“The table doesn’t make you. You make the table.”
Isn’t that a good line? That was Penny Trenk quoting Myriad Restaurant Group grand poobah Drew Nieporent. Penny loves going out, she loves restaurants, she loves having a good time, and she's never sat at a bad table. She doesn’t know what one looks like.
Neither do I. If you get to sit down and people bring you food and drink, that, to me, is a good table.
Last night Penny, one of Drew’s investors and more importantly an all-around great dining companion, and I were having dinner with about eight other people at table #5 at the James Beard House.
I’m pretty sure that I’ve sat at all ten dining room tables in the Beard House — including the long table #1 on the ground floor, and table #10 in the room with mirrored ceilings that was once James Beard’s bedroom (if you think mirrored ceilings are weird, don’t even ask me about the bathroom). I’ve eaten in the board room, too, and at the supplemental tables sometimes set in the foyer (or is it a parlor?). But usually I am seated at table #5, which is generally reserved for the press and/or friends of the restaurant.
Last night I was there to enjoy the food of Tru restaurant in Chicago. Chef-owner Rick Tramonto was there, although his business partner Gale Gand was in Louisville, making desserts for the Kentucky Derby.
But we were there to sample the culinary stylings of the restaurant’s executive chef, Tim Graham, and executive pastry chef Meg Galus. Tim Graham, apparently being a good Chicagoan, likes to play with the molecular gastronomy quite a little bit, so the Margherita Martini cocktail had a spherified globule of mozzarella floating in it that exploded in the mouth. Also on offer was a creamy apéritif that was supposed to taste like an Alsatian tarte flambée.
What else we ate and drank:
tête de cochon with truffle powder and lentil salad
white gazpacho with grape
smoked dome (that molecular gastronomy again) with cauliflower and caviar
charred fluke sashimi with corn pudding, pickled leeks, popcorn and nasturtium
2007 Auvique Cuvée Hors Classe Pouilly-Fuisseé
Artichoke consommé with spring flavors (that included cinnamon and mustard and a variety of other things you wouldn’t have expected — but not in a bad way)
Lustau Papirusa Manzanilla Sherry
olive oil-poached salmon with daikon noodles and long peppercorn jus
Duchesse de Bourgogne Brouwerije Verhaeghe (that’s a rich Belgian beer, much loved at my table)
Braised beef short rib with unagi, miso emulsion and scallion pistou
2004 Cadozos Tinta Fina y Pinot Noir
Smoked Valrhona guanaja crémeux with mandarin orange, vanilla salted hazelnut and stout caramel
1999 Château Pajzos Takaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos
Mignardises, including salted caramel, macaroons and pâte de fruit