Restaurant Review: The Community Table Café
By: Patricia Greathouse
Published online: Friday, November 11, 2011
Appeared in: Pasateimpo
The Community Table Café is founded
The Community Table Café
2 ½ chiles
The Design Center, 418 Cerrillos Road 505-995-0191
Lunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; closed Saturday & Sundays
Counter service, Take-out available, Noise level: low, Handicapped-accessible
In short order: The Community Table Café
’s goal is to
create community by serving clean, healthful,
and affordable food. With a largely organic
grain, legume, and vegetable menu, chefs
Christopher Kolon and his wife, Reingard
Kolon, treat everyone with a friendly smile
and a welcoming attitude. The food is often
basic, with dishes such as Fuel (rice and
beans) for those on a shoestring. Other
dishes are more complex and show the chef ’s
extensive experience in restaurant kitchens.
Recommended: daily entrée special, “soul
bowl,” tempeh Reuben sandwich, coconut
and almond cookies, and tiramisu.
*Ratings range from 0 to 4 chiles, including half chiles.
This reflects the reviewer's experience with regard
to food and drink, atmosphere, service, and value
idealistic philosophy of wanting to provide fresh,
honest, and affordable food. It’s getting there. The
Plate of Love, a pay-what-you-can dish, and kitchen
volunteers who work for food tokens are concepts that
are just catching on. However, chef/owner Christopher
Kolon, who hopes to focus on food insecurity while
offering healthy, wholesome, tasty, and seasonal food,
expects that those things will develop with time.
A few dishes shine when all the stars are aligned;
and the ability, sincerity, and heart of Kolon and his
wife, Reingard Kolon, are apparent.
The Community Table Café is the kind of restaurant
where the bones show — there’s no pretense. Diners
are treated as friends and welcomed with enthusiasm.
People who know Kolon and Reingard hold a great deal
of goodwill for them, noting his extensive experience in
the food world, her background in ayurvedic cooking,
and the homemade desserts she makes. The feeling in
the restaurant is of something new and just discovered.
The food also has a fresh, clean feel that shows up in
healthful and visually appealing dishes. A special entree
plate — perfect florets of burnished roasted cauliflower
gratin with a sprinkle of melted feta cheese — sat on a
chunky tomato sauce enriched with onions and capers.
Creamy blocks of grilled polenta and a side of fresh
green salad complemented the cauliflower and sauce.
Some of the food feels naked as a newborn, as if it
needs a little more time to mature. The bean burrito
is made with just-tender beans and a small amount
of mild green chile and cheddar cheese folded into
a soft flour tortilla. It’s filling, but it feels Spartan.
Christopher Kolon is clear about not having the desire
to be in the gourmet niche, but if the beans had been
cooked with garlic and onions until melting in their
own sauce and then topped with a chile of character
(ditto the cheese), no one would accuse him of elitism.
No ground would be lost on the vegetarian front,
either; something would be gained, for if there’s one
thing vegetarians need in this world, it’s luscious,
The vegetarian Reuben has plenty of greasy
goodness. Crisp, toasty griddled homemade bread
is packed with sauerkraut, tempeh, and melted
cheese. This sandwich is so far past comfort, it nears
the X-rated zone.
Meanwhile, the soul bowl, basically rice and black
beans with a vegan sauce of legumes and almonds,
is topped with green chile, cheese, tomatoes, and
avocado. It’s basic good nutrition, and there’s an even-
simpler version at a lower price on the menu, which
is listed simply as Fuel. Soups change at least once
a week. The sweet-potato-coconut curry soup was
creamy and rich.
Salads come in several varieties, including house,
Caesar (sans anchovies), and a changing array of sidesalads. At two meals, we tried the salad threesome,
sampling the following: a bland rice noodle with
broccoli, snow peas, and sesame seeds; silken roasted
zucchini and onion with balsamic vinegar; crunchy
cabbage and mango; mild couscous; cooked carrot; and
jicama. Each of the side salads does have its own voice,
but sometimes I wanted them to speak more distinctly.
On our visits, desserts ranged from an excellent
tiramisu to a too-old apple galette. Unfortunately,
pastry is best the first day, and if business is slow,
a dessert with a longer shelf life may be in order.
Likewise, the banana bread was stale and suffered
from refrigeration — the death of bread. Coconut and
almond cookies sandwiched with a little chocolate
were pleasant, and just one of them will satisfy a
Several dishes that we didn’t order look interesting.
The Can’t Be Beet Burger and a grilled nut-loaf sandwich
with rosemary mayo and cheese beg for a try. Service
is friendly and somewhat catch-as-catch-can. Diners
order at the counter and food is run out as it comes
up. Silverware is waiting, tines up, in a cup on the
table (I hope this practice will be changed at least by
placing the utensils tines down). Plates are cleared at
a leisurely pace.
However, service in this sense of the word is not
the thrust of The Community Table Café. The focus
is on community — all of us gathered ’round, eating
healthful, affordable, power-to-the-people food in a
friendly and loving spirit. Being served in that way
can’t hurt in these tough and trying times.
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