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The Table Cafe

83 Southwark Street , London, England, SE1 0HX, United Kingdom

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The Table in Southwark has been around since 2006, but in the summer of 2012 it had a new chef in the form of Cinzia Ghignoni, who had previously worked at Zucca and Murano. Cinzia was not present at this particular service, instead being at a marketing event. It is an all-day format, with the lunch service starting at noon. The dining room is at street level and has an informal feel, with communal tables, wooden floor and mostly bench seating. The wine list has quite detailed tasting notes for each wine, examples of the selections being Renacer Punto Final Malbec Mendoza 2010 at £22.90 for a wine that you can find in the high street for around £8, Cave Yves Cuilleron Viognier at £33.90 compared to a shop price of around £17 and Shaw and Smith M3 Chardonnay at £49 for a wine that retails at about £23.

Queenie scallops (£10) with lemon, chilli and parsley were served on their shells, half a dozen tiny specimens, cooked competently but not particularly sweet in taste (11/20). My main course of mackerel (£12) with caponata was grilled whole and served on the bone, the mackerel cooked a little too long and in terms of flavour not a patch on the grilled mackerel at, say, Kiraku (whose mackerel is also priced lower). The caponata (seafood stew) with it was really just some rather sludgy aubergines, not obviously seasoned (barely 11/20). A side dish of roast potatoes was distinctly overcooked, dried up and leathery (10/20). Dessert was better, panna cotta having pleasant texture, served with rather shrivelled up red fruits but with a pleasant cantucci biscuit that seemed to be made from scratch and certainly had both almond taste and a texture that was not too hard (13/20). Coffee was £2.30 and was reasonable, though the espresso had no crema on top.

The bill came to £36.34, with just tap water to drink. At lunch at least this feels far from cheap for what appeared, given the excellent value lunch menus available at some of the smarter restaurants in London. For £19.95 you can three courses at (Michelin starred) Arbutus for example, and I know where I would rather have eaten. Perhaps the cooking here is surer when the head chef is actually in the kitchen, and the pricing would seem more reasonable in the evening, but this felt like a decent local place but not somewhere to which to make an excursion.

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