The surprise of the year: the utterly unpretentious, sensational tasting menu at this oft-overlooked, humble and welcoming five-year-old spot. On Fridays and Saturdays, chef and owner Dustin Ronspies treats guests to a eight-to-10 course exploration of the season for the relative bargain price of $80 (wine pairings are extra). Take, for proof, the “Fall-flavored Earth Funk” menu, which wound its way from a simple bonus course—perfect oysters—to opulent shrimp bisque, alive with chiles, poured over sweet Dungeness crab, to black cod fairly slumping into a forager’s dream bounty of beech mushrooms entangled with abalone. What could we do but sit in stunned silence when the duck crépinette—a rich and serious duck patty made of pulled duck leg and duck gizzard sausage—appeared. Wines are affordably priced, and the paired wine flight is also quite good ($40 for eight tastes). But what sets the place apart is how completely easy the meal feels. Your server will know the dishes inside and out, and be open with candid opinions on wines. This is as close to a hidden gem as Seattle has. Pictured: A Shigoku oyster with cara cara orange granita, pickled fennel, pink peppercorns and chive.
Dinner Wed.-Sun. Fremont, 1054 N 39th St.; 206.282.0942; artofthetable.net