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Image: Stefan Milne

Nothing screams of summer quite like a ripe tomato. Local cherry tomatoes have been cropping up in restaurants for three weeks or so, and now the king of nightshades—the heirloom—has arrived. It’s a fruit of harmonious contradictions, intense as August sun: tart yet sweet, beautifully colored yet hideously veined, light yet fleshy. And it’s in that meatiness—the flesh’s vivid red, transposed from ranch to garden—that Eden Hill Chef Maximillian Petty found the dish’s inspiration.

When a mother and daughter, both vegans, came to the restaurant for its blind tasting menu, Petty created a similar dish—a tomato and watermelon tartare—that has now evolved into its current iteration. Petty begins with heirlooms from his and his sister’s gardens, which he cures and slow-roasts to achieve “kind of a sundried tomato effect.”

Next he mixes in freshly cured and minced heirlooms and tomatillos from Alvarez Farm, a find from the Queen Anne Market. “They had such an incredible sweetness, and they’re so ripe, and the contrast of the red and green is so beautiful. They grow incredible tomatillos and chilis.”

Then he adds a reduction of vinegars and tomato seeds, along with those traditional tartare ingredients—capers, shallots, fresh herbs. A toasted wedge of Sea Wolf’s coffee rye bread and a drizzle of herb oil (lemon, thyme, parsley, chive) accompany.

And to complete the tartare effect?

A modernist touch: cured-lemon and nasturtium-flower “egg yolk” suspended in nutty argan oil. “Flavorwise, a raw egg yolk would’ve been too overpowering.” And Petty likes to toy with the divide between people’s expectations and their experience, especially on the blind tasting menu, where diners don’t know what’s coming. “That’s part of my job, I can trick them like that, play with them.”

Petty created the dish last week and thinks it will remain on the tasting menu for about two weeks. “The tasting menu is sort of our playground. If there’s something I really like and if it’s a big hit, we’ll transform those ideas onto the a la carte menu. There’s a good chance it’ll be on for another month.”

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