MY LAST, really my only, encounter with propane flames was a few years ago, when the usual miscommunication between My Prince and me led to the loss of my eyelashes and a nasty singe along my hairline. This was a gas BBQ on loan from Baby and her Personal Prince Pete. It was returned to them shortly thereafter.
But now I’m seeing fire tables springing up at sidewalk cafes. Often they’re wickerish numbers with matching wickerish chairs (and, often, lap robes. How clever. Like ski resorts). How happy are faces warmed by the flickering glow. Why didn’t it occur until now that these things can be bought, as in hand over my card to some merchant and take it home?
Maybe I could operate one, I’m thinking. Or have someone operate it for me.
Ah, a place to gather ’round on the back porch, warmth drifting up as the glog is gulped and the fondue forked. Socially distanced and smugly outdoors.
Unlike a firepit, onto which you heap logs and roast s’mores and such, fire tables have propane tanks hidden in the table bases and, usually, glass rocks in a tray in the center. A rim around the edge of the pit lets you prop your wine glass—or even a dinner plate—on the edge, without fear that sparks will ignite the drifting sleeve of your Kamali kimono. They can safely be used on a covered porch and take the place of either a dining or coffee table—in the summer, most have an insert to create a solid surface.
Of course you can buy them at a vast range of prices, from a couple hundred bucks to several thousand. You can even make one yourself.
When the air is nippy, a fire table would be a pleasure even without the plague.
A few ideas . . .
Several fire tables around DC’s Capitol Hill are made by Canadian company Outland Living. This rectangular number has room for plates on the deep border. At 24 inches high, it’s lower than a dining table, but comfortable surrounded by deck chairs, which Outland also sells. If you’re setting up in the open, there’s an optional wind guard to keep the flames in check. At about $700, it’s handsome and well priced.
At $1,700, Anderer dining table is dining-table height and scaled for six, and has inserts for a BBQ grill plate or wine chiller, making it great for year-round entertaining. Made of woven aluminum, with a glass top, this baby can be safely set on a wooden deck.
Utterly chic and sleekly contemporary is the smooth concrete Cabo Linear fire pit from Fire Pit Oasis. At 66 by 38 inches and weighing 290 pounds, this one is coffeetable-height (16 inches) and big enough, and sturdy enough, to provide not only a serving surface but toasty seating. Handcrafted in the US, it’s on sale for $5,476.
Love concrete but shallow-pocketed? If you have an umbrella table, Arlmont makes a cool little concrete flamer that sits atop the table and screws through the hole the umbrella would fit through into a small propane tank that you hide beneath (purchased separately). Reviewers say it looks swell and is surprisingly toasty. At $137.99, it’s certainly a cheap thrill.
You won’t save much building your own firepit, though you will have bragging rights—and the variety of shapes and sizes of burners available is impressive—like this lotus-shaped model from WoodlandDirect.com for when you’re in the mood for ommmmmmmmmmm.
LittleBird “Stephanie Gardens” finds ways to stay close to the garden even in colder temps.
MyLittleBird often includes links to products we write about. Our editorial choices are made independently; nonetheless, a purchase made through such a link can sometimes result in MyLittleBird receiving a commission on the sale. We are also an Amazon Associate.