Despite the low-profile location, The Wooden Table boasts a co-owner who is the former Executive Chef of Osteria Marco downtown.
Wooden Table may seem isolated in the suburbs, but it's probably appealing to the nearby residents of Cherry Hills and Greenwood Village, as there don't seem to be many comparable restaurants nearby. It filled to capacity shortly after our arrival and there was a lively atmosphere.
I rarely get worked up about restaurant decor or ambiance, but the Wooden Table seemed a bit weak on interior design. The restaurant occupies a large, sparsely-adorned single room, with white walls dotted with random black-and-white photos of trees. It felt a little empty. Also, the restaurant windows face directly out to glowing TJ Maxx and Sally Beauty Supply signs across the parking lot, so it's not a place to go for a nice view.
We started with a couple drinks and a disappointingly boring baguette with olive oil:
|Bread and Olive Oil|
(Yep, after that photo we decided we needed a flash. We're amateurs.)
As an appetizer, we ordered the Frutti di Mare Crudo ($13):
|Frutti di Mare Crudo|
Crudo is a raw, ceviche-like seafood preparation that is typically marinated in a combination of olive oil, salt, and an acid component (normally lemon or lime juice). In this case, the crudo included baby octopus, shrimp, and scallops, arranged on a layer of tonnato and chili oil. It was similar to the Insalada Frutti di Mare we enjoyed at 5280 Dines a month ago. It was light, citrusy, and loaded with tasty, fresh seafood.
We also split a half portion of the Ravioli ($10):
|Ravioli (half portion)|
The ravioli was stuffed with ricotta, and topped with shaved Parmesan and red sauce. The pasta was perfectly cooked, with a rich and creamy ricotta filling. The red sauce tasted a bit sweet for my preference, but was well seasoned and flavorful.
Now, let's back up a second here. Why exactly did I track down this random shopping center Italian restaurant for a slightly fancy dinner?
I had been drawn in by the allure of this:
Westword's 100 Favorite Dishes: Pork Tenderloin with Bread Pudding and Green Split Peas from the Wooden Table.
From the Westword write-up, the pork dish looked ridiculously tasty, and Apple Ham Hock Bread Pudding sounded like something I shouldn't pass up in this lifetime.
Well, my husband is really the pork lover in the relationship, so I convinced him he needed to order it.
And here it is:
|Berkshire Pork Tenderloin|
That's Berkshire pork tenderloin atop apple ham hock bread pudding, with green split peas and braised red cabbage ($23).
It didn't exactly look like the photo Westword posted, and it certainly didn't live up to our elevated expectations. In fact, the pork was pretty dry and weak on seasoning. I enjoyed the bread pudding, the split peas, and the cabbage, but nothing tasted particularly special, and it wasn't nearly good enough to make up for the disappointing pork.
For anyone seeking a pork dish (or, more specifically, a Berkshire pork dish), my husband's Boneless Berkshire Pork Chop at Vesta Dipping Grill last month was much, much better.
Moving on, I ordered the Meatballs ($20) for my entree:
That may look like regular old spaghetti and meatballs, but it was so much more than that. Somehow, The Wooden Table has managed to concoct an incredibly perfect and wonderfully seasoned meatball using veal, pork, and beef. That spaghetti-looking pasta was actually bucatini, or in layman's terms, "spaghetti with a hole down the center." Like the ravioli, the pasta was cooked just right. This was the best thing I ate at Wooden Table, and certainly more deserving of any type of "Best Dish" nod than the pork.
I'm not sure if they do this on a regular basis, but the restaurant served complimentary dessert liqueurs to all its (over-21) diners that evening. I don't care for liqueurs in any form, but my husband was happy to polish off our Amaretto and Limoncello glasses.
We finished off the meal with the Pumpkin Cheesecake ($8):
The cheesecake was topped with a praline and pumpkin seed brittle topping, and served with whipped cream on the side. It was a lovely fall dessert, but of course we may have been easily pleased, both of us being cheesecake and pumpkin lovers. It disappeared quickly.
Two months after its opening, The Wooden Table has a basis for a great restaurant. The food is mostly very good, and the location has easy appeal for the area's residents. I felt some of the dishes needed more polish, and there's room for improvement in the ambiance.
Pros: Food was mostly good. Pasta was excellent.
Cons: Disappointed with pork dish, boring location