September 24, 2012 by eatfreak
Well, actually Table for Forty given that there are two tables seating 20 people apiece. The premise for Table for Twenty is that of communal dining with new dinner neighbours feasting on an ever-changing menu to a backdrop of live acoustic music, as well as BYO to get the energy and conversation flowing. I love this concept and was super enthusiastic to join two other couples on a windy Thursday evening (apparently Saturdays and Sundays at TfT are booked for the rest of the year).
Warm up for the night began at Sticky Bar which is located directly above TfT. I’ve read good things about this place – drink selection, atmosphere and a text-entry system. So I was a little disappointed when we bumped into one of the staff in the alleyway who let us in, so I was unable to send the requisite text! Ah well, next time. There was a fairly extensive listing of wines and pours were generous. On the night we were there, one staff member was tending a very impressive large skillet of paella – being served at $15 a dish (and at 8.05 on the dot according to the chalk board). Tempting!
We were seated at 8pm and introduced ourselves to our neighbours, which was a rather large group celebrating a 29tth birthday party. Kalamata olive baked bread rolls were provided at the table, alongside olive oil served in industrial style decanters and sparkling water. Our host Greg (or Gary? Damn… I do know he was from Gisborne NZ though!) took us through the menu for the evening. It was a lot to remember after a few glasses of wine, so I made sure he wrote everything down for me!
The entrée was papadelle with cavolo nero (Tuscan green cabbage), pecorino cheese and roasted pinenuts. Delish! The cavolo nero was new to all of us dining…it was likened to spinach by Greg/Gary, but when served mixed with the pasta it was almost like a parsley-based pesto. I really enjoyed this starter, although one of my companions commented it was too dry (I disagree, but I feel I should represent all opinions of the table!). It was an ample serving, so the fact it was all slurped up is testimony to its deliciousness.
For the main we enjoyed parsley and garlic crusted veal back strap, served with a white bean ragout. Sides were honey-roasted parsnips, green beans, and a red radicchio salad. I enjoyed the veal, although it probably needed to be medium rare (I suppose by serving it as medium, they’re catering to the masses). The salad included walnuts, apples, and cabbage… its only downfall being that it was over-dressed in an oil-based aioli-like dressing. The beans were perfectly cooked, but it was the humble roast parsnips that were the star of the show, roasted in honey and oil, the perfect mix of savoury and sweet. Taking these dishes together, it felt like a quality home cooked meal.
Desert came in the form of baked amaretto and ricotta cheesecake. A dish with potential, but patchy in performance as the enjoyment of the cake actually depended on which part of the cake you were eating! We found it very light and creamy in the middle (yum!) but a little eggy on the edges of the cake (not so good!). Unfortunately this was the lagging dish of the evening. When I surveyed my dining group’s rating for the cheesecake, the collective came up with an average of 5.5/10 (although, I gave it a 7!).
Return Factor? 5 of the 6 of us agreed that we would return, although only in groups of 4+. At $60 p.p. for three solid courses served over 2.5 hours, BYO wine, and some fantastic live music (a talented female artist singing covers the night we were there – Amy Winehouse, The Killers, The Kooks etc), I think this is pretty decent value to be had in Surry Hills an awesome concept and a kick-arse loft bar upstairs. Good times!