Brendan McGill opens Seabird seafood restaurant on Bainbridge Island




Hitchcock spent 10 years of exalting local ingredients on Bainbridge Island. In 2020 pandemic survival forces turned it into a burger shop. Today, owner Brendan McGill is revamping his flagship restaurant for a sustainable future: soon, the dining room on Winslow Way will become a seafood restaurant called Seabird.

After years of working under duress, says McGill, “we’re the ones taking the gloves off.”

McGill and executive chef Grant Rico dream up dishes with unapologetic precision like Dungeness crab chawanmushi and a play on French toast. Raw oysters, spot prawns, geoducks or even green sea urchins could pop up on the table, and the chef’s longstanding interest in salting seafood will fuel a sort of ocean charcuterie platter, decked out with mojama. , smelt boquerones and dried halibut cheeks.

The menu also includes appropriate starters, such as roasted whole rockfish or wood-fired octopus or halibut. Local vegetables also get a lot of love, in preparations that blend techniques from across Europe with Japanese fermentation traditions.

After an era dominated by take-out orders, McGill jokes that this place is the anti-takeout, as crudo and half-shell oysters and delicately cooked fish don’t exactly travel well. Seabird’s menu revives the practice of listing farms and fishermen (and often methods and point of origin) under each item.

Now that the more casual Hitchcock Cafe is regularly buzzing across the block, the chef felt ready to eliminate roast chicken, pork chop and pasta from the menu, trading comfort for increased creativity. At first glance, this approach might lend itself to a longer-format tasting menu, but McGill would rather see diners fill their table with whatever looks good and ask the kitchen to bring plates as they go. they are cooked. “I wouldn’t call it fine dining,” he says of Seabird. “We are conscientiously trying to do the opposite.”

In the spring of 2020, McGill had planned to introduce Rico as the new guard for a newly ambitious Hitchcock. Instead, the duo spent that year grilling on the sidewalk, contorting themselves into a series of popups and turning the original McGill restaurant into a short-lived burger shop. “Some were great and some were miserable,” Rico says. A Kitsap County native, he left his original job at Hitchcock to work at Healdsburg’s SingleThread, a dazzling farm and restaurant that won three Michelin stars and no. 37 place on the list of the 50 best restaurants in the world (it is currently closed following a fire last February).

Seabird “won’t be Hitchcock at all, but it will have a lot of the same values,” Rico says. His time cooking in different parts of the country, and even beyond, has reinforced the remarkable breadth of Northwest ingredients. Its ongoing R&D includes the use of algae – “I really think it will be a major food source for a growing world population.”

A redesign of the dining room and kitchen has replaced Hitchcock’s original lace curtains with a nautical aesthetic that McGill promises will be as nuanced as the food – “We’re not trying to make it look like at a crab shack in The simpsons.”

Seabird is tentatively scheduled to open May 26, an exception to Seattle’s mind-boggling scarcity of seafood-focused restaurants. Ambitious seems especially appropriate on an island, where crossing water is a requirement for most visitors to dine here.

“You can always come and get oysters; we don’t want to exclude anyone,” says McGill. “But we’re the ones going even harder.”


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