by Cheryl Baehr
First world problem alert: the overwhelming array of options at Table (1821 Cherokee Street; 314-449-1888) may induce a great deal of angst in a party of two -- at last count, the dinner menu alone contained fifty items. Without looking positively gluttonous, two people can maybe make it through six dishes. This creates quite a conundrum for indecisive guests; Chef Cassy Vires is exceptionally talented, so diners know that one option is as good as the next. No matter how much a small party tries to narrow things down, it is impossible to remain focused on what is at hand rather than the "dish not taken."
An even bigger problem with this situation is that diners, stuffed on the savory, run the risk of missing arguably the best part of the menu -- the pastry selections. During my recent visits to Table, I was treated to an excellent array of dishes, but the pastry items stood out with such force that I could have written an entire review based on these alone.
See also: -Table Debuts Weekly Chef's Tasting Menu
Like my stomach, I simply did not have the space to include everything in my review of Table, but in good conscience, I cannot leave prospective patrons in the dark about the delicious wonders in store for them should they save a little room. Additionally, pastry chef Jess Paddock deserves a special shout-out for her role in delivering such melt-in-your-mouth creations. Jess, I don't even know what to say about the chocolate pâté. You have a gift.
Speaking of the little chocolate devil, my dining companion and I were busting out of our clothes by dessert time. However, the idea of passing on a chocolate pâté made us even more uncomfortable, so we relented. All I can say is: wow. Our server presented to us what is best described as a sweet charcuterie board: a generous disc of chocolate, some freshly baked shortbread cookies, a few pieces of pickled orange and a dash of vanilla sea salt. The chocolate was served at a temperature that was on the cusp of melting so that when we spread it on the buttery shortbread, it gently oozed. Adding a pinch of the vanilla sea salt brought out the savoriness of the shortbread, and the pickled orange brightened things with its tartness.
It's a little more difficult to pass up the pastries at brunch, probably because they feature as part of the main course selections. This is a good thing, as one would not want to leave without sampling as many of these brilliant confections as possible. Granted there were eight of us, but we consumed a virtual tasting menu of pastries, beginning with the mixed berry pop tart. The crust is so buttery and flaky with just enough of a sugared berry center to satisfy without inducing tooth decay. The banana walnut muffin is also a brilliant specimen, its moist inside encrusted by a slight raw sugar bruléed crunch.
What goes better with French toast than booze? I was concerned that the rye whiskey French toast sticks would be mushy, but this was not the case. Rather, the rye whiskey flavor was infused in the dough while the outside was glistening and crispy. This dish is an example of how much the culinary team at Table understands how to mix texture.
I will spare readers my orgiastic ovation for the sea salt short bread biscuits (it's in the review), but I will say that my only disappointment was their size. With just three to an order, I felt myself in the awkward position of feeling pressured to share as the devil on my shoulder told me to be rude and eat them all. Alas, social norms won out, although I eschewed any shame and ordered a second round.
To see more impressions of Table, check out my review and accompanying slideshow.