Hangin’ Out At…The Table
[Full disclosure: a friend does the marketing/PR for The Table, which I didn't know when I accepted his invitation. The opinions are entirely my own, and you can read my full disclaimer here. My only compensation was a reduced rate for our meal, but it was due to the previously mentioned association; the owners didn't know I have a blog until I mentioned it.]
I thought I’d take you through the evening exactly as we experienced it. I apologize if that gets a little long. Below is a preview of the 5-course menu, which was given to us as we were seated. I don’t drink wine, so I can’t comment on that, but I’ll include in italics what was paired with each course (in 4-ounce increments), for my readers that are wine connoisseurs. And my vegetarian readers are in luck: 2 of the diners weren’t meat eaters, so I’ve highlighted their courses in green (when booking, you’re asked for any dietary restrictions).
Hubby and I arrived at The Table at 7p, unsure of what to expect. My friend had tossed the words “Supper Club” around, but I wasn’t entirely sure what that meant.
At full capacity, The Table sits 22 patrons at the long marble table above. You felt like you were at someone’s house party, where you typically know the person you’re with, but not anyone else, at least not right away. Thus, the first forty minutes were reserved for meeting our fellow diners over appetizers and wine.
Little Bites and Nibbles
The first appetizer brought around was walnuts and dates wrapped in prosciutto. It was a nice combination of savory and sweet, with a surprisingly pleasing texture (very smooth, not too crunchy). Next up were bite-size Gruyere cheese puffs stuffed with a chicken pate, delicious as well. Alas, no pictures, as I was too busy chatting with the other guests. Solo 2010 Pinot Grigio from Delle Venezie, Italia.
Once we were seated and presented menus, the courses began.
Roasted Beef Marrow & Foie Gras Panna Cotta
Garlicky Crostini, Lemon Compote
Chateau Grand Renom 2009 Blanc from Bordeaux, France
Mixed greens salad with pears
(For those that don’t know, foie gras is fattened duck or goose liver and bone marrow is…well, exactly what it sounds like.) I’d never had either delicacy, but gave it the ol’ college try. Both were a bit salty, and the beef marrow tasted entirely too much like congealed fat for my taste, but at least now I can say I’ve had both (though I didn’t finish either dish).
Prince Edward Island Mussels
Fennel, Onion, Creme Fraiche, Pernod
Adegas Morgadio 2010 “Legado del Conde” Albarino from Rias Baixas, Spain
Summer Vegetable Bisque
This was also my first time eating mussels. They were decent: a bit chewy with a hint of garlic that prevented them from being bland, but dunking them in the broth added enough flavor that I finished off most of the bowl (and there were quite a few there!).
Manica del Frate & Local Black Grouper
Fresh Italian Sausage “Sauce,” 3 Boys Farm Baby Bok Choi
Andrew Murray 2007 “Esperance” from Central Coast, California
Similar to main course, but without sausage or fish
Ah, now here was something unique. Honestly, the grouper (which for some reason photographed like whipped cream in the photo above) wasn’t anything special. But the heat of the Italian sausage, the sweetness of the corn and the texture of the soft pasta all melded together beautifully. Bok choi is too bitter for me, but word around the table was that it was seasoned nicely as well.
Our Favorite “Steak” Picanha
Roasted Lobster Mushrooms, Royal Trumpets, Yukon Golds
Maria Caterina Dei 2008 “Vino Nobile di Montepulciano” from Montepulciano, Italy
Tofu with vegetables (I was told that the tofu had a pleasant, almost jerky flavor)
This. Was. Amazing. It was my first experience with sous-vide cooking (though the beef looks raw, it cooked for five hours in an airtight bag with herbs, submerged in a water bath to maintain an even 130 degrees). It was juicy, oh-so-tender and had the perfect amount of fat. I was given 3 huge pieces, and gobbled them up, though I was pretty full at this point. The potatoes were good too, with nice crispy edges. The only thing I didn’t eat with gusto was the mushrooms, as they were a bit too earthy for me.
Not sure if you can see them clearly, but the dish was topped with microgreens, which basically mean they’re very small herbs, packed with big flavor. One of the owners mentioned he had recently tried something at a food show that knocked his socks off, and would I like to try one? Heck yeah, I would!
This is a Sechuan Button. I was told to bite off the flower, then chew without swallowing. I popped it in my mouth and…when I say words cannot describe what it was like, I do not exaggerate. I could feel my mouth numbing literally with each bite (it’s also been described as a spreading warmth), as well my salivary glands kicking into overdrive. I could barely talk and think I alarmed my table neighbors! My friend kept asking what it tasted like, but it wasn’t a taste so much as a sensation. Honestly, it was a bit frightening, but that was part of the thrill. Like skydiving, but for your tastebuds. If you ever have a chance to partake, GRAB IT.
Chocolate Hazelnut “Baby Cakes”
Goat Cheese Ice Cream, Chocolate Ganache Glaze
Rancho de Oro Puro 2005 “Napa Valley Late Harvest” from Napa Valley, California
The cake was dense and rich. The real highlight was the goat cheese ice cream. First it tasted like cream, then smooth cheese. Someone described it as a really cold cheesecake. Very unique.
This was like a bonus dessert plate, complete with pomegranate jam in the shape of a leaf, a toffee-and-chocolate cookie, a candied orange peel, a truffle that was so delicious that I stole 2 from my neighbors (they said they were full; honest!), a candied mint leaf (tasted like crunchy gum and was meant to cleanse the palate) and homemade fortune cookies with cool foodie-quotes inside.
I believe that if I ever had to practice cannibalism, I might manage if there were enough tarragon around. James Beard.
You can never have enough garlic. With enough garlic, you can eat the New York Times. Morley Safer.
The takeaway: What a unique concept for a restaurant. When I spoke to Loren, one of the chef/owners, she said they were really focusing on making it a homey, dinner-party experience. That’s part of the reason why they take your payment information beforehand; who asks for your credit card at the end of a party?
Hours: Fridays and Saturdays only. Arrive at 7p for appetizers and wine, and plan to be there for several hours (no joke: we left at midnight!).
Location: 8060 Via Dellagio Way, Suite 106, Orlando, FL 32819 (Restaurant Row). For reservations, call 407-900-DINE or book online.
Menu: Completely chef’s choice. This was my friend’s 4th visit and he’s had something different every time.
I’m sure everyone’s curious about the price. It’s only been open a month, so I’m not sure what they’ll land on eventually, but it’s currently $100 per person. Pretty pricey, but keep in mind that includes all the food, all the wine, tax and gratuity. Almost like being on a cruise ship! Clearly not frugal fun, but I would do it again for a special occasion without question. It’s definitely worth experiencing.