Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ten Tables and East Coast Grill: Tribute to appetizers

On my two most recent food adventures in Boston I was so excited about eating that I kept forgetting to snap shots of my entree before diving in - hence this tribute to appetizers.

A few days ago I was post-call and had the chance to go out for dinner at the Ten Tables in Jamaica Plains. I've been told that it's a pretty popular place and tricky to get a table during the peak dining hours - even on weekdays, so I was glad that we managed to snag a 6:30pm reservation. The food is new-American in style, although the dining experience itself also had a slight European flair (for bread, the waitress pulled our rolls off a large bread "wheel" for lack of a better word - note it in my picture: she's standing next to where it leans against the counter):

The restaurant itself was tiny and not particularly well-lit. By the time our entrees arrived we were almost eating in the dark - maybe good for couples on romantic dates, but for someone trying to document her dining experience through photographs, this was less than ideal.

For our appetizer my buddy and I chose the house made charcuterie which looked like spam, but was completely different in texture - dryer, almost crumbly, and much less greasy. It had a nice, slightly smoky flavor with a hint of spice, and was accompanied by a bit of prosciutto and pickled vegetables.

As for food adventure #2: This week was actually a pretty decent food week for me. Although I generally live off peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches with protein bars during my week days at the hospital, this morning I managed to wake up early enough for brunch at the East Coast Grill. This restaurant is Mexican-inspired in regards to the cuisine, and located on Cambridge street, just a block of so up the street from Cambridge hospital where I'm rotating this month.

For those who like bloody marys, they have an entire bloody mary bar. The server gives you the base for the bloody mary in addition to a shot of vodka, but you are given free reign to everything else at the "bar" to add (or not add) as you please - whether it be spices, more tomato puree, celery, etc. Since I'm not actually a fan of bloody marys, I chose not to sample the bar.

For our appetizers I chose the plantains with queso fresco (looked and tasted like feta cheese) and banana-guava ketchup. The plantains were perfectly done -soft, sweet, and not dried by over-frying. The banana-guava ketchup was more of a salsa, but delicious regardless.
My buddy ordered the banana rellena: a banana stuffed with spicy pulled pork and baked (apparently "relenna" when translated literally means "stuffed). This dish was spicier than anticipated. I'm Chinese - my people love their Szechwan cooking and their chili sauces so I can normally tolerate quite a bit of spice, but there was one particular bite of pulled pork that made my eyes well up. Being stubborn as usual, I didn't want to cave and lose face by reaching for the water. The result was about 5-10 minutes of pain. Bad pain. And tears. Lots of tears.

The sweet banana was a fantastic pairing for the spicy pork, and the banana rellena was overall super yummy. Just a warning to everyone out there who plans on trying it though: don't take large greedy bites of the pork alone! You WILL regret it.

Overall rating: 7/10 (Ten Tables); 8.5/10 (East Coast Grill)

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