Table 3 is an authentic french, casual restaurant more a brasserie than a bistro. It’s not Southern and it doesn’t try to mesh cuisines or add Southern notes to fit in. They stay true to who they are. The word brasserie or bistro might mean a serious dress down for other cuisines, but not the French. The most simple French country recipe can put to shame anyone’s best five course meal.
Table 3 is located in the Green Hills Mall area, across from the movie theater. It’s been on my go to list for dinner, but never lunch, until one Saturday I had a lunch date with a fellow food writer from Atlanta. It was the perfect pick to enjoy wine by the glass, and a leisurely, unrushed long lunch.
Not all the local restaurants that I enjoy for dinner have lunch service, and Table 3 is a very comfortable place for a long lunch. The decor is simple with a clean aesthetic, yet is warmed up with wood and brick brightened with white paint. The tiled floor and smoked mirrors are reminiscent of the 2o’s. The patio is large and great for people watching and I look forward to some warm weather to enjoy some French outdoor dining.
I’ve walked by a hundred times going to the movies, and I often wondered if it would it be too fussy, too expensive, or too disappointing if it is expensive? What I didn’t expect from Table 3 was some of the most memorable food I’ve eaten in Nashville. The food elicits romance. I say romance because the food makes you close your eyes, smile and make noise, sing a little, moan a little. I returned a second time in one week to because I wanted to try the oysters and a few other dishes.
Table 3 offers exceptionally fresh oysters. The presentation in a tin bucket is gorgeous and well accompanied by a perfect mignonette sauce and a cocktail sauce. I asked my waiter to choose a few for me and I truly felt like I was at the sea as soon as they hit my mouth. I had a Katama bay and a Salt bay, I can see myself returning to sit at the bar and just eat oysters. There’s a reason oysters are considered an aphrodisiac.
Since both of my visits were at lunchtime, I enjoyed their wine by the glass. They have two selected house wines. The white wine, a La Petite Frog Picpoul, is excellent choice with which to enjoy Table 3′s shellfish bar. It may be house wine, but it’s a wonderful choice, described as having whistle clean freshness. I tried the house red and had a not so fresh glass, but it was immediately replaced. I never fault a restaurant when wine ordered by the glass isn’t good. Wine can turn easily, and just needs to be politely sent back.
On my first visit, I shared the duck confit appetizer with my guest. We both loved this crispy duck leg surrounded by lentils and a glass of Rose which is also a noteworthy selection by the glass.
I’ve been to Paris and I’ve cooked several French dishes out of Le Cordon Bleu at Home to know how nuanced classical French cooking can be. Flavors are built slowly and deeply, as mastered with the Beef Short Rib Bourguignon with Polenta. This will make my best bites list of 2013. Presenting in a cast iron pan, there is nothing rustic about the taste. It’s a romantic dish because it will make you close your eyes and sing, and who knew beef could be this romantic, but when married to a very buttery, creamy polenta, harmony is redefined.
The onion soup gratinee is as good as any I’ve had in Paris, again full of slowly built deep flavor with gooey melted cheese.
The trout à la meunière allowed me to connect with Julia Childs. She talked about sole à la meunière dish as pivotal in her eating experiences. The fish is dredged in flour, sauteed in brown butter, usually followed up with lemon and parsley. Notice I didn’t say cooking. I said eating. I truly believes good cooks are not born; they develop the passion and palate from tasting delicious food.
The shrimp sandwich is kinda/sorta a smaller version of a po boy, but much better, much meatier with a special kind of shrimp called red royal. The shrimp are very large, meaty, sweet and a deep red. The rolls are housemade and there is avocado and remoulade. This is the sandwich that will Mr. ST back again and again.
The red beet and goat cheese salad is great because it’s simple and as my lunch partner said, “the dressing was so light and balanced, I could eat it all day.” That’s a good salad. Bread is upon request. I requested and we were served a delicious housemade olive bread.
The French Dip is made with thin slices of smoked prime rib. This is amazing, hearty, tasty and a sandwich to share unless you have a huge appetite, but save room for dessert. You can see the toasted baguette in the picture and it’s just as good as it looks.
Chocolate mousse with sea salt using Olive & Sinclair chocolate swept me away and it was only at the last bite that I remembered I never took a picture.
Table 3 is a local Nashville surprise, but it shouldn’t be. It was put together by people with successful fine dining experience, which makes it one of the best casual dining restaurants in Nashville. Chef Will Uhlhorn, who came from F. Scott’s around the corner is one of the owners along with the F. Scott’s team, Wendy Burch and Elise Loehr.
While Chef will Uhilhorn, also part owner, knows how to build flavors and create a sensuous food experience with modern, comfort food in a way that is so true to my own food view.
It wouldn’t mean much, however, if front of the house didn’t share the same passion. Each time I’ve eaten there, the wait staff has been more than accommodating. While Table 3 is French, it’s still casual dining and approachable. Twice waiters have made suggestions that turned out to be stellar choices. I got the feeling that the staff works closely together for the good of the restaurant and that turns a good dining experience into a great one. Great service starts with valet parking and ends with pleasantry in the adjoining Table 3 Market that is a separate entity, with a separate entrance, yet connected.
Table 3 Market
This is a small cafe/market/bakery. Order at the counter, and find a chair or take it to go. There is a vast array of cakes, pastries, breads, sandwiches, coffee, breakfast items, and salads where a quick bite can be enjoyed. Happy news to the home cook, as you can take home duck confit to make your own cassoulet, or rendered duck fat to do whatever you choose with. Bitters, vinegars, Olive & Sinclair chocolate bars, housemade mustard, pate are just some of the things you can purchase. The blueberry scones are worth every single calorie and you may be tempted to eat two of them.
Whether you go to Table 3 for lunch or dinner, or go to the Table 3 Market for a lighter bite, I’m sure you’ll be as charmed as I was.