Table Tales Makes Awesome Chicken and Even Better Chips

Table Tales on Water Street near Peck Slip promises “carefully-crafted fine foods,” and really, who wants sloppily-prepared lowbrow grub?

Oh wait. I do. A lot of the time. But sometimes I do want something a little more finely-crafted, a little more highbrow. And while we’re at it, I want it in a nice and relaxing setting where I can leave the frustrations of the office behind and just eat in peace.

Table Tales offers me just that, while still allowing me to feed myself on my Lunch’er budget. As with Kiva Cafe, I think that some people may find this spot a bit too pricey for the grub, but you get more food here than at Kiva. And for me, amidst the hustle and bustle of downtown, the excellent food and charming vibe of Table Tales are worth it.

As Lunch’er Seth explained so well, one of the biggest dividends for being a Downtown Lunch’er is the number of nice places to eat. Food is still my number one priority when it comes to picking lunch spots, but a pleasant atmosphere within which to enjoy my meal scores a joint some points as well. Table Tales does well in this category.

Tucked into an unassuming storefront on one of the wide old dock streets by the South Street Seaport, Table Tales is a great place to sit and eat, by yourself or with friends. The inside just reeks with charm. Looking at them now, these pics make it look much more corporate-y than it actually feels. In person, it has a perfect, low-key cafe vibe that makes for a very soothing place to eat.

But I wouldn’t dare recommend a place to the hungry masses of Midtown Lunch if their food was not up to snuff. Fortunately Table Tales scores high in this category as well. Every meal I’ve had their has been delicious, and every item seems as well though-out and, yes, as “carefully-prepared” as the last.

I like to try to head off my critics at the pass whenever I can, so: Yes, Table Tales is one of those places where you pay more for a sandwich that you “should” in some hypothetical universe where sandwich costs are linked directly to ingredient costs rather than to the general pricing in the neighborhood where a restaurant exists. Unless you’re hitting up a place like Cafe 52, your standard lousy deli sandwich can run $6.50 and above down here. Table Tales’ far superior sandwiches hover around $8.50 and come with amazing potato chips. That’s $2 I am willing to pay, but I know that some people aren’t. So, you’ve been warned, but feel free to berate me in the comments anyway.

Table Tales offers some entrees that are out of the Midtown Lunch range as well as some salads and even a quiche of the day that are within it, but I’ve always stuck to the sandwiches (and occasional soup) here, and I’ve never been disappointed. In addition to the regular menu, there’s a special sandwich every day (last time it was a Chicken Milanese with basil mayonnaise, mozzarella, tomato, and arugula on a semolina hero for $7.95), and you can get half of the special sandwich and a cup of the soup du jour (black bean on that same visit) for $9.23. Table Tales Twitters (say that ten times fast), and you can keep up with the daily specials using our Twitter Tracker.

On this trip, I got one of my favorites: The buttermilk chicken sandwich with romaine, tomato, and cajun mayo on a seeded parker house roll. It is a tall, crispy, juicy thing of wonder, and it comes with a side of  the most amazing rosemary potato chips I think I have ever eaten.

Here’s the beast in its lair. It’s not a mammoth sandwich, but it’s definitely not dainty either. It’s a nicely sized hunk of fried chicken.

Here she is in profile. It is one sweet sandwich.

The lettuce is fresh and crisp, not just a few pieces of sad iceberg or a pitiful pinch of limp field greens. The tomato was actually quite tasty, though god knows where they got a tasty tomato in mid-March.

The bread is absolutely fantastic. Soft and yielding, but also firm enough to hold up to the healthy slathering of cajun mayo. Speaking of the mayo, it’s perhaps not as cajun as I would like it to be, but it’s tasty and does have a nice kick to it. It’s not just retitled Miracle Whip.

And the chicken. The chicken is glorious.

They are clearly cooking each piece to order, and the care pays off. Even on a sandwich with mayo, my chicken was still wonderfully crispy. The breading was tasty and flavorful, and the meat was deliciously juicy. Someone at Table Tales really knows their way around a fryer.

I mean really knows their way around a fryer. Behold the glory that is the rosemary potato chips:

They use some kind of red-skinned potato, which I haven’t seen very often, and then absolutely douse the chips in garlic, rosemary, and salt. They are killer. I’d probably eaten 1/3 of them before I summoned the wherewithal to take a picture before they were gone.

I’m not going to go to Table Tales every day, but when I’m looking for high-quality food in a nice setting, they’re going to be high on the list. The sandwiches are easily among the best downtown, and those chips alone might just be enough to put this place on the map.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • A delicious array of sandwiches that so far have all been well-made and delicious.
  • Unbelievably good rosemary potato chips.
  • A truly charming and relaxing place to sit and eat, with a friend or by yourself.

THE — (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • A slightly higher price point than your average sandwich joint, and I’m just not willing to pay it.
  • Individual preparation of each sandwich means that this place doesn’t crank out sandwiches super fast.
  • True Midtown Lunches are found in dirty holes-in-the-wall, not nice cafes.

Table Tales, 243 Water Street (btw. Peck Slip and Dover Street), (212) 766-0917‎



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