“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.”
Roald Dahl – The Minpins
And here begins my tale…
Chapter 1 | The Door to Pure Culinary Imagination
While The Table is perhaps not Edinburgh’s greatest secret, after all, it is currently rated as the number 1 restaurant on TripAdvisor; but with the tagline “Ten Seats, Two Chefs, One Table” (and being fully booked for months in advance), there is an element of intrigue that surrounds the establishment to those of us who have not visited before.
I make reference to “the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places”, primarily as we walked past this door twice, before we realised we were in the right place. It also seems appropriate, as by 6.55pm all 10 of us were eagerly awaiting for it to open. I now know how Charlie felt just before he entered the Chocolate Factory, as to be honest based on how difficult it is to get a reservation here, we may as well have all had ‘golden tickets’ in our hands. At 7pm exactly, the doors are flung open, and I wouldn’t have been surprised if Chef Sean Clark hadn’t completed a forward roll and greeted us in the manner of Willy Wonka himself! Luckily health and safety prevails, and a friendly handshake and welcome is offered instead!
Chapter 2 | The Table
Eyes adjusting from the summer glare of outside (yes surprisingly…it was a sunny day in Edinburgh!), we enter ‘The Table’ – essentially a corridor which opens up into a single room, where a long stone counter with 10 seats dominates. With an open plan kitchen backing onto the table, we are introduced to our other Chef for the evening, Sean’s brother Keith, and invited to take our seats.
Anticipation building (ok…to be fair it had been building since May when I initially booked); we settle down for the evening, to experience what will be a gastronomic journey into European cooking and Sean Clark’s imagination.
At this point, I really should mention that this is not the place to come if you are a fussy eater. Priced at £70 per person (which for the dining experience you receive, I personally believe is a bit of a bargain); on offer is a blind multi-course tasting menu, showcasing the very best of Scotland’s produce and the finest ingredients from around the world.
A BYOB policy with a £5 corkage charge, is also in operation. My personal recommendation…be sure to take two bottles – you are thankfully going to be there for some time (in our case 4 hours and 15 minutes – to be exact!). I will say while there are naturally cost benefits to this, I hope they do get a license. Primarily, because food of this standard deserves to have a wine pairing with it.
Chapter 3 | A Journey Into the Unknown
Obviously with no menu in sight, and at the mercy of Chef Sean’s culinary imagination and skill, it is certainly a fascinating position to be in. I say ‘position’ both figuratively and literally, as we had grabbed seats right by the pass. I for one love watching a great chef at work (ok probably safer to get out of the kitchen, when it all gets a bit manic!), but there is something special about an individual who works so methodically and with such precision, while taking pride in the dishes that their guests are about to receive.
And so the journey begins…
While our starters are being cooked, a delicious trio of canapes are delivered. A minimalist affair; deep fried pasta with Parmesan cheese from Central Italy. a pickled cherry and a small but perfectly formed ball of confit rabbit with a foie gras mousse, set the tone (and very clearly – standard) for the dishes we are about to receive.
Canapes devoured, our starter of frog’s legs with a delicate crispy coating arrives. The meat is succulent and literally just falls off of the bone. Placed on top of a porcini mushroom sauce and served with dwarf beans, purple and yellow broad beans, a basil pesto sauce and wild mushroom powder, the only fault that I can find is that we have to move onto the next course… I want to eat it again!
A Summer Jumper | Frogs Legs with Wild Mushrooms and Pesto
What a Cheek! | Beef Cheek with Polenta and Coffee
Up next, we are treated to a beautiful bowl of braised beef cheek. Supplied from a local Scottish producer, and having been slow-braised for 24 hours, the beef cheek is soft and full of flavour. Served with polenta and cheese from the North of Milan and with crispy shallots adding texture, I will say the addition of espresso coffee to this dish is inspired. It is truly delicious, to the point I almost lick the bowl clean!
The fish course is a vibrant plate of a tender piece of Monkfish, served with the tail off, complemented with a beurre blanc sauce. With a carrot puree, there are elements of sweet and bitterness with the Vadouvan spice adding a touch of India to the dish.
Girls Don’t Like Boys… | Monkfish with Carrots, Citrus and Vadouvan Spice
I almost hate to pick a favourite course, as all the dishes are truly amazing. However if I was pushed, the meat course is outstanding. A fillet of roe deer, again from local Scottish producers. is soft and tender with a crust of toasted hazelnuts and bacon adding texture to the beautifully cooked meat. Served with a panna cotta, the addition of gorse flower, provides a floral taste to the dish.
Stag Do | Venison with Gorse, Hazelnut and Bacon
It is at this point, that I start to take stock of the surreal dining situation I am in. To be honest, I think the wine has kicked in a little, and my over-excited mind has finally mellowed! However I can only compare the experience to having your own personal Chef for an intimate dinner party of 10. Clearly polished and perfected, I have never witnessed such a calm service and kitchen.
Five courses down, we move onto a beautiful little plate of food – a cheese and foie gras chaat with sweetcorn, sits next to goat curd and a sweetcorn puree with a tangy lemon curd and foie gras terrine. With a variety of textures and flavour combinations, it is sensational.
Corn Dog Millionaire | Goat Curd with Corn and Foie Gras
Werther’s Not so Original | Caramel Powder Inspired by Grant Achatz
If I won the lottery (well…I can dream) the 3 Michelin Star Alinea in Chicago would most certainly be on my hit-list. As I may have mentioned before, I’m a bit of a fan of modernist cuisine. Therefore, it is exciting to see a nod to Grant Achatz in The Table’s caramel powder. Usually created with maltodextrin, the technique converts high-fat liquids into powders. A single and playful (to the senses) spoonful of caramel powder, evokes memories of childhood and visits to the sweet shop.
A plate of pure beauty, I have to admire this before I reluctantly stuck my spoon in. With textures of malted milk, a dark chocolate ganache, dehydrated chocolate mousse and dark chocolate sorbet, I am in pudding heaven. Gloriously rich and decadent…forget calorie counting, this dessert throws any diet out of the window in the best way possible!
Not a Lighter Way to Enjoy Chocolate | Textures of Chocolate with Malted Milk
Rounding the ‘experience’ off, we return to the initial canape style presentation, but this time in the form of a trio of petit fours. A bite size milk chocolate pistachio, mini doughnut and a dark chocolate cherry, complete what will surely be an unforgettable meal for years to come.
Chapter 4 | Musings of an Octopus
There are actually so many bonus points I really don’t know what to say (and needless to say, where to start);
- The Table dedicates itself to one sitting per evening, ensuring that you receive the highest quality service experience.
- This is intimate fine dining at its best. Full stop. The ability to watch, interact and ask the Chef’s questions throughout service, makes this restaurant just that little bit more special.
- I’m a big fan of dishes that demonstrate creativity, even down to the name. I know it’s not to everyone’s preference, but I personally love that thought has been put into a dish in all aspects.
- You get a goody bag to take home with you – containing the menu and some treats; this was a lovely memento from the evening.
Would I go again?
I don’t think I really need to answer this. If I can get a reservation, I will be Edinburgh bound. This restaurant is well worth taking a detour for (in my case a 397 mile detour north)…hint hint Michelin.
Would I recommend The Table?
Opened in 2015, The Table is still a bit of a ‘newbie’ within the Industry. With limited recognition at present; you won’t currently find it in the Michelin, AA or Good Food Guide. However, I’m going to stick my neck out because based on my own previous dining experiences and the consistently excellent reviews it receives, my personal thoughts are that it deserves a star…it’s that good! I’ll wait and watch with anticipation…
Needless to say, would I recommend The Table? That would be a resounding yes, yes and yes again. And I will go as far to say, that The Table has been my favourite dining experience of 2017…so far.
However, before you book please note:
- The Table, Edinburgh is open for one sitting in the evening at 7pm from Tuesday to Saturday. You are there for the duration of the evening.
- For obvious reasons, payment is upfront. All sales are final and non-refundable.
- The price of the Tasting Menu has now increased to £80 per person – Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and £90 per person – Friday and Saturday.
- Due to the small nature of their operations, The Table is unfortunately unable to cater for any dietary requirements, allergies or dislikes. However, I did mention this to Chef Sean, and if a party of 10 people were to book with the same dietary requirement i.e. vegetarian this could be catered for.
“Ten Seats, Two Chefs, One Outstandingly Imaginative Culinary Journey”
Address | 3a Dundas Street, Edinburgh, EH3 6QG