Good Enough at the Good Table
The Good Table, in the heart of Cape Elizabeth, close enough to the beach to get some serious ocean breezes, has been such a popular neighborhood restaurant for years that it hardly seems worth extolling any more of its highly touted virtues.
On the other hand, perhaps it’s time to take a closer look.
Over the years I’ve been to it often enough, but not in a while. I pass it all the time when I go to the beach and see their parking lot completely full — literally morning, noon, and night.
About 10 years ago, the restaurant burned to the ground, but the owners quickly rebuilt, crafting a shingle–style manse looking like a cross between a country inn and a structure more often found in residential subdivisions.
Essentially it’s a roadhouse for locals who adore the Good Table. It covers an amalgam of cuisines—continental classics, Greek, and good old-fashioned American comfort food. You can order anything from a turkey platter with stuffing, potatoes, and cranberry sauce to lamb souvlaki.
The scene this time of year is mostly visitors staying in neighboring beach rentals, motels, and hotels that line the Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough strips. Still, the mood is very upbeat and the feeling is kind of like eating at a high-strung relative’s house.
The prices are moderate, though with certain entrees the tab can add up. I started off with bruschetta, which is described as “August on a plate.” What appeared was a mass of chopped tomatoes moistened with olive oil, garlic, shallots, herbs, and “parm” on crostini. It was a messy looking dish—as though the tomatoes were thrown in a heap onto the toasted bread. It was tasty if you like lots of garlic, but the tomato flavor was fleeting. If it’s meant to be August on a plate, these tomatoes should have stayed on the vine a bit longer.
My dinner partner had mussels, listed as “Irish” on the menu, whatever that might mean, in a broth of wine, shallots, herbs, and “evo and parm”—two abbreviations that should go to the etymological graveyard.
The mussels, however, were very good.
My main course was chicken prunella, which is basically chicken Marbella, that quasi-Mediterranean preparation fortified with the likes of olives, garlic, prunes, wine, and herbs. When made well it can be a crowd pleaser—a good buffet dish to foist on a crowd.
This version was, I have to admit, delicious and good enough reason to return to the Good Table just to have it.
At other times, weekend breakfasts, brunches, and lunches are nearly standing room only. The portions are huge, the dishes somewhat convoluted but tasty enough.
The one dish that I was looking forward to was strawberry pie, which I would see every time I drove by in July posted on the blackboard in front of the driveway. It went off the menu last month when local strawberries were gone for the season.
It’s been replaced by blueberry pie. This version was a mixture made up of uncooked berries mixed in with cooked berries as the filling, served cold and tasty enough. There are other desserts on the menu—big gooey cakes, confections, and puddings.
My biggest gripe with the restaurant is this: dispense with paper napkins. They are more fitting for a lobster joint or fast food outlet. I’m not asking for pure cotton napkins, a blend would do. But with such hearty, big portioned, somewhat serious food, paper doesn’t cut it.
John Golden makes no bones about sharing his opinion. If you'd like to share yours, email him at email@example.com.