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May 14, 2007 07:13 AM

T.W. Food

The story, background, menu and focus/mission are all really promising. We have a res for next week. Very nice on the phone. So far so good.

Wondering if anyone has been yet? Any menu standouts?


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  1. That's in the Aspasia space - I hadn't realized it had closed. Any word?

    I hope the closing of the Walden Street bridge did not have an effect, as it could hurt this new venture.

    1. That looks great. Never heard anything about it before now. Please report back!

      1 Reply
      1. re: SEH

        I was Beetlebugs dinner friend so my reply is based on the same menu. I had much the same feeling about the physical restaurant but think that if it is ever very busy there is going to be a lot of stepping back and forth to let traffic flow. The small water glasses will only make that more difficult. The eggs were incredible. I would also go back and order a few servings and call it a meal. I thought the brulee really negated the foie gras. I love foie gras. The apple slices provided the same sweet,hard contrast without the candy fix. The food was wonderfully executed I think . ( I found the halibut only a micro vercooked.) We were seated next to the very small kitchen and I think that the chef was performed miracles of cooking time considering the size. My problem with the restaurant was the complication of the menu. I am an adventurous eater but some of the choices seemed to be paired only for the sake of oddness and foodie bravery. It was just a little too hard for me to think about menu choices folding into one great meal, which are my thoughts about great restaurant experiences.
        (This is an odd week for chocolate/scotch combos. My husband was at a scotch chocolate tasting earlier on. It's combo that never occurred to me and makes me shudder.) I am new to posting but have always enjoyed reading.

      2. I went to T.W. Food tonight. It's been open about a week and there was plenty of business at around 930 pm (when I left). The food was very good, but just a bit too precious for me.

        The setting is very pretty without being frou frou. There is a brick wall on one side and the rest of the room is a cream color. There are lovely little flower arrangements on each table. By the window looking into the kitchen, there are two large vases on the wall. One containing ginger and the other containing red onions. For whatever reason, I was really taken with these vases.

        The food. Well, it's well prepared and well executed. Portions are small and it's not cheap. We split two appetizers and one entree. I also had a glass of wine. Without tip, it was $66.

        Each menu had date handwritten on top. Why they do this, I don't know. As far as I can tell from the web site, it's the same menu. It's a bit pretentious but fairly harmless.

        To start, they gave an amuse bouche of this custard with pineapple and beets. It was good, but too much sweet with not enough savory. There was a little bit of cilantro and fleur de sel but not enough to balance the sweetness of the pineapple and beets. Thinking back, the pineapple overpowered the other flavors.

        For apps, we split the Creamy Scrambled Farm Eggs with Sea Urchin and Rosemary Oil and the Crème Brulée of Foie Gras. The scambled eggs were *fabulous.* Even without the sea urchin, these eggs were fluffy, light and full of flavor. The sea urchin sent it over the top (in a good way) and the rosemary olive oil was unbelievably delicious. Just the slightly subtle rosemary flavor to accent against the eggs and urchin.

        The fois gras was ok. The bruleed top was too much. It wasn't what I expected, more moussey then traditional fois gras. It did have the buttery flavor but the sugar on top didn't do anything for the fois itself. There were slight bits of granny smith apple also and those would have been enough.

        For the entree, we split the Filet of Nova Scotia Halibut - “Sauté” with Tartlette of Beets “Cooked in Salt Crust” and Creamy Caviar of Eggplant. This was ok. I thought the halibut was slightly dry but my friend really enjoyed it. The tartlette consisted of a round tart disc with the eggplant puree, then the beets, then sliced eggplant on top. It was about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. It was tasty but again, the portions were quite small.

        The service was lovely but too leisurely. There were definitely gaps in my meal, not too much to cause annoyance, but enough that I noticed it. There are 10 tables total (although some of the 4 tops could probably be separated) with one server and one hostess/owner. Also, the tables had these teeny tiny water glasses that were ridiculously small. This is one of my pet peeves because I am a huge water drinker. Essentially, she would fill my glass and I would drain it.

        Nothing on the dessert menu really grabbed me so we passed. When they presented the handwritten check (again, way to precious), they also gave two pistachio nougat chips (a little too sweet) and too homemade truffles (delicious). Frankly, these complimentary desserts were more appealing to me than the dessert menu itself.

        All in all, the food was well executed and the people were very nice. However, the price point is too high for the neighborhood to just drop in for weekly dinners. It's too much of an event place and just too frou frou to go for a casual dinner. I wish them well, but restaurants seem to come and go from that spot.

        40 Replies
        1. re: beetlebug

          Thanks for the candid review - I was considering bringing my family here, but I think we'll stick with stinky Korean food.

          1. re: beetlebug

            Your review reflects my reaction to the menu posted on their website just about exactly - way too precious for their own good. (Also, the menu writer is suffering from a TERRIBLE attack of inappropriately used quotation marks, which is a huge pet peeve of mine. Was the halibut not really sauteed? Was whatever was cooked in the salt crust (the beets?) not really cooked in a salt crust? Was it not really a salt crust, or were the contents not really cooked?) I think I'll pass, at least for the time being.

            1. re: Allstonian

              Vegetarian Expression of Toasted Grain "Quinoa"--yeesh. No apostrophe abuse I can see, thank god for small favors.

              1. re: Allstonian

                Funny, looking back on the menu (and my review), I have no idea what had the salt crust. It wasn't the fish or the beets. Not that I could tell anyway. I guess the halibut was sauteed but I tend to equate sauteed with smaller pieces of food, not a fish fillet. I think I overlooked the pretentious descriptions and went straight for pure ingredients themselves.

                My own typos and grammatical errors notwithstanding (this is why I tend not to post late at night), there quotation marks and descriptions were over the top. As well as some of the spelling cutesiness. For example, this dessert sounded mildly intriguing...“Scotch & cigars” - dark chocolate custard with vanilla - tobacco cream and “macallan 12 yr single malt” sirop. Now, the custard and scotch sounded great to me. The tobacco cream just completely turned my stomach. It just sounded gross to me. But, the nail on the coffin was the "sirop." It just annoyed me so we passed on dessert.

                1. re: beetlebug

                  I would venture a guess that the fish is salt crusted -- there's a preparation involving baking fish in salt that is quite classical -- but one never knows.

                2. re: Allstonian

                  re: the use of Quotation marks - that reminds me very much of the French Laundry menu.

                  Like beetlebug, I think the menu as it is written is harmless enough. It's going to be more about whether they can deliver flavour and texture wise.

                  The part of the menu that I would approach with more caution is the heavy name dropping. Arpege, Talievent and L'Atelier du Joel Robuchon are not names one throws around carelessly - these are kitchens that set extremely high standards in the use of ingredients and technique in French cooking. Did the chef merely stage at those places for a few days, or did he train there for an extended period? Is that hype or is there substance behind that? Talent of the chef aside, it will be interesting to find out how much of those ideals T W Foods can approach, given that they are unlikely to have the kind of manpower compared to these kitchens that they allude to.

                3. re: beetlebug

                  I hear ya on the water thing. I often ask for the largest glass of ice water and hate those tiny ones.
                  And yeah, the quotation marks are out of control.

                  1. re: Joanie

                    These water glasses were probably the smallest ever. Back in the day, when first class passengers were served wine, they had these teeny tiny wine glasses. I'm thinking specifically of United Airlines when they bumped me to first class because of a flight mixup. This was circa 1996. These water glasses were even smaller.

                    1. re: beetlebug

                      My friend visited TW Food recently and she's been raving about it ever since. She was shocked to hear about these reviews so here's her take on the experience.

                      Frou frou, pretentious, precious - all adjectives which imply lack of substance. At TW Food, I discovered the epitome of substance complemented by heart and sincerity. They are interested in ingredients, technique, beauty, and offering an impeccable personalized evening for their customers.

                      I'd replace the aforementioned hypercritical adjectives with these: exciting and adventurous coupled with interesting and innovative. In fact, this new restaurant promises to be a neighborhood gem.

                      Granted this restaurant is not for everyone - if you want a pizza or chicken nuggets, then pass. However, it you are looking for cooking that is new and different, then you will be pleasantly surprised by this enchanting food. Many dishes were unexpected treats - from the scrambled eggs to the savory ice creams (made on the premises) through the delicious scallop or moist halibut entrees on to the dessert menu which includes the "Scotch and Cigars", a most delectable concoction.

                      The Scotch and Cigars dessert is a prime example of exactly why you visit a restaurant such as this. You are putting your trust and palate in the hands of a chef who has studied, sautéed, simmered and souffléd his ingredients into concoctions, medleys, and triumphant symphonies. I truly believe you should give TW Food a chance by experiencing what is a sincere, genuine, and successful attempt at bringing very special food to Boston.

                      1. re: CambridgeFoodie

                        Maybe your "friend" should post here.

                        So far, the only poster to actually eat there posted her first hand experience..and it was far from a rave..

                        Some hits, some misses..

                        Maybe 1 diner's "pretentious" is another diner's "exciting."

                        For your "friend" to suggest that if someone didn't love it like your friend did, they must be into "pizza and chicken nuggets" is pretty harsh.

                        The poster "got" the food, thought it was well executed..but not worth the price.

                        1. re: CambridgeFoodie

                          Sorry, is this post, after the first paragraph, written by your friend who went to the restaurant? I'm a bit confused. In any case, the line

                          "Granted this restaurant is not for everyone - if you want a pizza or chicken nuggets, then pass."

                          seems a bit much, especially in response to a detailed review from someone who clearly wasn't looking for same.

                          1. re: CambridgeFoodie

                            Overly foofy menus are almost always a warning sign for me.

                            Beetlebug is a poster I trust.

                            Eager to hear what other hounds who have ACTUALLY eaten there think.

                            1. re: CambridgeFoodie

                              The restaurant has the potential to be exciting and adventurous. It's just not there yet. The halibut *was* slightly dry and even with the beet/eggplant tart, it wasn't anything special. I was hampered by the lateness of the hour and wanted something lighter to eat. Hence the sharing of the meal. As for the fois gras, the bruleed top was too sweet and detracted from the fois itself. It's experimentation gone slightly awry

                              The eggs with uni, on the other hand, were out of this world and did knock the socks off my bare feet. But it was the only dish of the three to do so. I would return back to TW Foods for the eggs alone. Actually, probably for a double order of the eggs, they were that great.

                              Tobacco in food holds no appeal for me whatsover. I have a rule that if it grosses me out in regular life, I would be hard pressed to eat it. I came up with this rule as I wandered around Thailand. What caused this rule to come in fruition were the cockroach looking fried bugs being served in the night markets. Bugs were where my line became drawn. On that same note, I love scotch and I love chocolate but I *detest* cigarettes, cigars and smoke from such products. I don't like the way they smell or taste so why would I get a dessert that had a tobacco based cream?

                              Lastly, many of the affectations that TW Foods has actually detracts from the food itself. There is no need for TW Foods to put on airs if they can deliver the goods. Beautifully prepared and well executed food speaks for itself.

                              1. re: beetlebug

                                "Beautifully prepared and well executed food speaks for itself."

                                Very well said!

                        2. re: beetlebug

                          I disagree with beetlebug that "restaurants seem to come and go from that spot." In fact, Aspasia, the previous restaurant at the TW location had a solid 7 year run. Regarding the argument that Mr. Wiechmann's food/concept is too pricey for the neighborhood, I must also disagree. Those who dwell in "Huron Village" are very affluent folk.

                          1. re: RiuniteonIce

                            Careful there...certainly on the Brattle side of Huron Ave things are pretty upscale but on the other side, it's mostly triple deckers and smaller single family homes-- pricier ones, granted, but not "very affluent". As you travel down Walden towards Porter, it's a mixed neighborhood of gentrified and working class, old Cambridge. TW isn't really in Huron Village-- in fact it's closer to the Fresh Pond rotaries. I'm very interested to see if TW mostly pulls in people from the area or gets a wider crowd.

                            1. re: newhound

                              After checking out the menu, I found it quite pretentious....."Big Ox Farm" Pork Leg with Manicured Apple "Tourne". The appetizer of Savory Ice Creams...Cauliflower, Lobster and Mushroom sounds unappetizing to me and no, I am not someone who is looking for chicken nuggets or pizza when dining out. That said, I wish them the best of luck and will be interested in hearing how other hounds enjoy the restaurant.

                              1. re: edgewater

                                Sounds like another Apocrypha in the making.

                                1. re: edgewater

                                  savory ice cream is a workhorse on iron chef.

                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                    And it tends not to go over very well there, either!

                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                      Savory ice cream is a joke. Likewise tobacco in food (it is actually quite toxic if eaten in large quantities.)

                                      Maybe they can add a few foams to the menu, encapsulate some food in alginate and do some other whizzy molecular gastronomy.

                                      Unless you are Ferran Adria, that stuff does not belong in a kitchen.

                                      1. re: StriperGuy

                                        I don't know, some local chefs pull off a few neat sci-fi tricks--Oringer and Santos come to mind. I also don't have a problem with savory ice cream per se; though I haven't tasted any yet, I can imagine that certain savory flavors in cold creamy form would work beautifully. Why do you consider it an automatic joke (this isn't a challenge, I'm truly curious)?

                                        1. re: tatamagouche

                                          The truffle ice cream at Gargoyles is no joke. And I have liked a few of Santos other experimental things, like a shot of chilled celery juice to accompany a raw fish app (sketchy on the details, but remembered the juice).

                                          1. re: yumyum

                                            I could be wrong, but I thought that truffle ice cream was a pretty classic French dessert.

                                            1. re: limster

                                              You're probably right, I certainly defer to your French dessert knowledge! The combination of very sweet butterscotch fondant and funky earthy umami truffle ice cream that wasn't very sweet at all -- that's what I was talking about when commenting on some gastro-experimentation going on locally. It's no Fat Duck, but it's interesting for Boston. Sorry to be vague

                                              1. re: yumyum

                                                How did I forget that I recently had that, and LOVED it? In fact, the fondant would have been way too sweet without the ice cream. Butterscotch and truffle...turns out to be a terrific combo.

                                                1. re: yumyum

                                                  Thanks for the info - that sounds very interesting -- I can totally see how caramel would go well with truffle (had morels with a caramel sauce at a little bistrot moderne in the Latin Quarter a few years ago and loved it) . Gargoyle's has been kinda been on my list to try for a while, and I'll certainly give it a shot. Only reason that I've hesitated is that I wasn't particularly wowed at Dedo back was Santos cooked there but it was only one meal, so I certainly wouldn't hold that against any place.

                                            2. re: tatamagouche

                                              Guess I am a bit of a purest. All of the Sci Fi food stuff for me is more entertainment then anything else.

                                              One of the best meals of my life was at a small restaurant in Paris that sadly no longer exists called C'amelot. The menu was written in very simple French, the preparations were actually quite sophisticated and presentation was gorgeous.

                                              There were no foams or gels, the restaurant was subdued but nicely decorated, and when I ate, I heard the angels sing, because the food, the food itself was remarkable. To this day, I can almost taste the cream of asparagus soup that they served at the table in a giant white toureen...

                                              Ice cream is sweet for a reason, it tastes best that way. Cutting edge chefs like the aforementioned Adria, and even Oringer can pull off the whizzy stuff and it actually works (though Oringer is not always consistent). The dozens of others who try often just make a mess out of perfectly good food.

                                              Santos at Gargoyles I find is more the latter then the former.

                                              If the folks at T.W. Food had blown beetelbugs socks off, I would hold my tongue. I think chefs should walk before they run. If you can absolutely nail a tasty menu night after night for a few years, then by all means cook me a souffle of ground up hedge trimmings, I'll try it if you can really cook.

                                              First restaurant for the T.W. folks... lets see if they can roast a perfect chicken, poach some fresh striped bass and serve it in a tarragon glace with the pan drippings. When you can nail that night after night, sure why not, go crazy, show us your chops.

                                              In my opinion, too many chefs are more interested in impressing then cooking. T.W. with their silly menu seems headed well in that direction.

                                              For me, it is about the food, silly.

                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                Well, I certainly agree that most people have to follow the rules before they can break them. But I also think experimentation has its place in a kitchen, as in any creative endeavor. Whether it leaves the kitchen for the dining room is another question...

                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                  I remember having a tomato sorbet as part of a tomato tasting dish at Salts that worked extremely well as part of that savoury course. And apparently, one of the better known dishes at Arpege was a mustard ice cream. I wouldn't necessarily rule out savoury ice creams for the same reason that I wouldn't necessarily assume that every sweet ice cream was going to be delicious.

                                                  Reading the posts about the food and looking at the menu, it seems unlikely that there's any Sci Fi going on, they all appear to be dishes that are prepared with classic French technique. And while a couple of dishes have unusual ingredients, most of the dishes seem to consist of fairly traditional flavour combinations if one reads past the descriptions.

                                                  For example:
                                                  "An Influence from Alsace: Local “Big Ox Farm” Pork Leg
                                                  with Manicured Apple “Tourné” , Green Cabbage and Whole Grain Mustard Jus." sounds pretty basic to me as far as the ingredients go - pork with apples, cabbage and mustard sauce.

                                              2. re: StriperGuy

                                                See for lobster ice cream elsewhere. :) It's not just a molecular gastronomy thing.

                                                1. re: limster

                                                  Lobster ice cream just makes me go ick.

                                                  1. re: ILoveRestaurants

                                                    I think people are misreading Beetlebug's post as a wholly negative review on the food. I didn't get that at all.

                                                    She specifically mentions the food was well executed, and, in fact, says the scrambled eggs with sea urchin were "fabulous". I thought it was a well-rounded, informative, honest review from a trusted long-time Chowhound. Ironically, the defensive posts that followed seemed to just bring more attention to the negative aspects.

                                                    Either way, I'm intrigued by the menu, and looking forward to checking it out. And yes, I will definitely be one of those who will be ordering the savory ice creams. : )

                                                    1. re: Rubee

                                                      I'm with you--I think I'll probably be annoyed by some of the preciousness, but other places about which I've felt that way initially (Clio and Gargoyles included) eventually won me over.

                                                      1. re: tatamagouche

                                                        Do you feel like Santos is nailing it at Gargoyle. I had one meal there that was neither here nor there?

                                                        1. re: StriperGuy

                                                          IMO, more often than not. I don't like everything--but strangely, the stuff I haven't liked tends to be the tamer stuff, including both of the menu's signature dishes (the tuna, whose pickled sprouts reminded me too much of La Choy, and the duck, which was on the dry side).
                                                          But I'm not a regular...I'd bow to others on this one, like gini and yumyum, whom I believe are.

                                                    2. re: ILoveRestaurants

                                                      You're a very talented writer...sorry you lurked for so long..without posting..but I guess better late than never...and glad it took these "potshots" at this 1 restaurant to bring you out of your shell.

                                                      Any dishes that you'd recommend..besides the egg/sea urchin, ice creams, and cigar/scotch..which had been mentioned earlier?

                                                      1. re: StriperGuy

                                                        it's unfair to both the ice cream and the lobster!

                                                    3. re: StriperGuy

                                                      To add another example, olive oil gelato at Otto may be my favorite frozen treat of all time, and it tastes pretty savory to me. Anyone know of something comparable around here?


                                                      1. re: nfo

                                                        I love that Olive Oil gelato. Little coarse salt flakes on the top pushed it over the top for me, in a good way. Nothing around here like that, although the yogurt flavored gelato at Athans in Brookline isn't very sweet at all and is worth a try.

                                          2. Thanks beetlebug, great review.

                                            I gotta say, it seems wierd to me that some folks on this thread are ready to jump all over TW after only reading the menu. limster, with all due respect -- because I really like most of your posts -- your dig on Wiechmann and whether he just staged under those famed chefs seems a bit meanspirited. I do think you generally got it right, though -- let's wait and see whether he delivers.

                                            The place intrigues me, and I'd love to see more reviews on it before making a judgement call. What's more, it did just open. Wiechmann did good stuff at Ten Tables, so I'm inclined to cut it some slack for a few months till they hit their stride, at which point I plan to give it a shot.

                                            So... anyone else want to weigh in with actual reviews?

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: litchick

                                              I wasn't trying to take a stab at Wiechmann nor was my intent mean -- I apologize if I sounded that way. My question is an honest one - given that the website is vague about how long he's cooked at those places, or his position in those kitchens, there are 2 polar extremes (and everything in between) that one could imagine, which I raised: " Did the chef merely stage at those places for a few days, or did he train there for an extended period?" Resume padding is a common thing in many industries, and while I am not implying that there is resume padding in this instance, I would like to know whether that's hype or not.

                                            2. The original comment has been removed