Friday night. Dinner with Courtney and Mike. The evening started with an attempt to have dinner at Potager, after about a 7 year wait. I guess we’ll have to keep waiting. Apparently Potager is on vacation. Yes, the whole restaurant. In the middle of summer. Odd.
So, Mike booked us a table at Tables in Park Hill, which we’ve been hearing quite a lot about.
The setting is lovely: a storefront on Kearney Street, with a picket fence patio, and of course the theme of mismatched tables. And doors. And a couple of windows. Anyway, they went with Tables.
We were seated at a 4 top inside, where oddly, the men’s chairs seemed about a foot lower than mine and Courtney’s. We were originally set for the communal table, but the hostess (who I am guessing must be the owner) told us that there was a group of drunk women sitting there, and suggested that we might prefer a luckily open table.
It’s really, really loud inside. Not music, but very, very loud voices. As if everyone is competing to be louder than the next. I think they should institute an “inside voices” policy. But once you get into the swing of things, you start yelling like everyone else. And the bottle of wine I shared with Mike didn’t hurt. Speaking of wine, they have two lists: one on the menu, and then a “special” list in a rustic little picture frame. Not sure why there are two. The waiter seemed relatively knowledgeable about wine (I’m decidedly not, other than to drink it) and after being smart enough to bring a taste of the Semillion we ordered because he thought we might not like it (we didn’t), he suggested a tasty Sanford (not And Son’s) that went down well.
Let’s talk about our waiter. He was dressed like an intellectual lumberjack, an interesting service attire. There is in fact no uniform at Tables, and while I appreciate people being able to express their individuality, I do like a good uniform to be able to identify my server. Plus I think it adds an air of professionalism to the experience. So, Mr Lumberjack was relatively efficient, made some good suggestions (which we asked for) and we generally took his advice. The big black mark against him, was that at the end of the evening, I was in the middle of telling a story, and was just about to hit the punch line, when he came over, and without pausing, blurted out the dessert specials, completely interrupting me. In my book, a server should never, ever interrupt a customer’s conversation unless the restaurant is burning down. You can stand there, sure. But don’t interrupt. I didn’t come to the restaurant to talk to you. If I did, you’d be seated at the table. At Tables. Haha.
Let’s move on to the food. Starters were mostly well received. The Tuna Tartar was particularly good, with just the right amount of spicy flavor to it. The Spinach Salad was apparently fresh and tasty, but the Beets weren’t. Besides the fact that Darian ate off all the Goat Cheese before any of us could taste it, the beet preparation was WAY too earthy (or “rustic” as Courtney nicely put it) for me, and I had to use the paper bread napkin to spit it out. And speaking of the bread – it was decidedly stale and stodgy, something they could vastly improve on. Nicely presented in a little tin bucket, but that didn’t make up for it’s poor quality. Bread sets the scene people!
Main courses: Darian’s Dill Salmon was well prepared and quite delicious, although the fingerling potatoes were dry and crumbly. Mike had the Pork special with accompanying polenta, which he and Courtney both said was delicious. Courtney and I opted for the lamb. I took the advice of the waiter, and chef, and had mine prepared medium rare, which after one bite I realized was way too rare. I’m not sure why the chef recommends it like that, but it was far more flavorful when it came back medium. My first bite I though that the outside of the meat tasted a little burnt or caught, but I guess I grew accustomed to the taste. It was pretty good lamb, served sliced, but I really didn’t care for the white bean and bacon puree. Thankfully the pieces of bacon were large enough to remove, but I thought that the combination just didn’t do the lamb justice. Quite unnecessary. Most everything tasted very fresh however.
Dessert, after being quite rudely interrupted by the waiter was vaguely uneventful and I’m not sure if it was worth the calories. I ordered the smores, and had envisioned something neat that I could put together. Instead it was a melted plate of marshmallow and chocolate over what was apparently homemade graham crackers. So really it was a plate of melted goo. I’m not partial to American chocolate as it is, but I though they could have used better chocolate to make the taste a little more interesting than the goopy mess it was. Mike had a “pina colada” which was a mush of something fruity and creamy in a glass. Not so spectacular.
We were brought the check before we were asked if we’d like coffee, and even though the restaurant was near empty by then, I would have appreciated being encouraged to complete our meal! I did order coffee in the end and it was quite ordinary.
I’d definitely try Tables again, to see if things improve, stay the same or entirely deteriorate. Quite a pleasant meal all around, but certainly isn’t going to be my favorite.