That's right. One of Ohio's hottest, new fine dining restaurants isn't in some trendy, glass-encased first floor suite of a luxury downtown high-rise. Instead, it offers a casual ambiance, nestled inside an unpretentious corner of a Millersburg senior living apartment community.
Kent Welsh, a classically French trained bistro-style chef and a Massillon native, returned to Northeast Ohio when his mother's health began to fail. In June, he and his wife, Saren, opened their new Table, which is receiving rave reviews statewide in spite of its unorthodox location.
Why all the hype? Just take a glimpse at Chef Kent's vitae:
• He graduated from the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, VT and earned a BS in nutrition from Marquette University in Wisconsin, not to mention a degree from St. Michael's Seminary.
• He helped direct the opening operations of the Ritz Carltons in Maui, Denver, Aspen, Cancun, Laguna Niguel, and Washington D.C.
• In central Hong Kong, Kent consulted for the Shangri-la Hotel Co.
• He worked directly with Wolfgang Puck at San Francisco's award-winning Postrio restaurant and helped the renowned chef/author open Granita in Santa Monica, which soon developed the well-deserved reputation, "Where the stars dine."
• In 1992, Kent catered both the Emmy and the Grammy Awards celebrations.
• He opened Sachimo's, a Pacific Rim restaurant in the basement of the Los Angeles Music Center.
• He honed his bread-making skills at the famed LaBrea Bakery in Berkley, CA.
• He also had the honor of catering Julia Child's 80th birthday celebration.
In addition, Kent and Saren are both deeply committed to serving organic and locally grown products whenever possible. In fact, the couple's long-term vision involves transforming their Holmes County farm into a seed-to-table educational center, including "edible classrooms," where kids and adults can learn where food comes from, and the importance of clean, healthy eating.
According to Chef Kent, the number of local farmers' markets in the U.S. is growing at an annual rate of 432%. "Eating better, more healthy, more local food is increasingly important to people," he says. "We serve only prime beef and choose sources that do not use antibiotics, steroids or artificial hormones. That's true of our beef, veal, duck and chicken. We also stay away from farm-raised seafood because of the unclean environments inherent in the process."
Compared to his menus in L.A. and Hong Kong, Chef Kent admits to "dialing down" his exotic, made-from-scratch offerings to meet the tastes of the Midwest market. Thankfully, he also dialed down the prices. That's another reason the cars in the parking lot have license plates from Cuyahoga and Franklin counties. For example, the aforementioned Roasted Pacific Snapper would set you back close to $30 in Cleveland.
At Table, it's just $13.
Red meat lovers are raving about Chef Kent's Braised Domestic Lamb Shank, which is served on a bed of barley with roasted vegetable risotto. $35? No, it's $14.
Or try the Half Pekin Duck with blackberry sage demi-glace. At $15 it's the most expensive item on the dinner menu.
Table also offers a nightly Blue Plate Special for just $10.50, like Beef Kabobs featuring roasted pepper pilaf and a watercress salad or North Atlantic Scrod En Papillote, with tricolored peppers, lemons and a chardonnay lime sauce. The $10.50 price also includes a choice of beverage, salad or soup, like Butternut Squash, Peanut and Curry. (Kent and Saren also offer "Soup for a Group" to go. Eight to ten people can enjoy gourmet soup for $25.99. Just heat and serve).
For an appetizer, don't miss out on the Wild Mushroom and Goat Cheese Terrine with a bittersweet chocolate and balsamic glaze, $8. Or go with the Wild Caught Smoked Salmon Tart on pumpkin bread with pomegranate drops and pepper bacon atop baby greens and a baked apple butter sauce. Whew!
The menu also boasts plenty of salad options, including the Warm Roasted Candied Beet Salad with haricot vert, Stilton bleu cheese, pickled red onion and honey raisins, $9.
At lunch, Table is even more affordable with sandwich options priced between $6.50 and $8. Enjoy the Slow Roasted Pulled Pork with sweet onion, apple wood bacon and "Smack Ya' Cheddar" on a Spinach Wrap or explore the Bayou Honey Shredded Chicken with Golden Delicious apples, baby spinach and goat cheese on house-made oatmeal bread.
As you might imagine, Table is gaining popularity yet its seating is highly limited. That means reservations are strongly encouraged, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. In fact, your best bet is to make reservations for mid-week.
Finally, a fine dining experience—close to home.
Table is located in Millersburg at 149 East Jones Street, inside Sunshine Villa. Find it 3/10 mile outside of town, kitty-corner from Village Motors.
For reservations, call 330-674-0023. The chef will graciously accommodate those with special dietary needs. Alcohol is not served.
Published: December 10, 2010