back.  We really liked our seat at the rear of the restaurant where we could watch all of the action in the kitchen.

Although the overall feel of the restaurant is quite relaxed and "laissez-faire", the service is quite the opposite.  Our server was very polished in both his delivery of our dishes and his impressive knowledge of every single component on the plate.  His passion for the food really came through.

We started the meal by ordering a bottle of wine to share. We chose a 2012 Pinot Gris from Rolling Hills Winery, located on Bainbridge Island.  I appreciated how they included 8 different wines from the island itself, as well as a number of other choices from Washington and Oregon.  They also had an entire cocktail menu with some unique cocktails.

The thing that really peaked my interest in Hitchcock to begin with was their "name-your-price" tasting menu.  The chef will design you a unique menu at your set price point, taking into account your likes/dislikes so that every diner may get a different set of dishes.  I just love this idea!  I am pescatarian while Hubby is a carnivore and they were only too happy to accommodate our tastes, swapping out his meat dish with a totally different fish or vegetarian dish for me.  It was very fun to wait for the "surprise" of what was to come next!  If tasting menus are not your thing, you can also order off the a-la-carte which includes hot and cold sharing plates.  Some of our tasting menu dishes were also items on the a-la-carte menu while others seemed to be impromptu creations.

We started by asking the waiter what the normal range of tasting menu was and he named $50 as an upper price point.  We were willing to go higher than that, but he honestly suggested that, because I would be getting a number of vegetarian dishes, it would be difficult for them to make me something worth more than $50.  We found that the $50 tasting menu was a pleasant amount of food (especially with the delicious complimentary baguette) with a great variety of dishes.  If you do plan on doing a more expensive tasting menu, I would advise dining earlier in the evening as we started dinner at 8:30pm and were pretty much the last ones in the restaurant when we finished at around 10:15pm.

Between the two of us, we enjoyed a total of 14 different dishes, including a palate cleanser, a cheese course and dessert.  Here is the play-by-play:

Oysters- These local beauties were served with 3 different garnishes including tomato-celery, spicy cayenne and a shallot mignonette.

Salmon gravlax- The perfectly cured gravlax was elevated by creme fraiche and stunning fiddlehead ferns.

Duck confit torchon- This was Hubby's next dish and he went wild over this torchon finished off by house-cured bacon and hot sauce gastrique.

Heirloom radishes- This was the only dish that was a miss for me.  The thinly slices radishes were served with a hunk of cold butter (albeit house-churned).  I found it quite difficult to blend the two, and therefore ended up eating a bite of radish and then a bite of pure butter.

Flageolet bean soup- Hubby's next dish was an interesting concoction of bean, bacon, halibut and oyster, all served in a mini teacup.  It is pretty incredible how the chef could mix all of those flavours into such a tiny vessel!

Romanesco- I quite enjoyed this very simple vegetarian dish composed of this cousin of cauliflower accompanied by a lovely bagna cauda.  It is only the most talented of chefs that can elevate the humble vegetable in this way!

Halibut collar- This was Hubby's next dish and, although it did not work for him (the fin turned him off a bit), I thought it was tasty and certainly very innovative.  I guess it shows that nose-to-tail dining can also apply to fish!

Manila clams- These local treasures were elegantly prepared with chickpeas and a simple broth to really  showcase the clams.

Elderflower sorbet- This uniquely-flavoured sorbet made for the perfect palate cleanser.

Pork with pancetta- Hubby was completely blown away by this dish and readily names it his favourite dish of the year.  The incredible pork was served with pancetta (more pork!) over a bed of beans.  He is still salivating over this one.

Halibut- I was equally impressed with my next dish, with freshly caught, local halibut fillet and cheeks over bok choy, finished with asian flavours in the sauce.  Wow.

Cheese course- The two varieties of cheese were served with nuts, a dollop of honey and delicious flatbread.

Chocolate terrine- Our first of two desserts was a truly sinful, decadent chocolate terrine with a creamy anglaise and pistachio brittle.  Holy moly chocolate yumminess!

Creme brulee- Our second dessert was a luscious creme brulee, one of Hubby's favourite desserts.

As you can likely tell, we throughly enjoyed our custom tasting menu at Hitchcock.  If you love the freshest of ingredients, prepared by an extremely talented chef and served in a casual environment, I would strongly recommend hopping on the island over to Bainbridge Island this weekend!  Trust me, you are in for a treat:)

Hitchcock on Urbanspoon

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