Here’s a Secret You Won’t Keep
With room for only 22 diners two nights a week, The Table sets the mood for an exclusive dinner party.
Photos By Norma Lopez Molina
An ancient Tuscan saying goes, “At the table, one never grows old.”
If those ancient Tuscans were alive today, they’d stay happy and perpetually young by visiting The Table, a remarkably small, practically private restaurant on Sand Lake Road.
Tyler Brassil and Loren Falsone, instructors at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school, are the chefs and two of the owners of The Table. With space for just 22 guests, the restaurant has one seating each Friday and Saturday, for an ever-changing meal that can last three to four hours, depending on how convivial the room gets.
Open since August, the restaurant has a speakeasy kind of supper club feel to it, attracting diners mostly by word of mouth. “I want everyone to mesh and intermingle,” Falsone says. “The concept spun out of our home dinner parties,” which, you can imagine with two chefs in the house, kept getting bigger and bigger. “So I thought, what if we were to somehow charge people to cover the cost of the food?”
Chefs Loren Falsone (left) and Tyler Brassil opened The Table after five dinner parties in their home sold out. The couple now cook in a space that used to be a bakery, with 22 guests seated at a table two nights per week.
As a test, they put out the word online to friends and family. After five rapidly sold-out experiments, the combination of two small children, a dog, a cat and a house full of hungry visitors became overwhelming, and the search was on for an actual space.
What they found is an almost unmarked former bakery just down the road from the popular Restaurant Row, at the west end of the Dellagio Town Center where most folks would find Big Fin, Fleming’s and City Fire. Keep looking. The subtly marked doorway is across from the Regions bank. The single room, in subdued colors and lit by an impressive chandelier, is large enough to hold the eponymous substantial marble table and the wine rack-lined bar, and not much more.
The pseudo-secret vibe calls to mind a host of underground eateries scattered around the world. The spots large and small (Solo per Due, in a Roman villa that dates to the time of Caesar, has just one tiny table with two chairs) range from a seat at a kitchen table in Paris to high tea in a Scottish sitting room to a five-course Indian feast in Brooklyn. In Spain they’re called los puertos cerrados, closed doors, and in Italy the experience is pasto unico, a unique meal. This is the kind of experience that Brassil and Falsone have fashioned in a relaxed restaurant setting.
The Table operates by chance and epiphany. Suppliers from small farms, ranches and private boats offer the restaurant whatever is available that day, and without the pressure of serving hundreds of customers a week, Falsone says she can take advantage of the unexpected. “One of our suppliers comes in with a single quart of wild huckleberries … and we can use it, design a dish around them.” The availability of a few pounds of a Cape Canaveral catch called tripletail (“I’d never heard of or seen it before,” says Brassil) sparked the superb seafood and wild mushroom gratin I had on my visit, a dish that will probably never appear exactly that way again. Baby spinach from 3 Boys Farm in Ruskin became a salad of poached pears, blue cheese and beets with a lovely balance of bright green and deep, earthy flavors.
Falsone and Brassil are graduates of the acclaimed Johnson & Wales culinary institute. She’s from the suburbs of Long Island; he’s a native of Rhode Island, born on a turkey farm. She owned the Empire restaurant in Providence, where she was named a Top Ten best new chef by Food & Wine Magazine; he was in the kitchen and named a Top Ten best sous chef by Bertoli Olive Oil. They moved to Orlando in 2003, where she became executive chef at Seasons 52. Now, when not in the compact kitchen at The Table, they’re both at Le Cordon Bleu. “We teach in the same class,” Falsone says. “Forty-four students and us.”
Their restaurant is also a teaching facility in a way. The man to my right looked at his bowl of house-made pasta in rich slow-cooked pork ragu, topped with Sicilian canestrato cheese and delightfully toothy foie gras, and asked me, “Which one is the foie gras?” It’s the kind of place where diners are encouraged to discover new things, like celeriac, beef marrow, local quail and goose liver.
The meal is prix fixe with a twist. Prospective Table diners register and pre-pay at the website. The $100 per person cost covers a champagne-and-appetizer greeting, the five-course, wine-paired dinner—from salad, starter and entrée to cheese course and dessert—coffee, tax and tip. Atmosphere is free.
By moving their dinner party out of their house, Brassil and Falsone have created in The Table everything an intimate, pseudo-secret and very satisfying dinner should be: a unique meal behind a closed door.
8060 Via Dellagio Way, Suite 106, Orlando
Prix fixe $100, one seating,
7 p.m., Friday and Saturday
A PERFECT ENDING
As full as you might think a five-course meal would make you, the enormous desserts—think chocolate melded with gingerbread, cakes of caramel and peach, and handmade cookies—are irresistible.