Right before a restaurant opens, they usually throw a party for the media. Since our dining editors review eating establishments anonymously, they never show at these parties (waiting, instead, to dine there shortly after the opening so they won’t be “outed”). But sometimes they get curious, and when they do, they send someone like me.
I was jazzed. Earlier this week, I was asked to check out Table Fifty-Two, the debut restaurant from Oprah Winfrey’s chef and prolific cookbook author Art Smith. I’ve known Art for a while. We’re both Southerners (he’s from Florida; I’m from Alabama). He’s been talking about the spot, formerly Albert’s Patisserie, on Elm, for more than a year now. The wait was over for what seemed to be one of the bigger openings this year.
The media folks crammed in. I scanned the room, looking for a heaping plate of fried chicken-only to find out that the event was sponsored by Leblon, the high-end cachaça company (cachaça is distilled from sugarcane and is to Brazil what rum is to Jamaica). Also, the evening’s menu was Brazilian-themed for the occasion. That meant Table’s menu was still top secret. I sighed and ordered a second caipirinha.
The meal was amazing; Art always does it up right. And he made greens-one of my personal favorites. But I still have no idea what he’ll be dishing up (besides fried chicken on Sundays) once the restaurant opens. My table had no idea either. But we had fun trying to guess. Check out the menu (click for larger view) and leave your guesses in the comments box. We’ll see who’s right when Table opens next week.
Below are few shots from inside Table, which-minus the big copper-tin fixtures in the main dining room-looks like you’ve stepped into a South Georgia plantation.
Oprah’s chef, Art Smith, right, introduces his chef de cuisine and longtime assistant, Rey Villalobos.