We've been going here for ten years--back when I would stop by two months in advance to make a reservation, because they didn't answer the phone. It was our go-to place for special nights out (once every 6 months or so). We went there on October 26, 2013, at 8:00 (yes, during the World Series), and it's really changed. The tablecloths are gone, the music was really loud and up-tempo, and the crowd was super casual. It felt like an extension of the bar. There was only one other couple where the guy wore a jacket and tie and the gal wore a dress and heels. That used to be the norm. And, because the music was loud, everyone's conversation was super-loud. Not at all romantic or relaxed.
The quality and presentation of the food has also slipped. The amuse, a butternut squash soup, was bland. The glass of sparkling wine I ordered was flat. The bread, which is now served one piece at a time, was cold. I ordered the muscles for an app, and they were so salty and sandy I couldn't finish them. My husband ordered the salmon gravlax with quail egg for his app, and it was a mess on the plate. A guy at the next table ordered the same thing and his portion of salmon was twice as big and less drowing in dill. The gravlax was good, though.
For dinner, I had the homemade pasta with kale and added the pork belly. Here's where I confess that I don't have any experience with pork belly, but I've always loved everything at Ten Tables, so I figured I'd love whatever they did with that. The pasta was fine, but the pork belly was barely cooked. I ate it anyway--thinking that's how it's supposed to be--but after about three bites of quivering pieces of salty fat, I decided it's just not a taste I'm going to acquire. My husband had the seafood stew, which he liked just fine, but it didn't rock his world, which has always been the experience at Ten Tables..
We were so distressed by the lousy food and the loud (for the record, we're in our 40s and not unaccustomed to loud restaurants, but this was shockingly noisy), that we bailed on coffee and dessert. I asked one of the staff members when the changes had been made, and he said about 7 months ago. I told him about our experience and how disappointed we were and he seemed really pained. He also took the flat wine and the muscles off the tab and tried to convince us to stay but we were done.
So, what happened? Are they stretched too thin? I've never been to the TT in Cambridge or P-town. Are they trying to compete with Canary Square and other nearby places like it? I noticed last week that Canary Square also has the $15 burger and beer night special.
It just feels like someone made the decision to be a neighborhood restaurant with decent food rather than a special-occasion restaurant with amazing food. I understand wanting to attract folks who come more than once every 6 months, but it never looked like they were hurting for business when they were more upscale--always packed, always difficult to get a reservation.
I'm just sad that we've lost this gem, and now have to find a new special occasion place.