Eating Around Town – Table

table_shaw_restaurant_review
903 N Street, NW

This edition of Eating Around Town was written by Abbey Becker. Abbey previously wrote about Park Tavern.

There’s no doubt that Table (903 N St NW), Frederik de Pue’s restaurant near the Convention Center that opened in January, is beautifully designed. From the Dumpster-concealing plant enclosure to the modern wood and metal indoor decor to each plate that’s delivered to your table, everything has been shown impeccable amounts of attention to detail.

In Table’s case, it’s best not to judge a book by its cover.

My friend and I couldn’t stop talking about the soft lighting, the handwritten menus, the efficient and fluid cooking happening in the open kitchen, the succulents on the front circular table, and the rolled up garage door open to a mild summer night. When it came time to talk about the food, however, we were a lot quieter.

Based on looks alone (and the hype surrounding this place’s opening), Table should be a memorable dining experience. I expected to pine for at least one dish, long after I dined there. My friend and I ended up kind of puzzled at the stumbles we experienced, though.

Our server was friendly, but wasn’t completely knowledgeable. I asked about a beer on their menu, and she couldn’t tell me what kind of beer it was or what it tasted like. Not a total deal breaker, but surprising for the kind of restaurant Table seems to convey it wants to be. Throughout the meal, the service was a bit stilted and unsure–plates were delivered to the wrong diner at the table, questions about the what the server recommended were answered with vague responses that didn’t really address what we asked. Again, nothing that would deter me from eating here again, but not what I expected.

I loved ordering from a handwritten menu–it made me feel like I’d stumbled upon a place where each diner is special. I think this was particularly reinforced because I’d read about how long it took to write them (and the drinks menu is pages long with lots of descriptions).

That care extends to the presentation of the food, but not its taste. Dishes were beautifully plated, but flavors fell flat. The tuna tartare was light and sliced impeccably thin, but its dressing was forgettable and didn’t offer enough punch. The pork belly special had a chewier texture that I didn’t like. The lamb porterhouse was a generous enough portion: two small “steaks” on the bone with potatoes was plenty of food. At $34 for the dish, and the gamey lamb that ended up not yielding much meat, I wouldn’t say it was worth it. The hot chocolate mousse was good enough, though I wish it would have had a deeper chocolate flavor. I liked that it actually arrived hot. I wish I could have ordered a whole bowlful of the accompanying strawberry gelato that tasted incredibly fresh and rich. The strawberry financier that came with it was dense and dry, and I think we left some of it on the plate.

If you’re looking for a date spot that’s quiet and romantic, I’d recommend Table. The food isn’t bad at all, just not as good as I thought it should be, especially because of the price.

24 Comment

  • Very thoughtful, insightful and well-written. Thanks Abbey!

  • I think you’ve nailed it. We went for my birthday. Granted I don’t like to be rushed while eating, but not sure the evening should have taken over two hours. Our waiter seemed to forget about us frequently. The most memorable aspect of the meal for us was the succotash that came with one of the dishes. I wanted to like it more, but it needs work.

  • You may be the first person I’ve talked to that hasn’t liked this place.

      • I live a few blocks from here and was excited to see this place open. I’ve eaten here a couple of times, and I agree with the reviewer that the space, the handwritten menu, etc. are impressive; the food, however, is not. A lot of the flavors do fall flat or miss the mark. Many of the dishes have unnecessary sauces on them, which always makes me wonder what the kitchen is trying to cover up. I want to like it, but nothing I’ve tried has been remarkable (much less memorable), and the servings are pretty small. For the price, there are a number of other restaurants I would go to first.

    • Are you serious? My experience has been the exact opposite. Unanimous disappointment from everyone I know who has been there.

      • Agreed. I live a couple blocks away and really want to love this place. I’ve been 4 times now, and it is not “bad,” but I always find the food disappointing. It is the same price point as Proof, but the food just doesn’t compare. It may be a couple dollars less than Corduroy, but again — the food just doesn’t compare.

        They’ve done a great job with the space, and I love that it is only a couple blocks from where I live. But I easily select Proof, Corduroy, or several other places over Table. The food just doesn’t compete with other restaurants in its range.

  • “The food isn’t bad at all” is rather faint praise for such a pricey restaurant. Guess I’ll “table” this one for now…

  • I agree. Ordered two appetizers and two main dishes with drinks for two people. Server was pleasant but in training and not very knowledgable. Didn’t know where the oysters were from, couldn’t answer questions about wine, etc. Would have been fine but the trainer didn’t step in to help much and I was expecting a little more involved staff given what I’d read about the place and the atmosphere. Appetizers took a very, very long time and I think they forgot the bread service. We left hungry and paid a lot of money.

  • I tried to eat here once. We put our names in, and were told it would be 45 minutes to an hour – pretty standard. We told them we would go around the corner to A&D for a drink, and the hostess said if they had not called us in an hour to call them. Um – OK.

    So an hour passes. We call. No one picks up. We call again. Since we were around the corner, we just finished up our drink at A&D and walked over there. When we explained, the response was “Oh, did you call?” Yes, twice, and no one answered. The hostess and the young man working the door looked at each other and shrugged, then told us it would be another 45 minutes.

    We dined elsewhere.

    • Maybe it’s a safe house disguised as a restaurant. Seriously, what restaurant puts a dumpster in front.

      • ones that don’t have alley trash pickup.

        • Was it a restaurant before? Was that building meant to be a restaurant. Something’s not right when you put the dumpster in the front.

          • “Was that building meant to be a restaurant. ”
            what an irrelevant question. was the building meant to be equipped with internet or an espresso maker?

        • It’s not an irrelevant question. Putting a dumpster out front, with the exception of a construction site = FAIL.

          You cannot see the building properly. This is just basic.

          But I read past Pops in which lots of people were questioning the need for it. There is room in the alley, around the corner, but I guess the restaurant didn’t want to do the walking.

          Sherman said in March:
          As a relative neighbor, I think this thing is ugly as sin. Good riddance to make it go.

          The problem with that location — the old “Space” — is that there is no rear alley access. But instead of putting the trash out front, I strongly believe Table should be required to have their staff move trash to the rear of the building by walking it around the block. Is it annoying? Sure. But they should have known this when they signed the lease.

          andy2 March 29, 2013 at 12:14 pm

          I am not a neighbor – but I totally agree with you on this.
          If a residence tried to do this I’m pretty sure a large majority of PoPvillians would not support this.
          Can they not lease space down the alley for a dumpster? Or put the garbage in the back and at the end of the night roll it out for late night/early morning pick-up?

  • Had a very similar experience here. Food ranged from good to just OK. Service was spotty overall. Hostess in particular left a lot to be desired. I shared thoughts with the restaurant. It does not seem to be getting better, but I guess if it is full, it doesn’t have to….

  • We ate there last weekend, on a Sat night. I have a mixed review too. The space is beautiful, in a sparse, slightly Ikea sort of way. The service was basically poor. The server was not knowledgeable about any of the alcohol – wine or beer. However, the manager stepped in a recommended a wonderful red at not too steep a price. I would ask him from the start next time. The food we all actually enjoyed immensely. Very solid, tasty. Simple, like the decor, but enjoyable. At the same time, quite pricey for what you get. They need to get the entrees under $30 to make it not seem like silly season. Same with the wine list – more cheaper options would be good. I can’t imagine they are selling many $150 bottles. Another critique – although the space is flowy and open, it was steamy and hot this weekend. Even by 8 pm, the place was very warm because all the doors are open. Not a deal breaker, but kind of annoying. That also leads to a lot of small flies/bugs, even more annoying. And the heat is problematic for the wine, which they store at room temperature. We actually asked the server to chill down our red, which I really can’t remember ever doing at another restaurant in town. They should keep the wines at appropriate service temps. All that said, I would go back. The food was very solid and that’s primarily why we eat out.

  • That design is horrible. It’s a building-killer.

    • what does “building killer” mean?

    • What design? The building, the layout, neighborhood, the city – which?

      If it’s the building you mean then please tell us about the the previous place, occupant, and design Clap. Tell us how wonderful it was. Tell us of all the beautiful “sight line(s)” that are now bygone.

  • So relieved to see this. I thought I was the only person disappointed with my meal at Table. And yes, Abbey, I had exactly the same impressions: beautiful space, flaky staff, overpriced, unmemorable food.

    The Red Hen, it is not.

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