To paraphrase a parable, when chef's away, sous will play. Sous Chef Keegan's Monday night Americana menu at Hitchcock on Bainbridge Island embodies that playfulness with precision. A whimsically creative and well-imagined menu waits for anyone willing to pretend Monday is the third day of the weekend and grab a ferry across the water for a mini-vacation. The workday can be left behind on the mainland, along with the car, and the quick walk to the restaurant works up an appetite for the regional American favorites fashioned with local foods and international techniques.
A quick read of the menu shows childhood favorites, including fish and chips, spaghetti and meatballs, and tomato soup with grilled cheese. Adult favorites from all aspects of Americana fill out the rest of the menu: a version of 'shit on a shingle' that uses house-cured breseola, chicken and waffles that finally answer my plea, and a $75, over two-pound piece of prime rib. The best value and the best way to take a tour of the menu is to pick your price and let the chef do the choosing. For $40 the courses started with multiple styles of oysters and kept coming through the Reese's peanut butter cup cake and ice cream sundae.
In our ten-odd courses there were certainly a few execution flaws. Two fried dishes (pickles with lemon aioli and the fish and chips) were both on the soggy side, as though the oil temperature was too low. Even so, strong flavors kept the dishes from going down as disappointments.
If sous chef Keegan can keep his ideas going strong and get every dish to come out of the kitchen as it is meant to be, you can expect Americana Mondays to flourish. Nobody chowing down on the biscuit that came on the bread plate will be surprised if we aren't someday soon walking into Keegan's own updated American diner. In the meantime, we'll just wander back down to the ferry home, rubbing our bellies and marveling at the menu.