In early December we made our first foray to Springhill in West Seattle, the creation of owners Mark Fuller, a Tom Douglas alum who serves as chef, and his wife, Marjorie, who handles the front of the house. Yes, they charge for bread here, as many people (and restaurant critics) have complained, but three bucks for three such feather-light, hot-from-the-oven rolls is a bargain. My husband (who is trying to follow a relatively low-carb diet) fretted all evening because I let him eat only one!
I’m working on an article entitled, “Chef and Their Eggs,” for the Easter issue of The Seattle Times Pacific Northwest magazine, so have been quite interested to see what’s “eggy” on the menus about town. I wasn’t disappointed at Springhill, where chef Mark and crew offered Duck Egg Yolk Raviolo, a single large raviolo made with duck-egg yolks, filled with mascarpone, sauced with yellow (beurre blanc-style) sauce and green oil (basil?), and garnished with duck ham (keeping with the duck-y theme) and garlic chips. Here’s a photo:
Roasted Mussels was another outstanding discovery. . .roasted in their own juice, they were the essence of mussels, and therefore, perhaps the best mussel dish served in the Northwest, certainly the best I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy. Here they are:
Just to gild the lily, as if Wood-Grilled Prawns with Creamy Grits (give me anything with grits!) wasn’t decadent enough, chef Mark added a poached egg, shrimp gravy, and chanterelles. There is the shrimp dish on the left, below.
By the time I’d eaten large portions of all of the above, my Butter Lettuce Salad (right, above) seemed an afterthought, but even it was thoughtfully prepared with pale-green lettuce leaves, tender herbs, disks of baby radish, Parmesan and a citrus dressing.
The restaurant is contemporary, long and narrow, slightly New York-y in feel. You’ll find a mix of ages (skewing young–20s, 30s) and lifestyles (a lesbian couple at the bar, four tops with young straight couples out for the evening, two tops of older folks like us) represented here. The open kitchen buzzes with activity and the maple panels make for a pleasant din in the dining room so that the space is loud in a good way. Simple place settings and stainless-steel cutlery keep things casual, although the food is anything but, since it is so creatively and carefully prepared.
The wine list is a winner, with an Oregon State sparkler I’d never even heard of, but thoroughly recommend: Capitello Wines Non-Vintage Brut ($12). The Wallace Brook 2007 Chardonnay from the Willamette Valley ($9) was another winner, not overly oaked and so plenty food-friendly. With the roasted mussels and his Rainbow Trout with Brown Butter, Pan-Fried Pumpkin Cakes, Toasted Hazelnuts with Parsley (another winning dish), my hubby sipped O’Reilly’s 2007 Pinot Noir, also from Oregon ($12). Here’s the trout:
We’ll be back for more. . .chef Mark’s Shellfish Sampler (half a Dungeness crab, a dozen oysters, six prawns, and a king clam with lemon-peel relish) or his Alder-Smoked Oysters or his Handmade Tagliatelle with Wild Mushrooms, Delicata Squash, Chard, and Parmesan. And, of course, we’ll do our best to save room for dessert.
Now, if Mark and Marjorie would just open a downtown branch of Springhill so we didn’t have to drive across the West Seattle bridge to get there, this place would be just about perfect.