Table, Donkey and Stick is a small but cosy restaurant with a Bib Gourmand from the Michelin Guide on the edge of Logan Square that, as their website proclaims, honors “the eating and drinking traditions of the Alps.” Their Restaurant Week offering is a three-course dinner for $33 that includes a selection from their Wanderteller menu of charcuterie, an appetizer, and an entrée.
I started with the duck liver mousse, served with apple butter, sauerkraut powder, and shiso leaf. The mousse is silky smooth but solid enough to slice. The accompanying house-made rye baguette is warm and crusty, although I don’t personally care much for rye. Although the apple butter is a little funky and not as sweet as I was expecting, but it goes nicely with the not-unpleasant metallic taste of the liver.
I debated between the smoked salmon and the soup for my appetizer. When I asked the server, she said that the salmon was cold-smoked, so I assumed that it would be more silken in texture, like lox, rather than flaky like a smoked whitefish. Unfortunately, it turned out to have the firmer texture and more robust flavor that I associate with hot-smoked fish. Still, the salmon is tender and not overly smoky. The rooibos is quite strong, giving the dish an interesting, earthy, flavor I’m not certain I like.
I was unenthused when responding to the server’s inquiry about my meal, so she offered to bring out something else. I hesitated to send a dish back just because I didn’t enjoy it, particularly since it was not a bad dish, but she insisted and remembered the other dish I’d considered.
As my second choice, the butternut squash soup was my favorite dish of the night. The soup is piping hot, exceedingly smooth, and almost airy, with a tiny bit of heat. The toasted almond streusel is not as sweet as I usually expect a streusel to be, which is a good thing for dinner, and it’s a great textual contrast to the soup. Smoky, porky, and almost sweet, the bacon is terrific. The evenly diced celery adds color and more crunch. The soup is interesting, tasty, and very satisfying on such a snowy day.
I chose the duck as my final course, which is sprinkled with cracked peppercorns and served with blistered cabbage, tender noodles, and carrots cooked two ways – raw but slightly pickled shavings and sweeter chunks of roasted carrots. Rich and hearty, the duck meatball is shaped more like a loosely ground sausage than a meatball. Nevertheless, the meatball is tender and juicy, with the exception of a single piece of gristle.
Overall, I’m glad I tried Table, Donkey and Stick. The server cared that I actually enjoyed my meal, not merely that I didn’t complain, and the food was interesting and well-executed, although possibly not my style.