Friday, July 19, 2013

[Review] The Table, Portobello, Dublin 8

Dublin on a very sunny Sunday. Surely there's nothing finer. Except for the fact that I had stepped off a transatlantic flight that very morning and had gone straight to bed to catch up on some sleep. As the sun shone outside, I was snoozing in my darkened bedroom. But eventually, common sense prevailed and I got up to enjoy some of the day.

Airplane food is a combination of excitement and depression. I always get a little kick from all the different elements in their different packaging, and how the components vary between the outbound and inbound legs. However, that's usually where the excitement ends and it hands over to reality as you face "chicken or beef". Rather than eat late at night, I had declined a meal on the plane and instead tried to sleep, with the thought of having a good Sunday lunch once back home in Dublin.

Table restaurant, situated in Portobello on the edge of the Grand Canal comes from the same stable as nearby Lennox Cafe. Apparently the goal is to move away from cafe and brunch daytime dining and instead aim for the restaurant and evening market. A staircase is straight ahead of you upon entering with a downstairs bar/dining area to the right. Upstairs is an L-shaped dining room in cool shades of cream and grey. The cool breeze from the air-conditioning is greeted with sighs of pleasure. We snagged a table overlooking the canal, with the added bonus of a view over a topless sunbathing man.  He might have been somewhat perturbed by our presence as he left shortly afterwards.
Stitch and Bear - The Table Portobello - Interior
Upstairs interior at The Table
Himself opted for monkfish scampi served with harissa, aioli and salsa.  A grown up version of fish fingers if you you will, but they didn't taste anything like my 80s childhood teatime treats. Meaty, firm pieces of fish in a crunchy coating with punchy sauces. I opted for crispy goat's cheese, served on a busy plate of salted pecans, pumpkin seeds, raisins, baby beets and spiced apple chutney. The sharp cheese was balanced nicely by the sweet, spicy chutney, and bonus marks were awarded for the near  perfect spherical shapes.

I did groan to see slate plates arriving at the table. Slate plates always make me feel uncomfortable as I dread the sensation of my cutlery coming into contact with the rough surface. It's the same sensation that I get from letting the wooden stick in an ice-cream come into contact with my teeth. Plus, I always feel sorry for servers having to pick up the slates, so I tend to nudge them over to the edge of the table to help them along. 
Stitch and Bear - The Table Portobello - Goats cheese starter
Goat's cheese, beetroot and chutney
Stitch and Bear - The Table Portobello - Monkfish scampi
Monkfish scampi
My main of moist pan seared hake was balanced on pomme puree surrounded by a very light and tasty chorizo and baby vegetable broth. My usual wariness of soupy sauces was allayed by the fresh and light broth which was simple yet elegant. His choice of buffalo ricotta and spinach ravolini were pan-fried for extra flavour although they seemed to lack the advertised beurre noistette and crispy sage leaves. 
Stitch and Bear - The Table Portobello - Hake with pomme puree and broth
Hake with pomme puree and baby vegetable broth
Stitch and Bear - The Table Portobello - Buffalo ricotta and spinach ravolini
Buffalo ricotta and spinach ravolini 
Service was good throughout, although various servers did come to the table too ask to ask the same "is everything is as it should be?" Such questions bring out the philosopher or metaphysicist in me and I have to remind myself to nod, smile and just say yes.

We stuck to glasses of a light chilled Monasterio (€7.00) which suited the bright sunshine outside.  A two course Sunday lunch costs just €18.95 or three for €23.50. It's even better if dining as a group, as parties of four or more will receive a bottle of free house wine.  This is the kind of pricing and value that ensures I will revisit Table, particularly when Mr. & Mrs. H. are in town. It is above average food, but despite the relaxing decor and cool funky animal prints, there was a slight sensation of something missing from the atmosphere.

PS: Even when writing this review, the sense of something missing continued. Perhaps there is a website for The Table, but I couldn't find it. Neither could I find blogger reviews, although I did find reviews from some of the major critics. It just seems weird when good, well cooked food like this has so little said about it. 

The Table, 1-2 Portobello Road, Dublin 8
Tel: +353 (0)1 473 6727
URL: www.facebook.com/TheTablePortobello
The Table on Urbanspoon

2 comments:

Lisa said...

Nice review! Sounds like something I must check out soon.

Turns out they also have a website now: www.thetablerestaurant.ie (found via FB)

Enie Dub said...

Visited here on Saturday - very enjoyable!