By Kathy Montgomery | Photo by Paul Markow
You don’t have to dig to find good food in Bisbee. Even so, Table 10 is a rare gem set in Bisbee’s historic Copper Queen Hotel.
Hazel Hunter is behind the unusual dining concept, which centers on a single communal table. With a background in interior design, Hunter transformed the hotel’s banquet room into a rich tapestry of reds and golds, creating the perfect setting for an elegant five-course dining experience.
A native of Nicaragua, Hunter describes her food as equatorial fusion. Her Central American background informs her palate, and she incorporates foods such as tamarind, kohlrabi and daikon, all used in surprising ways with delicious results.
A recent dinner began with chayote squash stuffed with cuajada cheese and bathed in a light tarragon-coconut sauce; a bibb lettuce salad with mango, papaya and a warm tamarind dressing; carrot-ginger soup made from fresh-squeezed carrot juice; and ground lamb with coconut, paprika and ginger gravy, served with a yucca-root mash.
While Hunter accommodates dietary needs, everyone at Table 10 generally enjoys the same menu on any given evening. Hunter gives the first guests to make a reservation the choice of pork, Cornish game hen or lamb. She tells subsequent callers the selection for that day. Sides depend on what’s fresh and seasonal.
Hunter suffers from food allergies and uses no nuts, onions, garlic or gluten, and very little salt. Everything is prepared simply, using two or three ingredients, and flavored with spices such as ginger, turmeric and cardamom.
Ironically, Table 10 grew out of the recession, as Hunter tried to keep food on her own family’s table. People might not need a new couch, she reasoned, but they would always need food — good, nourishing food.
Encouraged by friends who enjoyed leisurely evenings around her table, Hunter opened Table 10, ultimately landing at the Copper Queen. The iconic hotel seemed ideal, Hunter says, partly because of its landmark status, but also because it gives guests the option to retire to rooms upstairs, rather than drive home.
Evenings at Table 10 begin with cocktails. Guests choose from Hunter’s collection of vintage glassware, then mix and mingle as though at a dinner party. Wearing a black dress, pearls and red high-top sneakers, Hunter serves as hostess and chef — entering the room with the energy of a summer monsoon storm, ringing a gold bell to introduce each course, and explaining the ingredients and preparation.
For Hunter, Table 10 is as much about nurturing relationships as it is about the food she serves.
“Friendships start right here,” she says. “They meet at my table and they come back together. It’s really a gathering.”
Table 10 is located at 11 Howell Avenue (Wednesdays and Saturdays, by reservation only) in Bisbee. For more information, call 520-366-1921.