Ten Times Two Equals…

By | Chowder |

Call it a big-budget (or bigger-budget, anyway) sequel to a cult favorite: The recently debuted sister location to J.P.’s tiny Ten Tables keeps its star—David Punch’s top-drawer European bistro fare—while adding new cast members like L’Espalier vet Nico Herregodts and higher production values in the form of an expanded menu and a much larger, freshly renovated space in the former Craigie Street Bistrot spot.

Like any good sequel, Ten Tables: Part II is also looking to build its audience; judging by what Chowder saw during its opening week, it’s on track.

Arguably the best news for Ten Tables fans is the enclosed entryway to the new space, which firmly blocks the chill that can bedevil the J.P. storefront. Inside, diners find more than double the seating capacity (49) of the original, mostly two-tops and some banquettes, in a dining area whose butternut-yellow walls and muted lighting provide a soothing glow.

After being shown to our seats by the suave Herregodts, we started with a light, hoppy Brooklyn Lager (the beer list is minimal, with a chocolatey Left Hand Milk Ale being the other option, as we recall) and a cool mix of white Lillet with cucumber and tarragon called the Le Gaston (cocktail lineup also slim, but each looked as appealing as the Le Gaston turned out to be).

The wine list, which has about dozen options by the glass for $9–13, calls out organic and diodynamic vintages. That same emphasis on sourcing pervades the menu, full of boutique providers and touting humanely raised and organically fed dairy and meat.

We liked our appetizers fine—a chichi tomato (San Marzano) soup and grilled cheese (Taleggio), and a winter green salad punched up with tart-fruity saba—but saw a number of fellow diners going for the gleaming half-dozen Wellfleets on the half shell with horseradish.

Determined then not to miss the seafood boat, we ordered a main of sea scallops: The plump bivalves were done to a turn, and nicely brightened by the accompanying roasted beets and Meyer lemon. An entrée of skillet-roasted Giannone chicken (a Canadian product that’s air chilled, to better preserve flavor and texture) yielded moist meat, though it was overshadowed by the savory power of the accompanying shell beans, cabbage, and smoked bacon that we shamelessly chased around the plate with a spoon.

Other entrée options included bavette steak with pommes gratin and Berkshire pork with duck confit hash; for vegetarians we noticed a handmade pasta with spicy squash.

Masterminded by Alison Hearn (B&G Oysters, Craigie Street Bistrot), the desserts looked uniformly yummy at $8 apiece. The chocolate terrine with sea salt and Thai basil ice cream was, in a word, killer; however, the toffee pudding was tooth-achingly sweet and too rich even at half the portion (split it three ways?).

Overall, it was a very agreeable night at the new Ten Tables, which does right by its franchise in terms of value, service, and food quality. The lone caveat? Its bigger size means this sequel’s more of a crowd-pleaser than a romance: It’s hard to whisper sweet nothings to your date when nine coeds arguing the hotness of the Gossip Girl cast have squeezed into the banquette across the way.