The Table Café – Not All About The Brunch… | 83 Southwark Street, London, SE1 0HX
We’re not even going to try and pretend that we don’t have a special place in our hearts for The Table Café. It was one of the first restaurant reviews we wrote for our website over five years ago. We’re not going to link to that post, to be honest it’s awfully embarrassing and I think that patron and chef, Shaun Alpine-Crabtree was messing with us when he said that squirrel meat sausages were soon to appear on the menu. But then again you never quite know with him…
Shaun started out over 20 years ago at L’Odeon, under the highly regarded Bruno Loubet of the Grain Store, he then headed over to become head chef at Villandry. He’s been at the helm of The Table for ten years now but you’d never know it, his enthusiasm, passion and hard work is just as evident now than it ever was. The total opposite of how Saff felt after ten years working for the same company, it just goes to show what can happen if you’re happy in your job. If you didn’t already know, The Table is one of Bankside‘s hidden gems and is famed for their legendary award-winning all-day brunch.
Shaun and his team are passionate about sourcing quality British ingredients and the restaurant’s two star rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association is proof of their commitment to sustainable and ethical sourcing. Plus there is the incredible partnership with homeless charity St Mungo’s who they supply fruit and vegetables from their allotments just by The Shard.
I still work just over the road from The Table Café (which is a stone’s throw from Borough Market) and pop in whenever I can for an Allpress coffee before work. I’d love to be able to stick around for Graceland flat-iron waffles (£8) – crispy bacon, creamy scrambled egg, pork sausage atop a waffle. Or for their famous Stack (£11) – chorizo and ham hock baked beans, a toasted bagel, two poached eggs and hollandaise but there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
But this post isn’t about their breakfast or brunch, it’s all about their new small plates section on the weekday lunch menu. Don’t panic, they still serve probably the best burger in the local area – The Ranch (£13) – a bacon cheese burger, 100% Welsh Black beef burger, applewood-smoked cheddar, streaky bacon, their own pickled gherkins, a secret sauce inside a brioche bun with hand-cut heritage potato fries.
So back to the small plates…This changeable list of eight or so seasonal items is a fantastic alternative to some of the more, let us just say, indulgent dishes. They may be a little lighter but they still pack a heavyweight punch of flavour. We managed to squeeze in five of the eight dishes currently on the list – for research purposes of course!
First up was the unusual, intriguing and so very seasonal Nettle Tagliatelle (£8) served with wild garlic, pancetta and topped with parmesan (well ours wasn’t, Saff can’t eat cheese). Saff’s acupuncturist has been encouraging her to eat ‘blood nourishing foods’ and nettles have massively high levels of easily absorbed amino acids, and they’re ten percent protein, more than any other vegetable. Who knew this nasty garden weed could actually have so many nutritional benefits.
Saff also wanted to try the Chargrilled Sea Trout (£11) with pickled cucumber, shaved fennel, a pea shoot salad and keta caviar. A perfect lunch dish if you’re trying to be good or in a hurry. An incredible mix of ingredients, punchy and fresh whilst the sea trout’s quality was unmistakable. This she paired with the Spiced roast cauliﬂower (£5), topped with an earthy sunﬂower seed and sesame tahini with harissa sauce adding some heat.
Last up was a somewhat un-photogenic Conﬁt free range duck leg with mountain lentils and marjoram (£10). What it lacked in looks it more than made up for in taste. Now I’m a red-blooded carnivore, but the bed of herby lentils made me flirt with the idea of vegetarianism, well it crossed my mind for a few moments. Time Out recently ran a feature called ‘Bring back brown food’, if only they’d known about this dish.
Obviously we had enough for two meals. One of the larger dishes each and a veggie options as a side would have been quite enough for lunch especially washed down with one of the smoothies, we especially love a [sniggers] Morning Glory (£6) with pineapple, mango, lime and orange juice.
I’m lucky having this place just across the road from my office, but judging by the queues out the door for brunch on a weekend it’s not just the nearby office workers who appreciate what they’re doing. Or our readers for that matter, the post we wrote about their brunch remains one of the most read on our site. Plus the fact that whilst being swamped by chain restaurants, it’s one of the last independent restaurants in the area – testament to just how special this place is.
Opening hours: Monday – Friday: 7.30am – 4.30pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8.30am – 4.30pm
Book a table online (no reservations at the weekend)
Nearest station: Southwark (6 mins walk), Borough (13 mins walk),
London Bridge (16 mins walk)
We ate as guests of The Table Café, this does not affect our review in any way.
We always write with complete honesty.