Sometimes what they don't serve in a restaurant is as important as what they do serve in it. Is the chef showcasing his or her skills? Or are they bending to every whim of the customer who is supposed to be the king?
I've been meaning to visit the Chef's Table for a while now. It has a lot of mixed reviews and more I read the bad reviews, the more I liked it. It was everything I wanted in a chef's table. I was wondering if this chef simply named it the 'Chef's Table' or if he lived up to it. The reviews had a lot of answers. Small menu. Check. Small portions. Check. A lot of 'I don't understand......'. Check. Now I had to visit this. Taking kids to a chef's table is generally a bad idea, but that Sunday afternoon, we just walked in. No reservation, just walked in.
The menu was indeed small. The waitstaff were trained well about the dishes. They warned us about small portions. When I asked if they could make French fries for the kids, they politely said they were unable to serve anything outside of the menu. Not with a snotty face, but very politely suggested a dish that the kids could share. Then I knew that this chef was serious about the Table.
We shared a soup, got two small plates, one large plate and one dessert for the two of us and one large plate for the kids. Let's just say that I was glad about no french fries. The non spicy, but flavourful herbed rice with baked vegetables dish was loved by the toddlers and they finished their plate. With ease. No fuss.
The soup was a coconut based soup with oil drop. We simply stared at each other as we slowly finished the soup. Looking inside and hoping some more comes from the empty bowl. Like a sort of a magic well. We contemplated getting another portion. Silently. The waiter came over and announced that our small plates were ready. A grilled watermelon with balsamic reduction and feta. A dish so simple, yet so flavourful. For the price we paid for the dish, I believe they used imported feta. It certainly didn't feel like some kodai cheese version of feta. The beetroot ravioli was our next small plate. A fabulous creation, with the perfect balance of everything, these were beautifully crafted.
Our large plate was the dish of the day. A beautifully cooked (braised?) beef served with some mashed potatoes on a bed of white rice. I don't remember eating a dish like this with rice and we loved every morsel of it. A well done beef that wasn't like chewing leather, on the other hand it was simply peeling off. A plastic spoon could have torn through the meat. The rich gravy, in its perfect quantity didn't smother the meat and was just enough to wet the rice. A nice nutty ice cream with a chocolate lava kind of cake completed our meal.
At Rs. 3450, this is not cheap, but is probably Chennai's first real chef's table. The quality of ingredients was palpable and the chef's conviction with the menu, keeping it small to be able to do full justice to it and sticking to not serving anything outside of it was commendable in a nice way. Normally a place like this will have menu changes very often, at least seasonally and I hope to find out when that happens. In the same note, I also hope that the owner is able to keep this going till a market builds for stand-alone chef's table kind of restaurants in Chennai. It would be a shame if they shut shop due to a lack of market. Yet.
Chef's table is in Poes Garden, bang opposite Ente Keralam.