Bainbridge Islanders like me are proud that Esquire magazine has discovered Seabird and named it one of the 40 best new restaurants in the US (#12, in fact!). It is indeed a gem—and the newest creation of one of the most innovative and public-spirited restaurateurs I’ve ever encountered, Brendan McGill. His Northwest seafood restaurant deserves all the accolades it’s receiving.
That said, I wish Esquire’s reviewer had stuck around to discover more of our Island’s excellent restaurants. For a community of just 25,000 people, we’re extraordinarily blessed with excellent dining places in various price ranges, some of which I’ll praise later down. It’s no accident that, except in the most inclement weather, we attract thousands of visitors each week.
But back to Seabird and Brendan McGill. Pre-COVID, he operated Hitchcock, then one of the best restaurants in town. COVID nearly shut him down, but he stayed open by serving take-out and inviting excellent chefs from far and wide to cook their best gourmet food at outside grills on weekends, attracting long lines of masked customers who ordered from a tent and ate outside.
Additionally, he kept his food suppliers in business by sponsoring a community enterprise where Island residents ordered bags of produce, meat, and fun cooking ideas delivered to their homes once a week. Regular subscribers provided him with seed capital to help open Seabird, whose fare is entirely regionally-sourced.
My wife and I, with friends, generally stick to a collection of small plates which we share—starting with seaweed bread, halibut cerviche, manila clams, oysters and other raw items, and grilled sablefish. Dungeness crabs are also listed on the small plates menu, but they are not small (or cheap — half a crab goes for $49 and a whole, $95). The large plates include halibut ($59), king salmon ($61) and a whole roasted rockfish ($69), which by itself serves a table. Seabird has an excellent wine list and the service is first rate.
Close by, McGill also operates Café Hitchcock, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner at amazingly affordable prices for excellent egg dishes, sumptuous sandwiches, and great soups and salads.
As I say, Bainbridge has a host of other excellent places to eat well worth taking a 35-minute ferry ride. Two of our favorites are Agate and Amelia Wynn, whose fare ranges from elk burgers to pork chops to (of course!) salmon and halibut and (my favorite) roasted octopus. Amelia Wynn is also a wine lover’s heaven.
Also in the fine-dining category is Restaurant Marche, operated by Greg Atkinson (formerly executive chef at Seattle’s top-rated Canlis restaurant) and his wife, Betsy. And Proper Fish has the best fish and chips in the region. Also, Heyday Farm, Hammy’s and Villa Rosa, all an Uber ride from town. In town is Doc’s Marina for all kinds of tasty inexpensive meals (including a renowned clam chowder and the best kale salad I’ve eaten anywhere).
Whichever restaurant you might try, unless it’s for a late dinner, skip dessert and move to Mora’s, which has the most delicious (and large) array of ice creams and sorbets in the country — so recognized by Food and Wine Magazine. Founded on Bainbridge, Mora’s has spread to other cities in Washington state (though, curiously, not Seattle) and to Las Vegas and Charleston.
So, Esquire editors, come back and taste what you missed! And, you, dear readers, come feast with us!