Lizzie Conklin, Contributing Photographer

Table & Gallery blends food and art to create a unique experience in New Haven. 

The art gallery, which opened at 1209 Chapel St. in August, serves a gourmet menu based on their monthly artist’s work, pairing their cuisine with the work displayed on the gallery walls. Vera Wu, whose show is on display until Oct. 17, paints surrealist, floral displays with underpaintings that make her oil canvases glow.

“[It’s] an immersive dining experience that combines all the senses,”  Sonal Soveni, the founder of Table & Gallery said. “Food sends messages and evokes memories. You can make powerful statements without words.”

Soveni described herself as an entrepreneur channeling her passion for arts and cuisine into the new gallery. She also is a filmmaker and artist, and has a mural hanging at the entrance to the gallery.  

For Wu, her artistic journey, leading her display her work at Table & Gallery, started young. She said that her grandfather realized she had a gift for the visual arts when she was 4 years old; Wu’s family enrolled her in ink painting classes in China, where she was born and grew up.

Now, she combines graphic and classical symbols, pioneering a new version of surrealism with imagery ranging from silky botanical petals to cartoon characters. 

“They have no texture, like baby skin,” Wu said of her oil paintings. “My experience with ink impacts the way I paint with oil, from the underpainting to the final layer.” 

Soveni said she chose to feature Wu’s work because of her ambition and artistic skill.

Bruce Payne GRD ’65 is a collector of Wu’s work and a fellow in Timothy Dwight College.

What draws Payne to Wu’s art, he said, is how her paintings depict curiosity about her surroundings, which he said also prompts him as a viewer to look more deeply at the world.

“I am also spending time contemplating a pair of small paintings we’ve just acquired, works that comment on the seductive ways tulip petals and stems twist and contort in the days before they die,” Payne said.

The five-course menu that Table & Gallery serves is geared toward representing the surrealism of Wu’s work; it includes rose petal dumplings, le canard asiatique and green tea ice cream. 

Soveni says she wanted to build a space for artists to communicate through multiple senses. 

“I want to show people the world on a plate,” Soveni said. 

Despite the global cuisine on the menu, Soveni told the News that Table & Gallery sources most ingredients, such as the organic vodka, from around New Haven to support local businesses. 

Nick Surdel GRD ’27, who attended the opening, said Wu took a “surrealist approach” to her still life paintings. He also described how he felt the visuals in her paintings connected to the soup the gallery served. 

The soup was warm and clear, with bobbing balls of peach gum.

“The headlining piece of art, ‘Horizons,’ has a surrealist upside-down tree that looks like it’s growing in a dream world,” Surdel said. “At the root of this tree is a big orb. This orb is reflected in the cuisine through a traditional Chinese dish called Raining Pearl Soup.” 

Table & Gallery replaced the Turkish restaurant Döner on Chapel Street.

Lizzie Conklin is a WKND Editor and Arts Reporter at the Yale Daily News.