If my meal could speak, I’d say it did
by Aidan Morgan
2118 ROBINSON ST.
Hello steak. Are you there? It's me, Aidan.
I'm starting to realize that we don't see enough of each other. It's understandable, really; I'm a busy guy with a taste for vegetarian recipes, and you're usually attached to a cow. But every so often I need to sneak away from my tomato ragout to have lunch or supper with you.
We haven't even talked since Valentine's Day at Table 10 Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge. I was there with my wife. You came out of the kitchen on a plate, eight ounces of AAA Angus sirloin ($24): rare and ruby red, sleek as an otter, painted with a red wine balsamic reduction and reclining on a bed of roasted root vegetables. How I missed you.
"Hello," I whispered, hoping that my wife wouldn't hear me.
You didn't reply, because steaks don't have mouths. But I could tell you were pleased to see me. "Are you talking to the steak?" my wife asked.
I took a quick sip of my Don Rodolfo Malbec ($8). "Don't pay any attention to her," I said. "She doesn't understand."
"Hey," said the steak. "Dude."
"You can talk?"
"Yeah, whatever. Have you met the paella? It's hanging out with your wife. I'd keep an eye on it if I were you."
So I tried as much of the paella ($23) as I could get away with, a saffron rice dish with spicy bison sausage, mussels, prawns and vegetables.
"You know, you're a pretty good paella," I said. "You're not overly salty, the saffron taste is really subtle and your rice has a risotto-like texture."
"Are you talking to my paella?" my wife asked.
"Don't let on that I can talk," the paella said.
My steak interrupted."I saw you earlier with the caramelized red onion and brie phyllo rolls and saskatoon berry chutney ($8)," it said to me. "What did you think?"
"I hope you're not friends or anything. The caramelized onion and the chutney were very sweet, and the brie doesn't have a sharp enough flavour to temper the sweetness," I said. "On top of that, the onions were long and stringy. They made the appetizer difficult to eat gracefully. The chutney was definitely my favourite part of the dish, and I'd love to try it with something else."
"Okay, Mr. Describes-a-lot," snorted my steak. "How about the three cheese and red ale soup ($5)? That was good, right?"
"Totally," I replied. "It had a peppery flavour that I wasn't expecting, but I enjoyed the bits of cheese in the soup. I could be wrong, but I think the kitchen used bocconcini. It would be really good at lunch with a sandwich. You can tell that they put some thought into how this soup would fit with the other dishes on the menu.
"In fact, the entire menu at Table 10 looks well thought out," I added. "The chef is concentrating on a small number of seasonally influenced dishes, with an emphasis on root vegetables and mellow, sweet flavours. It's a hipper version of The Creek In Cathedral Bistro. I can picture Table 10 as a place that will attract people who want a bit of La Bodega atmosphere with a menu that feels like a relaxed and reasonably priced take on the Willow on Wascana's approach to dining. Not to mention the wine list, which doesn't just replicate the same old selection of bottles you can find anywhere in the city."
"Okay, you are definitely talking to your food," my wife said. "What's more, you're discussing the menu with an entrée."
"Tell her she's the crazy one," the steak hissed. "Tell her she's projecting her insanity onto you."
"Whoah. You're a terrible influence," I said.
"Maybe so, but I'm tasty, tender and cheaper than anything you're going to get at The Keg," the steak pointed out. "In fact, you've almost completely finished -"
"Shut up already," my wife said, spearing the last bite from my plate.
"Honey, we were talking."
"Hey you!" a slice of key lime pie ($7) called out from a nearby table. "Have you tried me? I'm probably going to end up as Table 10's signature dish."
"And I'm made with blueberries today," the daily cheesecake (also $7) said from another table. "They drizzle raspberry sauce all over the plate."
"Ah heck," I said, "pull up a chair."
Table 10 Restaurant & Cocktail Lounge is open Tuesday to Saturday 11:30 a.m. to close and Sunday 5:00 p.m. to close.