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TW Food - disappointing

We've been meaning to try TW Food for a while - finally had the chance recently. Overall I was very disappointed in the food; none of the dishes were remarkable, and a couple were just plain bad. I really wanted to like this place - they are close to our neighborhood, and I like the _idea_ of what they're trying to do. But at this price point I was expecting much, much more.

Starter of sausage which, I will admit, I did not realize would be *blood* sausage until it arrived (my fault for not reading "boudin noir" closely enough) - flavors were OK, a bit spicy, texture very mealy and soft. Soup of salsify with mushrooms was severely underseasoned, and served too cold to be appetizing. Main of grouse and pigeon "tourte" was a homogenous mass of meat inside pastry with very little to offset the texture or flavors. Roast pork leg and braised pork belly were, well, simply bad. The pork leg was dry, had absolutely no flavor, and to add insult to injury was served with an inedible ring of skin and fat still attached. I can't believe anyone tasted that dish and thought it was good. At $30 an entree this place can do much better.

At least three desserts seemed to be served in a pool of creme anglaise. The poached pear (which arrived refrigerator-cold) was stuffed with a "tube" of chocolate ganche that looked too much like something my dog would leave in the backyard. Profiteroles filled with chocolate ice cream were probably the high point of the meal. I was surprised that service was so slow and inattentive for a place with only 8 tables and 2 serving staff.

I like the concepts here but it feels like they are overreaching. They could do so much better by dropping some of the pretension and just focusing on cooking good food.

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  1. Thanks for providing fair warning and a good laugh with this well written review. After reading it I plan to avoid TW Foods, but otherwise it would have been helpful to know where it is.

    2 Replies
    1. re: 2ForTheRoad

      I have never even heard of this place, Provide some details please

      1. re: Winer

        Info/address at this link:

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        T.W. Food
        377A Walden St, Cambridge, MA 02138

    2. We recently went to TW Food also (btw - it's in Cambridge). While our food was very tasty (I had the Monkfish) and the service was actually good (the Owner was our server), the price point for the food was very disappointing. We all thought about getting a pizza afterwards and when you're paying $30+ for entrees (and two bottles of wine at $95) we expected alot more.

      We also really wanted to like this place, but the price point, lack of satisfaction and NO PARKING (drove the block many times before we found a space), just not worth the trip. Sad to say.

      1. Wasn't sure which of the TW Food posts to add to - I think this one does a bit better at summing up the thoughts of our table to our meal at TW Food. Other posts have pretty much captured the essence - the idea of TW Food is fantastic, the execution more spotty than really it has any right to be (give the...), prices that are a bit - or more than a bit - too high, and the service which while respectable is not about to win any awards, and given how few tables there are and the prices should really be much more consistent...

        We started with the soup and oyster shooters as appetizers. The soup was carrot with scallops, perfumed with vanilla, and tasted like... vanilla. Much as most of us like vanilla, there was consensus that carrot soup should taste at least a bit like carrot. The oyster shooters had more creamy accompaniment than oyster, and unfortunately didn't taste much like, well, oysters. Not the best start, accompanied by a lack of promised refills on both bread and water.

        We had 3 of the 4 entrees - monkfish, cannelloni, and beef. All were good, only the beef was outstanding.

        The "scotch and cigars" dessert was, IMHO, outstanding. The balance of the tobacco flavor in the creme anglaise was perfect, the scotch syrup was fascinating and balanced, and the chocolate mousse was excellent. The profiteroles with cinnamon ice cream, well, tasted like cinnamon toast crunch cereal. Good, but probably not the desired effect.

        The wines we had were on the better end of good - overall I'd prefer to see a list with at least one offering under $45, but I'm spoiled by Ten Tables' list with its options at something like $25. Sure, the cheap bottles aren't out of this world, but they give the list a bit more balance.

        Overall, we weren't blown away, and probably won't be back. With such a plethora of other options, some (like the aforementioned Ten Tables) similar in spirit but with better overall execution, it's hard to justify spending that kind of money for what we received.

          1. re: gini

            Have not, but it seems they have gotten rid of the high falutin' language from the original menu. That's encouraging.

            1. re: Bob Dobalina

              I just got a gander at the new menu, and it really is an improvement that they're not doing a second-rate impression of the French Laundry menu now, all weirdly and inappropriately quote-happy. The brevity and simplicity of the current menu prose is much better, so much less pretentious.

              I admire what they're aiming for there, and I think the execution got much smoother and more consistent after a predictably rough start (it's their first solo venture, after all). I think the prices are a bit high, but you have to consider the neighborhood and come to terms with paying a premium for all those artisanal and eco-friendly ingredients. A useful reminder to revisit; I haven't been back in some months.

          2. I have to strongly disagree with all of the posters here.

            I ate at TW Food a few months ago and had a fantastic experience. We had the prix fixe and it was reasonably priced for the quality of the food we had. A few of the dishes were up to the quality and sophistication level of meals I've eaten in Michelin-starred restaurants, and everyone was really nice and helpful. If I have one criticism, it's that their desserts do need some work, but I was so stuffed from the meal that a profiterole was all I could eat. Our friends went a few weeks later and had a similarly strong experience.

            Though I haven't eaten at a lot of the great restaurants in Boston, I've been to enough of them to feel like TW Food competes with their level of quality, and if you like good local food prepared with a personal touch, I highly recommend it.

            3 Replies
            1. re: bza

              Agreed. I had a great experience with the prix fixe from the winter menu in early Feb.

              1. re: Anon12

                My husband, 15-year-old son, and myself ate at T.W. Food this evening, and it was uneven. We had the tasting menu, the structure of which I enjoyed tremendously. Lots of small courses, almost tapas-sized, with enough time in between to savor the flavor. The only problem is that some of the courses didn't have much flavor. Oyster shooter was interesting and left an interesting taste on the tongue. Creamy cabbage soup with tiny gnocchi was wonderful. Breaded and fried soft shell crab was very greasy and mediocre. The scallop was tasty, but the brochette reference on the menu made me think I'd be getting more than one. Seafood Napolean is an interesting idea, but there were too many mild flavors piled one top of one another, and nothing stood out. I also didn't know how to eat all the layers of flaky crust, thick tomato slice, and tuna. The yummy little corn niblets were overpowered until I took the structure apart, found them lurking in the bottom layer and scraped them onto my plate, to enjoy in all their sweet glory. Mid-way through the meal, our waitress asked if she could bring us some more bread -- except we hadn't ever gotten any bread in the first place. The bread was great, but the butter was hard and cold, except for the bottom where is started to melt when it was placed on the just-washed, warm dish. My husband -- a meat-lover if there ever was one -- felt that he could have used more food. Bottom line: interesting but not outstanding, although they do try very hard.

                1. re: gloria magnetic

                  I have to second, triple, quadruple the reviews of this place being good, but not outstanding.

                  TW food is definitely getting a lot of press and praise and I am all behind them for their mission and interest in local ingredients, etc... (who isn't anymore it seems right?!)...but for the price point, it just isn't worth it.

                  Granted I haven't been back since right when it opened...but I really wanted to like it so much that I'd want to bring out of town friends there, relatives, etc. there to eat whenever they visited. However, it just is not that place. I am all for spending a good deal of money on dinner every now and then and don't flinch at the $30 entrees. But, only if they are good enough to resonate with me a day or two later. I can usually remember all great meals, but I can't seem to remember much from that meal....except that it took about 30 minutes for us to get the check and have our plates cleared after we were done.

                  I wholeheartedly agree that Ten Tables offers better value (perhaps not as inventive in the culinary sense) and better overall "comfort" taste and have chosen that restaurant as one of my favorites for important occasions.

                  But bottom line we should probably go again and see how things have changed, improved...I'm looking forward to it and hope TW Food can change my mind.

                  I do dig their "graphics" on the menu/website...definitely perhaps some "illustrator" fun by their designer...

            2. I'll just add my recent experience to this thread. The service was quite good considering only two front-of-house people working the room. The vegetarian tasting menu was very well thought out and dietetically balanced (which is rarely the case in vegetarian menus or tasting menus.) The non-vegetarian tasting menu was a little meat heavy and could have certainly substituted one of the courses for a fish or seafood dish. But in both cases, the execution was lacking. Almost every dish was ultimately lacking in flavor. They were all well seasoned but the main ingredients' flavors were mostly absent or underrepresented and at times just heavy with butter (i.e. the fresh Alsatian noodles.) At no point, did a flavor jump out at me like it so often is the case in higher-end restaurants. The presentation was rather carefully orchestrated on each plate but in the end; the tastes were all but expressive. You were left wondering what else could have been done with that foamy red cabbage soup, why the pumpkin in that creamy orange sauce just didn't cut to the surface or why that overly oily (unusual for a Raclette cheese if that was the cheese used as the name of the dish seemed to imply) Raclette cheese just didn't have any defining gustatory qualities other than its texture. And when an ingredient had taste (like the nicely pickled kohlrabi or the sautéed porcini mushrooms) they just didn't blend with the dish. They felt more like a side dish than an integral and contributing part of the dish. I was a little ticked off by the bread for this type of a restaurant. We were served biscuits with maple butter, which didn't work with the food (despite them being quite good.) After the second dish, the waitress removed the biscuits and we were left with no bread. When I asked if it would be possible to have some bread for the rest of the meal, we were presented with sliced, toasted and stale whole grain bread right out of a plastic bag (we were seated next to the kitchen and I got a peak at the bagged bread.) This was quite a faux pas at this price-point. We found the bare room and the overabundance of white to be quite cold and sterile. It was neither romantic, cutting-edge nor inviting. The room was well heated which was a plus in winter. It's tough to shoot down a place that tries as hard as T.W. Food. I really felt that they were putting a lot of attention and effort into their restaurant but in the end; the food just didn't live up to all the show.

              1. Recently had the Tasting menu at TW Food and thought it was very good, with some delicious. But that said, I could see where the less happy reviews are coming from.

                I'll go back, but I'll hope it continues to get more "together"

                1. Was just at TW... it's a place to keep an eye on... I was impressed on many levels. Will be heading back soon to see if they've truly worked out the kinks that have been expressed here. My feeling is that this couple has learned a lot about how to operate a restaurant over the (almost) first year. It was this thread that brought TW to my attention... thanks for that.

                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/588141

                  1. We went to TW Food when they were fairly new to the neighbourhood as well. We were also a bit disappointed. However, we went recently again and had fabulous food.

                    If you are still in the neighbourhood I would recommend trying it again. I think the quality of the food is excellent, the price is fair, and the flavours in each dish are spot on (the first time we went I found some of the flavour combinations a bit odd.)

                    If you do go again, I'd love to hear how you feel about it.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: leahms

                      Would love to hear more detail about your likes, changes, differences? What did you enjoy on the menu?