Reservations, cocktails, a bar, even--these are a few things you won't find at Table (say it the French way: "tawb-luh"), chef-owner Frederik de Pue's construction-stage restaurant located a few blocks into Shaw from the Convention Center (and just steps from both Rogue 24 and Seasonal Pantry, two spots that also part ways with Washington dining conventions).
What the former Smith Commons and 42˚ Catering toque hopes you will find: a relaxed, European-style eatery where you can linger for hours over coffee and pastries in the morning, or a bottle of wine after dinner. Essentially, the type of restaurant that's scarce in Washington. We met up with de Pue in the space that will become Table, a two-story former garage on the corner of Ninth and N streets, Northwest. It most recently housed a speakeasy of sorts--not of the trendy craft-cocktail variety, but a most likely illegal drinking spot for those in the know--and there's still an outline of where the upstairs bar used to be. The old structure already boasts the industrial, warehouse-type look newer venues pay thousands to install: crumbling brick, wooden beams, concrete floors. Renovations will maintain the effect, and once it's finished, diners can grab a table in the 34-seat, sidewalk-level room off the open kitchen--the old garage door opens up to an outdoor patio--or upstairs in a smaller, 16-seat area looking out on the open-air garden shop across the street. There will also be a covered rear deck for warm-weather dining, which, if everything goes as planned, will suit the late-summer opening.
Something else you won't see at Table: menus, or at least menus in the traditional sense. De Pue has a fine-dining background--he's worked with Alain Ducasse, among other notables--but the neighborhood spot will have a lineup of casual fare projected onto the wall so changes can be made if dishes run out or new ingredients arrive. The concept is hyper-seasonal: At dinner you could find a dish like frog's legs with porcini gnocchi one day, and lamb loin the next, while lunch will focus on sandwiches and salads. There's no liquor, but de Pue says guests are welcome to stay as long as they wish, eating and sipping beer, wine, or Champagne. "You can please people with simplicity," he says.