I am not certain how long The Table, an elegant restaurant at Phillippi Creek, has been closed but several of my friends are still sad.

Fortunately the chefs remain in the neighborhood — at the Phillippi Creek Oyster Bar in the same center, down that very steep driveway and adjacent to Phillippi Creek Village Restaurant and Oyster Bar.

Last Wednesday I was there for dinner with Chef Judi Gallagher and a cadre of food writers from area publications. We had been invited to sample several items which are being added to the Creek’s menu in the next few weeks.

It is a good thing I am not a full-time food writer or I would take up even more space.

The menu offerings began with a Cucumber Jalapeno Margarita cocktail in a tall glass rimmed with chili pepper sugar. If you like hot and spicy, lick the rim of the glass. I did my tasting with the curly-cue straw that came with the drink.

Knowing how much food was ahead (we each were provided with a list), a couple sips of the drink and a nibble of the cucumber slice on the edge of the glass was plenty. We had to save room for shrimp and King crab and lobster and whole belly clams and more.

Next came a dish of Caribbean chopped salad featuring jumbo grilled shrimp on a colorful array of tomato and avocado chunks, cucumber and radish slices with an avocado citrus vinaigrette. Taking the lead from the professional food writers present, a few bites were enough because we had to save room for the Hawaiian lobster cocktail which arrived in half of a coconut, sitting in crushed ice in a metal bowl. When it comes to a salad that was mostly chunks of lobster, I did not hurt the chef’s feelings. Avoiding the coconut, I ate all the lobster.

Another new appetizer is Crab dip made from lump blue crab meat in a fontina corn fondue. Also excellent but with so much more to come, I tried it but did not clean my plate. Up next was a Whole Belly Clam Sandwich. I had one clam — no bread. My stomach was beginning to send me messages like “What are you doing to me?”

Next up was Linquini and Clams. As I rarely eat pasta, I just had another clam. Still to come was Tempura Lobster Mac & Cheese and “King’s Seafood Boil,” which arrived in a boat. I kid you not.

Lobster in the cheese sauce was quite good but nothing can compare to the big finish — a boat loaded with chunks of king crab legs, grilled chunks of corn on the cob, peel and eat shrimp, mussels, red skin potatoes, garlic bread and lobster tails, every bit seemingly drenched in melted butter. Good thing the restaurant always has rolls of paper towels on the table. When this incredible feast goes on the entree list in a week or so, it will be $79.95 and easily serves two or even three.

I managed to eat a small lobster tail, a 3-inch chunk of crab leg, a couple of shrimp and a little chunk of grilled corn. My parents used to always grill corn on the cob (in husks soaked in water) back in Ohio. Yum!

Whew...thanks goodness for interesting seat mates so that good conversation helped stretch out the eating. It seems that food writers also travel a lot, so I got some fresh updates on Legoland, Nashville and Barcelona and also learned why the other food writers were all on the slim side. Most of them took home what they could not eat that night.

There was one last item — a Key Lime Pie cocktail in a rather tall glass topped with whipped cream, although the whole thing looked like a vertical slice of pie minus the crust, yet the ingredients did include graham cracker crumbs in addition to vanilla vodka, key lime juice and vanilla cream. I don’t even want to hazard a guess as to the calorie count. Tasty as it was, a few sips were enough to pack on the last few pounds at this tasty repast.

As many of these items would likely be found at The Table if it were still in business, it is good news for Table customers.

The big difference is that you sit at picnic tables and have a roll of paper towels instead of white linen table cloths and napkins, as one enjoyed at The Table.

This is no time to be a snob. We dined on some seriously good food prepared by seriously good chefs. Try it, you might like it.

And if, like many people who watch ABC channel 7, you have missed seeing Chef Judi, find her at:

judigallagher.com From there you can access her blog, recipes, cooking tips, video clips and bio.

Email: kcool@venicegondolier.com

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