Sunday, March 7, 2010

Dinner at Ten Tables

I have been dying to try Ten Tables ever since I read about it in a Boston Globe review a few years ago, and this desire was only reinforced by the hundreds of positive Yelp reviews. Which is why I was glad Z chose it for our friday night dinner with her and husband T.D., since Andrew and I rarely venture into JP.  Like the name suggests, the restaurant is pretty small with an intimate atmosphere - it originally only had room for ten tables (duh!), but has expanded into the space next door which is just big enough for a few more tables and the bar.

We were seated in the corner of the restaurant, so this picture (somewhat) shows how big the room was beyond Andrew's shoulder - you had the feeling that you were in someone's house, watching them cook your dinner in the kitchen. (In case you're wondering why Z is sitting next to Andrew, it's because she's a lefty, and T.D. had to sit on the opposite side since he needed the extra room for his leg, having gone through knee surgery a few weeks ago):
Sitting at the table, we were gifted with shots of beet soup topped with creme fraiche, compliments of the chef. I thought this was one of the highlights of the meal - it started off tasting almost like cheesy mashed potatoes (I know, not a very cultured observation) and ended tasting more Mexican. Just take my word that it was yummy!

We were suprised to learn that Ten Tables doesn't have a liquor license, it just serves beer, wine, and cordials. Since Andrew was driving, he stuck with a craft "lemon lime" soda and the rest of us ordered mixed drinks. T.D. had some sort of alcoholic citrus punch, which he described as overwhelmingly grapefruity. My drink was pretty good, as I recall, it was called "The KK" and had champagne, some sort of citrus, and ginger. I'm not a big fan of ginger or candied ginger (which the drink came garnished with) but it tasted pretty good and had only a hint of ginger which had a faint spiciness to it. However, I think it's telling that we switched to beer for our second drinks!

For the appetizers, we split two of the most hyped choices - House-made toulouse sausage with mustardy puy lentils and the Ten Tables charcuterie with traditional accompaniements. The sausage was good, but I didn't think it was anything special, as I described at the table, not something I would wake up craving a week later:
The charcuterie plate was also a little different from what I originally was expecting, as I was comparing it to ones that I've tried at the Publick House in Brookline. It didn't have any additional meats or cheeses, and was simply simple some sort of chicken liver mousse and a slice of the pate with golden raisins (which seemed to be one of the Ten Tables specialties). Z and I were responsible for eating most of this plate, I thought everything tasted pretty good layered with the pickled vegetables and spicy mustard on the plate. However, the toasted slices of bread were way too crunchy and I ended up eating a lot of the plate with the soft rolls that got served at the table.

My short rib dish (Z ordered the same) was out of this world. It technically was a molasses and green peppercorn-braised short rib with creamy polenta and mushroom ragu - the meat was so tender and everything was incredibly flavorful. I would come back to Ten Tables merely on the strength of this dish alone:
T.D.'s proclaimed his herb stuffed gianone chicken with salt roasted potatoes, mustard greens and roasted garlic au jus as delicious, even though he didn't like the stuffing (Z tried it and thought it was good): 

Andrew ordered the housemade pan seared gorgonzola gnocchi with raddichio pesto, carmelized pears and saba, which was a menu item I almost ordered (and was glad that I didn't). Expecting your typical gnocchi, which has fairly small balls of dough that is covered in sauce, we were surprised to see this pile of large roasted gnocchi:

Don't get me wrong, the gnocchi was pretty good with a nice punch of gorgonzola from the center filling and the contrast between the toasted outside and chewy inside. It just didn't taste like typical gnocchi. And, I couldn't taste the pears, which is a flavor I usually love. I think this is a dish that I picture more as an appetizer that gets split around the table.
So overall, the meal was pretty good but didn't have enough stand out dishes to make us instantly want to go back. One can argue it's our unrefined palates (we're admittedly not used to going out to fine dining places all the time) but I still loved the ambiance and the quality of the food (even if I didn't like all the flavors) to come back again when they change the menu to reflect seasonal offerings. Plus, they offer a Tuesday night, four course tasting with wine pairings for only $42, a deal that may have me coming back during the weeknight.

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