Date Night: Table hot in more ways than one
903 N Street, N.W.
Here’s a quick tip for you husbands and boyfriends out there: When you suggest that you and your significant other check out the new pizza joint across the street from your home and she says, “We could go there . . . or we could go to Table” — it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out where to make the reservation.
So Table it was for this week’s date night excursion.
First of all, reservations are recommended but we walked up at about 7 p.m. without them and were seated immediately in the downstairs section.
That’s a good thing because at it’s heart, Table is a neighborhood joint, albeit with a little fancier and more expensive fare than your typical mom-and-pop corner cafe. Exactly which neighborhood is a matter of debate — depending on who you ask, it’s either in in the south part of Shaw or east part of Logan.
Table is on the corner of 9th and N streets in an old Taxi repair shop (according to Tom Sietsema’s review). And while there is plenty of commercial property nearby, it just has that feel of a neighborhood haunt.
We gave Table a thumbs up on atmosphere and food with some clarifications. The old garage bay door was up, giving the restaurant an open-air feel, which was great, except that it also started to get a little warm in the dining room.
Heat was the theme of the night — a woman next to us complained to the server that her blueberry and apple crumble was served too hot. On the other side of us, the couple grumbled about the apparent lack of air-conditioning in the dining room.
Despite those quibbles, it’s hard not to feel relaxed inside Table’s cozy first-floor dining room. The room is dominated by an open kitchen, which runs the length of the seating area. There are also tables upstairs and on a rooftop patio.
One look at the hand-written menu and you can tell that Chef-owner Fredrik de Pue is partial to sauces and seafood.
We had the grilled octopus for a starter and really felt that it couldn’t have been better. It was served on a bed of baby romaine and ramps in a orange Thai basil sauce. Octopus is one of those dishes that can often come out too tough or rubbery. Ours was just right.
For main courses, we had the sablefish, served with a fava puree and grape and caper sauce, and the Dorade en Papillote, cooked whole and stuffed with thyme, parsley and lemons and topped with julienne carrots.
The sablefish was flaky and delicious. And while we thought the dorade actually had a more interesting flavor, it was a real chore working through the bones. Not fun.
Dessert was the apple and blueberry crumble served with a small scoop of cinnamon gelato. It was okay but, almost on cue, we looked at each other and agreed it was good but not as good as the cobbler at Cafe Deluxe.
De Pue is the owner and creative force behind Table and its sister restaurant, Azur in Penn Quarter. Both restaurants opened this year. Opening one restaurant is enough to make someone a nervous wreck but two at the same time? Sheesh. His former boss at Smith Commons sang his praises in a lengthy profile in the Washington City Paper back in February:
I would put him in the top 20 [chefs] on anybody’s list,” says Smith Commons co-owner Miles Gray, who hired de Pue as a consulting chef when the H Street NE restaurant opened in 2010. “He can see things that nobody else can see, and his ability to match flavor profiles is, I think, really unrivaled in the city.
Overall, we both agreed we’d go back. The prices are little high for what seems like a laid back neighborhood space (the dorade was $38). In fact, at an average of $27 per entree, it’s on the upper range of the price curve for restaurants in 14th – U Street – Logan corridor. Of course, the menu changes frequently, so expect that average to fluctuate.
But if you like friendly, somewhat out-of-the-way restaurants with top-notch menus, pull a seat up at Table.
All photos by the Gastro Gnomist.