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Spring Hill is no longer—it's been renamed Ma‘ono Fried Chicken & Whisky and has traded its linens and braised short ribs for paper napkins, kimchi, and expanded bar seating. In addition to the items already familiar to fans of Spring Hill's wildly popular Fried Chicken Mondays, the new standard menu includes poke, short ribs, barbecue pork buns, whipped pan drippings, and mochi cake for dessert.
OK, I thought the year before was a great period for new restaurants in Seattle, but this past 12 months has been spectacular. Trying to pick the "best," which do you choose: Quinn's Pub's urban-rustic meat love? The small plates and fresh pastas at cigar-box How to Cook a Wolf? Tiny, artery-red Bistro Turkuaz, with its Turkish meze and juicy kebabs? Joule's wild cultural spins, wrought in tiny plates and elegant pickles? The farm-to-table chic of Corson Building or Trellis? I'm going with Spring Hill, the West Seattle bistro just opened by former Dahlia Lounge chef Mark Fuller and his wife, Marjorie Chang Fuller. That's because of all Seattle's new restaurants, it's doing the most to advance what's most distinctive and novel in our local cuisine. With dishes like a duck-egg raviolo topped with duck ham, a razor-clam crepinette with pickled oysters, and seared halibut topped with a smoked-clam bread salad, the Fullers are producing the kind of food that other chefs are going to be studying and reinventing for years to come. Spring Hill's not without its flubs, to be sure, and the stylish concrete-and-blond-wood room can shred conversations as effectively as a wood chipper, but I haven't seen food that so beautifully balances experimentation and plain ol' tastiness in a long time. Weeks after my most recent meal there, I'm still thinking about the food, wondering about the dishes I didn't try, and telling everyone I know, in no uncertain terms, that the restaurant belongs on their must-try list.—Jonathan Kauffman
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