April 15, 2014

Growing Pains at Gourmet Table

gourmet table

Up on the second floor of a Coral Gables building sits Gourmet Table’s outdoor terrace. Sure, the restaurant has a downstairs dimly lit dining area with plenty of room, but it is evident that the staff prefers that its patrons experience its al fresco dining. Throughout my experience here, not one table was seated downstairs. That is not to say that the terrace is not suitable for a nice dinner out, as it provides a sunset view of one of the oldest cities in the country, but I wish I were given the choice of where I wanted to eat. Regardless, the area is elegantly decorated and made to create an ambiance unlike what you will find in your typical Coral Gables restaurant.

A Middle Eastern chef who pushes his Mediterranean influences on its dishes is leading the kitchen at Gourmet Table. He also decided to serve food from various parts of the globe. After sampling my way through some of the menu, I feel confident in saying that although everything that he prepares is well executed, the most successful dishes here are those born out of Lebanese cuisine. A creamy hummus puree sprinkled with Chateau d’Estoubion and topped with cumin-spiced lamb hinted at the chef’s proficiency in the kitchen. The puree itself was a bit heavy on the tahini, but it was clear that the chef felt comfortable preparing dishes from Middle Eastern origin. The Bao Buns were less successful, filled with a too-sweet braised short rib that would have overpowered every bite had it not been for the cold and creamy cole slaw. On the night that I dined, the kitchen was offering a Surf and Turf Risotto, served as a Poached Lobster and Filet Mignon topping Saffron Risotto. The lobster itself was a bit overcooked for my liking, but only by a bit. The filet mignon, on the other hand, was perfect prepared in order to achieve a tenderness I have never before experienced with this cut of beef. The heavily peppered steak (and I mean this as a good thing) was seasoned enough to make me forget about the lobster. I wish the risotto were a bit more creamy, as it was a dry clump of Arborio rice that would have otherwise been the perfect accompaniment to the filet. Next time, I will stick to the menu mainstay of Filet Mignon Risotto and forego the lobster all together. I also had the chance of sampling the Honey Glazed Salmon served atop a well-seasoned vegetable succotash. The succulent fish filet was perfectly cooked and left a lasting impression of what the kitchen could achieve with a bit more consistency. I finished off the meal with the Bread Pudding Soufflé, one of the best iterations of the dish I have had in recent times. Served topped with ice cream and a few slices of strawberry, the pudding provided a crusty texture without achieving dryness.

The owners of the restaurant are quite involved with the whole dining process, as I saw them make their way around the terrace interacting with its guests. They try to push the fact that the building is a perfect location to host events. I whole-heartedly agree, as the interior looks like it was decorated by a person who has a real grasp on interior design, and spending time there leaves you feeling like you are at your grandmother’s home. The service by the rest of the staff can be hit or miss though. My waitress was very professional and proficient at what she did, to the point of me regarding her as one of the best waitresses I have had in recent times, but I did witness a point where four different servers walked up to the same table in a three minute span after they had just received their food.

Although this may seem like an unremarkable review, this is because I saw the potential coming from this restaurant and wish that they can improve. The negatives are far outweighed by the positives, and I feel like Gourmet Table will eventually grow into one of the better dining destinations in the area. Since it is still young, some of the growing pains are evident, but this will not steer me from returning. Instead, I hope to become a loyal patron to continue offering recommendations on how they could elevate themselves to the next level. Gourmet Table is hidden enough where it is separated from the normal Coral Gables ruckus but in an area where they do not lose their relevancy, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Gourmet Table

4555 Ponce de Leon Blvd
Coral Gables, FL 33146
305- 669-0677

By Food Blogger, Santiago Cardona


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