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Review: Table 8 for Restaurant Week

a
andytseng Jan 29, 2008 10:34 AM

I actually wanted to just inform everyone that the menu on the dineLA site is different than the menu at the restaurant, but I might as well turn this into a review since I ate there last night (1/28) and am making a post about it.

First things first, the entree options listed on dineLA are
Choice 1 - Pompano with Lobster Bisque, Fingerling Potatoes and Julienne Fall Vegetables
Choice 2 - Grilled Prime Beef Shortrib with Potato Gratin, Crispy Bacon and Creamed Swiss Chard
Choice 3 - Duck Confit with Braised Savoy Cabbage, Beluga Lentils and Quince Marmalade

but the actual options on the restaurant week menu are
Choice 1 - new zealand salmon with golden beet risotto, red wine gastrique and horseradish gremolata
Choice 2 - Grilled Prime Beef Shortrib with Potato Gratin, Crispy Bacon and Creamed Swiss Chard
Choice 3 - grilled baby chicken on short rib hash and caramelized onion jus

They're going to continue offering this menu through the entire month of February.

The service was pretty good. Govind Armstrong (of Top Chef fame) was walking around and schmoozing. Not too many of us were impressed with the Restaurant Week menu, so three of us ordered off the regular menu. The appetizers we had, roasted chestnut soup, beef carpaccio, sea scallops, and grilled cheese, were good, but nothing to write home about. Pretty standard fare for a nice restaurant.

The much-lauded grilled cheese with pulled short rib was interesting, but I think much of what a grilled cheese means to me got lost in the translation. It lacks that comfort food feel that I normally associate with grilled cheese. If you go in with no expectations, the grilled cheese at Table 8 can be delicious, but it can't compare to the pre-sliced cheddar cheese smashed between two slices of white wonder bread over a bowl of canned tomato soup that your mom had waiting for you after a cold day. But then again, what can?

I had the pompano for my entree, which was cooked perfectly. But, the group concensus was that most of the entrees fell short. None of us were wowed by the pompano, the kurobuta pork, the duck confit, the grilled shortrib, and the chicken. Not that any of it was bad... in fact, most of it was good, but again, nothing that really knocked my socks off.

I've been told I should go back for the off-the-menu, pre-order required, salt-crusted porterhouse, but I probably won't be making many trips back to Table 8, except maybe to grab a drink at the bar along with a grilled cheese sandwich.

All-in-all, I don't think Table 8 should be high on your priority list of places to visit during Restaurant Week, especially considering that the menu will be available through February, but the atmosphere and service are great for a date.

edit: I forgot to mention that I order the cookie plate for dessert, which I don't recommend. The other two desserts we had, the lemon almond cake and the dulce de leche chocolate cake were quite tasty.

-----
Table 8
7661 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046

  1. s
    slacker Jan 29, 2008 11:51 AM

    Good to know, since I'm ditching our reservation there for the dineLA menu. And regarding the posted vs. reality menu, that's bait and switch. Annoying.

    btw, I would not walk into any restaurant and pay a premium for American singles on white bread (it would be Weber, now, I guess), and Campbell's tomato soup. If I'm paying for someone to cook it for me, and serve it, and wash the dishes, it'd better be better than that.

    4 Replies
    1. re: slacker
      l
      la tache burger Jan 29, 2008 12:05 PM

      I don't think andytseng was suggesting it would be satisfying to get American singles and Wonder griled cheese at a restaurant. I think his point, which is a very good one, is that reinventing comfort food can be particularly challenging because it's hard to compete with childhood memories.

      1. re: la tache burger
        s
        slacker Jan 29, 2008 03:14 PM

        Everyone is reinventing comfort food these days, and apparently, we are all gobbling it up, childhood memories notwithstanding. I suspect that we really aren't looking for the reality of those memory foods, as we probably won't like them so much now. So, personally, I wouldn't make the comparison; if a nouveau grilled cheese was placed in front of me, alongside a Kraft American singles one, I'll take the new version.

        1. re: slacker
          wutzizname Jan 29, 2008 03:22 PM

          Personally, I find Table 8's version to be exceptional. And you're absolutely right, it's not really about reliving something from the past, but reinventing it for the present.

          1. re: wutzizname
            a
            andytseng Jan 30, 2008 12:47 PM

            I don't think I was clear on my feelings in the post, but I actually thought Table 8's grilled cheese was pretty good, hence why I would go back to eat it again. It's just very different from what you might expect.

            The funny thing is, the short ribs in the grilled cheese sandwich tasted better than the short ribs that my friend ordered for her entree.

            Also, I should mention to Jonah and any other chowhounders thinking about eating at Table 8, the guy who took my reservation over the phone, Chris, was very nice and accommodating. I called at about 4PM, day-of, and I got an 8:15 reservation for a party of 4, as someone else had just cancelled. At 5, I found out we were going to be a party of 5, and Chris managed to get us in at 9. When we arrived there was no wait and service was quick and with a smile.

    2. burumun Jan 29, 2008 12:09 PM

      that is really annoying, replacing duck with chicken? and lobster bisque with salmon? che ...

      1 Reply
      1. re: burumun
        TonyC Jan 29, 2008 12:49 PM

        OP,

        thanks for the tip. canceling my reservation.

      2. j
        Jonah Jan 29, 2008 06:55 PM

        When I called Table8 for a reservation, the guy on the phone first asked if I wanted the DineLA menu. Stupidly, I said "yes" and he then told me that the only reservations they had available were for 10:00pm.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Jonah
          kelvlam Jan 29, 2008 08:53 PM

          that's horrible! so dineLA got the unwanted spots or what? hate bait-and-switcher!!!

          lucky I didn't plan on trying them. :-p

        2. schmamo Jan 30, 2008 01:12 PM

          Did they allow you to order it from your table, or did you have it prior to dinner at the bar? When I went, I was callously informed that I would not be allowed to try anything from the "bar menu" at the table.

          On a later occasion, I tried the sandwich, along with a host of other bar menu options. Of the bunch, it was my least favorite, the bread overpowering the cheese.

          1 Reply
          1. re: schmamo
            a
            andytseng Jan 30, 2008 01:49 PM

            The grilled cheese? We ordered at the table, but the circumstances might have been different since we ordered it as an appetizer. It would make sense to me if you couldn't sit at a table to ONLY order a grilled cheese sandwich.

          2. b
            brewinphan Feb 6, 2008 08:50 AM

            My wife and I went to Table 8 last night for our final dineLA meal. Overall, not a bad experience, although we were probably going with the flow on a couple of things.

            First off, when I called to confirm the reservation, they had it for the wrong night (Wednesday), but the hostess I talked to said she'd make a table available for us. When we got there, the lounge was pretty full, and we waited about 10 minutes for our table.

            The service overall was excellent. Our server Giselle was friendly, efficient, and came back to check on us often. The tables were a bit close together, possibly to accommodate more people for the event? The tables are also kind of long, so I had trouble hearing my wife when we were talking, although we didn't have too much trouble hearing conversations going on around us.

            Onto the food:

            Maybe because people were up in arms about the switching of the menus, they actually offered everything that was posted on the dineLA site, including a few extras: In addition to the appetizers mentioned, there was a baby broccoli with prawns, which I got. The broccoli was good, the bits of prawn were pretty much an afterthought, and the whole thing was somewhat overpowered by the cheese or something. It was pretty salty. My wife had the chestnut soup, which she liked, but I didn't. We also decided to add the shortrib grilled cheese. Our server mentioned that it had been featured on Oprah. It was grilled cheese. Pretty good, but not great. I liked the shortrib though. A little sweetness to counter the ton of butter they dunk the bread in. The chips were greasy, but the frisee was good. Not too bad for $12.

            For the entrees, I got the duck confit, and my wife got the grilled shortrib. My duck came out on the dry side, but the grilled shortribs were really good. Again, things were a little salty.

            The desserts, on the other hand, were fabulous. I had the tres leches with coconut macaroon, and my wife had the dulce de leche chocolate cake. Both were very good.

            Nice place, my wife wasn't a big fan of the decor, but we're glad we got to try it. I felt like it was a good deal for a 3-course menu. Didn't see any sign of Govind Armstrong, but whatever. As we were leaving, we noticed that a lot of people were eating from the dineLA menu in the lounge area. That didn't seem particularly comfortable.

            I forgot to mention that for the entrees, the four choices were:

            Pompano with something, the duck confit with lentils and napa cabbage, and the other two choices on the website:

            Choice 2 - Grilled Prime Beef Shortrib with Potato Gratin, Crispy Bacon and Creamed Swiss Chard
            Choice 3 - New Zealand Salmon with Golden Beet Risotto, Red Wine Gastrique and Horseradish Gremolata

            1 Reply
            1. re: brewinphan
              TonyC Feb 6, 2008 01:43 PM

              glad to see they put the duck confit & pompano back, too bad i already canceled our rez.

            2. f
              foodiescientist Feb 6, 2008 04:14 PM

              I think LA is trying way too hard with this whole "restaurant week". It's not as impressive as NYC or San Francisco. But I gotta give LA a break since its it's first year doing restaurant week.
              I tried Table 8 - the food wasn't that bad. It was actually good - but it didn't "wow" me.

              And I think it should say "MENU SUBJECT TO CHANGE" on DineLA's website, (Like San Francisco's DAT) so people won't freak out or call it a "bait-and-switch" when they get to the restaurant and find out the menu had changed.

              1 Reply
              1. re: foodiescientist
                s
                slacker Feb 7, 2008 11:19 AM

                They're apparently extending their dinela menu for a few weeks, guess it's bringing in lots of business. I thought someone above said they put back the original items from their posted menu.

                btw, "its it's" should be "it's its"

              2. elfrida Feb 8, 2008 12:25 PM

                I wasn't too upset about the menu change. Quite frankly, if a "bait/switch" concerns someone so much, then they should call the resto ahead of time to make sure the entree they are interested in is still available (whenever they dine anywhere). I myself would rather eat fresh ingredients, and not be forced to adhere to a menu listed online probably some three weeks before DineLA actually started.

                I also thought that my dishes were perfectly seasoned. The frisee in my boucheron was delicious, as was the pan-seared boucheron itself paired with the quince paste and the fig reduction. We had asked for pepper because we didn't see much seasoning on our dishes (they provided fresh ground cracked as well as kosher salt, nice touch), but never needed to use either.

                The shortribs were fork-tender. The pompano was a melt-in-your-mouth variation on a typical white fish. It was a nice change from the (yawn) tilapia trend. My one change might be that instead of a crunchy almond cookie placed on top of the soft, yielding panna cotta, maybe substitute in an almond crisp so that it doesn't smash the delicate flesh of the beautifully plated Italian classic.

                All in all, I had a delightful experience at Table 8. I am already looking forward to going back and trying the lounge menu (particularly the infamous fried olives and the famous grilled cheese with pulled shortrib). But definitely don't take my word for it. I'm just a simple foodie who's been around the restaurant block more than a few times. Yes, everyone knows that LA has a long way to go in catching up with other food meccas (believe me, everyone knows), but Table 8 is not a bad offering.

                p.s. These chefs are human, not gods. Granted, I still think that for his age, coupled with his success and skill with food, Govind might be half-god.

                1. d
                  DecoDarling Feb 20, 2008 10:11 PM

                  I just dined at Table 8 for the first time. I was impressed with the food; I really enjoyed our cocktails at the bar and definitely enjoyed our meal. However, I was slightly disturbed by the decor; I found the random Christmas lights in the lounge area to be out-of-place and distracting when trying to enjoy the dining room atmosphere. I'm not sure why the jaggedy-edged Christmas lights were up, but it cheesed the atmosphere up tremendously and distracted from an otherwise elegant evening. The food was delicious and the service was excellent. Hopefully, they will take down the Christmas decoration soon. It IS February, after all...

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