A Brunch of Unfortunate Proportions
This weekend we joined some friends for a birthday brunch at a new restaurant, Table DC, which was voted DC’s Best New Restaurant 2013. We had read some mixed reviews for the the pretentiously-named Table, and weren’t sure what to expect. By the end of the brunch, we had developed our own reviews, and couldn’t help but wonder who rigged the “Best Restaurant” election.
First, let’s discuss the decor. Table is part of the new “minimalist” trend in restaurants. You might know the type. Sparse decorations, not much in the way of color, and an industrial feel. Table has a rustic feel in some ways, with picnic tables for dining, light fixtures made of cardboard, and menus made to look like the composition notebooks you might remember from middle school. Someone at our table remarked that the restaurant looked like “a Pinterest wedding”, and we had to agree.
Next, the food…. and I’m using the word “food” lightly. The brunch menu is a pre-fixed, five-course adventure in, “oh my God, what is this?”. You only have two actual choices for brunch, and the first three courses are outside of your control. I was surprised to find that two of the fixed dishes had bacon, which is a problem for vegetarians and those with Kosher or Halal dietary restrictions (DC is full of all three groups). Since I don’t eat bacon, the waiter said they would make other arrangements for my food.
Round one was an array of pastries: muffins, danishes, and cakes. Be aware that you get an assortment for the table, so if you and your neighbor have your eye on the same muffin, things could get ugly. The second course was a persimmon sandwich thing, which came with bacon for the carnivores at the table, and without for me and the other baconless diners. I imagine (and heard from the others) that with bacon on it, it was quite good, albeit tiny, but for me, it was an unfamiliar fruit between two itty bitty pieces of toast that left me confused and still hungry.
At this point, I still had hope that brunch could be delicious and satisfying (and for $35 a head, I sure hoped so). By the time my third plate arrived, I knew that would not be the case. A huge plate with the world’s tiniest salad appeared in front of me. The salad had a huge amount of empty plate next to it, on which there was a little piece of Brie. The bacon-eaters got a tartiflette along with their salads, but nothing on their plates seemed substantial either. I may be a small person, but I like to eat. And a sad little salad with a pathetic piece of cheese next to it just isn’t going to cut it.
The fourth plate was supposed to be a “main course” of sorts, and I had chosen something with waffles, so I was extremely excited for a dish that finally tasted like brunch. Unfortunately, when my plate arrived, my waffles were green. Yes, you read that correctly, the waffles were green. Dr. Seuss-green. Apparently the batter was made with spinach, which I fortunately could not taste very much, but still looked quite unappetizing. I scarfed them down anyway, since the only other food on my plate was a hunk of smoked salmon, which I ended up also eating out of sheer desperation.
The fifth course was a small dish of gelato, which was fine, but did not make up for the fact that we had spent a lot of time and money on a strange of array of food that appeared to be for gnomes. To make matters worse, the bathroom had the most confusing faucet I’ve ever encountered, which left me eating my gelato with one hand and trying to cover the huge water stain on my outfit with the other.
The one positive aspect to our brunch at Table DC was the service. Our waiter was very attentive, polite, and knowledgeable. However, it took over three hours for us to finish our brunch, almost all of which was spent waiting (eating our food, needless to say, took a matter of seconds). I’m going to blame that on the either a slow kitchen or a lack or organization. But if Table wants to serve food that slowly, they need to seat diners somewhere with lumbar support, because three hours eating tiny, unappetizing food at an indoor picnic table was not enjoyable.
Overall, I’m giving Table DC a “P” for “Pretentious.” I’d recommend it to a person whose likes include: bacon, Pinterest weddings, and hipsters; and dislikes include: food, money, and being comfortable. If you must visit Table, certainly try to avoid their brunch, and if you must brunch, you should eat ahead of time. And bring your own chair.