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Ten Tables - worth the drive?

My husband and I will be visiting Boston for two days in October. We plan on eating lunch or dinner at Coppa, Erbaluce and Neptune Oyster based on the recommendations of this board.
We'll be staying in the Back Bay area - is Ten Tables worth a drive?

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Neptune Oyster
63 Salem St Ste 1, Boston, MA 02113

Ten Tables
5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, MA 02138

Erbaluce
69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

Coppa
253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

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  1. i cannot answer your question but can suggest that Craigie on Main is excellent and not far from the red line stop at Central Square. You could also try Sichuan Gourmet that is on the green line on St. Mary's if i am not wrong. If money is no object, you could consider O Ya.

    I think that these places satisfy most people on this board and SG is cheap though you should stick to the sichuanese food while dining there.

    I wonder what you will think of Erbaluce; I have not been there; I really like Coppa.

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    O Ya
    9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

    Craigie on Main
    853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

    Erbaluce
    69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

    Coppa
    253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

    Sichuan Gourmet
    1004 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02446

    3 Replies
    1. re: cambridgedoctpr

      Depending on the weather and your ability/willingness to walk, an October evening in (greater) Boston can be a sensual delight. Google says Ten Tables is .6 miles from the Harvard red line station.

      I think Ten Tables is special and would go out of my way to experience it.

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      Ten Tables
      5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, MA 02138

      1. re: Carty

        (That would be the Cambridge Ten Tables, rather than the Jamaica Plain location.)

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        Ten Tables
        5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, MA 02138

      2. re: cambridgedoctpr

        I wouldn't make a trip for Sichuan Gourmet, but at the same green line stop (cleveland circle line) on St. Mary's, Taberno de Haro has wonderful spanish tapas and wines and a sweet outdoor patio. Erbaluce is delightful and good luck on getting into Neptune which doesn't take reservations. I do like 10 tables, but if you want to stay in the back bay, you might enjoy La Voile (close to a real french bistro) or Bistro du Midi (vaguely southern french, good bar and elegant space, more an up-scale restaurant than a bistro).

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        La Voile
        261 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116

        Erbaluce
        69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

        Bistro du Midi
        272 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

        Sichuan Gourmet
        1004 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02446

      3. I would say no. Ten tables is fine, on a good night v. good (I've only been to the original JP location). However, the menu is neither unique or particularly local, so not worth a special effort for out of town visitors. Cdp had some good alternative suggestions if you do want an excursion.

        tb

        1. If you're into exploring cities beyond the limits of your typical tourist map, I would say yes. Grab the 39 bus in Copley Square and get off at the Lakeville Road stop and you are about 200 feet from Ten Tables, and you see an interesting cross section of the city on your way. After dinner grab a cone from JP Licks, and take a stroll over to Jamaica Pond. The perfect JP date!

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          Ten Tables
          5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, MA 02138

          11 Replies
          1. re: pierce

            Except if you're going to bother coming out to JP, skip 10 Tables and go, well, anywhere else (Vee Vee would be a reasonable choice, but I'm not sure it's a destination restaurant). 10 Tables is nothing more than overhyped mediocrity (except for the service, that's actually astonishingly dismal). It seems to attract out of towners who don't know any better.

            1. re: montuori

              Pretty strong statement considering the love 10 Tables gets on this board. Be great if you could substantiate it a bit. Why don't you like it. What bad experiences?

              1. re: StriperGuy

                Snotty service, forgettable food, unpredictable waits. I haven't been in years, so details along the lines of "I had this and it wasn't very good" aren't forthcoming. The biggest failing was the "we're too good for the likes of you" service, which I have to admit I'm not accustomed to. Too bad, the place is only a 10 minute walk.

                Certainly there are better choices for out of towners -- no matter how much groupthink goes into believing that 10 Tables has something original to offer -- which is why I piped up.

                1. re: montuori

                  Lots of people are put off by such service (esp. in unfancy JP) so if it were a frequent occurrence, I'd think you'd see the effect of it. If you haven't been in years, you might consider a revisit, since the place is thriving (enough to warrant a second restaurant in Cambridge and a build-out into the adjacent space in JP), which would suggest that you might have a better experience today. Try the neighborhood menu on Wed. nights I believe - special prices for neighbors like you!

                  1. re: Bob Dobalina

                    I've also had some unpleasant service at the JP location. I know exactly what montuori is talking about - the service I got on a couple of visits was cold and inattentive.

                    I went once shortly after the expansion, and it was a somewhat better experience, but I'm still not eager to go back. I would not say it's worth a special trip - the Harvard location may be a better option, if you're already visiting the area.

                    1. re: Bob Dobalina

                      If number of restaurants had anything to do with quality, Chili's and the 99 would be frequent topics of conversation here. I mean, even the unbearably awful Friendly Toast has a line outside both locations (proving that even a lack of cleanliness isn't much of a deterrent).

                      I'm glad you (and presumably others) like the place. I tried it a couple times and didn't, to the point where warning away out of towners seemed worth a couple minutes typing. I don't think I need your advice regarding a place that I actively steer people away from, I've got this one covered. Nor am I particularly attracted to a place that can't get locals to show up without bribing them.

                      Lastly, even being from JP I do know how to put a napkin in my lap and eat with silverware, so I don't think it was the novelty that was the issue. I'm not sure how much condescension you were aiming for there, but you scored well.

                      1. re: montuori

                        Wow, and I thought my response was pleasant and encouraging, particularly since you said you hadn't been back in several years - with service issues, personnel change - see Taverna de Haro for example, so merely was suggesting that JPers such as yourself would not put up with that kind of crap that you described if it was continuing and pervasive - so sorry you took my counterpoints as condescending.

                        But based on the WAY over-the-top tone of your response, you don't seem interested in the kind of dialogue that is found on these pages...maybe you'd be better off creating a create a blog, where you can live safely in your insulated world and not have to consider the pesky opinions of other human beings.

                    2. re: montuori

                      Not to negate your experiences or feelings, but just to counter: I not only have never found the service at Ten Tables snotty, cold, or inattentive, but the last time I ate there, chef/owner David Punch not only stopped by our table to say hello and ask how everything was, he--unprompted--remembered me and my DC and asked a question based on a conversation we'd had the last time we'd been there, six or seven months earlier!

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                      Ten Tables
                      5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, MA 02138

                      1. re: montuori

                        Count me among those who's never gotten anything but attentive, warm service at Ten Tables JP (which I've been to a bunch of times) and Cambridge (only a couple). As for unpredictable waits, I long ago decided never to show up at either without a reservation, which they have always honored properly.

                        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

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                        Ten Tables
                        5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, MA 02138

                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                          Second that to a degree. The first time my wife and I went, we just walked up, and took the two last seats looking into the kitchen area, which was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, that particular meal was the best we had there. The food subsequently was good, but not really, really good. I've never had problems with the service, but it's not top class.

                          Waiting is an issue: even with reservations, we were once kept waiting for 20+ minutes -- in Winter, outside, which wasn't fun.

                          tb

                        2. re: montuori

                          I go pretty regularly to the JP location and have never, not once, experienced any such attitude or bad service. And this might be the first time I've ever heard someone complain about it.

                          And I really don't get the idea that only out-of-towners are the only ones dining there. I'm a JPer and I'm glad I have Ten Tables as a regular dining option for me- I much prefer it to VeeVee or any other place on Centre.

                  2. I like Ten Tables a lot, think its two outlets are charming, delicious, and a good value among our small New American bistros. It's also noteworthy for treating vegetarian customers with real respect. I prefer the ambience of the JP original. Parking near both (JP and Cambridge) can be a challenge. I'd recommend cabbing it or taking public transport.

                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

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                    Ten Tables
                    5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, MA 02138

                    1. I've been to the Cambridge location once and the JP location twice, and I think that Ten Tables is definitely worthwhile if you are looking for that kind of food/experience (small farm-to-table new American).

                      Craigie on Main is truly memorable, and better than Ten Tables, but is also significantly more expensive.

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                      Craigie on Main
                      853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

                      Ten Tables
                      5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, MA 02138

                      1. Just visited Ten Tables Cambridge for the first time, so I thought I'd post a brief review here. For background, I went to Ten Tables JP years ago and remember liking it a lot. Craigie Street Bistrot (in the current Ten Tables Cambridge location) was our go-to special occasion spot for a long time before it moved.

                        We went to Ten Tables Cambridge on a Sunday night, when they had their $33 prix fixe. There were three choices for each course. This is an amazing value since usually a single entree will run you around $25. I had the garlic soup, sea scallops with roasted cauliflower, leeks, and sauteed squid, and chocolate terrine with thai basil creme anglaise. My husband had the beet salad, pork stew with hominy, beans, and carrots, and cherry pecan bread pudding with caramel sauce.

                        Overall, we were very happy with our meal. We liked everything and loved the bread pudding. But the original question on this post was "worth the drive" and even though our drive was only 10 minutes, I feel like there are better places around that have similar food at a similar price point (Rendezous, Bergamot, and T.W. Food come to mind).

                        Each dish had one or two elements I loved, but it didn't necessarily all come together. For instance, the pimenton croutons in the garlic soup were delicious, and the bites of the soup that had egg yolk mixed in had just the right taste and texture. But the rest of it seemed a little lacking in flavor, even though it had a strong garlicky smell. I scraped up every bit of the sauce for the scallops, but the scallops themselves, and the roasted cauliflower accompaniment, were tasty and nicely cooked but not that different from what I can make myself at home. The beet salad tasted like a random assortment of food cut into chunks -- beets, cheddar, nuts. Each component tasted fine but it didn't gel into a completed dish for me. The pork stew was advertised as "famous" and I think justly so. I'm not that much of a meat lover, but the few bites I had were just right, meaty and smoky and spicy. I was a little disappointed with my dessert -- I had heard great things about the chocolate terrine with thai basil ice cream, but the creme anglaise that was substituted that night was too thin and there was too little of it. The flavor combination worked very well, but chocolate terrine is so dense and chocolatey that you really need something in a contrasting flavor with more volume, like ice cream or whipped cream. Without enough of that, it was like eating a slab of chocolate. I bet the usual ice cream version is much better. My husband's bread pudding was not the usual custardy brick. It was light and buttery and perfect (okay, except that I would have liked the caramel sauce to be darker. Can you tell I'm picky?)

                        Service was very nice (despite two very minor missteps -- one server made a comment about how we cleaned our plates, which I hate, and another asked if I was done with dessert when I still had more than half on my plate and probably would have eaten more, but when she asked I thought about how since I didn't really love it, it probably wasn't worth the calories and let her take it away). Noise level was fairly loud, but we could still hear each other.

                        We might go back for the prix fixe again, but not any time soon.

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

                        Ten Tables
                        5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, MA 02138

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Pia

                          Had the chef's tasting recently and essentially had the same reaction - everything was good, but no wow factor in individual dishes. But getting 4 small plates each in our deal (or 3 in yours) was the way to go, especially since we did halfsies. Then it was 8 little servings that did not get boring. But a full serving of any one of the choices would have been meh.

                          1. re: Bob Dobalina

                            Ordered off the menu on a recent visit (Cambridge) and had the same no-wow reaction. Spice-rubbed steak was the best dish, followed by an attractive watermelon and arugula salad. Pan-seared swordfish was fine, but it sat on a bed of a mostly inedible vegetable mush. The most remarkable dish of the evening was an octopus appetizer that was presented beautifully, had a terrific balance of flavors (the char on the octopus, the smoky eggplant puree with which the plate was painted, the dots of pepper), and was quite literally uneatable because the texture was like indestructible rubber. You couldn't even cut it with a knife, let alone attempt to chew it. I'm a man who'll plow through almost anything, but I had to send this back. They were apologetic and didn't charge for it.

                            1. re: FoodDabbler

                              Sadly, I tried TT JP for the first time last night, and also had a "no wow".

                              -Sampled a nice passion-fruit ginger "mocktail" at the bar, where we sat because our table wasn't ready until 30 minutes after our reservation.

                              We were then seated, and decided on the $35 3-course:

                              "Local charcuterie" was a slab of pork pate which wasn't porky nor livery enough for me, along with a couple flower petal sized lomo (think thin jamón slices).

                              DC's moule mariniere were fine, and served in a plentiful portion.

                              Pappardelle with Braised Rabbit - three out of four of us enthusiastically ordered it, but were disappointed with the blandness of the rabbit. It tasted like unseasoned pulled pork. The pappardelle were toothsome and irregular, obviously homemade. Baby brussel sprouts were tender, but again, the whole composition was unremarkable.

                              Our 4th DC ordered the hangar steak which she reported to be 'good', but her gratin potatoes were the real knockout stars of the show. A thick, dense many layered slab, with just the right amount of crispiness on the outside, and a cheesy smooth sheen of interior potato surface that felt right on the tongue. We secretly wished we could order sides of this addictive stuff, hell, even one of those big "family reunion potluck" size trays!

                              For dessert, a goat cheese panna cotta was the Toyota Camry of desserts - smooth, simple and comfortable, but basic and uninspiring. DC had the chocolate terrine with the basil ice cream. I would have renamed this to: "Super fudgy browny with weed flavored ice cream." TIL basil ice cream is not my thing.

                              I'm not sure I was wowed enough to return. The leftover pappardelle still sits a day after in my fridge, densely packed in a little cardboard take-out box.

                              1. re: Prav

                                The JP one went to no wow well before the Cambridge one did since the main chef left the former to go to the latter. I never liked the Craigie Street space so we kept trying to go to the JP one; now in JP, we just go to VeeVee for food in that general price range. And there is plenty around the Cambridge one to distract me.

                                http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/

                                1. re: yarm

                                  went to ten tables in JP for the first time....it was ok... but not great. cute place, pricy, service was quite good.... just wasn't 'amazing' for our expectations and high price... the only theing that hit the amazing mark was the cocktails... apps and mains just ok.

                        2. lball, welcome in advance! your list contains some of the most CH raved spots and i am compelled to refer you first and foremost to Oleana, with its fascinating unique take on Mediterranean/Turkish/Moroccan , It has a beautiful quiet green patio as well.(Oct can still be warm here.) And I would still rec to you Island Creek (many menu differences from Neptune) and Craigie on Main. I'm sure you'll make reservations (except Neptune takes no reservations); they are a must here.

                          I don't know if this is your first Boston visit, but in case this might be helpful:

                          Guide to Boston by Areas and Restaurants:

                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/781155
                          ----------------------------------------------------
                          will you be here for brunch?
                          Brunch suggestions:

                          East Coast Grill, Cambridge.- fun, loud, crazy, beloved by locals; Latin, seafood, BBQ, oysters, Bloody Mary bar.........

                          Mistral- french high end, beautiful room, South End

                          Aquitaine - french bistrol handsome room and unbeatable service-- South End

                          Neptune Oyster-- North End

                          2 Replies