Under The Table Restaurant

Posted on September 12, 2013


This past Tuesday was one of those days where it seemed never-ending. The adrenalin pumped through my veins from the early morn towards my last important appointment for the day. By the time it was dusk, I was completely depleted in energy. That doesn’t mean I stayed home though. I still have planned to have dinner with my  friend, Jojo.  As I was waiting for him to finish work, I non-concomitantly looked for somewhere to have a quiet meal. My batteries were running low and heavy-traffic places were out of my list of options.

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I usually go by Urbanspoon to select a place to visit but this time around I was trying to understand the Yelp app that I have downloaded.  Somehow with all the icons I pressed on my phone, I ended up on a list of new restaurants around the east side of the downtown area and out came across Under The Table Restaurant.  It was literally new, with 4 reviews to its page.  All four reviews were in agreement that it was a good addition at Cabbagetown.  Geek that I am, I left the app and looked for more infromation.  I got stumped looking for a web magazine writeup, website, Facebook page nor a Twitter account.  When I finally ended up at Urbanspoon, there was only one like.  For the first time in such a long time, I was devoid of any information.  I went back to Yelp to scrutinize closely the images that one reviewer left.  It might as well be their menu as there were about 30 images.  One image caught my eye.  It was ackee and salted fish served with rice.  I had no clue of what ackee was but I always had a weakness for salted fish.  It was the kind of food that I was looking for, something that would give me comfort and familiarity.  It was the kind of food I would eat at my home, sitting on the floor and just using my own hands.  That is so I can lick every bit of flavour at the last bite. :)   I hoped then that the ackee would not change the flavour that I had in mind.  A craving was a craving, no ifs and buts.  I think I had no room for disappointment for the rest of the day.  I was too tired and I wanted a boost of comfort.

When Jojo and I strolled towards the restaurant, we found owner Kimberly Simpson by the sidewalk prepping the street blackboards for the following day’s specials.  Apparently the restaurant was a walk towards the basement of a building.  Don’t think that is a detriment as the place doesn’t feel restrictive at all.  The ceiling was of good height and the room was obviously newly renovated.  Apparently Under The Table’s Chef Betty-Ann Simpson was pretty handy and knew decent carpentry that they have custom-made the fixtures and the banquet seating.  Quite a feat as the dining room was of decent size.  But despite all the comfort that the dining room had, what I loved the best was the fact that there was no hurry nor commotion.  It was what I needed.  I remember thinking, “Now, if that salted fish just tasted the way I imagine it, I can slowly deflate and relax after a tiring day…”

Kimberly was absolutely passionate about the restaurant and was in high spirits as she told us what were the best items in their menu.  When she started talking about the ackee and salted fish, I got more and more excited as she informed me that ackee takes the flavour of whatever it was cooked with.  I was then more hopeful that it would be similar to the way I loved. Jojo in turn, opted for the Jerk Chicken.  They actually offered different levels of heat for the dish and we opted for medium spicy.  Kim also told us about their soup of the day.  As I saw Jojo wanted one, what could it hurt?  We decided to split one order and Kim offered to split it in two bowls.  It was quite considerate that she anticipated what would make the meal better for us.

The soup came first and it was a robust medley of flavours of red beans, potatoes, spices and spring onions.  I was glad I only have half as I know I could not finish one whole bowl on my own if I still were to eat the ackee and salted fish.  The soup was hearty and have a spicy after notes.  It certainly whetted the appetite.  A few minutes later, Kim came back with the two main big plates.  The portions were generous.  Curious about ackee, I tried it right away and it has a spongy, slippery texture.  The ackee mixed with the minced salted fish was piled on top of flavoured rice.  I don’t think I would have enjoyed it if it were not rice.  I am Filipino after all.  LOL.  I would have eaten a full bowl of the ackee/saltfish combo if they would let me.  It was rather addicting.   Jojo seemed happy about his own choice of Jerk Chicken and told me that he planned on bringing the rest of the leftovers home.  The Jerk Chicken hit the right spots without burning.  He was just like me who was struggling to finish the dish as we were half-full after the hearty soup of beans and potatoes.  After the meal, I then wished for a bed.  It would have been perfect had the restaurant was closer to home.

Thank you Kimberly and Betty-Ann for your good food. I am glad I discovered your restaurant.  It was like having a reward after toiling over a stressful day.  :)))
Under The Table Restaurant on Urbanspoon