Hills Neighborhood Restaurant (Shoreline)

13Mar09

hills-neighbourhood-restaurantFor those interested in classic Seattle history we visited old-timey Richmond Beach this week to take in dinner at Hills Neighborhood Restaurant, located next door to a fire house off 195th. We were intrigued by the packed in parking lot for this tiny joint tucked in behind a law office. Even mid-week the lot was full and there was a bit of a crowd at the door. Doesn’t that prove it’s probably worth the wait?

The cooking area is smack dab in front of the restaurant in the middle of the lobby and waiting area. This means if you’ve got a wait, you get to watch the show. Although there wasn’t nearly enough shouting, cursing and belittling of the dishwasher and sous chef for my taste (thanks for setting the standard Gordon), it was enjoyable to watch them work the kitchen. It was also a good way to consider the menu items in this fashion, quickly establishing the house salad was pitiful (lettuce + dressing… nothing else), the cobbler was generous (enough for two) and the pasta was quite popular, as we watched many made draped in a creamy, wine-induced sauce. Our menu:

Caesar Salad: I selected this item only because of a Wednesday night promotion where a pasta dish came with soup or salad for $10. The croutons were fresh, homemade and perfectly garlicky, but the chowder looked like a much better selection.

Penne n’ Cheese: I was hopeful this was a fancy dolled up mac n’ cheese, but a bit disappointed to find that it didn’t have nearly enough blue cheese for my taste, nor was it baked. Instead, it was topped with a breadcrumb mixture and dressed in that creamy wine sauce. Pretty boring.

Fish Tacos: I was surprised to find the two fried-fish tacos were presented wrapped in a country-plaid wax paper. Accompanied with fresh pico and guac, it was a good pick if you weren’t too hungry.

Apple Cobbler: Pleasantly homemade and sized for two. If only they would have had chocolate ice cream.

Overall, they have small, but uninspiring menu clearly catered to their stale richie neighbourhood crowd. Unfortunately it comes off as just plain simple food. There would be a better chance of me returning if they put some padding on the dining chairs, provided more seating in the lobby and expanded the menu with more selections, trying something with a little flair. There was clearly a big-enough kitchen and a big-enough crowd to support a daily special, which forces the chef to flex his creativity in a seasonal fashion. The experience fell flat, though nothing specific was terrible. Maybe we arrived on an off night, or maybe they try harder in the summer, as the outdoor dining area did look quite inviting, should the temperature ever get back above 70 again.

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