Table 8 (closed)

by Susan on May 12, 2009

[Food:3/5]

It’s been three months since I dined at a restaurant in its opening week. My last such experience was at Trigo, where I thought there was a chance at longevity. Even though it only took two months for Trigo to secure a spot in the NYC restaurant graveyard, that won’t stop me from making a prediction about Table 8: it’s here to stay.

With outposts in both Los Angeles and Miami, Govind Armstrong, Table 8’s chef and proprietor, has a successful track record. For his NYC debut, Armstrong has found a home in the already-hip Cooper Square Hotel. The pairing appears prosperous.

We definitely experienced a handful of kinks and miscues, but nothing that won’t get ironed out as Table 8 finds its’ footing. But as opposed to other newbie restaurants, whether or not they’re ever corrected probably won’t alter Table 8’s fate. It’s just one of those places. A place to see and be seen. A place where people will be drawn to eat, regardless of the food. A place where success is in the cards.

The music was so loud, yelling across the table was required. The restaurant was so dark, we passed around our single votive like a torch, so we could actually see how each dish had been plated. Women bore cleavage and stilettos. Men sported gel-infused coifs and shirts with one too many buttons undone. If I hadn’t just walked off the Bowery, I would have sworn I was in Miami, or maybe Los Angeles. Go figure.

Armstrong’s menu is varied and well thought out. He demonstrates cooking ingenuity and prowess. But the atmosphere prevents diners from appreciating these accomplishments, and from what I observed, the patrons are looking for more scene than food. With a couple Table 8s already under his belt, I assume this is the atmosphere Armstrong desired.

Armstrong’s menu features a Salt Bar (think amuse bouche-size bites), a flat bread, Starters, Entrees, and Small Accents (aka sides). We sampled Venison and Fluke from the Salt Bar. Both were flavorful and pleasing. For $4, there were no complaints about the generous portion of flatbread.

While there was nothing extraordinary about our Scallop and Quail starters, both were prepared expertly and both were very, very good.

Armstrong’s culinary capabilities were most evident in the Halibut entrée. Though its description is over-simplified on the menu, the halibut arrives two ways – smoked on a buttered and crispy baguette and as a small filet. The dish was delightful.

The Bone-in Skate, served in a spicy saffron broth with cockles, was also different than any skate preparation I’ve previously had. The broth was more salty than spicy, but once you mastered eating the skate without getting a mouthful of bones, the reward was luscious fish.

The Grilled Baby Chicken was the night’s only disappointment. It was grilled until rubbery, all its succulence depleted. The accompanying Short Rib Hash, however, should get the opportunity to be its own entrée.

If you can bear to stay for the final course, reward yourself with the Coffee Parfait.

While the scene at Table 8 is far from my preferred dining experience, and I’m not compelled to return, I have little doubt that there are countless others to take my place.

Table 8
www.thecoopersquarehotel.com
25 Cooper Square
New York, NY 10003
(212) 475-3400

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