As my DC said last night, TW Food is almost a mirror image of 10 Tables: cozy atmosphere, open kitchen, small operation, downstairs restroom, brick walls, interesting menu. TW Food takes a major departure (besides the huge upgrade in restroom facilities) is in its cooking style. Where 10 Tables is rustic, TW Food is mostly refine. Where 10 Tables is bold, TW Food is subdued. My DC put this in my mind at the beginning of the night and the more I think about it, the more I can't get it out of my head. Did I enjoy the 7 course tasting menu we had? Definitely. Would I be back? Probably not. And not because the food isn't well prepared. Just simply because it didn't hit home to me. Maybe I just don't like that much puff pastry. It's definitely an issue for me.
Onto the food: 7 courses, I had the meat menu, my DC the vegetarian, but we shared everything.
To start, 2 amuses-bouches: smoked egg with aioli on puff pastry, which had a strong hit of fennel; and a smoked mussel.
Local duxbury oyster with essence of beet: I was surprised how much brininess the oyster held despite being submerged in the beet and oil puree. Bright, clean, but a bit fussy. DC had the salad: big ox farm baby lettuce, wild peaches and honey vinaigrette. While I loved the pickled vegetables, especially the beets, I was a bit perturbed at being told the lettuces were fresh snipped. A bit precious.
We were both served the red cabbage soup: soup with onion, nutmeg perfumes and gnocchi parisienne. One of my favorite dishes of the night. I absolutely loved the smell of this soup, the beet flavor was at once bright and calm.
beef tartare for me: grass-fed vermont boyden farm with chilled coulis of swiss chard. I've had better beef tartares elsewhere, Eastern Standard comes to mind, but the swiss chard puree was excellent. DC had sweet-savory chard ice cream, walnut tapenade, farm pickling cucumber salad, which was certainly one of the highlights of the night.
Smoked soft shell crab, fried green tomato, kohlrabi and sauce “rémoulade”. Oh.my.goodness. This tasted like a BLT. The smoke flavor was absolutely amazing. DC had slow poached egg ragout of wild local mushrooms and saffron mousse. Tasted like a poached egg with vegetables.
Napoleon of yellowfin tuna puff-pastry, creamed corn, zucchini and purple basil. There's something a bit 1985 about napoleons for me and I am not a fan of puff pastry in general, so color me surprised when this actually turned out to be pretty tasty. The purple basil, tuna and yellowfin were especially good, but this was impossible to eat in one bite. What is the point of such a presentation if I can't fit all the flavors into my mouth in one bite? Again, the fussiness of partially skinning the grape tomatoes and placing then in a bow-like configuration was cute, but I would have rather had a dish that I could actually taste all the flavors at once. Smoked kale tourte with bleu cheese fourme d’ambert and preserved apricot for my DC - rich and beautiful, but again overshadowed by the puff pastry for me.
blue ledge goat, leicester, vermont
camembert au calvados, normandy, france
That camembert needs to be in my house, now. A gorgeous cheese with a calvados-washed rind. It can be found at Russo's.
puff-pastry “chausson” with liberty apples and homemade cinnamon ice cream. I was really sad to end the night on this note. Again with the puff pastry, and why apples and caramel in the middle of August if you're advertising the tasting menu as "showcasing the season"? While the cinnamon ice cream and caramel sauce were both really delicious, the apple turn over was bready and soggy and not really that satisfying.
Post-dessert, they serve an assortment of cookies and truffles, which were herby and a nice way to end the meal, especially after hitting a high with the cheese course and a low with the dessert.
There were certainly some highlights to this meal - when the chef is on, his dishes truly shine. However, I'd certainly rather the tasting menu at Troquet, for example, where each dish is practically exquisite.