OK, I thought: It can’t possibly live up to the pre-opening hype, causing foodies to hyperventilate and trade their firstborn for a reservation. No way.
I hate to come right out and say this is the perfect restaurant, but — this is the perfect restaurant. Spoon and Stable’s Warehouse District space, a former stable, is spare, yet soft and warm. Tables are generously spaced below the vaulting ceiling, and the first thing we said upon walking in was, “My God! We can actually hear each other!”
The staff has mastered the old-time, near-forgotten, art of hospitality, from chef/owner Gavin Kaysen, as friendly as he is accomplished, and resto-vet Bill Summerville, a role model for GMs if there ever was one, to the succession of genial, informed but non-intrusive servers and busers who made the evening perfect.
Oh, and the menu. It’s a compact and accessible distillation of what tastes good — now, yesterday and tomorrow — rather than trumpeting the trend du jour (no kale, no bacon). Three pastas, three fish, three meats: that’s it for entrees ($18–$29). Fool around with an app ($8–$16) and dessert ($7–$10), and because they’re couture by Diane Yang, the Givenchy of the pastry world, you know you’d better) and you’re talking about returning tomorrow as you head for your car.
Gavin’s pot roast — an homage to Grandma Dorothy — is as moist and toothsome as my own (courtesy of another grandma), but his light, savory rosemary broth beats my gravy, hands down. Plus he’s classed it up (but not out of bounds) with parsley root and chanterelles, all roosting on a potato puree as malleable as cream. It’s not bells and whistles, it’s just plain good.
So’s the pork (from a Red Wattle Heritage breed) — sweet-smoky, husky-tender, served with its own wicked cracklings and a cabbage roll of minced meat, along with the sweet-sharp surprise of papaya salad and basil. The bone (now resting in my doggie bag) is presented on its own little saucer.
We started with an app size of pappardelle — burly and just-al dente pasta ribbons chumming with a deeply savory goat ragu, a passing shower of oregano breadcrumbs, and bursts of sheep’s milk cheese, the perfect touch of acid for the rich ragu.
Then a fancy-dancy starter, just because: a sliced scallop, sweet and shimmying in its crudo state, perked with the acid touch of green apple matchsticks, a scallion vinaigrette and (this is the only quibble of the night) sharp spikes of chili. With it, we wolfed down the addictive baguette du jour — tonight, whole wheat sourdough, served with Hope Creamery butter. Then, Diane’s turn. Tough call among the six pastry choices. We fidgeted between a Haralson apple crisp with coconut sorbet; lemon curd mousse with charred pineapple and thyme pound cake; and grape frangipane. Oh, and the milk chocolate torte. But we settled in the chocolate chiboust, a fantasy of small bites: flourless chocolate cake, banana, crispy hazelnut praline, and mounds of malted milk ice cream. Yes!
Spoon and Stable
211 N. 1st St.