Friday, June 7, 2013

Table, Donkey and Stick

The space doesn't look like much from the outside, and the address to the small building is bigger than the restaurant name but the space has been a restaurant of note for years.  Occupying the space formerly occupied by the Michelin starred Bonsoiree (which didn't have a restaurant sign at all), Table, Donkey and Stick goes in a completely different direction, serving rustic alpine food.  The space is small, seating about 20 people but it does have a covered patio in back that has a thick lumber communal table that seats about 10 people and several 2-top tables for seating for an additional 30.  The name of the restaurant comes from a Grimm's Fairy Tale about an ever full table, a donkey that spews gold, and a stick that punishes those that have wronged the owner.  We were seated at the communal table in the patio.  All of the furniture in the restaurant was rustic and looked like it would go well in a hunting lodge.  While the building itself is not exceptionally rustic, there are rough hewn wall hangings that contribute to the rustic look.  The menu is divided into Wanderteller (charcuterie), Cheese, Small Plates, Large Plates, and Sandwiches (with a separate menu for dessert).  With the many varieties of cured meat available, if a restaurant offers charcuterie, I will always try it.  Table, Donkey and Stick offered six types of Wanderteller, all of which seemed to be of the forcemeat type.  We had three Wandertellers, all of which were very good.  On the left (for me) was Duck Liver Mousse with Blueberries.  In the center was a Pork and Burgundy Snail Pate served with Walnuts, and on the right was Beef Tartare.  A Housemade Buckwheat Baguette was served to eat with the meat.  The duck liver mousse was very creamy and the flavor kind of reminded me of liverwurst.  The blueberries actually went very well with it.    The pate was mostly pork but you could see the snails, which were a gray brown color as opposed to the rest which was kind of pink.  The snails had been soaked in burgundy so there was a good, red wine flavor, as well as the savory flavor of the snail.  The walnuts add a textural variety to the pate.  While I like beef tartare in general and I did like this beef tartare specifically, it did surprise me.  The beef tartare that I have had in the past was finely ground like hamburger.  This was more roughly chopped.  It was served with a raw egg (a quail's egg in this case) and seemed to have been marinated in a soy-type sauce.  While it was a little different than your typical beef tartare, this was very good.

What goes with charcuterie (wanderteller) if not cheese?  We also got three cheeses although I can only remember one of them because I had had it before.  The one cheese that I can remember the name of was the Gorgonzola (blue).  There was also a semi-firm cows milk cheese that had a slightly sweet grassy flavor and a natural rind cheese that was slightly funky.  The cheeses were served with another housemade bread, honey, and walnuts.

For my small plate, I didn't really need to go back to snails because I had them in my wanderteller, but the dish sounded so good that I had to try it.  I had the Snail Agnolotti with Cocoa Cured Pork Loin, Green Garlic, Rhubarb, and Cocoa Nibs.  The flavor in this dish was amzing.  The pork was sweet and slightly bacony with a bitter chocolate edge.  The green garlic isn't as pungent as regular garlic and it has a green flavor in addition to the garlic.  The rhubarb and cocoa nibs were both used lightly did add to the flavor when they were encountered.  The rhubarb adding tartness and the cocoa nibs, bitterness.  The snails were in the perfectly cooked and toothsome agnolotti.  It was a nice chew and a joy to eat.

For my entree, I had a chicken that actually had some taste.  The chicken I had was from Slagel Farms and was served boneless with Smoked Pickled Ramps, Bulgur Wheat, Boiled Peanuts, and Chicken Hearts.  The chicken was tender (and tasteful) and the boiled peanuts were chewy.  The chicken hearts were mixed with the peanuts and I really didn't notice it.  It was tasty and very good.

Dessert was a perfect ending to a great meal.  I had a Goat Cheese Panna Cotta which was served with Pickled Cherries, Pickled Rhubarb, Granola, a Horchata Sauce that was poured over it, and garnished with mint leaves.  It was sweet, tart, crunchy, creamy, a little minty, and I really liked it.

I enjoyed my meal at Table, Donkey and Stick and am glad to see that while the look has completely changed and the food is much more rustic than the previous restaurant, it is maintaining the high standards established by Bonsoiree. 

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