Hattaway's On Alder Serves a Southern Twist on Northwest Fare in Walla Walla
After being introduced to this restaurant by one of our favorite wine producers in Walla Walla, we decided to take up his recommendation for one of his favorite new eateries in town.
Hattaway’s On Alder was created by Richard and Lindsay Hattaway. Both born in Alabama, Richard not only learned to be a chef at the Art Institute of Atlanta, but also learned many ways to cook, cure, and smoke meats to perfection in the South. The pair met when they worked together – Richard was a chef and Lindsay was his sous chef. They both had a passion for food and finally married.
We took off on a cold day into Walla Walla, the vineyards covered in frost, and snow seemingly not far behind.
Situated just off Main Street in Walla Walla, it was not hard to find. The atmosphere was cozy, warm, and intimate. Stepping inside, a rich herbaceous, meaty aroma, instantly assailed our senses.
It was Thursday night, and the place was buzzing with instant friendliness and community spirit between the tables. These were the local people who obviously knew where to meet up. There were large families, couples enjoying romantic meals, and single diners.
A big open kitchen in front of the customer’s tables is the centerpiece of the restaurant. It allows the crowd to not only revel in the mouth-watering aromas emanating, but it also allows them see their dishes being expertly created in front of them. It makes you feel as if you’re a part of the team. I always find this set-up comforting and also quite fun during the dining experience.
The cooking model, as the pair label it, is based on “local sensibility combined with ‘Southern cooking techniques’,” and this for me really sums up Hattaway’s style – real comfort food, but with an added haute cuisine twist. Conserved and pickled wild sides accompany slow-cooked, smoked dishes. They cook fall-off the bone pork and beef dishes for hours in their Big Green Egg smokers. These crispy delights, accompanied with local fixtures, would please any Southern carnivore. The fare is as local as it can be: suckling pigs, whole Pacific fish, Oregon hazelnuts, awesomely marbled local beef, succulent pork, and produce from area farms, such as Hayshaker Farm and Morning Mist.
An extra plus in the restaurant is you can also book the enclosed private table for special guests or occasions. It is quiet, tastefully decorated, and surrounded by the restaurant’s exceptional and carefully chosen wines.
Denise, our lovely and friendly server, took care of us on this rainy night, her suggestions and service were highly efficient, and she also expertly helped us to pick the right wines to pair with each of the dishes.
I started of with a succulent, almost gamey roasted bone marrow with a grilled country bread paired with a 2015 Gramercy Cellars Mourvedre cuvee named L’Idiot Du Village, which was an earthy, minerally, savory wine that cut through the fat of the bone marrow and lifted its flavors. My wife had the celery parmesan salad. The salad was a mix of arugula and celery, figs soaked with white wine, some Oregon hazelnuts, light, creamy vinaigrette, and a zest of lemon. Absolutely delicious pairing with a Chablis 2016 by the glass.
Mark Ryan’s The Long Haul Merlot paired superbly with my main course of duck breast and fondant potatoes dauphinoises. The wine is plush and full-bodied, soft, with a serious level of concentration. It has good, uplifting, fresh acidity and some real structure. These factors, plus the wine’s pure, black cherries really gave extra dimensions to the soft, dark meat.
My wife chose the Pork Coppa Hoppin John, which they smoke for 6 hours in the restaurant before serving. Just two restaurants in Washington partner with Big Green Egg smokers, which are made in the South. They make the pork so tender and flavorsome that it falls off the bone. My wife really preferred the pairing of the Mark Ryan with the pork instead of the Gramercy. I, however, disagreed, feeling the Ryan wine was a bit overpowering for the richness of the pork and found the Gramercy much more suitable: again, mostly due to its higher acidity cutting through the richness of the dish.
Overall the whole meal was a delight – delicious, local, and very fresh. Unfortunately, we were so full after all this we could not try any dessert. Next time for sure. We cannot praise this new restaurant highly enough. It’s a real tasty asset to Walla Walla, and, in our opinion, one of the best in town.
Nick Wise was born in NYC in 1969 and moved with his family to the UK when he was two. After graduating from Tufts University, he began writing books on popular culture and earned a bachelors in wine at the Wine and Spirit Education Trust in London, all the while working with various historic English wine and spirit companies including John Armit and Fuller, Smith and Turner. He is the author of four books on wine and a contributor to Decanter and Wine Magazine. Read his blog at wiseonwine.com. Follow Nick and his wife, Julie, on Instagram at @wiseonwine.