Highly Recommended ***** Often, the dining out experience is linked to where else you may be going. If one has tickets for a play or concert, they seek a restaurant in the vicinity of the venue they are attending. Even if it is a movie with a friend or another couple, they look for a way to park only once, or if possible use public transportation. Cabs are okay in the city as well as the new “alternative cars services” which can keep the cost down. But there are times when a couple or a foursome just want to have a nice dinner with each other. In cases like this, they can opt for what is often termed a “destination restaurant”. These are dining spots where location is not as important as they are going to that particular place and then home.
I realize there are probably hundreds of these in the Chicago area and wanted to share one with you. It is in a unique location in the city; just west of Bucktown and east of Logan Square on Armitage Avenue, a few doors east of California Avenue. The area is changing and while the real estate is for the most part, older. new construction is coming up. The restaurant I am talking about has a unique name- “Table, Donkey and Stick”. You might ask “What”? It is called Table, Donkey and Stick and is somewhat based on the tales of The Brothers Grimm- in particular “Crumbs on the Table” and “The Wishing Table” and “Donkey Cabbages”. These are stories that deal with the region in Austria where owner Matthew Sussman has based his eclectic menu on.
Let me first tell you that when we drove up to this building located at 2728 West Armitage, we were not sure if there was a restaurant behind the storm door entry. The façade is not one that makes you feel what you find when you walk inside. When you enter, you are in a small room with a bar and several tables. We were led down a hallway to another room, containing two small tables for two at the window overlooking the yard area, and two large tables designed to hold parties of ten, or to have five parties of two or any other combination thereof. Note: the outdoor area looks like during the warmer weather it would be a delightful spot to enjoy this restaurant’s fare.
There were six in our party, so we took our places at one of the larger tables, where later we were joined by two other couples as the Table, Donkey and Stick filled up nicely as the evening went on. Our waiter, Corey is a young man who understands the quality of service that Sussman expects of all of his staff and his knowledge of the menu , both food and wines was sheer perfection. As we looked over the menu, deciding what to order, he suggested that if we wanted the best experience, and if all of us agreed to do so, it might be best to do more of a taste-sampling by ordering a variety of their appetizers and entrees as well as side dishes, allowing us to truly savor the flavors available in this special dining spot. We agreed. Only Amy had a problem with food allergies so we were informed which items were not for her or could be prepared without nuts for her. Not a problem for any of us!
For our appetizers we selected Swabian Pretzels (with cauliflower and comte fondue), Yukon Gold Potato Latkes (to die for), Roasted Fall Squash (perfect for a brisk November evening), The most delicious Roasted Brussel Sprouts ( I do not eat these regularly and found myself getting a second helping) and a pickled smoked pork loin (another flavorful taste that I never enjoyed before). We also had a few salads and a cheese plate with the two types of bread baken on premise (Matt’s true love), rye baguette and sunflower oat toast. WOW!
For our entrees, the schwenk-grilled lamb, seared salmon, roasted sweet potato and the alpine burger on a pretzel bun that can match any burger I have ever tasted in any burger (or steak house) restaurant in the city. I love the burger at Wells on Wells and this one makes me think I have found a new burger in town! Thanks to Corey for suggesting we have a go at this one. Great choice! Speaking of pretzels ( the appetizer and the bun were after all pretzels) let me tell you about one of the deserts- It is called the “puff pretzel and is split and filled with corn ice cream, white chocolate Armagnac caramel sauce and oregano and it is delicious with a capital YUMMY! We were quite full as the portions were large enough to handle all of us, but we also enjoyed some of the ice cream flavors available-sorbets/grape and pear, chocolate Szechuan, vanilla and paw paw. These change from time to time. They also serve an amazing roasted carrot custard that will amaze your taste buds and arouse your senses. Cheese platters are also available as meal-enders and coffee and selected tea specialties are also available.
Again, the bar is fully stocked with everything and anything you might enjoy. There may be a wait to be seated as this is a smaller place, but well worth the trip to the north side and well worth the wait for the meal that you will remember and tell your friends about. In fact, this is probably a place that you will return to with new friends on a regular basis as you will want to share the treasure that you have discovered. A special note to those of you who are into this. They support local farmers and the Green City Market, offering the freshest of items to your plate.
The phone number to make reservations is 773-486-8525 or visit www.tabledonkeystick.com
Tell them you found them on www.aroundthetownchicago.com and Matt will give you a tour of the kitchen
photos by Amy Wise