Table is restaurant No. 2 from the husband-and-wife team of Cassy Vires and Josh Renbarger, proprietors of Home Wine Kitchen in Maplewood. While their new eatery differs from HWC in several ways, one thing remains the same: The food is fabulous.
The space, which most recently housed The Stable restaurant (and started out, in fact, as a stable for the Lemp Brewery), is sprawling, with mile-high ceilings and plenty of elbow room. There's also a spacious enclosed ‘patio’ for those who want that open-air experience, while still having a roof over their heads. The concept of Table is communal dining, so the dining room and patio feature several long tables instead of the usual single-party seating options.
Dishes are organized roughly by the main ingredient: Under Hoof, you'll find beef; while Beak lists the fowl options, and so on. There's also a Feast section, featuring larger plates to be shared with your tablemates, like Suckling Pig ($26/person); and Bites, which has a number of smaller snacks that can be mixed and matched at three for $12 (or six for $20). In keeping with the community dining theme, most of the portions are smaller and intended to be shared. Anyone who says they can't find something they like on this menu definitely isn't trying.
With so much to choose from, we had a hard time figuring out where to start, finally deciding on the Potted Crab ($12) to get things going. This crock of rich crab came with a bit of cayenne butter and a dollop of pickled lemon to cut through the unctuous confit.
The leftover bits that don't always make it to the plate are sometimes the tastiest, and Table recognizes this fact with Offcuts, a small selection of plates centered around oft-ignored delights like pig ear and beef tongue. The Country Fried Chicken Livers ($8) we opted for were coated in a crisp batter and served with a surprisingly mild tabasco aioli that had just enough kick to complement, but not overwhelm, the dish. These were our kind of chicken nuggets, to be sure.
At Table, veggies are taken as seriously as the meat. Case in point, the Spicy Tomato Broth ($12), a gorgeous array of heirloom cherry tomatoes with some fried mozzarella and a bit of basil to set them off. Simple and beautiful to look at, and it tasted like summer on a plate. The standout dish among everything we sampled was the Cauliflower Mole ($10). On paper it seemed odd-- flash-fried cauliflower served with a vanilla aioli and some crushed almonds. Not exactly a combo you see every day, so we had to try it. The subtle sweetness of the vanilla turned out to be an excellent complement to the cauliflower, which had just a bit of smokiness from the pan, and the almonds lent just the right amount of texture to the mix. Who knew? Our compliments to the chef on this one!
For dessert, we had the Peanut Butter Semifreddo ($8). This creamy delight had just enough peanut butter flavor without going overboard, and the oatmeal and peanut cookie base could've been a dessert all by itself.
On the beverage side, Table has plenty of beers and wines to choose from; and a cocktail list that has some interesting offerings like the Scotchtail ($10), which tastefully combines Scotch, sweet vermouth, pineapple, Angostura bitters and smoked jalepeno.
Do yourself a culinary favor and head down to Cherokee Street as soon as you can and take a seat at the Table.
--1821 Cherokee St., 449-1888, tablestl.com