After exceeding his $25,000 Kickstarter goal by more than $5,000, chef Nick Coffey is ready to open his first restaurant, hyper-local Ursa Minor, on Lopez Island. The restaurant’s first day in business will be Thursday, April 20.
Coffey has relocated to Lopez Island after a stint at Matt Dillon’s Ciudad in Georgetown. Before that, he was the chef at Barjot, where he made a name for himself by stretching the limits of the restaurant’s tiny kitchen with an array of pickles, ferments, and from-scratch everything.
Now, Coffey will have the chance to dive deeper into kitchen chemistry and hyper-local food, as he plans to tap into Lopez’s abundance. Coffey tells Eater he visited Lopez for years before relocating, and he never bothered to bring any food with him. Many island farms sell their products — cheese, meat, produce, seafood, and more — at unmanned farmstands, so every visit was an opportunity to cook with local, seasonal items. Ursa Minor will replicate that experience on a bigger scale.
Expect the menu to change regularly — perhaps even daily, in the height of the season. A sample menu hints at dishes that involve Ozette potatoes, squid ink, and ramp mayo; asparagus, yeast, smoked butter, and egg yolk; and halibut, salal leaf, and sea beans. Coffey will also use items that might otherwise be discarded or fed to the pigs, like whey and gizzards.
In addition to sourcing from local farms, Coffey is foraging for wild ingredients, and may eventually grow some of his own. Lopez Island is buzzing with excitement, given that there are only a small handful of restaurants, and Coffey’s concept is sure to evolve as various partnership opportunities develop.
A few other things are in flux right now, too. Coffey says he may close in winter, depending on demand and product availability. And he may add additional hours, or cut back and close earlier if things fizzle out earlier than expected. Stay tuned as the experiment unfolds.
210 Lopez Road, 360-622-2730, website. Open Thursday to Sunday, 5 to 10 p.m.