Wedged into an unassuming block in a less-trodden corner of Cambridge, there’s a place that’s all whitewash, chamomile flower, and wood, a place that transports you a million miles away from the congestion of Mass Ave. You might never even come out here if it weren’t for The Table— North Cambridge, a stronghold of old-school steakhouses and donut shops, has always been less ritzy than its Ivy League counterparts, so it’s a little bewildering to find a Top Chef celeb cooking the most beautiful meals in town.
Here you’ll find Cambridge native Carl Dooley, who worked his way up from a lobster shack in high school to kitchens at Battersby and Craigie on Main before placing in the top five on the Bravo show’s 2015 season. Back in his hometown and finally at the helm of his own restaurant, Dooley is taking the impeccable technique and market-based attitudes of French cuisine and combining them with an imaginative fearlessness that draws from farther-flung destinations to showcase the season’s best offerings.
The tiny spot’s smattering of tables are entirely devoted to the diners who while away long evenings over four-course prix fixe meals with layers of colors and textures: steak tartare with tomato confit, thick yogurt, and perfectly-crisp chickpeas to wrap in delicate lettuce leaves; pretty pastel roasted corn and aji amarillo topped with a squid so tender it could be mistaken for pasta; a coffee ice cream bar with toasted coconut and dulce de leche hidden under a crisp chocolate shell.
But that’s not the only way to experience The Table. Head in on any night without a reservation and cozy up to its standing wine bar, a little alcove with a wooden ledge just big enough to fit a few small plates. Changing monthly, the wine bar menu yields snacks as light as a green garlic clover roll and as decadent as a roasted lamb chop.
And it’s all executed without pretension. Dooley and his team cook right in the center of the small dining room, sometimes even serving tables themselves. Thoughtful extras—fresh corn-on-the-cob and a tiny chilled cucumber soup on a hot summer night, a house-made granola bar for tomorrow’s breakfast—extend the welcoming vibes that help The Table to fit so well into this out-of-the-way locale. It’s as painstakingly detailed as it is relaxed, as decadent as it is neighborly.
Test the waters before splurging on a full dinner by snacking on house-made charcuterie and elevated bar snacks (think kimchi stew, charred octopus, and roasted lamb chop) in the restaurant’s small standing wine bar.
Visit The Table’s website for information about upcoming food-and-wine pairing events focused on different regions of the world; recent editions have focused on Germany and France’s Loire Valley.
Perfect date advice: Saunter or cycle down the Davis Square bike path (it basically passes The Table!) and impress with your knowledge of hidden gems. Bonus: a romantic, all-too-rare acoustic calm once seated.
The secret to the deep, savory addictiveness of the house-made cultured butter? The team infuses the cream with rinds of pecorino cheese beforehand.
Tastes of The Table at Season to Taste
So good we can't stop writing about it. Read more about The Table at Season to Taste!