I recently checked out what all the fuss was about at Table 8, the high-profile restaurant in the newly-opened-boutique Cooper Square Hotel. Head chef Govind Armstrong, who now has five restaurants in three cities – including the original Table 8 in California and another in Miami – designed the “New American” menu around small plates, fish, cured meats, flatbreads, pastas, and salads. The dining room, with its leather-clad wall and bookshelves full of tomes from Housing Works, has little else to adorn it’s simple, sleek interior. The south-facing wall is all glass and offers a view of the patrons on the dining patio and the private garden. There is a central fourteen-seat “salt bar” featuring house-cured meats and fish from which you can order a sampling to start off the meal or you can sit at the bar for a more casual dining experience. For appetizers, the seared Cana de Cabra (goat cheese) with arugula, avocado, red onion, and balsamic was delicious. I also had a piece of Halibut with fava beans, marinated tomatoes, and smoked Halibut toast. The fish was very light and well-complimented by the tomatoes and beans, but the toast with smoked Halibut (in the style of crabmeat) was unnecessary and an overkill of the similar flavors. The grilled baby chicken with short rib hash, cipollini onion jus, and arugula salad was a big hit at my table. Our group also shared a few “small accents” including spinach with grilled watermelon and red onion (so good!), sautéed Hen of the Woods mushrooms, and cauliflower a la plancha (grilled) with dill, capers, and parsley. There’s also the “8 oz.” burger that inspired Armstrong’s burger mini-chain of the same name, plus the short-rib grilled cheese that made it onto Oprah.
Table 8 has two bars, one at ground level and another on the second floor. The second floor bar is surrounded with floor-to-ceiling glass walls which gives the small space an open, airy feel. The doors open onto a 50-seat outdoor patio that offers views of the Bowery when you’re not getting shouted at by noisy neighbors. The second floor bar has a lounge menu from Table 8 as well as a signature cocktail list. A house specialty is the Basil 8, like a vodka mojito with a splash ginger ale and white-grape juice. A Champagne attendant also hovered down a steep flight of stairs near the restrooms offering guests a glass as they exit. A nice thought but a curious setting…
25 Cooper Square (On Bowery near 6th Street)
New York, NY