When restaurant veterans hone skills through various experiences to the point that they can be inventive on their own, patrons are treated to a unique experience.
That’s the case at Tofte’s Table, established in August 2016 in the former site of Waukesha’s Key Westconsin, 331 Riverfront Plaza. Owners Jason and Cristina Tofte, also proprietors of nearby The Steaming Cup, have created a place where comfort food and inventive dishes intersect in a setting that combines a cool, sleek environment with an emphasis on communal dining.
“It’s like if you came to our house for dinner,” said Jason Tofte. “We want to share what we do with quality, fresh ingredients with a lot of people. It runs with our fine dining preferences and being personable, efficient in a more relaxed environment.”
The decor is a rich mixture of purple walls featuring photos of utensils (taken by Jason’s sister), floating drum shades over an 18-seat-long rectangular long table, set off against smaller tables. Antique-look chandeliers abound, including a large one over the bar. The bar top is a thin layer of concrete, and the area is lined with a row of industrial-look — but comfortable — high-backed chairs.
Tofte said business has been good and he is pleased with customer acceptance of his “chef’s playground” menu that mixes traditional meat and potato dishes and a fish fry with more adventurous options like octopus and foie gras.
In mid-January, he tweaked his menu, which features four sections. In Poultry, for example, selections include Amish chicken and chicken and duck thighs. For Steer & Hog, Wisconsin kielbasa, meat loaf and beef tenderloin share part of the spotlight. Sea Creatures features tuna tartare, scallops, perch and blue crab among the choices. Plants includes grilled veggies, risotto and Caeser salad.
Honed through experience
Tofte’s Table is a result of Jason’s career as a longtime chef at Eddie Martini’s Restaurant in Wauwatosa as well as Cristina’s experience there (where the couple first met) and her work for well-known restaurants under those once owned and managed by Sanford and Angie D’Amato.
It is evident the Toftes want to create a unique dining experience supported in part by the 18-seat table that invites disparate groups of people to share not only the space, but also dishes made for passing.
“We have seen people from different parties come together and even exchange pictures by the end of the meal,” Jason said. “This is exactly what we wanted to create, a place where people can enjoy a variety of different types of food and meet new friends. It’s very European, where the meal is an event with no TV while focusing on the people you are with.”
At a glance
ADDRESS: 331 Riverfront Plaza, Waukesha
WEB SITE: www.toftestable.com
FARE: An array of comfort food and fine dining selections that change seasonally under the main categories of Poultry, Steer & Hog, Sea Creatures and Plants.
PRICE RANGE: Currently, duck confit “tostadas” for $3 to beef tenderloin, $21
HOURS: 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday; 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday
AMBIENCE: Upscale casual
RESERVATIONS: Not accepted (If needed, Tofte’s table can arrange waiting at a nearby wine bar or other venue and will call when a table is ready).
DIETARY NEEDS: Gluten-free options are available. Ask servers for additional dietary needs.