Though our last visit to Ten Tables was sort of a bummer, we have not given up on it and were excited about trying the new location in the former Craigie Street Bistro. The quarters are tight even in Ten Tables’ new establishment, but there is enough space not to feel like you’re going to knock wine and people over as you walk to the bathroom. Ten Tables has done a nice job with the decor; it’s both sleeker and more inviting than Craigie Street was with better (lower) lighting and leather banquettes.
Feeling celebratory, we started the meal with cocktails. I got the KK, named after TT’s proprietor Krista Kranyak, and made with passion fruit juice, ginger, and champagne, an unfortunate choice for a preprandial drink. It was all passion fruit and ginger and no champagne, which was the opposite of what I was hoping for. It wasn’t bad; it was just meant for brunch. Carlo’s drink, the Gaston 76 made with White Lillet, Cucumber and Tarragon on the rocks, was the perfect summer late afternoon cocktail, cold and refreshing and only a little sweet. And while we’re discussing pre-dinner fare, the bread was also really good, chewy and soft and reminiscent of the best of Iggy’s bread. The only downside of the bread course was that we didn’t get much oil and no matter how clean we licked its plate, no one brought us more.
Onto wine…we made a bad choice. Okay, I made a bad choice. As a small, easily-intoxicated person, I am trying to push for more half bottles and carafes in Boston restaurants. And by “trying to push”, I mean I like to order them. Ten Tables offered a house wine, which is something I frequently and successfully order when traveling, as well as a few half bottles. Carlo was adamantly opposed to the half bottle on account of it being a rip off. Since we can usually only drink a half bottle anyway, I don’t see the problem in paying $23 for a decent but overpriced bottle. I still get what I want and so it’s a win if it’s even marginally cheaper than the whole bottle we may have ordered. Carlo wouldn’t hear of it so we compromised on the horrible barely palatable half carafe of house wine for $14, which tasted like it came out of a box of Franzia or possibly a jug. Carlo pointed out (after we ordered) that the reason house wine is good when we travel in Europe is that we are drinking in the vicinity of a vineyard. We should have asked what it was before we paid for it. We didn’t. You get what you pay for.
Onto the food. A lot of it was good. Some of it wasn’t.
For our appetizers:
Carlo ordered Spicy Steak Tartare. This was the loser of the appetizers from my perspective. Though Carlo thought it was tasty on the whole and liked it better than what I ordered, to me, the flavor of the pickledness was overwhelming and came across as almost sweet. It wasn’t bad; just not re-orderable.
My appetizer was fresh and well-seasoned and overall tasty. This is not an original combination but it was done with fresh and flavorful ingredients and was exactly what I wanted. The picture makes it look really busy, but flavorwise it did not come across that way. Carlo thought the grapefruit dominated everything else on the plate, though I chalk this up to him not liking grapefruit.
Meh. The broth and poached Monkfish were flavorless and there was a big gob of aioli in the middle of the bowl that did not stir in well. The only good part of this was the clams. They were good and were basically all I ate.
Best dish of the night. I did not try all of the components, but the Boudin Blanc itself was flavorful and unique and something I would order over and over.
Desserts: Carlo and I both thought our own dessert was better than the other, which I guess is a good sign. I had the chocolate terrine with Thai basil ice cream and sea salt – the perfect complement of rich creamy chocolate, salt and sweet basil.
To me, this was a sickly sweet mess, but Carlo liked it so much he couldn’t keep his hands still for the picture. It tasted good and I would have been happy with it had it been mine, but it had none of the balance of the chocolate dessert. To each his own.
Overall, Ten Tables delivers with just a few mis-hits. Unfortunately it’s out of the way for Bostonians, a bit of a walk from Harvard Square T and has only four parking spots, making a visit difficult. It’s a place I would happily go to if in the neighborhood, but I am not sure it is good enough to merit a special trip, especially considering it requires risking a parking ticket.