When French food critic and blogger Bruno Verjus opened his restaurant Table in April of 2013, even he knew that being a restaurant critic and being a restaurateur required distinctly different talents. Early visits to this 12th arrondissement establishment near the Bastille were, to my disappointment, underwhelming, and even the exuberant Verjus admits that it took him well over a year to figure out how to cook for more than a handful of friends and how to run a restaurant. What he did know – better than just about any Frenchman I am acquainted with – is how to source ingredients. Today, with Table thriving and the menu overflowing with impeccably researched products - he says that he has more than 300 suppliers - the dining experience is a veritable tour du monde. And a worthy one.
Do try the irresistible, densely flavored slices of Belgian entrecote, cut paper-thin and raised and aged like ham by the Flemish butcher Hendrick Dierendonck. Or go for the plump and rare 12-year old (!) oysters from Maldon in England, the gigantic bivalves delicately infused with rice vinegar and the rare, crunchy pearls of citron caviar, or finger limes. The chef’s delightfully small and delicate Brittany scallops are opened just seconds before serving, meaning they are still alive when they are set before you, very lightly bathed in Spanish Teruel olive oil and the additional burst of citron caviar pearls. Pigeon lovers (count me in!) will rejoice here, with a perfectly roasted, herb-infused bird, served with a touch of carefully grilled foie gras, brilliant red beets and radicchio, as well as varied citrus. The dish arrives with a Technicolor bowl of assorted vegetables, from Brussels sprouts to golden carrots, something that is missing on so many French restaurant menus these day. And don’t miss the exceptional chocolate mousse, a mix of whipped cream and a blend of Cuban and Venezuelan Chuao chocolate, a dream dessert if there ever was one. The wine list follows suit, and is extensive and varied, with something for every taste. Verjus plans to open a second venue on Place des Vosges this coming May.
Table | 3 rue de Prague | Paris 12 | + 33 1 43 43 12 26 | Métro: Ledru-Rollin | Open lunch & dinner Monday-Friday. Dinner only Saturday. Closed Sunday | Lunchtime menu at 29€, à la carte at lunch and dinner, 75 to 125€ | http://www.tablerestaurant.fr/