Gourmet Table import store, restaurant fit for true foodies

Gourmet Table, a new luxury food import store and restaurant, opened in Coral Gables in July. However, the grand opening was held last week, and the restaurant finally showed all of Coral Gables just how fine its food is.

With charcoal grey floors and unadorned wooden shelves, it’s clear that Gourmet Table’s focus is on the food. The occasional touch of kitsch adds the slightest bit of whimsy, like the antique gas pump sitting near the tables on the first floor.

The menu covers the whole gamut of gourmet foodstuffs, from the foie gras terrine to the $110 Kaluga caviar. However, most menu items range from $11 to $26. The best kept secret is Gourmet Table’s Lunch European Style, which offers two plates, a small spoon of caviar, wine and dessert for just $20; it’s perfect for a classy date on a student budget.

As guests entered the shop for the opening, they were greeted with sparkling rose and a small assortment of samples spread throughout the bottom floor. Particularly delightful were the assortment of jams made with German wine, despite their curt peddler. The berry chardonnay jam in particular had a smooth, rich flavor with a sharp, sudden finish from the wine.

The jams weren’t the only products on display. Representatives from the Bush Brothers meat distributors attended, showing off their thick, superbly marbled steaks, along with Chateau D’Estoublon, which comes from a French winery that also produces olive oil. The products on the shelves ranged from utilitarian, such as high-quality pastas and oils, to absolutely fantastic, such as a series of caviars in flavors ranging from grapefruit, strawberry and blackberry, to shallot and vinegar as well as blue curacao.

A number of items also came with cheese pairings, allowing for those who are relatively inexperienced with food to create an expertly arranged cocktail party in a matter of minutes. While the prices aren’t all student-friendly, for high-quality luxury goods, they were fairly reasonable.

The upstairs party space was a far cry from the laid-back simplicity of the first floor. Plaster heads of exotic animals decorate the walls, and large overstuffed sofas are upholstered in pink and green paisley.  Looking like something out of “Alice in Wonderland,” it was no surprise to see a tiny tray of mustard pots and pickled white asparagus that might have well been labeled, “Eat me.”  The Dijon mustards, imported from France, were an absolute treat – the best being the black currant mustard, which tasted of fresh fruit, and only had the sharp bite of mustard at the very end. Attached to the upstairs party room was a small terrace, where drinks and light music were out for guests.

Other treats included a whole leg of cured ham at a carving station, and stations that featured items such as tubs of caviar in bowls of ice. Almost all the food was as exquisite as it was rare. The service matched it; servers were attentive yet almost unnoticeable. The champagne never hit the bottom of the glass.

Not every item matched the overall quality, however. One of the jams, the eiswein variety, was as acrid as it was unpleasant, and the normally delicious marinated artichoke was a sad and watery affair. The sheep’s milk cheese was so salty that most of the subtleties of flavor were easily lost. A passed hors d’oeuvre of steak tartare on polenta disks was fairly good, but suffered from the addition of a mildly hot pepper.

Overall, Gourmet Table provides a sumptuous and elegant experience for any serious food lover. It provides a meal like a concert, each element an instrument playing its part for the benefit of a complete melody. It definitely gives its guests an evening to remember.