The menu at Restaurant Marché Bainbridge is built around new and traditional dishes based on local produce, seafood and pastured meats. The menu also includes some dishes from Chef Greg Atkinson’s various cookbooks, including his latest work, At the Kitchen Table: The Craft of Cooking at Home. “But,” says Atkinson, “the menu is not about me; it is a tribute to local ingredients and traditional French techniques.”
Shellfish for the welcoming Shellfish platter, large or small, modeled after the Assiette de Fruits de Mer found in traditional Paris Bistros, is sourced through Shelton, Washington’s Taylor Shellfish Farms www.taylorshellfishfarms.com, a company with whom Chef Atkinson has had a long and rewarding relationship. “Years ago, I was teamed up with Taylor for an episode of Chefs A’Field (the award winning public television show) and Bill Taylor and I travelled to Orlando as presenters at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.” But what matters most is that “Taylor produces the best oysters and mussels I have ever eaten.”
Produce is of course sourced locally whenever it’s in season, with Bainbridge Island’s Butler Green Farms www.butlergreenfarms.com providing most of the salad greens, sauté greens and table vegetables. The Market Vegetable Plate includes five local vegetables prepared in five different ways. In spring, look for a delicately flavored green pea flan with morel mushrooms and grilled asparagus. In fall, consider a savory kabocha squash flan with cauliflower gratin and perhaps a few blue potatoes from the island’s Laughing Crow Farm www.laughingcrowfarm.net, which also provides all the restaurant’s garlic.
Skagit River Ranch www.skagitriverranch.com is the source for most of the meat served at Restaurant Marché. “I have known George and Eiko Vojkovitch for years,” says Atkinson. George is a classic twenty-first century grass farmer who focuses on the soil to produce ideal conditions for raising super-healthy and delicious animals without the use of antibiotics or steroids. His certified organic meat and eggs are pure and delectable.” The Top Sirloin and New York steaks for the Steak Frites plate reflect those growing practices, and so does the smooth and flavorful Chicken Liver Pâté which is uncommonly clean and vibrant tasting.
Bainbridge Island’s own Heyday Farm www.heydayfarm.com, just a stone’s throw from the chef’s home raises most of the pork and all of the eggs for the restaurant. “My crème brulée is made with organic sugar and wholesome local cream,” says Atkinson, “but I am convinced that the eggs from Heyday Farm make our crème brulée and all of our desserts extra delicious.” Northwest hazelnuts enhance the Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Torte and organic Washington apples are the glowing heart of the Apple Tart Tatin
“The classic dishes we serve, and the streamlined modern dishes too rely on the best ingredients. A dish as simple as Trout Meunière would be uninteresting if it were not for the quality of the butter, the brightness of the very fresh, sustainably raised trout.” Of course the care and attention of the cooks is vital too. Trained at local culinary programs, some of the under Chef Atkinson when he taught at Seattle Culinary Academy www.seattlecentral.edu/wp/seattle-culinary-academy, Marché cooks are focused, professional culinarians who know how to coax great flavors from even the simplest ingredients.