Under The Table (And Dreaming) of Cuisine

Launching a new restaurant is expensive. So what do you do if you’re young, with great ideas, few resources and want to break into the business? Open a pop-up restaurant.

Under The Table, the brain child of three twenty-something friends, serves one seating of brunch and dinner twice a week in a communal setting. It’s a cozy atmosphere — ignoring your neighbors in the family-style seating is virtually impossible. Chef Marcus Townsend furthers the down-home feel by plopping down and sharing thoughts on each course, many inspired by family dishes. A keyboardist played an amusing mix of standards and pop throughout the evening. Just like home.

The cuisine is an ambitious mix of gastronomic technique, seasonal freshness and Southern charm. Grits, okra and collard greens all made an appearance on the menu the evening I tried Under The Table, along with curry, lychee and bonito. There was no shortage of daring flavor pairings. However, while there was promise in each bite, the resulting presentation and quality needs a stronger edit to make a mark in Chicago’s restaurant scene.

The open question in my mind isn’t where they will go next, but if Under The Table will survive long enough to grow into its ambition.

If you want want to try this pop-up concept, order tickets online for the next event. Brunch is $35, Dinner is $70. Drinks extra.

I was invited to try Under The Table as a guest.

Note: Under The Table is now in a new, permanent space at 940 Pitner Avenue in Evanston.

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