Table was my favorite restaurant last year. Not just for dinner; I named it my favorite brunch of 2013. So, when my dear friend Amanda said she was visiting Washington and staying in Mt. Vernon, I determined Shaw—and Table—would be perfect for brunch.
Amanda was a sorority sister at UNC-Chapel Hill. Lovely, sweet, and smart as a whip, she now works in marketing and events in Atlanta. She’s also quite the foodie—we were both runners, tennis players, and brunch aficionados in college. She’s always trying new restaurants and keeping tabs on local celebrity chefs in Georgia, so I was excited to take her to Table to experience the work of chef Frederik de Pue.
Since I had last visited, Table changed its brunch from a full a la carte menu to a narrow prix fixe with two options: $35 a person for five courses or $48 a person for five courses and bottomless mimosas, tax and gratuity excluded. However, for four of the five courses there is no choice, you must eat what is served, and the menu rotates seasonally.
For the entree course, you select between two items. Now, I have no problem with a set menu, but only a great chef can pull something like this off. Locally, restaurants like Komi and Thai Chef have set prix fixes that garner much fanfare. Arriving at brunch, I expected Chef de Pue to pull it off.
Our server was French, like many of the waiters at Table. Our waiter this summer was French, as well. He was charming, kind, and accommodating. And, I remain enamored with the decor at Table. It is neutral and natural, with fresh white tones.
The rectangular restaurant begins with a garage-door storefront, and there are fresh herbs growing on the wall by the entrance. Down the left side there are sets of tables for two made of light oak; down the right, an open-air kitchen where you watch the chefs busily preparing your meal.
After we were seated, we ordered water and French press coffee for me, tea for Amanda. A server arrives with an enormous wicker basket filled with fresh French pastries. We each selected the cinnamon coffee cake, which was buttery, moist, and crumbly. Coffee cake doesn’t normally drive me wild, but I found this cake quite satisfying.
The second course was a miniscule serving of radish and beet salad, which was covered in far too much dressing. I sampled the two bites, of which I only ate greens, and no radishes or beets. I love beets, and I hate excess dressing, so I was disappointed.
The third course was the pinnacle of the morning. It was a fresh, flavorful smoked salmon, with a wedge of Belgian waffle, tied together with ribbons of maple cream sauce.
Amanda and I were both unsure about the idea of eating a Belgian waffle without syrup, but the sauce was both creamy and sweet and married the waffle and salmon together perfectly. The waffle itself was sweet—a pleasant surprise—and moist. This was an excellent dish. Kudos, Chef de Pue.
For the fourth course, you had two options, and we divvied them up. Amanda had the shrimp n’ grits, served with the heads and tails still on. “It’s really good,” she said, “But it’s not Crooks Corner.” And, we proceeded to reminisce about our college days.
After much wavering back-and-forth, I selected the bacon-wrapped meatloaf, served with a soft-poached egg and potato hash. The bacon-wrapped meatloaf was delicious, dressed with a tomato sauce.
The potato hash, however, was cubes of potatoes and red and green peppers, and it reminded me of diner potatoes. The potatoes weren’t bad, they just weren’t all that good. I’d avoid the American staples and go back to the gourmet French cuisine, but I’m not the chef.
We concluded with miniscule portions of gelato, which is not made in-house. We only had two options: strawberry sorbet or vanilla gelato, so we selected one of each.
There was nothing particularly wrong with the food at Table. The problem was merely that there was nothing outstanding, the portion sizes were small, and the price high for brunch at nearly $50 without mimosas, once you’ve added on coffee, tax, and gratuity.
Had the meal been phenomenal, I wouldn’t have flinched, as I’m known to spend a pretty penny on food and fashion. Instead, I found myself apologizing to an old friend for the lackluster brunch, when I am touted to be the expert on such subjects.
The Bitches say: B-. A let down. We wish Table would go back to its original brunch menu, or at least make the portions a little bigger and give back a few more options.
903 N St. N.W.