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Ten Tables or Craigie St?

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Looking for a celebratory, but not over-the-top expensive mid-week dinner. The Chef's Whim at CS sounds interesting for adventurous eaters (which we are), but starts a little late, and I guess could add up with wine costs added. But still is tempting...

If Ten Tables is a choice- would you recommend a tues night wine dinner or a wed night prix fixe?

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  1. Haven't been to Craigie Street, so I can't offer an opinion on them, but the two dinners we've had at Ten Tables have been outstanding. We did the Tuesday night wine dinner just last week - an excellent buy, IMO.

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/455907
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/403772

    1. IMO Craige St- hands down

      1. I've been to both and I enjoyed Ten Tables better, so there you go. lol
        Have not been to a special night's dinner.
        Will agree that CS is more adventurous -
        Speaking of adventurous, you might consider the Game and Wild Mushroom prix fixe at T.W.Food - looks like it could be pretty funky although at $60 pp / $90 with wine, that's not not over the top.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Bob Dobalina

          I'll second you on your preference for Ten Tables, Bob D. I liked both when I tried them, but felt more comfortable and incrementally liked the food better at Ten Tables -- more personable service, too. Tough to go wrong at either place, though.

        2. The level of cooking, including use of interesting ingredients, is top notch at Craigie Street. I've enjoyed the Chef's Whim a few times and though it does start late, it's an amazing way to eat seasonal, fresh, inventive dishes. CSB is an experience.

          Not that Ten Tables isn't an experience either. Both the wine dinner and the prix fixe are amazing values, but the level of cooking is a bit more rustic, more straight forward.

          I think it really depends what your preference for cuisine is. I'm infinitely more comfortable with an everyday out sort of meal at Ten Tables, while I reserve CSB for more celebratory affairs.

          1 Reply
          1. re: gini

            That makes sense, since I am more of a rustic, straight-forward kind of guy. ;)

          2. A note on Craigie: some people are put off by the vibe of the place. It's in a dark, rather cramped space in the basement of a brick apartment building, on an off-the-beaten-path Cambridge street. Since one man's cool Bohemian jewel is another man's dingy, depressing basement, you might want to bear this in mind before making a reservation there. This is especially true because as you observed, the prices are strikingly high considering the atmosphere; the food is simply outstanding (and to me, worth the asking price), but the look of the place can understandably weird some people out.

            2 Replies
            1. re: finlero

              I don't understand why none of the CSB space occupants that I recall has tried to do more with that space. I don't mind basements, per se, but, as I've said before, that CSB space reminds me of a 1970's rec room. Basement spaces can be great, like the gothic wine cellar look of Grotto, or the cozy, fireplaced vibe of Hungry I.

              1. re: pollystyrene

                Cramped, yes. Dingy? Not at all. It's an awkward space but they make it intimate, I think. We just ate at CSB this weekend and were blown away. The swordfish is a slow cooked piece, so you get the familiar swordfish flavor but with a wholly different consistency--much softer, creamier, delicate. Unusual and delicious. We also had the hanger steak with was very good, particularly the beef tongue ragu and marrow that came along. A smoked game bird consomme was great-- and a very large bowl's worth (think medium-sized pho) with Japanese mushrooms and a poached egg to swirl in. A gingerbread pain perdu was the best dessert I've had in years. Never been to Ten Tables, but CSB is worth it.

            2. Both are good options for a celebration, but Craigie is perhaps one of the best tables in town. If you are adventurous, then you will love the Chef's Whim and it is a lot of fun to try new things.

              So I would say if you can afford CSB, go for it, you won't be disappointed. If that will stress you out, go to TTs. You'll probably enjoy is almost as much. Plus, parking is a lot easier :)

              1 Reply
              1. re: MaggieMuffin

                I agree with many of the comments above -- I liked Ten Tables the one time I went and was happy with my meal, but CSB always blows me away. There is always at least one dish in the chef's whim, often more than one, that just makes me stop and try to figure out all the different things I'm tasting at once.

              2. I had the worst experience at Craigie street about 2 years ago and will NEVER go back and NEVER recommend it. Here is the short version...Arrived 5 minutes early for our reservation and was told our table was not ready and we could sit and have a drink. After a few minutes, the "waiter" came over and asked which wine we would like. Did not know, since no wine list was provided. The wine list never came and we were seated at our table 10min past our reservation time of 6:30.

                When we went to the dining room, the place was 3/4 empty. We had horrible service and the waiter made us feel as if we had a palette was better suited for McDonalds. One point that sticks out in my mind is how the waiter explained what veal was!!! The wine (which we ordered prior to our meal) was brought after our main dishes were served. We had to ask for it multiple times. The food, although good, was not worth the price in our opinion. One last point of annoyance is that at a table adjacent to us was the fish monger that provides fish for Craigie Street. They received top of the line and were provided with many extras (somewhat understandable) while we are sitting having miserable service and a lackluster meal.

                1. I think Ten Tables is a truly awesome neighborhood place, and for me, probably the best value in Boston area dining (except maybe for Toro). That said, I think foodwise Craigie Street Bistrot is much more ambitious in both what it aims to do and what it accomplishes, so I'd recommend the Chef's whim. The only caveats to that are 1 that it's inflexible, so you need to take what they give you (fine with me, not fine with my fish-averse, offal-averse fiancee), and 2 the service at ten tables was slightly better, but the decor is about equal.

                  1. Went last night and really enjoyed Ten Tables pick three. To start our waitress brought a tiny amuse of white gazpacho -- garlicky, creamy (without cream), made with almonds and bread. We ordered a very reasonably priced cabernet and our waitress asked if we'd like to order or hang out for a while. (**Note, at no time were we made to feel rushed. This place is teensy tiny and people were waiting outside and trying for walk-ins but never did our waitress rush us, in fact we had to ask for the check.) We chose to hang out for a bit.

                    For the menu choices, to start there was a salad, mussels, a turnip soup with pork confit and a sausage and lentil dish. I got the soup and DC got the sausage ... hers was better but mine was very good. We also got some good bread and green peppery olive oil. A nice start.

                    For mains, there was a house-made pasta (veg), chicken with sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts, a portuguese fish soup and a steak for a $6 supplement. She got the chicken and I got the steak. Perfectly cooked. Again, hers was the better pick, just by a hair -- the roasted vegetables and moist chicken were really comforting and everything was seasoned well.

                    Desserts were a chocolate thing, a fruit thing and cheese. Of course I chose the cheese and that was the only low-light of the evening. Two small wedges -- a blue and a hard sheeps milk -- served with apples and walnuts. They were fine, just not memorable. I prefer the one perfect cheese at Blue Room or Rendezvous, served at the prime of their lives. This is a nit.

                    The room is small (obviously) and intimate, the bathroom is down a very narrow staircase, and the kitchen is open to the diners. It was cozy last night and seems like a great date spot. Not sure it's ideal for a big birthday party, I guess it depends on the boisterousness of the crowd.

                    Having been to both Craigie Street and Ten Tables now I agree with gini's assesment. TT seems more cozy and homey and straightforward. CS feels a little more stiff and formal, and it feels like it's suited for an older academic crowd. The food at CS is more refined but I think it really depends on what vibe you are looking for. I really liked TT and next I want to check out a wine dinner there.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: yumyum

                      Thanks for the great review, yumyum.

                      1. re: yumyum

                        Thanks for all your help! I chose tonight's wine dinner at TT and will report back!

                        1. re: silver queen

                          Well- the wine dinner was a mixed bag. I suppose it's the nature of such a busy small place, but they were really backed up, and that kind-of killed much of the festivity.

                          We had a res for 8:30, but did not get seated until closer to 9. Since the place is tiny, we had to wait outside (luckily, it wasn't cold). Then we sat for another 15-20mins with only bread and water on the table.

                          The dishes served that night were a very pleasant green salad with manchego and marcona almonds, a roasted onion soup, pan-fried quail on a bed of lentils and a slice of dense-textured saffron cake. It was good but not great. There seemed to be smoked paprika in both the soup and the lentils, which was a bit too much repetition. The paired wines were excellent.

                          We didn't finish until 11:15, which is later than I would have preferred. I think the food was good enough that I would return, but we got a bit of a vibe that friends of the staff were getting better treatment, coupled with the long waiting around with nothing to drink, that made us feel like second class citizens, so I don't think my DC is in any hurry to return.

                          Sometimes it's bad to have high expectations. But I had been wanting to go there for some time, so thanks again for the advice!