Culture

5 things to know about The Table as it turns 5

...including their secret anniversary menu and the new space launching soon

Founded by ex-telecom professional Jay Yousuf and former lawyer and accountant Gauri Devidayal, The Table in Mumbai is best known for making fine dining accessible and pioneering the food revolution that Mumbai has seen in recent years. Whether it is with their fresh California-inspired menu, which focuses entirely on its ingredients or their casual chic take on fine dining (flip flops are welcome), they’ve been at the helm of some exciting changes. But not all of them were easy. Here are five things you should know about it:

It's named after their 20-feet long community table
When it opened, Yousuf and Devidayal wanted to give the city something it hadn’t seen before. Take their namesake community dining area for example. “People have this idea that if you come to this nice place, you should have your own private space. Initially, people were always like, ‘Really, you’re gonna put me there?’” says 31-year-old executive chef Alex Sanchez. “But today, it’s our most requested table. People hang around and have such a great time. It works so well because patrons make great memories dining there,” adds Devidayal.

It's taken farm-to-fork to the next level
It focused on fresh ingredients and sourced locally before farm-to-fork became the household term that it is today. “We have a little farm attached to our weekend home in Alibaug where we grew some vegetables for our own consumption. One day when there was a surplus of produce, I brought some into the restaurant and it hit us – this could really work. Now we invite people to come over, harvest and pick with us and cook the harvest of the afternoon’s labour in our own kitchen," says Devidayal.

It's multiplying
Next on their radar is a 12-months-in-the-making-project that will launch in the next few months, in Mumbai's Reay Road. It will feature a central kitchen, which will serve as a show kitchen for parties, private events or cooking workshops. “The place has so much character, if we offer a great experience, I’m sure it will bring people out there," says Devidayal. "It isn’t meant to be just a space we cater out of. Our philosophy has always been to create a kind of space we’d like to dine in and serve food we’d like to eat. Because we had no hospitality experience, we weren’t equipped to make many [calculated] business decisions and we just followed our hearts. I believe if we pour our souls into it, people will love it as much as we do.”

It's hosting a secret dinner
After five years of thriving in the cut-throat food industry and winning local and regional honours – like a spot on Miele Guide's list of Asia’s 500 Best Restaurants – they’ve got every reason to call for a big celebration. The restaurant has survived a fire, a whole year without Sanchez when he went on a sabbatical to work at Eleven Madison Park in NYC, a mass exodus from the kitchen staff (“That was my hardest day on the job, I lost seven of my key guys,” says Sanchez) and numerous kitchen-hideouts (“Every time shit hit the fan, I’d run to the back,” adds Devidayal who used to – and often does – work at the front desk).

As part of the fifth anniversary celebration, they’re hosting a six course secret-menu dinner that will feature dishes created by Sanchez exclusively for that one night only. We hear you can expect roasted brassica with egg confit, a traditional black truffle risotto and Kashmiri morel mushrooms with swiss chard, quinoa, Marcona almonds and peas. The finale includes a creamy chocolate ganache with orange and popping candy.

It's big on small details
Consider the fact that the 80-cover restaurant also has a staff of 80. It means people are dedicated solely to quality checks. Plus, there's comfort in knowing that you can order half a glass of wine, in case you decide to switch between courses or happen to be the designated driver that evening.    

Sign up for the anniversary dinner on January 16 at The Table, ground floor, Kalapesi Trust Building, Apollo Bunder Marg, Colaba. For reservations, call +91 9833948363 or email communications@foodmatters.in, Rs 4,500 per person for the six course meal

Photograph: Prabhat Shetty