Eight Tables has been open about 3 months and is a surprise on your first visit. Located down a nondescript alley and then up an elevator in one of the last buildings, you open into a beautiful modern and elegant restaurant with just 8 tables well spread out. The light wood, plush leather banquettes, lots of mirrors, background jazz music and tons of service people all dressed in beige bode well for a lovely evening, and the place did not disappoint. Attention to detail is throughout the environment, food and people. Chef George Chen was inspired by an historic style of dining called “Private Chateau Cuisine” which is now being seen again in China. It means an elaborate meal presented in an intimate setting. He is a presence in the restaurant coming by to visit each of the tables several times during the evening. He is a terrific host.
The bar is another exceptional part of the dining here with Anthony Keels making lots of unique cocktails to complement the food. We actually opted for the pairings this evening which included several of his cocktails in addition to wine pairings. As soon as you’re settled in your seat you’re brought a warm moist towel to wipe your hands – too few places provide this courtesy. Then the champagne cart visits the table and the staff checks for allergies with the promise of a printed menu when you leave. We started with a cocktail that was one of 4 on the menu and not included in this night’s pairings.
The first course was “Nine Essential Flavors of Chinese Cuisine” which is 9 small bowls each filled with the essence of (starting at the top and going left to right, row by row) sweet, salty, sour, bitter, numbing, hot, fragrant, nutty or smokey. The tray was a visual delight with items of different shapes, textures and colors placed in each of the differently finished bowls. The sweet was a date that was chewy, sweet, sticky and very good. The smokey was some crispy and chewy smelts. All were quite good and fun to sample.
Four Seas Dumpling was filled with Russian Golden Osetra, Sea Urchin, Bay Scallop and Trout Roe. The four sections separated easily for 4 bites of different wonderfully intense taste treats.
Barbeque ‘Shao Kao’ with Kaluga on Duck Skin, Iberico Char Siu and Siu Yuk Sandwich. Kaluga caviar was on the very crispy duck skin and made a rich wonderful combination. This was a great one. Siu Yuk is roasted meat, in this case barbecued pork belly that was yummy and mildly seasoned with something with anise flavor and went well with the slices of French Butter Pears that offered a sweet, firm delicious flavor. The Iberico was marinated and the small yellow pile was candied Buddha’s hand. Lots of flavors and textures that yielded some really tasty combinations.
Upside Down Sizzling Rice Soup included poached lobster, bottarga and mirepoix. The lobster was fairly mild tasting but really good. Another winning selection.
Local Black Cod in Banana Leaf included bamboo ‘cannelloni’, Lotus Root, and eggplant. The large flake fish was perfectly cooked and accented with some mushrooms. This felt like total comfort food full of excellent flavors.
Velvet Chicken was served with black truffles, Matsutake mushroom and soya veal jus. The chicken had been poached in a high temperature oil in a wok and then tossed with egg white and chives. A little cognac in the sauce brought out the flavors perfectly. It was served alongside a steamed lotus bun that was sprinkled with scallions, chives and truffle oil. The mild chicken was great when mixed with the various textures and tastes. The lotus bun was also mildly flavored and tasted mostly of herbs. This course didn’t have the intensity of the previous ones but it did have the artistry. This one just needs to crank up the flavor quotient.
Miyasaki A5 Wagyu was plated with baby Gailan hearts (a type of Chinese broccoli) and Wallapa ‘Oyster’ sauce. This was a supplemental course offered that evening and we split one order and it was definitely worth the money. The beef was amazing – tender, juicy and cooked perfectly. The fried oyster was tender and wonderful. This course had it all, a total yum.
Red ‘Dongpo’ pork was plated with a quail tea egg, rainbow beets, pasta ties and brussel sprouts. The pork had been long cooked and was served alongside a bowl of fried rice that contained bits of popped rice. The sauce on the plate went wonderfully with the egg, vegetables and pasta. The pork mixed well with the rice. Another delicious offering.
A foie gras potsticker was served two ways with black sesame and peanut mochi. The foie gras was from Hudson Vally and next to it were some streaks of reduced black vinegar. The “orange ball” tasted of an adult version of a Reese’s peanut butter cup topped with a miniature mint leaf. It was totally good as was the crispy version on the plate. Both sauces worked with both versions.
Fermented rice sorbet was plated with Goji Berry vinegar. It was smooth, super sweet and fruity. This pre-dessert set a high bar cause it was really good.
Sago Pudding was accented with Manuka honey and candied chestnut powder. Sago is similar to tapioca and it had a lovely texture. It was also mixed with some cocoa butter, bits of cutroots and poached squash. The candied chestnuts were a particularly tasty touch.
Last treats were a gooseberry jelly, pineapple cake and coconut stuffed with huckleberry. A great meal!