Good Food Review: The Table Café, Southwark
Sally Gurteen tucks in and talks supply chains and organic food with chef Shaun Alpine-Crabtree.
Nestling where Southwark meets Bankside, The Table Café is a neighbourhood joint with accolades including an Open Table Diners’ Choice Award and a two-star rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA). It grew from simple roots selling sandwiches and salads, before expanding to become an all-day eatery and kitchen table community. The emphasis is on “remaining British and local”, chef and co-owner Shaun McAlpine told me when my friend and I visited.
I ask him how much of their produce is certified organic and we become embroiled in a long conversation about how buying organic is a priority, but how an organic label may have more to do with marketing, especially when it comes to anything sourced beyond the EU, such as coffee and tea. Working at JING with many small tea farmers and collectives, I know only too well how some adhere to and fully embody organic practices and principles but just can’t afford the certification.
Shaun goes on to say, “It’s so difficult to really understand a supply chain unless you can see it in its entirety. Not just how the product has been controlled in terms of quality, but how the people who work with the product are treated, and who they are. We work with so many great personalities and skilled people and that’s really our driving force; delivering the best of what we really know to the table. It’s especially satisfying, for example, to have sourced our fruit and veg for many years now from the local St. Mungo’s Putting Down Roots allotment gardening programme, which supports volunteers who have experienced homelessness and are looking to develop their skills.”
Ordering a radicchio salad, lamb shank and a classic burger (all of The Table’s meat comes from an SRA-approved butcher in Peckham), my friend and I settle down to wait with a very well-priced bottle of French red. We are experiencing ‘the hours of happiness,’ or so the staff tell me.
The salad has a perfectly balanced taste; slightly sour pear, bitter radicchio, the sweetness of candied pecans, salty blue cheese. The burger isreally pretty good; well flavoured, juicy and punchy. The brioche bun from Little Bread Pedlar in Bermondsey is buttery, dense and, most importantly, keeps the structural integrity of the whole stack nicely intact.
As I taste a little of my friend’s lamb shank, which is perfectly fatty and flavoursome, she tells me that The Table is always packed out at brunch. We very much enjoy our meal and so we make a mental note to return. And soon.
Sally writes about food as The Café Cat. The Table Café is a Sustainable Restaurant Association member and London Food Link supporter. Read about The SRA’s Food Made Good at www.foodmadegood.org
Read other Good Food Reviews: including Rabbit, Chelsea
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