Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Local Restaurant Review

Last night, Chris and I went out to eat with some of our best friends. They had been to the restaurant before, and had told us how much they liked it. When they said they were going again for the third time, we jumped on their bandwagon and crashed their party.

It was well worth it!

The place is new, and it's called "Chef's Table." Located in booming Jones Valley, this little restaurant packs a big punch with it's tapas style menu. We made reservations ahead of time. This is encouraged.

The first thing you notice as you walk in is the rich color scheme. Deep red walls and black ceiling, scattered artwork of various shapes, styles, and methods, and of course, accented lighting (including candlelight); all help create a warm and anticipating experience. The kitchen is open for all to see, and there is a black and white tiled bar surrounding it for patrons to watch their food being prepared. We were seated in a black padded booth. That suited me just fine, however, I'd like to try eating at the bar in the future.

Our waitress' name was Addy. I am convinced she made the whole experience an "A+"---as the server should, in my opinion. Timely, cheerful, and spunky, Addy was never rushed or overbearing. She was always around if we needed her, but not in our face. She knew what was in the various dishes (one of our foursome had a nut allergy to watch out for). She also took away the wine menu promptly after we obviously didn't look at it (we don't drink). I thought that was classy and very observant of her. My most favorite thing about being served by Addy, was the fact that she KNEW the food was good and didn't have any trouble complimenting it. In fact, she once said, "Now, wasn't that just awful?" I thought that was funny and very confident of her. I like a server that's entertaining as well as helpful and prompt. Good job Addy.

Now to the food:

Of course the drinks were served first, but there was already ice water on the table. I just stuck with that. One of us ordered Perrier, and it was served with both a lemon and lime slice. It was said that that was an excellent compliment to the drink.

Next, came a small appetizer. There are no appetizer choices like many mainstream establishments. You are served a small bowl of olives in a dressing. Laying on top of that are small chunks of salt-encrusted fresh bread. Jumbo sized spanish olives (they have a certain name, but I am not recalling it), black olives, reddish greek olives, sun-dried tomatoes, onion slices, and jalepenos basked in a maarinade of olive oil touched with perhaps some spices, or at the very least, vinegar or wine. I tried all but the jalepeno. It was awesome. We asked for an extra serving of bread.

With a tapas style menu, you are encouraged to order a variety of different main dishes. These do not come in entree sized portions, so you wouldn't want to stick with just one dish (unless you were a VERY small eater). Between the 4 of us, we made 5 selections:

Goat Cheese and Marinara Fondue with honey toast points
Stuffed Quail with andouille-mushroom hash & chipotle honey bbq sauce
Asian Chicken with mushrooms, onions, mandarin oranges and tangy soy-ginger sauce
Smoked Chicken Ravioli with mushrooms, scallions and a hazelnut cream sauce
Beef Tip Pot Pie with potatoes, carrots, peas, mushrooms and carmelized shallot demi

We also chose 2 side dishes:

Brie Macaroni and Cheese
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

There was not one thing ordered that I didn't like. The fondue was more of an appetizer in it's presentation. You dipped honey flavored toasted bread in a marinara sauce that had warm balls of sweet goat cheese. Excellent. The stuffed quail came as a whole stuffed bird---perhaps 1/30th of what you'd expect your Thanksgiving turkey to look like. It was moist and tender. The stuffing was more "al dente" than I was expecting or would have wanted, but it tasted good. The Asian chicken was one of my favorites. It was chunks of chicken with the vegetables and a hearty amount of sauce. Very tasty! The ravioli was by far the best. The stuffing was incredible, and the sauce was sweet---a combination none of us was expecting, but kept you wanting more. The pot pie was perhaps my least favorite of the evening, but even that was good for a pot pie.

Both sides melted in your mouth, and I'm sure I will order both again the next time I go. They were outstanding!

After the food was gone, all of us commented on the "nicely satisfied" feeling we all had. By the look of the small portions, I was a bit skeptical that I wouldn't need to order more. However, between the olive appetizer and the main dishes, I was comfortable and happy with the amount of food. I was even willing to order dessert, which came as part of the "package" ordering (5 main courses, and 6 choices from the sides, salad, soup, and dessert menu).

ALL of the desserts were highly drool worthy! I settled on a brownie with ice cream on the side, and regretably couldn't finish it. It was very rich and wonderful in every sense of the word. It was infused with coffee flavoring and nuts, two of my favorite brownie ingredients. The presentation was top notch, with drizzled sauce and a mint sprig in the ice cream, which was also dusted with cinnamon. We had coffee with our dessert. It was strong and freshly brewed. The cream was served in a small pitcher rather than in little plastic cups. Again, they made every attempt to be classy and worth every penny.

Speaking of money, I thought the food was very fairly priced. You had the option of ordering dishes individually, or in a package deal. There is the 2-person package, which consists of 3 main dishes, and 5 sides (again, that includes dessert, if you choose); or the 3-person package like we chose. The 3-person fed all four of us well. The drinks were not included in the package, as would be expected.

For appetizer, main meal, dessert, drinks and tip, Chris and I spent just under $50. That seems outrageous for 2 people, but we hardly ever get dessert and coffee when we go out to eat. I'm also fairly confident that Chris tipped Addy at 20% or more. So, all in all, the food is not priced extraordinarily high, and you get an exceptional dining experience.

We WILL be going back to the Chef's Table as soon as humanly possible. Maybe we'll see some of you there!


Denna said...

Sounds good, but a little to expensive for me. My picky husband probably would not like it anyway.

Alabamabrands said...

What a sell.

I think the huntsville times needs your link for their restaurant review article!!!

jes said...

i love tapas!!! i just recently discovered a local tapas cafe here in norfolk with a couple of my girlfriends... our choices were more on the seafood side of things, but very similar. i think it is a great restaurant experience for conversing as well. one of my favs though was our dessert... we had SMORES!!! they had put together a smores fondue for us! we actually had the last set, so they had to rush to the store after serving ours because there were many envious customers :o) anyways, glad to hear that you two got out! we'll definitely have to do some tapas sometime. love ya!

Karen said...

You got my tummy rumbling! Thanks now I'm hungry and its midnight! But that all sounded great!

tesiamaria said...

I'm hungry.

Thanks for making my mouth water and my tummy grumble!!

Luv yas Kel!

JSmith5780 said...

My husband is also picky so we'd probably not so well there, BUT my mouth is now watering and it's 1.5 hrs til lunch. Great review...def should send it to the paper! Or at the very least, email it to the restaurant!

WesWilson said...

Wow! Thank you for the excellent review! I might have missed it if you hadn't hidden that link in that "T" and one of your readers hadn't clicked it!

I hope you don't mind me sharing this with the owners... because I'm doing it anyway! :)

Wes Wilson
One of those managerial types at the Chef's Table.