Table 23 has one of the most enviable locations in Tallahassee. It’s set in a historic home in the heart of Midtown, nestled under shady oaks and blessed with a sprawling wraparound porch that exudes Southern charm.
Rustic but gussied up with crystal chandeliers, cherry-red curtains and twinkly white lights, Table 23 can provide the backdrop for a casual evening with friends or that special date night. Bring the family to Sunday brunch or join your coworkers for happy hour.
To add to its many assets, owners Joe and Mandy Lemons have recently added lunch. Expect it to be a beacon for visitors when the legislative session begins in March.
Dining outdoors is fun but the porch can get loud and crowded on weekends. For a quieter meal, you may prefer dining indoors. The upstairs dining room can be used for groups (make a reservation) or private events.
The building was built in the 1920s and owned by Fred Carroll, who delivered ice before refrigeration. In later years, it became the restaurant Chez Pierre, followed by the Front Porch, which closed after a fire in the summer of 2015.
Eight months ago, the Lemons opened Table 23, and that “23” isn’t as random as it sounds.
Joe got a job with the Bloomin’ Brands restaurant chain at age 23. He would later marry waitress Mandy when she was 23. Joe worked for the chain for 23 years (most recently as managing partner at Tallahassee’s Bonefish Grill). And Psalm 23 (The Lord is my shepherd) is Mandy’s favorite Bible passage. It all fit.
The Lemons have a team of four chefs who prepare a straightforward menu with a creative, Southern twist.
Starters include pecan-crusted okra, sweet potato hummus, smoked mullet croquetas and a decadent-sounding “Southern Slate,” with candied bacon, deviled eggs, Pimento cheese and other rich treats.
Oysters are available chargrilled and fried, but we opted for a dozen raw. These delicious orbs were from the Panacea Oyster Co-Op, which is cultivating hand-raised oysters in the region. We could have easily slurped a dozen more.
As for salads, our server recommended a medley of pickled beets, field greens, candied pecans, blue cheese and a crisp garnish of skinny tobacco onions, finished with a dressing of beet juice and vinaigrette. Refreshing.
Entrees are limited to seven or so choices plus specials and more casual items like burgers and sandwiches.
My husband and daughter liked Table 23’s version of shrimp and grits, with lots of shrimp, arugula, mushrooms and a rich bacon-tomato gravy served over smoked Gouda cheese grits. Not exactly a diet plate but mighty fine eating.
One of our favorite dishes was the grouper, a plump six-ounce portion with a generous topping of delectable shrimp and blue crab stuffing, served with a creamy bourbon and thyme-infused corn, so good you’ll want to lick the plate.
We weren’t thrilled with a side of truffled Tater Tots, however. They were the typical fried potato bites with a barely discernible truffle flavor.
On another visit, we decided to share dishes in order to sample more of the menu. The challenge was that two of us wanted the rib-eye (which has a Lucky Goat coffee rub) prepared medium, and two of us wanted it rare. Our congenial server listened to our dilemma and we were pleasantly surprised when she brought us two different portions to share, each half of the steak cooked with our preferred temperatures, plated with an equal amount of asparagus and thinly sliced potatoes. Impressive.
We also shared juicy, pecan-crusted chicken, honey-brined and roasted to golden brown perfection. It’s served with a hash of chopped sweet potatoes, asparagus and Tasso ham.
Dessert choices include a gluten-free brownie, pecan pie or banana pudding, parfait style, with vanilla wafers. For a lighter ending, try the house-made ice cream or sorbet (choices change). The whiskey sour sorbet has the right balance of boozy and tart flavors and our white chocolate raspberry ice cream was scrumptious, Each dessert was served with a chocolate chip cookie. An interesting, and pleasing, new combo for us.
For lunch, Table 23 offers burgers, sandwiches, soups, salads and some main dishes like fried catfish or pork chops.
From the smoked brisket on challah to the hearty gumbo to the Southern “Rueben” with corned beef and collard greens (more Birmingham than Brooklyn), there’s a lot to like.
Linger over Southern-style cocktails like the popular Mason Punch made with sparkling wine, or a Hibiscus Julep. Proof beers are on tap, along with several other beer and wine choices (with nearly two dozen by the glass).
Servers were top-notch, keeping the meal well-paced yet warm and welcoming, extremely helpful.
For dinner, starters and small plates are $8 to $18; salads $8; main dishes $18 to $34; “handhelds” (sandwiches and burgers) $10 to $14; sides $3 to $6; desserts $5 to $8.
Open eight months, Table 23 is already a major player in Tallahassee. It has the location, food and service worthy of a prime dining destination.
Tallahassee Table Rating
Worth the Drive
When you go …
1215 Thomasville Rd.
Lunch 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday; dinner 5 to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 5 to 10 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday. Brunch 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Live music 6:30 to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday nights.