The Table Cafe revisited | 83 Southwark Street, London SE1 0HX
We had the chance to visit Dabbous. We turned it down. Are we mad? Possibly, yes, but it was for a very good cause. The Table restaurant on Southwark Street, where our blog began, was having a press night to showcase their new head chef, Cinzia Ghighoni, and we wanted to lend our support.
Cinzia, previously of Duck Soup and nearby Zucca has taken over the Head Chef reigns from Shaun Alpine-Crabtree, and slotted in perfectly, giving a new lease of life to the menu (not that we think it needed it of course). On meeting Cinzia, Shaun said: ‘My search for a Head Chef took three months, after six years at the helm of The Table if was always going to be difficult. I had almost given up when Cinzia and I were introduced by our mutual ex-head chef, Steve Evenett-Watts, who had trained us both at Villandry. Our first meeting lasted three hours; we haven’t stopped talking (and laughing) shop since.’
We have been huge fans of the place for years, not just for their fantastic food, but also for Shaun’s passion for what he does, and his engaging and witty tweets, we would go as far to say that he has become an actual friend. Yes, perhaps the menu should come with a dictionary, there are often things we’ve not come across before but that’s just one of the things we like about it. We have lost count of the amount of times we have recommended it to others, both on Twitter and in ‘real life’. If the moment ever comes when Marina O’Loughlin walks through the door, we will feel our job is done. She now has! Because I kept banging on about it!
They’re very much into their sustainable food, with Shaun being a proud owner of a two star rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association. Fresh veg is provided by the brilliant homeless charity St Mungo’s allotment, so far they seem to be the only restaurant using them, hopefully more will follow suit. New on board is wine man Matt Walls, who has helped develop the new wine list, extensively researching and testing, a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.
Everything The Table does they do they do with love and pride, and now together with Cinzia’s expertise and Shaun’s enthusiasm, they are creating something even more wonderful. The food has taken on quite an Italian feel, the Oxtail Ragu Risotto we had some months ago was incredible, Ade declared he could eat it every day! While the Grilled octopus and grilled marinated aubergines is one of the best things we ate this year.
Cinzia told us: ‘Shaun and I met through Evenett-Watts, head chef to us both at Villandry, only at different times. I think because of Steve I immediately felt I was on solid ground, as with Steven’s teaching came a strong moral background. Shaun and I share a love of food and a committment to sustainability. We like to have a laugh and at times it can be a bit of a double act! The restaurant is relaxed, informal and easygoing. However, we take food seriously and are committed to our young and enthusiastic staff. We both enjoy teaching and bringing people on.’
They have become known for their incredible brunches, with queues out the door on a Saturday morning, serving the great Monmouth Coffee and pastries baked fresh in-house. A stand out restaurant amongst a bunch of chains, the unassuming facade has possibly been part of the reason it has been a bit of a secret. Staggeringly, even some of our co workers in the building across the road don’t even know it exists. And if all this isn’t enough, they have a great line up of live music too (Read our post here).
The other day I visited for lunch and shared the Roast baby beetroots and dragoncello sauce, Nduja toast, roast Tropea onions both £6 along with Whole plaice, spinach and lemon £13.50. Beautiful, perfect plates of food, again I ate something I’ve never experienced before – Ndjua, a spreadable salami, and wonderful it was too. It’s hard to believe you’re on Southwark Street eating food as fine as this. The only reason we don’t visit more is because we can’t afford it! It’s unbelievably frustrating having a restaurant as good as this just across the road from us all day long.
What was great to see on the press night was so many faces I know from Twitter, along with bloggers and journalists, all getting a taste of what they have to offer and taking in Shaun’s charm. It’s a shame it’s taken so long for The Table to make its mark, going from a hidden gem to a destination restaurant, but we’re just so glad they’re getting the recognition they deserve. It was worth missing Dabbous just to witness a successful night and a beaming Shaun and Cinzia work the room.
83 Southwark Street,
London SE1 0HX
Opening times: Monday 7.30am-4:30pm
Tuesday 7.30am-4:30pm / 6pm-10.30pm
Wednesday 7.30am-4:30pm / 6pm-10.30pm
Thursday 7.30am-4:30pm / 6pm-10.30pm
Friday 7.30am-4:30pm / 6pm-10.30pm
Saturday 8.30am-4pm / 6pm-10.30pm
Nearest tube: Southwark or London Bridge