I’ve been a fan of Art of the Table for a long time. It started as conversations with friends and how this tiny little restaurant on a residential corner in Wallingford was churning out high quality food. Next, I was reading some articles online and that it’s the #1 restaurant on Yelp. But it wasn’t until a wine dinner visit to Art of the Table where I was put under a spell to fully appreciate the work of Chef Dustin Ronspies and his crew. That night solidified it; I needed to go back and fully take in the Art of the Table experience. I finally did return and it was one of best dining experiences I’ve had in some time.
It was at a wine tasting with Stephen Tanzer that I was first able to take in Dustin’s talent. There were several small plates to accompany the wine, my personal favorite being his pork confit with pickled rhubarb. After this great night of eating and drinking I vowed to return and I finally did this past weekend. After seeing the email listing out his menu for Valentine’s Day I knew we would go. A dinner at Art of the Table is truly unique and a dinner for Valentine’s Day featuring aphrodisiacs would elevate it to a special occasion.
Chalk this up to the friendly vibe that Dustin, his partner Laurie, his sous chef Phil, and his guest chef (and brother) Derek provided that evening. What other restaurant would the chef and owner greet you at the door and offer to take your coat? These little touches provide great effect to the experience at Art of the Table. It’s a communal vibe where you feel like you’re in Dustin’s dining room with his kitchen right around the corner. You’ll see him cooking, serving, setting plates, and washing dishes; he has a hand in the entire evening. I also love it when Dustin announces each course and talks about his inspiration. He breaks the “wall” between kitchen and customers by conversing with his guests and describing the menu. The personal imprint of Art of the Table is one of the things that really makes it unique and enriches the experience.