"To be honest, I wouldn't order that," confided our server as we pondered Table 6's menu out loud and stuck, briefly, on the restaurant's take on the cultish McRib sandwich. "It's good, but it's not one of my favorites."
She suggested, instead, a beef tartare with a deep-fried egg yolk on top or maybe some duck ham, then proceeded to walk us through entree possibilities along with wines she liked that matched.
It was a Sunday night, about a half an hour before the end of service, but the staff had insisted that our party come in on the way home from the airport when one of us had called to guiltily inquire whether the place was still serving dinner. And once we sat, there was no indication that our server intended to rush us through our meal.
Table 6 has been the subject of a lot of hype since it opened in 2003, with rave write-ups in national magazines that gave way to the predictable onslaught of food tourists that come with that kind of buzz. But years after the beginning of the media circus, we settled into our wine while restaurant patrons buzzed around us, and I was reminded of what I've always truly loved about Table 6: Whether you're a first-time diner or regular, a VIP or an out-of-towner or a neighbor, the restaurant treats each guest like a good friend.
That's especially a treat because exec chef Scott Parker's kitchen also delivers a joke-littered menu that's something along the lines of haute comfort food, whether it's a dish of radishes with butter, a leg of buttermilk-fried chicken, hand-rolled pasta studded with succulent chunks of lobster or that tartare topped with deep-fried egg yolk, which, by the way, was that elusive perfect consistency right in between hard and runny. Throughout dinner, the front of the house, led by Aaron Forman, drops by with commentary, suggestions and, maybe, a little pour of an interesting wine "just because you should try it."
It's a relaxed restaurant full of laughter and irreverence -- from the McRib to the six-pack you can send to the kitchen -- that's doesn't take its fine-dining chops too seriously. And somewhere between solid execution, stellar service and the right amount of whimsy, the eight-year-old restaurant has moved beyond the hype, establishing itself as a bedrock of this city's dining scene.