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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What's up at Table 1280

Smoked salmon croque madame at Table 1280
In August of last year, word went out that chef Gary Mennie was leaving Livingston to become executive chef at Table 1280, the restaurant attached to the Woodruff Arts Center. A few months later, I visited with the intention of reviewing, but when my photographer attempted to contact the restaurant to schedule a photo shoot, I got a phone call from Mennie, who informed me that the restaurant would be undergoing significant changes, but that they had yet to take place. I agreed to hold off on a review for a while longer. This was partly because the food I had on my one visit didn't seem very Mennie-esque. It was boring, fancy food, and I took from our conversation that he hadn't had a chance to update the menu in a significant way since he'd taken over.

Recently, I decided to pay a visit for brunch. I'm not sure what changes Mennie has instituted at this point (I've called the restaurant a few times to see where they were in terms of the promised overhaul, spoke to Mennie for a minute one time - he promised to call me back and never did), but brunch was everything brunch at Table 1280 should be: sophisticated, upscale food; good enough to feel special, and shot though with enough fresh detail to rise beyond standard boring fancy food.

Shrimp and grits
  • Shrimp and grits
I tried three dishes - a soup, a special of shrimp and grits, and the smoked salmon croque madame. The soup - roasted parsnip and crab - was both rich and light. Coconut milk and sherry added unexpected interest. Shrimp and grits, served with a poached egg, had an intense lobster sauce that was brought back to balance by a generous scattering of micro herbs on top. Likewise, the croque madame, served egg-in-a-poke style, had enough baby tarragon and parsley as garnish to add a shot of welcome freshness to the dish.

I've always thought this restaurant ought to be one of the highlights of the Atlanta dining scene. I'm hoping that Mennie can return it to that status. For the time being, it's an awfully nice place to have brunch.

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