Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tables of Content

When KY and I went to the coast last weekend, I dragged him to the Sylvia Beach Hotel's restaurant Tables of Content.  I had read about it online and almost all of the reviews raved about it. It has a book theme. The dinners are presented in chapters. It's food. How could I not want to go? How could he say no to something I wanted so badly?

Sylvia Beach Hotel is located in Nye Beach in Newport. The hotel faces the ocean, with steps right down to the beach. Each room has a book theme - there is the Tolkein room, Dr. Seuss, and Steinbeck, among others. One of our dining companions let us in on a little secret that the rooms are left open after they are cleaned and can be toured in the afternoon before the next guests check in. I wanted so badly to do this but we ran out of time.

The restaurant is located on the bottom floor of the hotel, also facing the ocean. We had the most incredible sunset views as we were being seated. The room is small with just a few tables that seat 6-8 people. If you are a party of less than 6-8 people, you are seated at a table with others. We were seated with three other couples. I knew this going in, and was a little worried that we'd have to sit with the balding, purple-haired guy milling around the lobby. Nope, we got the gay couple. Score! We were also the youngest and right next to the most adorable miniature version of Colonel Sanders. Loved him.

The whole idea is to mix and mingle and get to know your fellow diners. Two of the other couples had been previously so they let us in on the little secrets and how it all worked. The third couple at our table were the parents of the chef. She warned us ahead of time not to make any negative comments about the food.

Once we were all seated and served drinks, we were instructed to play Two Truths and a Lie at our respective tables. This is where you tell two true things and one lie about yourself and the others at your table can ask you questions about them in order to guess which is the lie. As I was telling my stories, Chef's mom remarked what an excellent liar I am. This isn't really the thing you want your boyfriend to hear about you. These were my stories -

1. At my fourth birthday party, my cat killed a snake on our back patio.
2. I once owned a tarantula.
3. In my current home, I have found no less than 15 black widows.

I was a good enough liar that there was no consensus on one single story, they were all mixed up. See if  you can guess for yourself. If you have read maybe 5% of my blogs, you'll know for sure which one of them is true.

When the first course arrived, I was worried about Chef's mom's warning. It was roasted cauliflower soup. Not a fan of cauliflower. But it was delicious! So smooth and creamy and totally un-cauliflower-like. The bread was perfectly soft and crusted with sesame seeds, adding a nutty flavor. Next came the salad, fresh greens with a grapefruit vinaigrette. Yep, pretty much hate grapefruit. However, the arugula was the freshest I've ever had and the dressing was just light and refreshing, with none of that bitter aftertaste that I don't like.

When making the reservation, I was required to pre-order our entree. Each night there is a choice for meat, chicken, fish, or vegetarian. I chose the rack of lamb and KY opted for the chicken Marsala. My lamb was so soft and flavorful and perfectly cooked. I wanted more than my allotted portion. KY's Marsala was perfect to me, although he found the sherry flavoring a little too strong. I snuck the extra mushrooms left over on the center plate. (All dishes are served family style so they're passed around the table.)

The accompanying sides to the entree were a lentil salad and steamed leeks. Guess what? Yep, don't like either one of them. Or at least I didn't. They were both so much better than anything I'd ever had them in before. I would have had seconds of both if I weren't saving room for dessert.

Oh, dessert. How I love you so. Chef's parents were celebrating their anniversary so she made the dessert especially for them. Lucky, lucky us. We were served a chocolate torte with orange zest and freshly whipped cream. It wasn't light, but the orange zest took away some of the richness and made for a completely perfect ending to our meal.

Our other couples were also completely lovely. We learned about community art projects, life on a military base in Afghanistan, talked about classic cars and books about food, and shared stories about Shaman weddings and cake decorating. We were introduced to Chef, who was absolutely delightful and I didn't have to lie to her one bit about anything presented to our table.

I will definitely visit Tables of Content again. I loved everything about it. The pictures on the walls, the views, the food, the company. It wasn't just a dinner, it was an experience. In all the years I've been going to the coast, it's a shame I've missed this little gem.


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