Friday, April 2, 2010

1 Freelance Friday: Boston's Ten Tables

We are in the midst of a family bonanza: we have seven out of town relatives visiting at various points over the course of two weeks. Last weekend it was my dad and stepmom, who love trying out new restaurants. When they suggested the highly reviewed Ten Tables we were delighted; this restaurant had been on our "to go to" list for ages.

The original Ten Tables is located in Jamaica Plain at a tiny establishment that fits--get this--ten tables. Since its acclaimed success had led to far in advance reservations being required, they opened a second location in Cambridge. From everything we'd read the quality remains the same at the new outpost, and because reservations in J.P. were once again impossible to get, we headed across the river to Harvard Square for a Sunday night dinner.

Ten Tables Cambridge has significantly more than ten tables (more like twenty) but it still has an intimate and cozy but elegant atmosphere. The only reservation we could get even at this location was for 5:00, so we were the first to arrive for their Sunday night, three-course supper, a weekly prix-fixe affair that costs $33.

But before I get to any of the food, a note about the wine. Since our wine-tasting adventures in Argentina and South Africa, we know a little bit more about wine and certainly appreciate it more, but we are way intimidated when it comes to the extensive wine list of a nice restaurant. Even more intimidated by the prospect of discussing wine with a sommelier. My dad, however, not so, and not only did he request to speak with the sommelier but then proceeded to have a ten minute discussion with him about our tastes, pairing with food, and his recommendations. The result was something delicious that went really well with our food, but as the whole transaction was so above my head I don't remember the name. But the point is their sommelier is really good (and patient).

So for our first course we were all delivered significantly portioned plates: I got the merguez with quinoa and tomatillo sauce. The sausage was spicy and delicious but what surprised me was how yummy the quinoa was! I've made quinoa before as a healthy experiment (did you know it's one of the only starches to be a complete protein on its own?) but it tasted nothing like this wonderfully light, almost popcorn-like dish before me. And Patrick's cavatelli wasn't too shabby either. The ricotta-dough pasta was paired with a light cream sauce with an essence of fresh peas. I chomped down about half his plate in addition to my own. Oops.

But I didn't even touch Patrick's main course because I was so enamored with my own. I got the mussels, which I love, but restaurants so often just throw them in with some garlic and wine and call it a day. This was incredible. I swear each mussel was hand-picked they were so huge and juicy! They were cooked up in a spicy chorizo cream sauce that I slurped down like a soup. I let Patrick have all my fries to make up for the first course. Everyone else at the table got steak, all requested at a different done-ness, and each one came out perfectly to order.

My chocolate terrine with Thai basil ice cream dessert was as interesting as it sounds. I'm a huge ice cream aficionado but had never tasted anything like this--it was kind of like a sweet, non-garlicky frozen pesto. Um, but that sounds kind of scary. Really it was way delicious. And the super rich terrine would make any chocoholic swoon. Patrick's creme caramel was OK but rather uninteresting, which made it the most disappointing part of the meal. My dad's bread pudding, however, was a great brioche concoction that was moist even without being drenched in creme anglaise and sweetened with dry fruit. Yummy, but I'd still go with the basil ice cream again.

We all left Ten Tables full-bellied and utterly impressed. It's definitely the best prix fixe menu I've had in Boston. OK, OK...Cambridge isn't actually Boston, but it is connected by the T and the original is in Jamaica Plain, which technically IS Boston, so I'm claiming this restaurant for Bean Town.

*Photo courtesy of Grub Street Boston

1 comment:

  1. ohh, sounds like it went well! and deliciously! haha, good thing about your father. dads are always good for stuff like that! and thanks for your tip about the noodles in seattle! i will definitely try to check it out next time up there!


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