Figured it deserved its own thread, as it may actually be reviewed by a notable or two (other than the infatuation and me), perhaps due to its lineage (Diego Moya, former sous at Casa Mono, with experience under Passard) as well as its relatively short, interesting wine list.
On our first visit, I was less than fully impressed, posting this here in the Micromanage thread:
We went to Hemlock last Thursday night - enjoyable enough, with some things rising to a quite good level. Funnily enough, docsconz ate there Friday night and loved it, with Shola chiming in that he feels the chef will be a Food & Wine Top 10 Best new chef of 2018.
So, worthy of another visit, Significant Eater and I walked in last night around 7. First, I have to say that I am most happy with the bar seats - they have backs on them! They're right atop the kitchen, so in the summer it might get a bit hot in these seats, but last night was very pleasant. There are 3 cook/chefs, a somm/drinks guy, a hostess, a dishwasher - and 38 or so seats in the place. Diego was not in the house last night. Everyone pitches in serving food, so if it's not busy, a cook might come out and serve your food, even when at a table.
You know how the menu works, right? Keeping to mostly small plates, we started with, and loved these 2 dishes...
The menu says grilled, but they're actually cooked a la plancha - Harukei turnips, with preserved lemon and lemon verbena - nice and smoky and tart, and
Heirloom shelling beans, with sage and aioli, that was just a great dish; we mixed it all up, eating it with spoons so as not to miss a drop, and chef gave us thumbs up for that; this while the 2 scarily skinny lovelies next to us at the bar ate their beans around the aioli, with perfect symmetry. Lesson to be learned, for when I want to cut calories.
As happened on our first visit, we enjoyed 2 nice slices of Spanish mackerel (I have a hard time avoiding mackerel when it's on a menu), tasting vaguely like the unagi at your favorite sushi bar, perhaps from the "burned bay leaf" and plums listed on the menu, the bay leaf not necessarily seen on the plate.
A dish with excellent components followed...
Clams in escabeche, grilled butterkin squash, and pumpkinseed oil, turned out to be less than the sum of its parts. The escabeche was great. The squash was great. But I didn't get the feeling that either helped the other, if that makes sense.
Our one shared "main" was also the lone underwhelming dish. Bavette steak, with grilled cabbage and white kimchi, was served too rare for us (ordered medium, it came rare, and in my opinion this is a cut that benefits from a little more fire - ymmv), and a little too salty as well. (FWIW, I think the salt needs to be closer to the stove - and if you dine here and eat at the counter, you'll see what I mean).
Dessert was a lovely concord grape sorbet, the perfect antidote to its salty predecessor.
Drinking a reasonably priced, delicious split of Domaine Moreau-Naudet chablis to start, and a few glasses of red to follow, pushed us to $176 before t & t. And there we are at the $100 pp level for a nice enough meal.
We'll return, sticking mostly to the small plate stuff - though one of the chefs was working on a potential main-course tart or two that looked good, and may be on the menu this weekend.