Derek Bray’s The Table officially opens Tuesday in Tacoma’s Sixth Avenue neighborhood. Limited dinner service was being offered this week, but expect regular dinner hours to begin next week.
The menu at the dinner-only restaurant — which will eventually offer happy hour as well — will fluctuate with the season. Bray’s opening menu is peppered with Northwest ingredients, touched with regional American flourishes and the occasional Asian, Latin and Mediterranean accent.
The menu features from-scratch ingredients, including housemade sausage, handmade pappardelle pasta and pickled vegetables. The price range is flexible, with small plates in the $8-$12 range and heartier entrees from $19-$29.
Opening menu items include small-plate offerings, such as pastrami salmon with pickled onion, mustard seed, cream cheese and rye crackers ($8); apple braised pork cheek with apple jam, hazelnuts and herbs; ($8) and fried fish with salsa verde, preserved lemon and celery seed aioli ($9).
The large-plate menu lists eight entrees, including lamb sausage with white corn grits, goat cheddar and cherry gastrique ($21); black cod with miso, vegetable hash and grilled asparagus ($26); and sausage pappardelle with mushrooms, marsala cream and thyme ($19).
Some entrees are accompanied by starches, such as the lamb sausage, but Bray described an approach that will rely less on starch and more on vegetables to fill out the heartier entree plates.
“If you want a heavy starch or a full starch, they’ll be quasi a la carte. It fits with the food trend, lots of people are moving away from starches. I feel like you’re getting more flavor for your food dollar if you leave off the starch and you’re able to do a more elegant garnish or a little more thought in the additions to your protein,” explained Bray earlier this spring when talking about his restaurant’s concept.
This is Bray’s first solo restaurant, but he’s cooked around the Tacoma area for several years. He was the opening chef at Grassi’s Italian Ristorante in University Place until he left that job in the spring to work on The Table. Before that, he spent two years cooking at Tacoma’s Adriatic Grill.
Bray’s 74-seat restaurant takes over the space that formerly held Southern Exposure. The formal furniture and Tiffany-blue walls of Southern Exposure have been replaced by a Northwest modern decor with wood accents, polished concrete floors and a communal wooden table, anchoring the dining room, that seats about 20. The restaurant is named after that mammoth table. Bray describes the atmosphere as bistro casual.
Bench seating lines the front windows, with more bench seating along the shared wall with Marrow, the restaurant next door.
The restaurant will serve beer and wine only, with an emphasis on Northwest brews and well-priced wine, said Bray.