The Good Table essentially lives up to its name offering comfort food in a graciously comfy setting.
In the high waters of our local haute fare, I’m amazed how we so blithely bathe in the sparkling stream of utterly fine dining in this small part of the culinary world.
And perhaps that state of being invariably puts a place like The Good Table in a class by itself. Its menu of “ordinary” food offers a mind-boggling menu of dishes straight out of the Joy of Cooking, with a smattering of Greek fare reflecting the ownership’s heritage. But ultimately the thrust is a personification of comfort food, as though lolling on a comfy sofa with a plate in your lap as the ultimate TV dinner.
Owned and operated by the Kostopoulos family, it serves family friendly fare to Cape residents—and everyone else—who descend in droves to this neighborhood haunt. That patch of asphalt in front of the restaurant — the parking lot — is full morning, noon and night year round. The restaurant serves three squares a day, a feat in itself.
About every two years I go there to see if the Good Table is still living up to its name. And I then ask myself why I don’t come here more often to enjoy such straightforward cooking at a price point that’s as affordable as dipping into your pocket for spare change?
Earlier this week we arrived at 6:30 to a full house and put our name on a list for a table. We earned our drinks at the bar for about 20 minutes until we were seated.
The dining room and the back enclosed porch, both of which can accommodate nearly 100 diners, are not spectacular looking spaces: no dazzling open kitchen flanked by a spiffy dining bar, nor a menu of precious small-plate concoctions as flip as the it girl.
At table we were greeted by Jessica, who is owner Lisa Kostopoulos’s niece and acts as the roving maître d’, an interesting job that goes something like this: She arrives at your table beaming, dressed that night in a glamorous black and white frock and recites the day’s specials — the monologue of a one-woman-show.
Then the waitress takes over for your order — and even she had some one-liners like her greeting, “Hi Sweets, what’ll you have?”
The dinner menu, however, is huge. It offers the usual suspects like clam chowder, baked haddock, roast chicken in a barbecue sauce, fried clams, steak tips and the like, with names like Tony’s Best (Tony, Lisa’s father), Chef’s Choice (Ryan Weeks) or Lisa’s picks. Even though we looked at everything on the list we had already decided on dinner. We’d start with the mussels to share and I was so in the mood for their hot turkey entrée with stuffing, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce—Thanksgiving in August. My friend chose one of the Greek specialties, psari plaki. This was local haddock baked with tomatoes, sweet red peppers, onions, olive oil and fresh herb sauce.
When our waitress came back, she said, “OK, sweet things, have you decided?” Cute.
The Maine mussels were beautifully presented in a large bowl with an upside down pail over it looking a stovetop hat for the empty shells.
The mussels were afloat in a very tasty wine, shallots, garlic, lemon and herby sauce finished off with butter. With it came warmed crusty bread for dipping. The mussels, however, were so tiny they were like farmed miniatures that you had to pin-rick out of the shell. My dinner mate suggested a method that she learned in England of using the tips of an empty shell, like tweezers, to latch onto the shellfish inside. It worked. Even with its delicious broth, the mussels were fairly bland.
My turkey entrée looked like Swanson’s finest TV dinner, with more meat, stuffing and mashed potatoes. The breast meat was flavorful, probably carved from a large roast breast instead of a whole turkey. A few pieces of dark meat lurked under the slabs of white. Yet it was all pretty dry even under its veil of turkey gravy. The potatoes had also seen better days—its texture typical of potatoes brought back to life by reheating. The stuffing looked like a crumble topping and was fairly lackluster, too. The best component of the dish was the wonderful dollop of cranberry chutney sitting on a lettuce leaf.
At first bite my dinner mate liked her fish—pieces of haddock under a shimmering mélange of tomatoes onions and red peppers. But any resemblance to Greek cuisine was fleeting. I had a few bites and found the flavor OK, though the fish had that off-putting iodine taste that you get from fish sometimes.
Dessert, however, was so good that it would quality as the mother of invention. Called blueberry glaze pie it’s a remarkable serving of uncooked high-bush berries piled high in a pie shell and swathed with a blueberry sauce. Typically this is achieved by boiling down blueberries until a jam and then mixed in with the fresh berries. The devise is gorgeously delicious. With a real whipped cream topping, this heavenly piece of pie was a revelation.
That pie alone made the whole dinner worthwhile. I may have had some quibbles with the food, but it was tasty enough, served in an absolutely gracious and friendly atmosphere. And sometimes that’s just enough to deem dinner satisfying.