KINGSTON — For Mossback co-owners Pam Buitenveld, John Delp and Christy Penney, local seasonally-sourced ingredients heaped with a dollop of creativity and sprinkled with a hint of whimsy follows their restaurant’s mantra, “Always local. Always changing.”
Located a few blocks from the Kingston ferry landing, the rustic 100-year-old farm house at 26185 Ohio Ave. NE, Kingston, has a unique atmosphere: artwork from local artists on vibrantly painted walls, a quaint bar named the Rabbit Hole, and a playlist of more than 3,000 easy-listening songs sure to appeal to local and tourist.
But their local sourcing for ingredients is what makes their ever-changing cuisine unique and earned the restaurant a place on REAL25 Seattle, the Healthful Food Council of the United States’s listing of the top 25 most healthful and sustainable restaurants in this region.
“Mossback” is defined by Merriam-Webster as an old-fashioned or extremely conservative person. Penney has a different take: it refers to the innovative nature of the do-it-yourselfer, she said, and can be traced to those involved in the Lewis and Clark expedition.
“It all seemed to fit,” she said. “We’re people from this area in a very much do-it-yourself enterprise.”
The entrees, comprised only of local and seasonally available ingredients, back her up on that. As does the restaurant’s interior: the handmade bar, salvaged tables and chairs and aprons handmade by Buitenveld’s mother. All contribute to that “made from scratch” feel.
Wednesday mornings, you may see Delp driving around in his green pickup truck, picking up the week’s haul of fresh farm produce from local growers.
“I make three to four stops before I come in,” he said.
Because of the restaurant’s commitment to using only fresh, local, seasonal produce in their dishes, menu items change weekly and are “available while supplies last.” They also try to offer at least one gluten-free and vegetarian option.
“We ask people to understand that we just can’t offer a salad in January,” Penney said. “There are no greens. But we just got a gorgeous shipment of spinach in — eight and a half pounds, just picked.”
Few menu items are featured year round, but the kimchee pancake, pickle plate and the cheese plate seem to be regular offerings.
As Delp prepped the ingredients for the Saag Paneer Pizza (utilizing some of that fresh spinach), he said of the menu, “It’s all subject to change. That’s the beauty of it. If you were to tell me I’d open up a restaurant in Kingston where people can’t get enough beef heart …”
“Mossback formed itself … Like a subject of its own whim, it inspired me. To go full in on it, the ethos of it, I’m very much into giving a food-sustainable experience and this fits so well with that.”
For the owners, sustainability is a way of life. Delp and Penney’s Kingston home is built sustainably, designed “off the grid” and built using recycled materials. Buitenveld, owner of Maggie’s Farm, supplies various herbs for the restaurant.
‘Not really anything like this in Kitsap’
At Mossback, nothing is wasted. Food scraps are composted or given to local farmers for use in feeding their pigs. “It’s a pretty closed-loop cycle,” Delp said.
In the summer, the restaurant opens its outdoor seating area with a view of the mountains on a clear day and communal seating. To celebrate its anniversary in September, the restaurant transforms into El Musgo, an evening “party-time taco truck alter-ego.”
“There’s not really anything like this in Kitsap,” Delp said. “We’re building something new, where everyone has a voice. The only thing we can promise is the same level of quality.”
Mossback is undergoing the process of certification for their sustainability efforts. They should have their certificate in a few months.
“We have amazing products right here in Kitsap,” Penney said. “Things just taste better when they are close to home and pulled fresh from the ground.”
Delp added, “When people are eating at Mossback, the money goes right back into the pockets of local farmers.”
In fact, Mossback states on its website:
“We can do what we do only because of the amazing community of growers, producers and craftspeople that make up our local foodshed. These people put their passion, ideals, ethics and seemingly inexhaustible energy into growing and producing the wonderful ingredients — beverages, cheeses, ferments — that we feel privileged to work with every day.”
Local businesses sourced are: Abundantly Green Farm, Around the Table Farm, Bainbridge Brewing, Bainbridge Vineyards, Broken Ground Farm, CB’s Nuts, Downpour Brewing, Farmhouse Organics, Finnriver Farm and Cidery, Full Tilth Farm, Grounds for Change, Hama Hama Oysters, Hansville Creamery, Heyday Farm, Iggy’s Foods, Kitsap Farm Works, Laughing Crow Farm, Maggie’s Farm, Mt. Townsend Creamery, Nash’s Organic Produce, Perennial Vintners, Persephone Farm, Pheasant Fields, Short’s Family Farm, Spring Rain Farm and Orchard, Tucker Distillery, Valhöll Brewing, Wild West and Willapa Hills Cheese.
Looking for another REAL25 certified eatery on the Kitsap Peninsula? Check out Hitchcock Deli, located at 133 Winslow Way E Bainbridge Island.
Mossback: 26185 Ohio Ave. NE, Kingston. Open 4–9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday; happy hour from 4-6 p.m. and all day Wednesday in the Rabbit Hole.
– Sophie Bonomi is a reporter for the Kitsap Daily News. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.