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Take a Seat at The Table — If You Can

Posted By foodgal On September 20, 2012 @ 5:25 am In Chefs,General,Restaurants | 11 Comments

Chef de Cuisine Anthony Jimenez jokes that he and his crew have finally found the perfect late-night dining spot in San Jose.

The only problem?

They can’t hang out there — because they work there.

The Table, which just opened last month in San Jose’s Willow Glen neighborhood, is a rarity in the sleepy South Bay — a non-greasy-spoon of a restaurant that serves food sometimes as late as 10:30 p.m. on weekdays. Although the restaurant officially closes at 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jimenez says he keeps the kitchen going if enough people are still coming in later at night.

Another unusual aspect? They serve bone marrow. The caveman-like offal dish is de rigueur on many a San Francisco menu. But in the South Bay? Not so much.

The roasted bones, split to make it easier to scoop out the unctuous marrow to spread on grilled ciabbatta ($12), sells well, too, Jimenez says.

The Table is the newest restaurant by Executive Chef-Partner Jim Stump of the Los Gatos Brewing Company in San Jose and Los Gatos. The long-time South Bay chef says he’s always wanted to open an intimate neighborhood establishment that’s all about farm-to-tableĀ  because “it’s not just a concept, it’s life.”

Diners seem to be embracing it with open arms, too, as the restaurant has been busy since opening day.

Seats are not easy to come by, especially when there’s only 60 of them at simple, bare wood tables. I was lucky enough to snag one recently when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant.

The walls are adorned with colorful murals of over-sized pears and wine bottles, hand-painted by Stump’s friend, a restaurateur in Denver. There’s also a chalkboard over the open kitchen that sports inspirational quotes.

Stump has pretty much given Jimenez, who formerly cooked at Parcel 104 in Santa Clara, free reign with the menu. If General Manager Brian Nichols also looks familiar, it’s because he came from Parcel 104, too.

The restaurant has a full bar that turns out a tangy, frothy Pisco Sour ($8), along with inventive non-alcoholic beverages such as “Lavender Peach Soda” ($5).

The food is very much California comfort food with stellar produce. The menu is playful, too, with the likes of “The Only Burger That Belongs on the Table.”

Acme bread arrives with a crock of soft ricotta drizzled with olive oil to spread on thickly.

If you’ve never had bone marrow, try it once and you’re sure to become an instant fan. The huge bones may look intimidating. But the marrow, which basically tastes like exquisite beef butter, will leave your eyes rolling back into your head.

Local figs ($8) were deliciously ripe with salty Pecorino, black pepper and bacon jam, which turned out to be more big, crispy cubes of bacon rather than what I thought would be a more sticky marmalade consistency. But really, it’s hard to quibble with any dish that has bacon in it, right?

My Mount Lassen trout ($18) had beautifully pink flesh like salmon and crisp skin alongside tender green beans drizzled with Green Goddess dressing.

My friend Donna had what’s become one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes — free-range chicken ($21). The chicken is juicy to be sure. But it’s the accompaniment that has had diners raving. And for good reason. Think zucchini bread, but more savory than full-on sweet, then sliced and griddled until the exterior is crisp. It’s like stuffing in loaf form. Indeed, I’m already thinking what a great — and easier — alternative this would be to Thanksgiving stuffing. The warm zucchini bread has won over so many diners that they’re pestering Jimenez to offer it as a separate side dish. He just might, too. For now, the restaurant often will give diners an extra slice when they order the chicken because they know everyone else at the table is sure to be grabbing for it.

For dessert, we shared the pot de creme au chocolate ($6). The thick, dark chocolate pudding had a nice touch of sea salt over the top, as well as candied hazelnuts and house-made marshmallows that were a little denser in texture than most.

The Table is also open for lunch. Look for it to start brunch service soon, too, which just might make getting a seat at this already popular place a little easier.

More: A Visit to Parcel 104

And: A Visit to Nick’s on Main, Run by Chef Nick Difu, Who Worked with Chef Jim Stump

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