Has dining become the latest fad? Celebrity chefs, TV food channels, organic produce, the slow-food movement, celebrity cookbooks, food blogs – you name it, everyone seems to be obsessed about food. These days, chefs or TV food personalities can carry as much cachet and influence, as say, Oprah. Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, and dare we mention it, Rachael Ray have become part of the American cuisine lexicon.
But on to the food. We sampled practically everything on the menu, and started with the tartare trio – salmon, tuna and hamachi served with inventive aiolis – garlic, Creole and wasabi. My favorite was the hamachi. The American Kobe beef carpaccio and the miso marinated black cod were equally impressive the only difference being whether you would prefer a cold or hot starter.
And then there were more – escargot, mussels, a lobster pot pie, pasta jambalaya, roasted sea bass, and from the rotisserie - roasted pork loin and lamb. It comes as no surprise that the menu is seafood-heavy. Chef de Cuisine Jean Paul Labadie, spent over 10 years at Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House.
The escargot was delicious, sautéed with garlic, lemon and red wine butter and served over wild mushroom toast. As with most of the dishes served here, whether they be appetizers or main courses, most are done in ‘the classic style’ and it’s the little additions – a spice here, a unique ingredient there – that enhance the dish. Take the case of the mussels, which in essence were simply steamed. However, the addition of leeks, fennel, homemade bacon and a slight saffron broth brought an added oomph to the dish, at once light and yet substantial. Traditionalists can’t go wrong with the lobster pot pie – perfect puff pastry sits atop the creamiest and most luxurious combination. Again, this is comfort food taken to a whole new level. This version comes chock-full of sweet and meaty lobster chunks, sweet corn, mushrooms, leeks and spinach in a truffled sherry cream sauce. The pasta jambalaya was another classic done right, with jumbo shrimp, chicken, andouille sausage and fresh fettuccine in a roasted tomato cream sauce. The dish had the right spice and sweetness, with that ‘
Carnivores need not fret, items from the rotisserie such as lamb, Kurobuta pork loin and chicken are given just as much care and attention as the seafood, with some involving a two-day marinading process, resulting in the most tender and flavorful meat.
Hopefully you’re not too full because there’s still dessert. Try the malassadas, which are like beignets, but stuffed with white chocolate; or the sweet potato cheesecake, which is surprisingly very good; or the lightest and least guilt-inducing of them all, the trio of homemade sorbet.
We also highly recommend that you book the Chef’s Table, but only after your first visit. Imagine what Chef Jean Paul Labadie can do, when given free reign over your palate. Expect to pay $85 per person for a five-course meal, plus dessert. Chef Labadie adds, “If you have something in mind, then we’ll work around that, but generally, at the Chef’s Table, nothing is exactly from the menu, although everything is created with your tastes and preferences in mind.” Trust us when we say this is one of the better deals in town.
If this is the new American table, then we want in.
By Rachel M. Sugay
Restaurant Review: TABLE 10