Proprietors Nancy Briggs, 38, and Juanita Crampton, 44, opened the restaurant four years ago in the tiny front room of a turn-of-the-century house that is home to Briggs & Crampton, their catering firm. The idea was to use the restaurant as a kind of food sampler and business come-on. But in August 1987 David Sarasohn, food critic of the Oregonian, gave Table for Two a rave review. By 1:30 that afternoon, the place was booked solid for the rest of that year.
It's still the toughest reservation in town. Currently there are no openings through next March. On Jan. 2, 1990, reservations will be accepted for April, May and June. No one gets special treatment. "Rules are rules," says Briggs.
With no set menu, the fare is determined by whatever is available fresh that day. Briggs and Crampton, who describe their cuisine as "regional and seasonal," will honor requests, although they don't encourage them, preferring to know only what the customers absolutely will not eat. Often a decision on the fixed-price lunch ($25 per person, not including desserts and beverages) is made just an hour or two before the guests arrive. Still, their meals are so successful that a number of their customers have in fact hired them as caterers.
Spontaneous creativity is part of the ambience. "We like simple ingredients put together in interesting ways," Crampton says, and that apparently applies to life as well as to cooking. Before they went into the catering business, Briggs was an ultrasound technician and Crampton a social worker. Nancy and her husband, Cameron Nagel, 38, a carpenter and publisher of a wine review, are longtime friends of Juanita and her husband, David Taylor, 43, a CPA.
In addition to the culinary skills of the owner-chefs, an atmosphere of exclusivity and privacy also helps to make Table for Two the ideal place for a romantic repast. Guests tend to linger over their meals (current record: five hours). "More than one person has asked us if we have a room upstairs," Briggs confides. Again, the answer is no, no way, no exceptions.
It's cozy, it's intimate, and its name says it all. As the world's smallest restaurant, located in Portland, Ore., Table for Two has one table, one sitting and serves only one meal—lunch. It accommodates two customers daily, Tuesday through Friday. No more. No less. No exceptions.