A Tantalizing Tasting at Ten Tables in JP

The theory of a regularly scheduled “Date Night” has quickly dissolved in the last year — as moola has been tight since I quit my job in September and the economy is still in the crapper. But, we’ve been lucky enough to take advantage of the “Kid’s Night” our gym hosts every Friday night… and this past Friday night we actually went on a ‘date’!

Dan (the Husband) booked us for a reservation (through Open Table) at Ten Tables in Jamaica Plain (JP). I have wanted to hit Ten Tables for YEARS. Pretty much since it opened in 2002.

Located at at 597 Centre Street in JP, Ten Tables has been a quaint and popular neighborhood jaunt since it’s inception. We had early reservations… at 6:15pm and had no issues with finding a spot on the street very close by.

Ten tables was originally just that… TEN TABLES. That was it! Then about a year ago, they acquired the space next door and opened TT Bar. You can sit on either side, but the bar side has a menu of it’s own (which is not available on the restaurant side).

The bar itself probably sits about 6 or 8 people…

The main dining room (and the restaurant’s original space and original ten tables) is romantic, cozy and faces the tiny, open kitchen, where you can watch the chefs performing their magic.

The dinner menu is broken out into various drinks, the restaurant’s dinner menu and the bar menu… as well as desserts.

Before we even had a chance to look at the menu, a server arrived with a little sample of the evening’s Rutabaga Soup as an amuse bouche — topped with some type of oil, seasoning and chives. It was tasty! And I loved how it was served in a shot class. Can I just say that I LOVE it when the chef sends out a little amuse bouche? I don’t care how tiny it is, I just think it’s a humble sign of graciousness on chef’s part.

Next to arrive was the crusty bread and the best olive oil I’ve had in a long time…

For drinks, we had such hard time deciding on something off the cocktail menu, because everything looked interesting and sounded delicious, that we opted to go with a Cocktail Tasting ($16 each, for three ‘mini’ cocktails). We also requested that each of us get different ones, so we’d get to try six!

My first drink was The “KK” — Passionfruit and Ginger With Champagne. Definitely my favorite of the evening and their most popular drink. Garnished with a slice of candied ginger, this refreshing cocktail would be perfect on a warm summer night! Dan’s first drink wasn’t on the menu, so we’re not exactly sure what it was… but it was some type of liqueur topped with sparking wine. It had a very fresh, floral flavor… and we both really enjoyed the taste.

We also had a hard time deciding on what to eat and wanted to try several things, so we opted for the Chef’s Daily Tasting ($40/each) for four courses. Sometimes with tastings, you get what you get with no substitutions. While I sort of understand why the chef implements this rule, personally, I hate it! Mostly because I don’t eat red meat… so in those situations, I’m hard pressed to get the tasting in fear of something I can’t eat.

At Ten Tables, the chef is amazingly flexible. As long as everyone at the table is doing the tasting (this is standard), you can request “no” lists and allergy issues. So we ordered our tasting with no red meat… which basically made it a pescatarian tasting.

By the time the first course in our tasting came, I started losing the light… so my pictures from here on out don’t do the food justice — as they came out very dark.

We started with the Pickled Mussels with Frisee, Carrots and Toast (normally $10). This was an unexpected delight. The thought of a “pickled mussel” didn’t do much for me. In other words, I don’t think I would have ordered it off the menu. They were quite good though… reminiscent of other pickled fish I’ve had. I’ve also been on a pickled kick, opting for lots of pickled vegetables lately… so this was a perfect start.

The salad was nicely dressed in an acidic blend of oil and vinegar and the mussels were very tender.

Before we could finish, the second round of drinks arrived. For me, Cachaça muddled with some lemon, lime and a little simple syrup. A PERFECT drink for me. I love Cachaça. Dan’s drink was Bénédictine and spiced rum with a float of port. Both were wonderful.

The first main course to arrive was the Ten Tables’ Bouride — Provencal Stew with Hake, Mussels, Polenta & Kale (normally $24). This tomato-based, savory fish stew was delicious. The fish was super tender and flaky and the fact that it was served on top of a polenta added an interesting texture to the dish.

Our last round of drinks arrived around the same time as our second entrée course. For me, the Jaques Rose — Calvados and House Made Grenadine Served Straight up and for Dan, the Thai Basil Gimlet — Homemade Thai Basil Lime Juice and Gin. Again, great drinks… perfect for each of us. With all three courses, we each liked our drink best (we DID have to swap twice though, hee hee).

The second entrée was on the menu that night, but is not listed on the website’s menu… so I don’t remember all the details of the dish! It was pan-seared sea bass served on top of a salad of chickpeas and cauliflower and finished with some type of lemon marmalade on top. It was my favorite… salty, savory and acidic — almost reminiscent of a piccata sauce, but without the capers. The acidity of the lemon really added a nice dynamic to the dish.

The pièce de résistance was the desert. Mine was a Chocolate Terrine — with Thai Basil Ice Cream and Malden Salt (normally $8). SO, SO good… The Thai basil ice cream was A-MAZING. The chocolate terrine was divine. I inhaled it.

Dan loved his Smoked Pistachio Semi-Freddo — with Arnhem Cookie and Orange Compote (normally $8) just as much. We both practically licked the plates clean.

Overall, a wonderful experience and meal. This place is perfect for date night, a night out with friends or just a quick drink. We will definitely go back and next time, I’d like to sit on the bar side to try some of the more casual dishes as well. I would also gladly just go sit at the bar for another chance at those cocktails. The entire evening was great!

For more pictures of Ten Tables, visit their online gallery.

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