With the opening of Table X, its owners/chefs/partners are out to debunk the notion of "too many chefs" in the kitchen. With three of them—Mike Blocher, Nick Fahs and David Barboza—I'm guessing that egos have to be checked at the door. All kitchen staffs must work as teams, but with a trifecta of bosses at the helm simultaneously, I'm curious to see how this trio works together over time. So far, so good, it seems.
We're getting somewhat spoiled here in Utah with eye-popping restaurants becoming de rigueur, and Table X is no exception. From the towering original wood-barrel ceiling to the modern, largely black-and-white color scheme, this eatery has loads of visual appeal. In the 1930s, the building housed produce from local farms before the space became a cheese factory. Spacious and airy, the über-contemporary interior is the creation of designer Andrea Beecher. It's a look that could almost be called audacious. Ceilings aside, it bucks the trendy reclaimed woods and natural materials that seem to be all the rage. The lack of restroom doors—there are doors on the stalls—strikes me as bold. Functional décor like 10-foot-high black banquets make a statement, and that statement isn't about being shy.
Adjacent to the restaurant itself is a culinary garden and greenhouse, where the chefs can source fresh herbs, flowers and produce year-round. Fahs says they "plan to preserve certain items from the garden to be available at times during the year when they're unable to grow them." Making and fermenting kimchi from cabbage for their kimchi egg appetizer ($10) with crispy pork, pork broth and alliums is one such way of preserving garden goodness.
There's an interesting service aspect here that I don't recall seeing outside of Michelin three-star restaurants in Europe: Tables are adorned with black napkins for guests, but silverware doesn't appear until after guests have ordered. Why have a spoon on the table if a spoon isn't required? It's a small thing, but I like it. I also like the fresh bread and house-whipped butter that appear at the beginning of each meal. The sourdough bread is ethereal; Chef Blocher oversees its baking.
Table X is not cheap. However, the chefs' tasting menu seems to me to be a downright steal. It's only available for the full table, but is priced at a mere $55 for a five-course tasting with a vegetarian option available. Matching 3-ounce wine pairings are an additional $20.
If you're ordering à la carte, however, the bill can add up quickly. A plate of four Wheat Thin-size English rye biscuits with smoked Berkshire pork head cheese and dollops of crème fraiche is $7—not exactly a bargain or plentiful portion, but very tasty indeed. A Jerusalem artichoke appetizer with sunflower seeds and microgreens ($10) is simple but delicious. And I highly recommend the tartare made with Morgan Valley lamb ($12). I wasn't totally convinced I wanted lamb tartare, given the unappealing flavor of lamb fat. However, chefs here use very lean, high-quality minced raw lamb and serve it with carrots and hints of Worcestershire. It's divine.
While dining, guests have a view of the open kitchen, and anyone who wants an up-close-and-personal look can commandeer a seat at the kitchen counter. The three chefs are always present (or have been during my visits) and frequently take part in service, both expediting and sometimes delivering entrées to tables. Not that it's really necessary, since the service is superb to begin with.
The wine list isn't vast, but there are some really interesting options like the Redentore pinot grigio from the Veneto, Italy, region that I fell in love with. Cocktails, craft beers, liquor and cordials are also available. I rarely see Chartreuse offered in restaurants, and couldn't pass up a splash for an after-dinner drink.
"There's a lot of brown on that plate!" was one guest's summation of the Jones Creek boneless New York steak ($30) I ordered. It was true. The seared steak served on a brown plate with potato and black garlic latke and charred, browned zucchini wasn't too eye-pleasing. But eating it was another matter. The steak was cooked perfectly medium-rare, as requested, and the crispy latke was a welcome change from the ubiquitous mashed spuds most places serve.
I was less impressed by another meat entrée. It's true that the Christiansen Family Farm Berkshire pork shoulder ($32) was brimming with fantastic flavor. On the other hand, it couldn't have been more than 3 ounces—a third of that being fat. Granted, it was melt-in-the-mouth fat, but still fat. I loved the accompanying celeriac pave and smear of liquefied red cabbage, but the dish seemed skimpy for the price. I'd say the same for my wife's Alaskan black cod ($32), unfortunately, which I'd estimate was a 2- or 3-ounce portion. It looked lonely, served in a large ceramic bowl with barbecue white beans and fermented pepper slaw. For the record, I don't go to restaurants expecting enormous Utah-size portions, but I felt a bit mugged by the ungenerous size of these two $32 main dishes.
Desserts ($9) are anything but routine; no molten lava cakes here. Think more along the lines of rocchetta cheese with preserved fruits, buckwheat and ash, or a pumpkin parfait with Drake Family Farm goat cheese yogurt and maple crunch. We thoroughly enjoyed the chefs' zucchini bread served with molasses ice cream and flaxseed granola, which went surprisingly well with my Chartreuse.
With a menu that changes almost daily and a trio of very talented and committed chefs, I'll be watching to see how this bold new restaurant evolves.