Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Table 8 Bistro March Restaurant Week : Collingswood, NJ (Photo Heavy)

Table 8 Bistro March Restaurant Week : Collingswood, NJ 
Sunday marked the end of restaurant week, so I'll be returning to my normal foodie reviews. It's been a lot of fun going to all of these new places to photograph and eat yummy food, but my stomach and wallet are both ready for a break. To end the week, my boyfriend and I went to the Table 8 Bistro for one last dinner. This restaurant is relatively new, it's slightly off the main road, and it doesn't have a website yet. (Although it does have a Facebook page.)

THIS FOOD IS BEAUTIFUL (AKA, I went overboard with the photos)

I wasn't able to make it to the Table 8 Bistro on Friday, since I am a bad food blogger and I didn't make reservations, but I booked a table Sunday night and I couldn't have asked for a prettier meal. Since the restaurant is fairly new, I hadn't heard much about it. To be honest, I didn't even know it existed until I saw it's menu posted on Collingswood's website.

The dinner here was a bit more expensive ($35pp) than Indiya ($22pp), but Akira does have an additional course. The pricing is, well, pretty pricy, but very rarely eat out. If this wasn't restaurant week I wouldn't be dropping almost $40 dollars to feed myself, let alone $80 for a meal for two. (But I'm cheap frugal, and I like cooking meals at home.)
I ordered:
  • Soup du Jour- Which happened to be vegetable (potato, corn, and peas)
  • Brisket Flat Bread- braised brisket, caramelized onions, horseradish cream, onion crisp, and dusted with Parmesan cheese
  • Crisp Parmesan Chicken Breast- Parmesan herb breaded and pan fried chicken breast, provolone cheese melt and pomodoro sauce
  • Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding w/a scoop of Ice Cream
My boyfriend ordered:
  • House Salad- Cucumber, greens, feta cheese, tomatoes and pomegranate balsamic vinaigrette
  • Stuffed Mushroom Caps- Over roasted stuffed mushroom caps with crab imperial, parmesan herb breadcrumbs, scampi sauce and parsley
  • Papardelle Trio- Chorizo, mild and hot sausage, garlic, broccoli rabe, olives, roasted red peppers, fresh basil, and mushroom Gorgonzola sauce
  • Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding w/a scoop of Ice Cream
Unlike the other restaurants I have reviewed this week, this one had tons of natural light, so I didn't have to worry about my photos! There are plenty of reasons why restaurants have the lights so dim, but I don't want to feel like I'm eating in a cave. Table 8 Bistro is located on a corner lot, so the two walls that are not attached to another building are entirely made of windows. Even though it was a rainy day, the lighting was very photo friendly.
With all these folds in the fabric, this looks like some kind of still life painting.
Which allowed me to take these gorgeous photos! The food was gorgeous and well plated, so get ready to be bombarded by food porn.
To start things off, we were given a beautiful basket of garlic and cheese bread with some red peppers and some herb-infused olive oil. 

This bread was really really photogenic, but this isn't one of those dishes that just looks appealing, it taste great too. The bread is mostly soft with a lightly crusty edge, and it's topped with an herb-y blend of garlic, cheese, and spices. It was served warm, which was a great way to start our meal on such a rainy and miserable day. Although I haven't quite developed a taste for olive oil, I'm more of a balsamic kind of girl, I did enjoy the oil soaked red peppers. The peppers worked really well with the bread and transformed it into a pseudo bruschetta. Needless to say, my boyfriend and I finished off the basket well before our food arrived.
Our first courses arrived just as we polished off the bread. Since it was so cold and miserable outside, I opted for the vegetable soup. This soup was very soothing, because it was nice and warm, but the flavor was a bit bland. I don't think I would order this soup again, but I did have a bite of my boyfriend's salad, and it was delicious. It was covered with this tangy pomegranate vinaigrette, which I absolutely loved. I definitely enjoyed it more than my starting course. My boyfriend enjoyed his salad, but there was too much dressing for his liking. (Personally I drown everything in vinaigrette, so this was a perfect amount for me.) 

This course was the one I was looking forward to the most. I have wanted to eat this brisket flat bread ever since the menu was posted. (Thankfully it's a permanent menu item, so I can go back and get it again whenever I want.) My brisket flatbreat was covered in onion, cheese, horseradish cream, and some kind of BBQ-like sauce. It was amazing! The horse radish gives the dish a mustard-like bite, while the meat, caramelized onion, and red sauce create this melt in your mouth sweetness. If you aren't a fan of BBQ, I don't think you'd enjoy this, but I thought it was amazing. My boyfriend got the stuffed mushrooms, and he really enjoyed them. I ate a bit of the filling, since I don't like the texture of mushrooms, and the crab flavoring works very well with the buttery sauce.
When the main course arrived I absolutely loved how bold the colors looked against these simple white dishes, but I was also a little bit afraid. I didn't know that my dish came with so much pomodoro sauce and, I have mentioned this in previous posts, but I am mildly allergic to tomatoes. I seems to be an acidity problem, but it's something I have dealt with ever since I was a baby. (Growing up Italian and allergic to tomatoes is rough. I can have some, but if I eat too much I'll get physically sick which is the nice way of saying I puke my guts out and get stomach cramps.) Since I was a little afraid of the sauce I picked at the pasta around the perimeter of my dish and ate a few bits of chicken. This was in no way the restaurant's fault, and every bite I had was delicious, but I really didn't want to get sick in the middle of a restaurant or cause any trouble. (Next time I'll know to ask for a lot less sauce, or to pick another dish.)

Thankfully my boyfriend had no trouble whatsoever with his dish. He loved the spicy sausages (Ha! I'm sorry.) He just had to pick out an olive every now and again, which he despises, but I happily took them off his hands. His dish was really flavorful, and the sausage varied from mild to medium spiciness. I really enjoyed the few bites I had of his dish, and I'm not even a sausage fan. (Ha!)

Something that set this restaurant apart from the others that participated in restaurant week, other than the lovely lighting, is that coffee was included. (Which was one of the selling points I used when I asked my boyfriend to go to dinner with me.) As you can see, the coffee closest to the camera is mine, since it's far lighter than my caffeine and coffee addicted boyfriend's.
I really liked the coffee, but my personal coffee-expert said it was a bit weak, but that might have been why I liked it so much. Plus, it came out with a freaking doily! No one uses doilies anymore, so I thought it was super cute when the coffee arrived with a ceramic cream pitcher and little paper doilies. I felt like I was at a lolita tea party.

The coffee was served with our desserts, we both chose the same bread pudding, and it was really satisfying. The bread pudding wasn't overly sweet, it had a very light sprinkling of chocolate, and it was topped with some kind of butter pecan ice cream. (Which was not mentioned on the menu. They should be careful with that, if someone had a nut allergy they might get in a lot of trouble.) Since I do not suffer from a nut allergy (Giggity) I really liked the combination. A lot of the sweetness from the dessert came from the melting ice cream, and the bread pudding went really well with the coffee.

This actually beats the Pistachio Kulfi as my favorite restaurant week dessert.

Out of the three restaurants I have visited this week, Table 8 had the best dessert and the best plating/presentation. I have already recommended this restaurant to my Italian food loving friends, and I will be returning in the future. (I want to try their taste of Italy menu which is only available on Sunday.)

My Official Spring 2014 Restaurant Week Ranking is:
  1. Indiya - The portions and pricing can't be beat, and their entrees were the best of the three
  2. Table 8 Bistro - Best plating I've seen in Collingswood, plus fantastic starters and desserts
  3. Akira - Great plating, but if you stray from the sushi menu for dinner things can be a bit hit or miss
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