Destination: Lopez Island

Locavore Goes Hardcore at Ursa Minor

Nick Coffey hews to strict limitations in the kitchen, but his dishes look like art—and taste just as inspired.

By Allecia Vermillion August 14, 2018 Published in the September 2018 issue of Seattle Met

Image: Amber Fouts

If a bottle of crisp, chilled rosé morphed into a waterside village, it would feel a bit like the commercial strip on Lopez Island, where the Salish Sea sparkles beyond low shingled buildings, and where chef Nick Coffey translates this most agrarian of the San Juan islands into arresting plates of food.

Image: Amber Fouts

Coffey doesn’t make a big deal about the fact that virtually every ingredient in the Ursa Minor kitchen, from the wild roots and bark that glaze tender pork belly to the bread, comes from the island or its immediate surroundings. He doesn’t need to. There’s no caveat required to enjoy the cured smelt rolled up with chili paste, or the perfectly browned head of cauliflower, surrounded in its bowl by swoops of tangy yogurt and a vivid green blend of seasonal greens our server simply called “chlorophyll.”

Coffey’s platings are stark, his compositions almost rugged, but it all plays out in a high-ceilinged dining room, where wisteria frames big windows and diners might come in straight from the campground, or their private estate one island over.

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