Thursday, July 14, 2011

Spring Hill in West Seattle

Wherein I experience one of the best burgers of my life, and eat certain organs of a baby cow for the first time.

Inspired by this Serious Eats post, Pax and I decided to end our wonderful anniversary-ish day (spent mostly on a lazy sunshiney picnic at Green Lake) with what was claimed to be the "Best Burger in Seattle".

First up, here's our appetizer spread:

(Please excuse the horrible was dark...and this was taken on an iPhone...please don't shoot me...)

Cheese and baguette with apple butter pâté and honey-caramelized hazelnuts.

This was a very well-put together cheese plate. Only one kind of cheese (Dinah's Cheese from Kurtwood Farms), and it was a good one. Tasted like a very mild brie, and it was very creamy and spreadable. The combination of everything on the baguette worked beautifully. I noticed that the same plate was also offered on the dessert menu. If I were the chef (and this is just a matter of preference), I would have done the caramelized hazelnuts on the dessert version, and only spiced them for the appetizer.

Fried oysters with harissa-spiced mayo & salmon roe.

These were pretty perfect, if a little pricey, in my (admittedly seafood-novice) opinion ($12 for an order of 4). The presentation was lovely - they were served on a bed of sea salt. And I loved the little pop of brine each of the salmon eggs provided. :D

Fried veal sweetbreads with 3 house-made dips

This was the first time in my life that I'd ever eaten an organ of an animal other than liver. At the time, I was under the impression that sweetbreads were the brains. Pax had told me about his experience of eating goat brains at a bar once, and while I admired his audacity, I was still pretty skeeved out by the idea of consuming brains. However, after a cocktail or two, I surprised myself by 1) being open to trying them, and 2) actually liking them. It probably also helped that they were fried.

Of course, I've since learned that sweetbreads are not in fact brains, but, rather, they're either the thymus or the pancreas of an animal. Either way, they were delicious. They tasted like pâté, but with a more solid texture, like the fattiest, most tender meat ever. I don't know if I'll ever try brains in the future, but I'm at least more open to it now that I've tried these.

Now, about the dips...they were probably my favorite thing about the entire meal. There was a honey mustard, a barbecue, and a ranch. The honey mustard was very delicious (as it always is), though not particularly inspired. The barbecue was very smokey and quite sweet...not very tomato-y at all. I really liked it, and, for the record, the Texan sitting across the table from me approved wholeheartedly as well. The ranch! Ohhhhhmygoodnessgracious, the ranch! As someone who was repulsed by salad dressings (and pretty much every other condiment) her entire youth, only branching out to try simple dressings around age 18, and only very recently creamy & mayonnaise-based dressings...this sauce was better than I ever thought ranch dressing could be. It's what I've always wanted ranch to be! So fresh tasting! The dill! The tangy yogurty creaminess! I don't know if homemade ranch is always that good, but by god, I'm going to try to make some myself before the end of the summer! Thank you, Spring Hill, for showing me that the world really can be a magical place.

Right...ahem...well, on to the burger!

It was kind of hard to cut it in half (neither Pax nor I were prepared for a full burger & order of fries each, so we split it), and it was pretty messy, overall. But no matter. It was spectacular.

According to the post on Serious Eats, the cheese is a combination of a couple different kinds, and I don't remember which cheeses, nor do I care, because it was EFFING DELICIOUS AND PERFECT.

The beef was crumbly and moist and very, very tasty. The house-cured bacon was "HOLY FUCKING SHIT ON A STICK!" according to my drunken notes I scribbled down before PTFO-ing once we got home. The bun was the only thing that could have been improved, I think. It was pleasantly chewy, but it wasn't nearly big enough or sturdy enough to keep all those moist bits together. But I'm not even sure I'd want to change it. I really think there's something to be said for a messy burger once in a while. It makes me feel all primal, with meat juice running down my wrist like that. And anyway, the best way a burger can command your attention is to not allow you to put it down without risking total sandwich destruction, so the burger totally won on that one.

And as for the fries?

Well, they were fried in beef fat. And the ketchup (homemade blended san marzano tomatoes with apple cider vinegar) was another condiment revelation to me.

What more is there to say?

Spring Hill is officially a win, in my book.

They even boxed our oyster shells up all nice! How sweet is that?!

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