Eden Hill opened for service on Friday, September 4, 2015. I cornered Max for a few minutes to talk about his first year of restaurant ownership, hits and misses, and the future of the Eden Hill.
How has the first year of restaurant ownership been?
Good. They say 'do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life.' Not entirely true, but I've clocked a lot of hours at Eden Hill and I wouldn't do it if it I didn't love every minute of it.
What's been the biggest challenge you've faced?
Space constraints. I knew I was getting into a small restaurant but I've struggled with not enough room to do all my projects from day one.
And how about the biggest surprise? What didn't you anticipate?
How hard the non-cooking portion of running a restaurant is. The food is just a fraction of running the business and I've learned a lot in the last year about management, taxes, FOH, etc.
Tell me about the Seattle food scene.
Although it's historic, it's still growing. There are a lot of great restaurants here and we're lucky to have access to some of the best seafood and produce in the world. I'm proud to be a part of it.
You've been reviewed several times. What did one of your critics say that stuck with you the most?
Most of the negative criticism I've gotten is about honing in. I don't disagree, that's why I work hard to be better everyday. I'm young and have time to grow. I'm glad to get the criticism now.
What's the weirdest request you've gotten from a guest in the last year? Did you honor it?
Someone asked me to cook the tartare. I didn't.
Any missteps you learned from?
No matter what equipment I get or rearranging I do, I can only do so much in such a small restaurant. It's hard for me to accept. I have to be really resourceful with my menu development, plating, and equipment just because of the space we have and the amount of people we do.
How has Eden Hill changed from what you originally envisioned?
Even though it's what I wanted, it's more fine dining than I expected. People asked it of us! They told us to raise our prices and our tasting menu sold really well.
What's in store for year 2?
I want to continue challenging the neighborhood restaurant idea. Keep people guessing about what they'll see on the menu. I'd like to start thinking about a second concept, too.