Granddaddy of Kirkland strip settles into good-enough mode
Special to The Seattle Times
An old warhorse on the Kirkland strip is still up and at 'em, only now under new ownership.
In the '70s and '80s, Hector's packed them in for its booze, burgers and breakfasts, which attracted as lively a singles scene as Kirkland had.
As the years passed, Kirkland's whole Sausalito-like lakefront appeared almost to develop in Hector's image, as burger joints and watering holes and singles scenes of varying description sprouted everywhere one looked.
Fast-forward to 2004, and suddenly the young upstart has become the elder statesman — but not unattractively so. Inside the sturdy storefront one finds an open, brick-clad room — think San Francisco men's club — tweaked at its collar buttons with flashes of whimsy, like the bright conical light fixtures over the tables. Being on the nonlake side of the street, it has no view — and doesn't need one. A grand stone fireplace anchors the big bar, helping to impart the general feeling of comfort that suffuses the whole place, from its padded chairs to oversized tables.
The menu, too, conveys comfort, offering — at lunch, anyway — lots of unsurprising standards (Cobb salad, BLT, turkey club, burger) and a few more interesting ones (crab-cake salad with pecans, pears and feta cheese; grilled chicken and brie sandwich). Dinnertime brings a more entree-heavy list.
But it's Hector's new breakfast we dropped in to try, off an egg-centric list (not eccentric, mind you — make no mistake about that) that apparently saves some pretty storied waffles for its weekend brunch.
Alas, perhaps we came for the wrong meal; ordered the wrong egg dishes; lucked into a bad day for the chef (see below).
It was when we realized that we also scored a bad day with the waiter (a friendly, folksy sort who never refilled our empty water glasses) that we recognized Hector's as a place with low expectations of its own performance.
Now for some diners, good-enough executions of slightly tweaked comfort food is good enough. You folks should get along over to Hector's; it's a really comfortable place.
Freshly squeezed orange juice: Sunshine in a glass, as somebody's copywriters used to say. True, true, true.
New Orleans frittata: Great flavor permeated this drastically overdone frittata, alas. Sweet peppers and caramelized onions lent lots of sugar, with andouille sausage and manchego cheese bringing something savory to the party. Cooked a few minutes less, this could have been a dandy frittata. Overcooked hash browns had gone all to rubber by the time my fork dug into them.
Smoked-salmon omelet: A startling lack of finesse went into this plate, with big globs of herby cream cheese, crunchy caramelized onions, hunks of smoked salmon and too many capers oozing out from between the egg flaps. The hash browns, again, were overdone.
Crab-cake salad: Still peckish after our unsatisfying breakfasts — and allowed to order off the lunch menu at 10 a.m.! — we gave Hector's one last shot by ordering this intriguing salad, a mélange of greens, peppers, feta cheese, tomatoes, pecans, pear spears and a crab cake, all tossed in a yogurt-herb dressing. Refreshing flavors encountered unfortunate execution once again, with wilted greens, feta in big blobs, too much breading on the crab cake and not enough crunch from the pecans. Boo hoo!
Itemized bill, meal for two
Freshly squeezed orange juice $3.00
New Orleans frittata $10.50
Smoked-salmon omelet $11.00
Crab-cake salad $10.00
Kathryn Robinson: firstname.lastname@example.org
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