Early last year, I was dining at the counter of a favorite sushi restaurant with a couple of food writers who were seated to my left. The conversation was pretty passionate, as we were bantering about best and worst places to eat in the Seattle area.
It turns out that a diner immediately to my right was “eavesdropping” on the conversation. (I can’t say that I blame him!) As he got up to leave, he gave me his card and said, “If you like bold food, you should come to my restaurant.”
The card belonged to Chef Dustin Ronspies of Art of the Table restaurant.
It’s taken far too much time for me to file this, but I can report that Ronspies has every right to claim such confidence.
Most people I know have never been to Art of the Table. The majority of them have never even heard of the place. But those who’ve been give it rave reviews.
Once you discover the restaurant, you might want to keep it a relative secret. There are only about twenty seats in the small dining room, including a number at a communal table, and two that peek into the kitchen.
Thursday through Saturday Art of the Table is a supper club concept, with one seating at seven for a chance to work your way through the chef’s tasting menu for the evening. In the Fearless Critic restaurant guide, we called it a locavore experience that’s easy on the wallet, or “a trip to Herbfarm—minus the long drive, pomp, and circumstance.”
My most recent experience was a “Happy Monday” meal. These are a la carte small plates that are so reasonably priced and good that you might as well order the whole menu, anyway. We did. It’s great fun at a restaurant to say, “One of everything, please.”
This food is fun, creative, bold, and artistic. With apologies for the photo quality (it was fairly dark inside), here’s the menu, as written by the restaurant, for that Happy Monday meal:
toasts: smoked salmon mousse, salmon gravlax*, olive~caper relish, crème fraîche~$8 (one of my favorite dishes of the night, and sexy enough to be spotlighted in Sexy Feast)
soup: potato~leek soup, chives, olive oil~$5 (this soup could have used more seasoning)
salad: sherried chiogga beets, roasted brussels sprouts, aioli, basil oil, pea tips, pepitas, roasted pear~$9
veg: wild mushroom ragú, cheesy grits, roasted garlic cream, nw truffles, bacon~$11 (earthy and hearty)
fish: shellfish stew of mussels, clams, calamari & shrimp, spicy tomato broth, grilled garlic bread~$13 (my favorite dish of the night, with fabulous broth)
oxtail: oxtail & cabbage tian, root vegetables, charred treviso & endive, red wine sauce, sunchoke chips~$14
dessert: nut & caramel tart, rosemary ice cream, pear puree, vanilla apples~$8