A new era for one prominent Sichuhan place on East Broadway will start with cheaper bites and rice porridge. Chef Garrett Doherty and bar manager Benjamin Chew have taken over Capitol Hill’s Lionhead — which renowned restaurateur Jerry Traunfeld opened in 2015 — introducing a more robust happy hour menu, along with some new congee dishes. Co-owner Chew tells Eater that the new happy hour won’t be an “afterthought” like it was before and will include a good sampling of the menu, including lamb dumplings ($6), dan dan noodles ($5), and specialty cocktails ($8). The congee on the main menu will include a red braised beef cheek variety, with peanut pickle mustard, greenhouse-made chili oil, pork thread, and a sous vide egg.
Traunfeld retired early this year, closing his celebrated restaurant Poppy and passing Lionhead along to trusted stewards. Chew says “continuity is the focus,” but there will be some other minor changes, including more natural wine selections on the drinks menu and renovations to the front of the house early next year.
Though there’s chance that the restaurant may be closed for up to two weeks for those renovations, the transition should otherwise be seamless. Doherty has been at Lionhead since the beginning as an executive chef and made his bones originally at the now-shuttered Kraken Congee. Chew worked with Traunfeld at Poppy, and his restaurant experience includes time spent at the celebrated Korean restaurant Girin and the downtown spot RN74.
In its four years on Capitol Hill, Lionhead has gotten kudos for its inventive take on Sichuan cuisine and welcoming atmosphere (it’s good for groups). Former Seattle Times critic Providence Cicero once gave it three stars and praised the deft use of Sichuan peppercorn “in a way that shows off its floral and citrus notes as well as its sassy side.” Those flavors remain front and center. The happy hours runs Sunday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.