Reservations are hard to come by at chef Carl Dooley’s newish spot, The Table, but keep trying. Housed in the side room of Robert Harris’ Season to Taste catering outfit, Dooley’s run on this season of Top Chef and his spectacular gustatory creations are making this 20-seat eatery, that opened in January, very popular.
The “Rising Star Chef” (2015), who spent years in kitchens with Tony Maws, Frank Ruta, and fish master Eric Ripert, greeted us at the door with his beaming, dimpled smile as if we were longtime friends reuniting after years abroad; We’ve never met. Once we received our drinks from the list of beer and wine, Dooley’s charm continued at the table. He personally served welcome bites (or sips) of umami-filled ginger broth with slices of cured duck breast, shimeji mushrooms, baby Thai basil leaves and scallion to all guests upon arrival.
Dooley and his team serve a four-course prix fixe menu for $65 that features seasonal ingredients with international flavors. Last night we traveled the globe from our rustic wooden two-top, across from the open kitchen and set amidst crisp grey and white decor. The experience was intimate, friendly and casually cool like the funk music playing in the background.
We ordered both options from each menu course to share, and predictably there were stars that glimmered brighter than others, but only by a twinkle. Sauces were luxurious and complementary, flavors profiles were exciting, and meats were tender and moist.
It’s a rare occasion when a chicken dish stands out above the rest, but the perfect cookery of this thigh yielded juicy, succulent meat with a porcine texture and perfectly golden brown, crispy skin. It sat atop a stew of earthy morel mushrooms, verdant English peas, and a rich Vin Jaune wine sauce.
Other highlights included a beef tartare that was cut into cubes rather than finely chopped for a distinct chew, served with house-made pillowy brioche, tart yogurt, nutty fava beans, and a fiery aromatic harissa vinaigrette. And the house-made garganelli pasta with smoky pork belly, earthy and onion-forward ramps, piquant Calabrian chili, and briny ricotta salata.
The Table at Season to Taste is located at 2447 Massachusetts Avenue, in Cambridge. For dinner reservations, available Tuesday through Saturday from 5:30pm to 10pm, call 617-871-9468 or visit www.cambridgetable.com.