I have long loved the quaint, small-town feel of downtown White Bear Lake and when a friend invited me to lunch at Margaux's Table, a tiny restaurant tucked in the back of White Bear Lake's Washington Square Mall, I eagerly accepted. She promised a unique, wonderful experience... I was not disappointed!
Margaux's Table may well be the smallest restaurant in the entire metro area. It is one room (including the kitchen!)... one table (a long table down the center of the room for all to share)... one employee (the owner, Peggy Doran, is chef, order taker, server, dishwasher, et al)... one meal (only open for lunch and special chef's dinners). But it is living proof that great things can indeed come in small packages.
The chef's farm-to-table, scratch cooking philosophy is evident in the short daily menu featuring soup, salads, sandwiches and desserts... featuring daily finds from the local farmers market during the summer months.
The day we were there the menu featured a beef burgundy stew... tempting, but we decided to split a salad of organic greens, Bosc pears, candied nuts and Gorgonzola... and a luscious roast pork loin sandwich tucked into foccaccia, slathered with pesto mayonnaise and toppoed with lettuce and tomato. Add a bottle of Malbec and you have a simple meal of rustic, wholesome elegance to fill both body and soul.
White Bear Lake's charming old-town shopping district and setting near a large lake remind me of the village of Excelsior on the opposite corner of the metro... on a smaller, less pretentious scale. Both villages began as resort areas in the 1800's, but White Bear Lake holds both the distinction of being called "one of the most popular resorts in the magic northlands" in the "American Travelers Journal" of 1881 and being the resort in Mark Twain's "Life on the Mississippi".
Strolling its streets can give the sense of being transported back to a simpler time... echoed in both the simplicity and richness of Margaux's Table.
NOTE: Since this post was written Margaux's Table has been transformed into White Bear Lake's newest organic restaurant... now open for dinner rather than lunch, and named by Star Tribune as a notable new restaurant in 2015.