Aren't malls supposed to offer fast food with little thought for where the ingredients come from? Well Crate & Barrel is turning that idea on its head by letting Chef Bill Kim create his own aesthetic at The Table at Crate; for now, an experiment, in just this one store.
"We just wanted to dream really big and do what we wanted to do is bring delicious food into a retail setting," said Chef Bill Kim. "We also wanted everything to be light, flavorful and layering of flavors."
EXTRA COURSE: Dairy-free dessert at The Table at Crate in Oakbrook Center Mall
Kim's wife is gluten-free, while he's lactose-free, so he's used to a challenge. His shrimp poke bowl begins with quinoa and cauliflower rice.
"You have edamame, poached shrimp, you have avocado smash and it made it easy for me, once I got the green light, then I could create the palette that we wanted to create," Kim said.
Avocado toast might be passe in the city, but demand is steady out west. This one has a base of Publican Quality Bread, topped with pickled onions, watermelon radish and pumpkin seeds.
Lemon chicken is served over dairy-free Yukon gold mashed potatoes, served with charred chili broccolini and herb chimichurri, containing basil, olive oil and spinach. And by the way, if you like anything you see - including plates, flatware or even the chair you're sitting in, it's all for sale right next door.
"We actually get people in the middle of dining. They go pick out the flatware, glassware, furniture, chairs, so it's all in one shot," he said.
Heartier main dishes include a roasted, deep-dish cauliflower "lasagna" with tomato garlic sauce and mozzarella. Like so many other dishes on the menu, it's packed with flavor, but is still gluten-free and vegetarian.
"It was our mission to make sure that each bite had the pronounced flavor but not overwhelming and also having that moment where they could walk out of here and they could shop for a couple of hours and hopefully they'll come back for dinner," said Kim.
One of the obvious advantages to dining at Table at Crate is getting to taste Bill Kim's creativity. But secondarily, if you like the flatware or the plates, you can buy them right next door.
The Table at Crate
35 Oakbrook Center, Oak Brook