Table (1821 Cherokee Street; 314-449-1888) was one of our favorite restaurant openings of the year, and it earned Cassy Vires our pick for the Best Chef of 2013. The concept of her second restaurant focused around communal dining, which certainly took some people off guard. In her review, our critic Cheryl Baehr noted that although she loved Table, the very large menu and unconvential dining setup did not always work as planned.
"In a perfect world, a table of two would sit next to another table of two. They would engage in banter, become instant friends over a mutual love of all things epicurean, and end up sharing a bottle of wine and eating off each other's plates. This would be lovely," she wrote. "Unfortunately, it's not how people tend to eat in this country. Whether this is a good or a bad thing is not the point; that many of us can't share a table with strangers without feeling uncomfortable speaks volumes about our culture."
To that end, Vires is making some changes in the new year, both to the menu and the setup, as first reported by George Mahe.
Table is on "winter break" right now, a hiatus that Vires' restaurant Home Wine Kitchen takes every year as well. It's no vacation, though -- the time will be used to reconfigure the dining room, including decor, and come up with a more traditional menu.
"There will probably be more singular tables than communal, but we'll still have those communal tables that regulars have come to love," Vires tells us. "There will be softer touches -- we're adding linens to the tables, candlelight and changing colors to add a little more punch to the dining room."
While that isn't a complete change in concept, Vires says the really big difference will be the menu. Right now, it has over 50 small plates to choose from -- pretty difficult for a party of two.
"I think that small plates wasn't working for us. We have such a great following over at Home Wine Kitchen, and the portions there are so huge and hearty," she says. "It was too much of a disconnect. So we're going to be switching to more of a traditional menu, appetizers, soups, salads, entrees."
She says she will still be changing the menu monthly, with the addition of a special dish each month, the proceeds of which will go to a local charity. Table worked with Haven House on a toy drive in December, so Vires has again chosen the organization for the first round in January. Table will reopen January 10 at 5 p.m.
"This isn't a sad moment for us. Some of the staff were like, 'Is everything OK?' We're like, everything's great -- this is great," Vires says. "I'm really happy with how the menu turned out. It's an exciting change for the new year."