Pop-ups are all the rage in DC right now. When Shaw restaurant Table announced a “Family Meal pop-up” last week, my friend Laetitia told me about it, and we signed up. I found the concept intriguing – basically you eat a typical pre-shift dinner with the chefs, kitchen and wait staff, eating what they would for their meal prior to the evening dinner service. The first family meal was held last week, and cost $20 (drinks additional). It was announced through Table’s social media pages, and first 20 or so who “shared” their post on Facebook were guaranteed a spot. Now, since it’s a pre-shift dinner, it does start on the early side at 5pm. However, I planned my day accordingly and went hungry. I had not eaten at Table before, and the first thing that struck me was how beautiful the space is. It’s small and cozy, with tables along one side and the open kitchen on the other side.
As people checked in for the event, we got drinks and sat down at a table. The tables were set up communal style, in keeping with the family meal theme. As we sat down, we were presented with bread, duck cassoulet, kale salad, and roasted potatoes. Of course, they were all served family style. The food was fantastic, honestly. I especially loved the cassoulet, which was perfect for a cold winter evening. As we continued talking and eating, more food may its way to the table. This was a chicken and cabbage salad, served with a sriracha sour cream sauce. Delicious, one of my favorite dishes of the night.
Although the staff did not join us at the table, they were eating at the same time, and were friendly with the diners, walking around and answering questions. It was nice to see the staff relaxed, and also to see the folks who might be behind the scenes otherwise. Many of us had come in with the impression that we would be dining with the staff, but this was not the case. It’s also the first pop up in a series, so maybe Table would consider doing this in the future.
To end our meal, the pastry chef had made a bread pudding with the leftovers of chocolate cake that is served on their menu. I helped myself to a healthy portion, served simply with strawberries and whipped cream.
By this time, it was past 6pm, which is when the restaurant opens for dinner, and it was time to leave. All in all, I’d say that the family meal is a great idea, and especially as a neighborhood restaurant, it really adds to the community feel. In addition, it convinced me to come back to Table for a full meal, as I now know how good the food is! It’s a great opportunity for people to get a taste for the chef’s offerings, and I think that will be all the convincing you need.