When Table 45 first opened, I had every intention of dining there. During an interview for the blog, I spoke to chef Zack Bruell about his then soon-to-open restaurant inside the InterContinental Hotel. He spoke with such enthusiasm for the space, menu and plans for future expansion into other cities. But we never made it in. We tried to go for lunch one day last summer after a morning of appointments at the Clinic, but there was a large event and we opted not to wait.
Obviously, we go out to eat quite a bit. I was thinking about why we never made it to Table 45 previously and I think it comes down to its location. Being inside a hotel, it’s somewhat hidden from the outside world and therefore never top-of-mind. On the flip side, its proximity to the museums and orchestra is ideal, especially since there are only a handful of places I would recommend dining in that area before an event. For the most part, we like to go to places where we can walk around after, sit on a patio or sit back and enjoy the crowd and atmosphere. I suppose if I really think about it, being situated inside that hotel in particular is the reason why we’ve never gone until recently, when Bruell’s PR person invited us to have dinner, thus completing the tour de Bruell (if you’re a regular reader, then you know I’m a big fan of Parallax and L’Albatros).
Table 45, which is named after Bruell’s favorite table at Parallax, sits on the first floor of the hotel. And while there are a few negatives associated with its location, one big plus is complimentary valet parking (just be sure to have your server validate you ticket). Like Bruell’s food, I also appreciate his taste in décor and how he transformed L’Albatros and Parallax. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for Table 45. The restaurant itself is big and super contemporary with lots of blond wood. It’s clean and simple, just not my taste. It reminded me of a giant, cold, sterile conference room. Perhaps that’s because it’s in a hotel and surrounded by the massive Clinic. Perhaps he didn’t have much of a say in the design and the restaurant had to fit within certain confines. I’m not sure. But we both definitely preferred the atmosphere of his other restaurants over this one. With that being said, there were a couple elements we both enjoyed, specifically the flatware and bread and appetizer plates as well as a few booths that are somewhat hidden – plus table 45 itself, which is a glass-enclosed table located inside the kitchen and provides guests with direct access to the chef (who cooks just for you). I haven’t seen anything like this in our area before; ideal if you have a special occasion.
Table 45’s menu is globally focused, with extra nods to Indian cuisine (a big plus for me). We started off with the homemade naan which featured four different spreads (the hummus and olive tapenade the clear winners). From our table we watched the one chef toss the dough into the 800 degree Tandoori oven and a minute later, carefully pull out some of the best naan we’ve ever sampled. After dinner, we got an even closer look into the oven and all that goes into naan.
For appetizers, I had the tuna carpaccio with cucumbers, tomato, Feta and mint oil; Jamie went with the black bean soup topped with generous amounts of goat cheese. For salads, I tried the Belgian endive with shaved prosciutto and Parmesan, citrus slices and olive oil while Jamie had the wedge with Maytag bleu, eggs, red onion and caramelized lardoons. For our dinner, I chose a new item: the poached halibut infused with olive oil and herbs served atop lentils, saffron aioli, roasted garlic and smoked paprika broth. Jamie ordered the fennel-crusted short ribs with red peppers, potatoes and roasted fennel.
The tuna was outstanding, both in taste and presentation. Fresh, flavorful and incredibly satisfying. I loved the mint oil and cucumbers paired with the tuna. Jamie was also equally impressed with his soup, and so was I after the few tastes I had. I loved the texture of this soup and the creamy goat cheese. The salads were just ok – nothing memorable here. In fact, my salad was missing the one ingredient I was most excited about – the prosciutto.
As for the dinners, it’s been two weeks since we dined there and are still telling friends just how good both dishes were. My halibut was absolutely wonderful. I savored each bite and was truly impressed with this dish, same for the short ribs. While the ribs didn’t have as much fennel taste as I would have hoped for, they were tender, cooked perfectly and left Jamie speechless during most of the meal. Both dishes were executed beautifully and left us smiling the whole ride home.
Zack Bruell continues to impress us with is culinary know-how and creativity in the kitchen. I am a bona-fide fan. We truly have so much talent in this city and while some of my favorite chefs are no longer technically cooking on a daily basis, they are educating, training and passing on their points of view to the next generation, like sous chef Tom Shrenk who was in the kitchen the night we were there.
So while I may not be wowed with the space itself, based on this visit, the food is truly wonderful and a good choice if you’re in the area. Again, aside from L’Albatros and Michaelangelo’s, there isn’t much else I’d recommend if you have plans within the vicinity.