1944 West 4th Ave
For my complete Fable review, based on my first experience, please see my Urbanspoon review ("Top Marks for Top Chef" by Martha).
Since that first visit at the beginning of June, this place has continued to heat up and is now undoubtably one of the hot spots in town. We had a group of 7 last night so I knew to book early (almot 2 weeks in advance) and I am glad that I did- the place was completely booked up. In keeping with its image as a casual, neighborhood restaurant, they do still leave a little leeway for walk-ins but I overheard a waitress tell a guest that it would be at least 45 minutes for a table of two. Although Top Chef has certainly helped in the hype, the fact that this little place has gained such a following in such a short amount of time is quite remarkable.
Because my last review did not include pictures, I took many last night and this will be the meat of this post (no pun intended!). Between the 7 of us, we were able to get through quite a bit of the menu!
So here it goes- Appies first:
Mushroom flatbread- not quite as I had envisioned (it was a mushroom pizza) but hats off to local mushrooms of 3 different varieties
Chickpea fritters- loved these on our last visit, so much so that I snuck a bite of one of my friends Canned tuna (left)- probably my favorite dish on our last visit (didn't order it this time around since I wanted to try other things). My friend who ordered it reiterated our request for more bread as the 4 little crostinis are not big enough to hold all of that tuna goodness! Perhaps a couple different types of bread might be nice also for some textural contrast?
Green herb salad (right)- a good sized portion of greens and they are obviously modifying it slightly to reflect what is locally growing (local strawberries now!):
Spaghetti and Meatballs- this is one you will recognize from watching Top Chef. A duck meatball stuffed with mushroom (yeh local mushrooms!) and served over tagliatelle
Sawmill Bay Oysters- my husband and one of our friends had a few of these to start and the consensus was that it was the least favorite of all the dishes. They both felt the mignonette was quite bitter and quite harsh tasting, therefore overshadowing the natural flavors of the oyster.
Now on to the mains:
Eggplant Parmesan- this was my pick this time as I had already tried the fish dishes last time and was keen on trying their only vegetarian entree. If I did not know that it was not vegetarian, I would have never guessed! The mushroom "bolognese" is very meaty and together with the cheese and the perfectly al dente pasta, this is a very hearty dish! Perhaps not the most attractive plate, maybe a few more green accents would be nice? Most vegetarians do love their greens afterall!
Slow-cooked sockeye salmon- this was my favorite entree last time and my friend really enjoyed hers last night. She is pregnant so she needed her salmon cooked through and it was nice that the several waitstaff checked back to make sure the doneness was adequate. The spinach puree makes this dish so pretty!
Halibut and Chorizo- I had this one the last time also and it is another great dish. The chorizo crust really elecates it to the next level and the chowder over which the fish lies is chockful of lovely shellfish. A must-have for seafood lovers! Duck Breast- this was my husband's least favorite dish at the last meal but that was likely more a matter of personal preference (the thick layer of fat that is essential on duck really turns him off). My friend really enjoyed the duck and felt that it was cooked to perfection. Flat Iron Steak- this was my husband's pick this time around and he loved it. The steak was cooked to perfection and my husband, the hater of all things green, even ate the broccolini!
Daily sweet bites- this was the popular choice because, having been all fans of the show, everyone wanted to try Curtis' macaroons! Unfortunately, they were running out of the macaroons by the time we got our desserts so we only got 1 instead of 2:( But this plate was full of other things, including two light and delicious pavlova and oatmeal raisin cookies. It would have been helpful if our waitress had told us that this is a sharing dessert (two of each component) as it really is a lot of food for one person after a meal. Four of these came to our table and we only needed two at most.
Bread pudding with fennel ice cream- this was the special dessert of the night and my friend really enjoyed it. The fennel cream was a creative touch.
Overall, the meal was very much enjoyed by all 7 of us. The atmosphere is very casual and laid back which really makes for a nice Friday night out with a group of friends.
Obviously, service was quite a bit different this time around as we had sat at the "Chef's Counter" on our first visit for the Tasting Menu. Last night, while seated in the main room, service was still friendly and attentive but there were a few small kinks. There was a very long wait to get our appies. Also, our server, while very pleasant, lacked knowledge about the components of the dishes and was not able to ask many of our questions about the ingredients. With its "Farm to Table" theme, I think it would be good for waitstaff to know which of the ingredients used are locally grown. These are very small details which are to be expected for a new restaurant still getting into its groove, especially with such a large volume of diners.
The food here is certainly speaking for itself and drawing in the crowds. And I do not expect it to slow down anytime soon! Next on the to-do list for us is brunch so stay tuned for my review!
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