common table is a dinner gathering currently offered in Nashville and Dallas. The idea is to bring people together and let them share their stories and connect over good food in an intimate setting. When I came across the common table website, I immediately put mine and Anthony’s names in “the hat“! A few weeks later I got an email saying we’d be two of the ten attending diners for February. I was pretty excited. The whole “invite only” concept makes you feel pretty special, right?
The dinner was held on a Sunday night in a gorgeous East Nashville home. The common table team did a great job of setting up the meal — the decorations were perfect and cocktails were waiting for us as soon as we arrived We settled into our seats and got to know the others at the table — all around the same age as Anthony and me, and many with jobs in the healthcare and music industry (this is Nashville, after all!). Some had attended common table dinners before, but most of us were new to the scene.
The common table crew put some ice breaker-ish questions in the middle of the table to help keep the conversation flowing. We ended up only using a couple of the hand-written topics, though — everyone at the table had plenty in “common” to talk about.The dinner was served on a snowy winter night, so the first course — crab and fennel soup — hit the spot. This was actually my favorite dish of the evening!Before serving each course, chef Simoni — who actually is a full-time cook at the popular Josephine restaurant — would come out of the kitchen and give us a little description of what he’d prepared. Throughout the meal, the common table team — chef, mixologist, dinner coordinator, and photographer — would emerge from another room and check in on us. Although we appreciated the behind-the-scenes info, Anthony and I thought it was a little odd to have them popping in and out of the dining room all the time!
It was kind of like they were dining with us, but then not dining with us (they were actually eating the same meal, but in the back room/kitchen area). The photographer quietly snapped photos throughout the night, which at times felt natural and at times felt strange — like I was on a reality TV show or some sort of social experiment. Anyways! Our second course was “squash two ways.” Butternut cubes and spaghetti strings, mixed in with mushrooms, sage, and spices. The veggies tasted fantastic — I wish the servings had been larger so I could have enjoyed this dish more.The highlight of night was the wine — a really lovely cabernet sauvignon from Napa. (That’s Anthony taking a picture of the label so we can go buy another bottle!)The wine definitely helped balance out the main course: duck! I’ll start by saying that I’m not a huge fan of duck, so there’s that. I didn’t love this part of the meal but luckily had plenty of drink and conversation to carry me through to the next course.
Which was dessert. We got to enjoy these brown butter charlotte creations to the sound of one of the common table crew’s singer/songwriter friends, Matt Wright. He had a mix of fun and serious songs — and a great voice! Sitting through a solo concert for ten was a new experience for me — I almost felt like I was on stage, myself.And then the dinner came to a close with one final song. We mingled with the other guests for a while before making the short drive home.
Weeks later, Anthony and I are still trying to wrap our heads around the event. We’ve never been to such an intimate dinner with a table full of strangers, so we can say that common table was surely a unique and memorable experience. We enjoyed getting to know the other diners and appreciated the thought that went into the food and atmosphere. The two things I wasn’t so sure about: first, for the price ($65 each), I would have liked a little more food — I’ll admit that I do have an unusually large runner’s appetite, though 😉 . Second, the presence of common table crew during the dinner was a bit unsettling. I’m sure this wasn’t intentional at all, but at times it felt like we were outsiders who showed up at an insiders-only party, and were then photographed. I don’t know. It all felt a bit overly curated at times.With that being said, I’m glad we went to common table. (and I have to admit, the photos from Mikaela Hamilton do look nice!) It was by far one of the most one-of-a-kind dinners we’ve had lately, and not one we’ll forget! I don’t think that we’ll put our names in the hat again, but I’d encourage you to if you’re feeling adventurous. Just be sure to sit with your good side facing the camera
- Would you go to an event like common table?