Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Green Table (Seoul, SOUTH KOREA) ★★★★☆

I finally got some free time on my own this afternoon and after spending much of our trip north of Hangang River, I decided to come and check out Seorae Ma-eul (서래마을) in Gangnam, an area widely known as the French Village due to its relatively big French community. Despite its proximity to Sinsa, Seorae Ma-eul is nicely hidden from the hustle and bustle of Gangnam which is probably the reason why it has quickly become an epicenter of cute cafes, coffee shops, wine bars and casual dining restaurants. If I'm still in the dating scene (dreaming), this will probably be the place I bring someone over for a romantic dinner.

Today, I have a lunch reservation at The Green Table. Opened back in 2009, this has been a place that I've always wanted to come and visit but somehow it never materialized. So this time around, I made sure that I have reserved time for the long anticipated visit.

Housed under a beautiful 2-story building in green, the ground floor of The Green Table is a casual French bistro while on the first floor, they have their fine dining restaurant serving a more sophisticated menu.

Chef-owner Eun-Hee Kim is one of the few female French chefs in Korea although that number has been growing steadily over the years. After graduating from the CIA in New York, she went on to work for David Bouley (also in NYC) before returning home to open The Green Table.

Make no mistake about it. The Green Table is not a traditional French restaurant but instead a modern French restaurant with strong focus on Korean ingredients.

My first amuse bouche was a fresh tomato sitting on a bed of crushed chocolate cookies. This is a pretty good looking nibble and the tomato tasted like it has just been picked out of the tree. Very fresh and sweet.

Two further amuse bouche arrived in the form of a tomato gazpacho and potato croquette. These were alright but didn't really wow me.

There were two kinds of bread served here. I really liked the freshly made brioche buns but as much as I wanted to finish the entire loaf, I had to pass coz I know I have a parade of dishes coming up real soon.

I am a big fan of beetroots so although I needed to pay a little extra for this dish, I didn't even blink. It was the second time I had a dish named Beetroot Collection, an entire dish dedicated to the theme of beetroot and I was really looking forward to it.

As expected, it's a collection of different variations of beetroots, including a beetroot purée, beetroot chip, poached beetroot, a beetroot "tartare" and last but not least, a candied beetroot "dumpling" with pineapple jam. 

I thought it was pretty nice. It paled in comparison to my other "Beetroot Collection" experience when I had it at JAAN in Singapore but it was a reasonably good dish.

This is another side dish I ordered on top of my 3-course menu - seared foie gras with mandarin jam, pickled asparagus and sweet pumpkin purée. I ordered this mainly out of curiosity to see how they fare with a traditional French dish.

I have to admit, it is a pleasing dish with safe but comforting flavors and textures. The foie gras itself was not bad at all and it was nicely complemented by a balance of sweetness and acidity from the sweet pumpkin, mandarin jam and pickled asparagus.

In between my starter and main course, my server brought over a small bowl of cajun spiced French Fries. I signaled to him that I didn't order this dish but was quickly told that it's included in the set. That's comforting to know. 

These were made fresh to order, very crispy and a little hot.

The meal continued with the final savory dish, honey glazed quail with porcini mushroom purée, mushrooms, bean sprout and a little bit of orange zest. This was easily the star of the afternoon.

The succulent quail was nicely coated with a rich honey glaze and underneath that was a real nice smoky flavor that's very palatable and satisfying.

Dessert was a simple apricot with lemon sorbet, served with a chilled plum soup.

As instructed by my server, I poured the plum soup onto the plate containing the lemon sorbet and apricot; and started mixing everything well together. This was the perfect palate cleanser but for someone so much in love with French pastries, I probably won't mind having some French pastry instead (Ok, I am getting a little greedy here...).

Afterwards, a cup of black tea and a small refreshment to finish things off.

It really has been a long time since I last got the chance to sit around and chill all by myself. A lot has happened over the past 12 months and all these changes in my life have just started to sink in.....

This has been a real pleasant surprise. I thought the décor was really unique and for a moment, it felt like I was dining inside an antique shop. Service was also excellent and the refined French cooking certainly put a bit of smile on my face. This is a place I'd like to bring my family back for another visit.

And I think Seorae Ma-eul is slowly and gradually getting more and more exciting, with some of these new openings. This block alone, I have already spotted talented newcomers like Doughroom by Soigné and Flower Child. Looking forward to coming back here real soon!

Food Rating: 5.5/10
Price: ₩₩₩
Address: 797-9, Bangbae-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Closest Metro Station: Naebang
Tel: +82 2-591-2672
Website: www.thegreentable.co.kr

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