February 21

Splendid ‘Table

Burgers are plentiful in SLU, but this spot aims for its plant-based formula to become the neighborhood’s signature patty.

A new burger spot has taken root at the edge of South Lake Union. But you won’t find greasy beef patties draped in bacon here. ‘Table, brainchild of restaurant vets Doug Kawasaki and Mark Fuller, offers only plant-based burger patties at its tiny but mighty location at Sixth and Bell.

Kawasaki has worked in a number of Seattle standouts, including Canlis and as the opening general manager of Seastar in downtown Seattle. He got to know Fuller behind the scenes and they became fast friends. “We were hanging out one day and discussed how vegetables were really resonating with diners, and we saw an opportunity,” Kawasaki says. The duo felt that, while many restaurants do offer a vegetarian burger option, it’s often an afterthought, a gesture of appeasement for the non-meat eaters. But at ‘Table, it’s the main focus. Kawasaki recalls a quote that rings true with him: “Why would I want a second-rate version of something that I chose to give up in the first place?”

The patty at ‘Table is a mix of quinoa, kidney beans, hominy, mushrooms, eggplant, cashews, marmite, and a “veggie caramel” of carrots, onions, garlic, and tomato paste. The crew mixes all of this together, hand-grinds and hand-forms 5-ounce patties. The patties are then roasted in an oven and finished on ‘Table’s chrome griddle. What results is a toothsome patty with a mouthfeel resonate with beef eaters. Toppings include thick-cut pickled cucumbers and onions, melty American cheese, and a vegan tomato mayo. Spice it up with optional jalapenos. You can order a single or a double, but be warned—the single is hefty.

Sides are big enough for a significant snack. The crispy potatoes are smothered with harissa verde and goat cheese. These babies are perfectly crisp on the outside and melty soft on the inside. And ‘Table has an umami bomb on offer in its shiitake mushroom chili. You can order the chili on its own or smother a cheeseburger with it. The chili is well seasoned and quite delicious with its Fritos and diced onions on top, but a sprinkle of cheese might make it sing even more. Other sides include crushed avocado succotash, which is a scoop of crushed avocado covered with sweet corn, hominy, onion, red peppers, Aleppo pepper, and corn chips; and the winter squash and quinoa filled with golden raisins, cumin, carrots, and toasted pumpkin seeds. All of these items are gluten free.

The other main menu item is capitalizing on Seattle’s love for things in bowls. The ‘Table Bowl, which Kawasaki says was recently revamped to include more seasonal ingredients, is served with pickled beets, charred Brussels sprouts, baba ganoush, roasted cauliflower, brown rice, quinoa, medium cooked egg, and topped with yogurt ranch.

All of the food at ‘Table is quite hearty. Kawasaki says that with vegetarian food, there’s always a misconception that it won’t be filling, and you’re going to leave hungry. But not at ‘Table. “You’re going to be full and happy after you eat here.”

Story by Ethan Chung and Photographs courtesy of Ann Slothower and 'Table.

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