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Medium Cheer for Ten Tables

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Restaurants & Bars

Medium Cheer for Ten Tables

J Bert | May 29, 2004 04:05 PM

So this is my own followup after a visit largely encouraged by by the "huge horray" post below (http://chowhound.com/newengland/board...)

I at there midweek, called only at 8pm and got permission to be the last people seated at 9pm... the person I went with, in combination with traffic, a sox game and and a pops concert, managed to move a little behind schedule and we only had hopes of reaching the place around 9:20, knowing the last seating was at 9 and the crew no doubt want to head home shortly after 10...

So some things i immediately appreciated: the hostess runs a tight ship in this place... she was very communicative, when I called en route she said she'd need to ask the chef if we could still be seated ca. 9:20pm, and was quite cordial in any case (I'd of course have accepted a "no" answer as the delay was all our doing, but was happy that he said "yes").

The chef also run a tight ship. I am one of those customers who appreciates lines like "the chef asks that you not request substitutions" on a menu. I design my own meals when I cook at home and when I'm out, I want to let someone else, the expert, work out the details, show me what he thinks I'll like, teach me something about a proper meal...

So this is good. The room, the menu and the basic feel of the place approach the feeling of a meal prepared by a private chef. I like the look, i like the attitude and I want this place to stay mostly like it is and last forever.

However, there were some imperfections that for me diminished the experience some...

quarrels...

my dining partner's steak, ordered medium rare, was squarely medium to a bit more than medium when it came out. Given the time we didn't dare consider discussing it, and it was still good, just not as expected.

My salmon was plainly underdone and mushy near the center, perhaps it started out a bit too cold, or wasnt watched closely (he was only cooking for two tables of two, including us) but this was a letdown as it started out so well, surprisingly crispy on the outside, a nice portion as well.

Aside from these time and temperature missteps, my greatest quarrel (by far) is that a gifted chef in a small room, with people who are clearly there because of reputation / story / experience, who are likely to approve of everything done to make a meal special, should be taking much more obvious chances with the menu and presentation.

I did enjoy dinner, but I'd hoped to rave about it, and I can't. I wanted something in front of me that I can't make for myself or guests. More presentation, more daring combinations, more flavors, more small surprises.

The salmon and beet "taste" sent over on tiny tasting plates just as we sat down was just exactly such a surprise.

The dense bread (sans ANY kind of anything to dip it into, contrary to other reports) was on the other hand, tasty but it was just sliced bread in a little dish. No oil, no nothing to play with?

The menu WRITING above all else does nothing to sell this food, which is a shame. Though as I mentioned I do wish the entrees were a little more bold in execution, they are knocked down another notch by their all too brief and all too conventional descriptions. For example, there's a plate of sausages, all of which are made on the premises! I practically missed the breadth of the offering on that plate when i saw it in writing. Prompted by my questioning and my usual dumb look, the hostess rattled off one off detailed, seductive descriptions of my top three entree choices. had the menu been a little less tame and a little more detailed about this, I think I'd have had an easier time making a decision, not to mention how it would entice those people who pause to read the menu posted outside during their evening strolls.

Anyway, $64 for two included one glass of Chardonnay, gratuity, and no coffee or dessert... A fair or slightly steep (dining mate thought steep) price for a very nice meal in a lovely, quiet room prepared by the closest thing to a private chef many of us will ever enjoy... but for that same tariff and without changing much, I think this meal could have been delivered as a memorable bargain-for-the-money rather than just a good meal.

cheers.

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