Repeatable: Maybe. Visits: 1
I used to live in West Seattle, so believe me when I say the place has changed a lot in 10 years. The Junction in particular has really spiffed up, sparkling with shiny new boutiques selling chic designer clothing and high-end bric-a-brac.
The gastronomical version of this uptown-girl shift was the opening of Spring Hill earlier this year (2008). Strategically located in the heart of this gentrified corridor, Spring Hill is a major new restaurant for West Seattle. I’d probably take the geographical qualifier out and say that Spring Hill is a major restaurant by the rest of Seattle’s standards as well. (Some folks might consider that damning with faint praise.)
By virtue of decor alone, Spring Hill is a major restaurant. The space, all sleek blonde wood and smooth shiny surfaces, is a long rectangle divided into an open kitchen/bar on the right and dining area on the left. Sounds sterile, but all this sleekness is actually comfy and inviting too. So much so that the space begs to be jammed with bodies–and it was.
As a drinking hole, Spring Hill provides the perfect ambience. The bar and drink menu are creative and fancy enough to attract well-heeled bar-hoppers. The dinner menu, too, favors noshing over serious dining. The appetizers are generous enough–and rich enough–to sate most average appetites. It took forever to dig through my huge bowl of clams and pork belly ($12)(tsk, a dead crustacean hadn’t been picked out). Despite all the chunks of this and squirts of that and general paprika-redness of the sauce, the primary flavor was that of salt–not in a bad way, just surprising given how complicated the dish looked.
Shrimp with grits ($14) came atop a soft poached egg; the slightly undercooked shrimp reinforced the dish’s soft, quivering textures. The grits were more cream sauce than grits–or maybe that was the shrimp gravy and I didn’t get any grits? Confusing. The duck egg raviolo ($9) was all runny yolk and unctuous richness. These two dishes would have been perfect for someone with bad teeth.
As one of the servers cleared our plates, she asked if we were done or if we were having entrees as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if more than half their customers stop short at the apps. They’d be well-advised to.
Mike’s braised short ribs with dumplings ($26) were fine, if uninspiring; the brussel sprout leaves were absolutely delicious–brightened in a perfect way by Italian parsley. My tagliatelle ($20) with mushroom, chard, and slices of undercooked Delicata squash would have been much better if the squash had been less crunchy. The dish was snowed under by a mound of Parmesan–intended to boost its flavor, I think. A bit disappointing, but not too bad.
Dessert was ordered out of a sense of duty. I’m glad we did. The trio of ice cream–cinnamon toast, Ovaltine, and salty popcorn–was the highlight of the meal. The salty popcorn tasted just like kettle corn and reminded me very pleasantly of the corn ice cream in Southern Mexico. The only unnerving detail was that one of the flavors seemed to have grease, which congealed onto my spoon in an annoying fashion.
Will I brave the bridge and go back to Spring Hill for another try? Maybe not. But if I happen to be in West Seattle shopping at one of those little boutiques, I know where I’m going to get my dinner.