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Mike Cohen introduces you to the new West End Table 51 Restaurant and Bar

    When Restaurant Portovino closed its doors on Rue des Jockeys near the former Blue Bonnets Raceway on August 10, 2017, I wondered which dining establishment would take over this sprawling space? Oro Toro previously occupied the spot.

    Soon after the Portovino closure, brothers and business partners Jimmy and George Kosmas set their sights on the property. Since 2010 they had been operating the highly successful Table 51 Restaurant and Bar at Carrefour Laval and the time for expansion to the West End had arrived. For them this location was just perfect, but the space had to entail their own personal touch. With that in mind they completely gutted the interior and brought it back to life again.

    Jimmy Kosmas

    The spanking new restaurant can seat 250 people. A seasonal terrace is coming for the spring. The interior design pays homage to the former Blue Bonnets Raceway next door, with large photographs on the wall from the starting gate near the entrance to another showing a horse being walked to the stables. One wall contains a map of the area dating back to 1855. There is an attractive looking bar and six large screen televisions.

    Jimmy and George grew up working with their dad in a small family restaurant. In 1995 the trio embarked as partners on a Nickels Deli franchise on St. Hubert and Belanger. Three years later they sold the place and opened a Baton Rouge in Galleries D’Anjou. That last 18 successful years. In 2010 the folks from Cadillac Fairview came knocking on their door. They wanted a unique concept restaurant at Carrefour Laval and they were certain that the Kosmas brothers could rise up to the challenge. That they did! Table 51, with a casual chic North American fusion menu, was an instant hit. This is precisely the case at the newest location.

    Where did the name of the restaurant come from? “Table 51 was the table number where I sat each day at Baton Rouge,” he said. “And it is the table number where I sit at Carrefour Laval and Rue des Jockeys. I am not the kind of guy who wants to sit in an office. I want to be right there with the clients.”

    As for the conception of the menu, the Kosmas brothers said they just wanted to make food fun again. “We came up with a menu where everything was created from scratch,” he explained. “The only things we have frozen are the shrimp and the ice cream.”

    Olivier Turgeon is the head chef and Jimmy cannot say enough about him. Nick Strilakis a veteran in the business, was hired as general manager.   Servers like Jean Lapointe, who started in Laval on day one, has brought experience and personality to the new place. Jean is the father of five kids and loves his job. “I really like to get to know my clients

    The day I first dropped by the new Table 51 I met Jimmy and asked for a suggestion for lunch. He pitched The Club 51. It is to die for – roasted chicken, smokehouse bacon, tomato confit, green apples, Gruyère and basil mayo served on soft ciabatta bread.

    I was eager to go back with my own family and recently I did. The place was packed. Jimmy even had to give up Table 51 to some happy customers. He was too busy to sit anyhow, assisting with the serving, managing the kitchen and talking to clients. Everywhere I looked, people were smiling. They were thrilled with this new hotspot!

    We had fun reviewing the menu got things going with some drinks: a prosecco pop and two raspberry mojitos. While we sipped these thirst quenching creations, we agreed upon a few starters to share: the stuffed zucchini rolls, with goat cheese and red pepper emulsion; char-broiled octopus, grilled with potato, onion and a caper salad which included tomatoes and arugula (the octopus was to die for!!); and a delicious order of salmon tartar.

    For the main course I was anxious to try the Gucci burger – ground filet mignon patty, with bacon, onion, mushroom, jam, and manchego cheese and truffle mayo. I ordered some Yukon gold mash on the side. Our server promised me I would find this addictive and he was right. I cannot wait to have it again!  I had told the other two members of the clan about the signature braised beef. When they asked our server for a suggestion that was the first recommendation he had. They were absolutely delighted with this choice. No knife is required for the dish. It is slowly cooked for eight and a half hours throughout the day, served in red wine with herb-roasted root vegetables. I had a little sampling myself and all I can say is “wow!”

    There are a wide variety of other enticing starters such as French-cut jumbo chicken wings, double wrapped lobster tacos, braised beef poutine, popped rock shrimp, a charcuterie board, tuna poke, salads and soups.  There are beef and veggie burgers, a Rubenesque sandwich, oven roasted chicken, fish of the day, Maryland crab cake, steak, filet mignon and pasta. There are plenty of sides, including the very popular kale slaw, seasonable vegetables, house made tater tots, couscous, crispy onions, sautéed mushrooms and mac and cheese. And save room for dessert, with the likes of decadent cakes, brownies and an oversized party sundae.  We shared the fried oreos served with vanilla ice cream and the black forest brownies, served with ice cream and cherry coulis. The latter is a throwback to one of my favorite desserts anywhere. “Yes,” acknowledged Jimmy, “we are turning the clocks back a little with that one.”

    A full bar menu offers five items for $12. Happy Hour hear is from 4 pm to 8 pm. There are regular lunch specials as well.

    “We are trend setters,” said Jimmy.  “People needed something new in this area. We delivered.”

    Jimmy also shares what he calls the greatest compliment. Many of his clients work at other restaurants.

    Table 51 Restaurant and Bar is located at 5475 Rue de Jockeys off Decarie and at Carrefour Laval. It opens at 11 am, closing at 10 pm Sunday to Tuesday, 11 pm Wednesday and Thursday and midnight Friday and Saturday. For more information call 514-316-5152 or log on to http://www.table51.com/en/ to see the full menu.

    Mike Cohen

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