Dustin Ronspies—Art of the Table’s chef and owner—doesn’t highlight an ingredient on his plates; he compose plates of highlights. Nearly every component stems (or swims) from a local purveyor with whom he’s built a relationship. Hearing him discuss a dish can feel like an aural walk through a farmer’s market, a local geography lesson, a slightly dizzying example of those all-too-common buzzwords: fresh, local, sustainable.
On this plate: “Neah Bay king salmon. First cherry tomatoes of the season, from Billy’s Organics. First of the season fingerlings are from Alvarez Farms. Parsley comes from Willowood Farms, on Whidbey Island. Chanterelles are from a friend of mine, Alex Spencer, who actually is my fishmonger. He forages also. Alex hooks me up. Carrots from Local Roots Farm. Micro arugula from Farmbox Greens—they’re out of West Seattle.”
Those carrots are pureed into a rich buttery emulsion. The tomatoes are confited, the parsley pistoued (a simple puree of parsley, olive oil, and shallot), chanterelles and potatoes roasted, the salmon pan-seared to crisp the skin. A preserved lemon and olive vinaigrette—made from the only non-Washington ingredients—is the final touch.
“Olives come from California, with the olive oil we use in that vinaigrette. The preserved Meyer lemons we do in-house—all winter. They add a little Mediterranean flair. I think vinaigrettes bring dishes together.”
The plate’s composure—micro arugula tweezed articulately into place—almost belies its off-the-cuff nature. Ronspies came up with the dish on Thursday, when the ingredients arrived, and ran it over the weekend.
It likely won’t return. “It’s a constant progression of just cooking, and ingredients dictate it—so we get what’s poppin’, and I’m kind of known for not repeating things. I get bored easily. You want something of the moment, here you go.”