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Table (Blue Hill): disappointing return visit

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Our usual dining foursome, which really enjoyed this farm-to-table restaurant when it opened last year, returned to Table earlier this week. When it opened, Table featured a casual bistro level, and a more traditional restaurant level, with complementary, but not identical, menus. We ate in the restaurant, and as noted in my review at the time, found presentations and flavors excellent. In the interim, the format has changed to uniform seating and menu: not as interesting, perhaps, but in itself no reason for concern. However, the food has become more middle-of-the-road as well, with overly-large portions and unfulfilled expectations. For aps, we ordered fried calamari with spicy tomato sauce: adequate, but nothing special; beet salads, in which large chunks of beets were served with a fairly bland "blue vinaigrette"; and crab cakes. As to the latter, they featured mostly crab, with an oddly oily finish, and "cilantro aioli" without mucy cilantro flavor.
It was the entrees that really let us down. Beer-battered haddock was well prepared, but HUGE in portion: too much, even for a hearty eater, along with mashed potatoes and sauteed greens (almost everything this night came with sauteed bok choy that had little crunch left). Lobster-mac-and-cheese, which has become a Maine restaurant staple, was rich and tasty, but the lobster pieces were chunky, not well-matched to the orichette pasta. A beef tornedos came with a mushroom and bacon confit, which might have been tasty, but the dish as a whole was declared by Ellieeggplant as "just a hunk of meat with a lot of stuff around it." This was clearly a missed opportunity: why not a variation on tornedos Oscar, since there's crab everywhere in Maine at this time of year, with a different green to replace asparagus? The biggest disappointment was a dish called "roulade of pork with New England kim chi and kidney bean hoisin," which I had seen on the online menu and which seemed wonderfully unusual. Whatever it was, it wasn't a roulade. Instead, a slightly flattened piece of pork was sauteed and then plopped on top of, and covered by, the kim chi, local carrots, and additional cabbage: once again, a piece of meat with a lot of stuff.
Service was adequate, given the usual challenges of summer staffing in a tourist town. Wines are reasonably priced, with some good less-expensive selections. But for us, the original promise of Table, which is a sister to the excellent Cleonice in near-by Ellsworth, has been lost somewhere along the line. We'll probably look elsewhere next year. Too bad.

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Cleonice
112 Main St, Ellsworth, ME 04605

Table A Farmhouse Bistro Restaurant
66 Pleasant St, Blue Hill, ME 04614

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