Quick: what are your life goals? Achieving career success is a pretty important one (or at the very least, finding a job that doesn’t make you contemplate quitting to become a farmer every morning). Finding a life partner who hate-watches all the same Netflix stuff as you is good, too. And getting your sh*t together enough to actually go to the dentist every six months is admirable as well. But if it isn’t already, becoming a regular at a great neighborhood restaurant should be incorporated somewhere in the blueprints for future you, too.
You need a place where you can always get a last-minute reservation because the host knows your name. Where you’ll always get your favorite table if it’s available. Where a free drink is sent your way every now and again (without the expectation that you’ll listen to someone talk about Crossfit for 20-30 minutes and then ask for your number).
Ten Tables is the perfect restaurant to be just about anyone’s regular spot. Come here once or twice and you’ll soon find yourself building a relationship with this place. It’s a small, comfortable spot in Jamaica Plain that feels like an extension of your living room, even if you don’t live in the neighborhood. And they frequently change up the American menu with things like themed wine dinners on Sundays and pasta specials on Thursdays, because as in any relationship, things are going to get stale if you don’t mix it up (a lesson you and your hate-watch partner will learn after you run out of broody detective dramas that fail the Bechdel Test).
You won’t be the only regular here. On any given night you’ll see people waving goodbye to the kitchen staff after polishing off tagliatelle that’s topped with a rich pork, veal, and lamb bolognese. The bartender might join a hightop table for a quick drink at the end of the night after dropping off a burger with pretty much the perfect beef-to-bun-to-cheese ratio. You might even see the host hug the very JP-esque couple who have lived around the corner for 30 years, are probably professors, and know how to correctly pronounce Foucault.
Don’t be jealous that you don’t get Ten Tables all to yourself. Jealousy destroys relationships, and besides, it’s not like this is the only restaurant you’re ever going to eat at again, either. Treat it right though, and it’ll be there for you with a bar to lean on, a glass of wine, and a cheeseboard for years to come (it’s already been around long enough to sneak schnapps from its parents’ liquor cabinet). It’s a place that will always find you a last-minute table when you’ve got friends in town even if it’s slammed. Or it might even connect you to a local farm when you’ve finally had enough of your desk job. Now get yourself to the dentist, and you might just find that you’re starting to figure this life sh*t out.
We have no idea what kind of sorcery it is that prevents halloumi from melting, but we’re not complaining since the world needs more sorcery in general. There’s no sorcery involved in the balsamic reduction and hazelnut butter it comes with - that stuff just makes it good.
More salads should be served warm, and fewer should come in plastic containers whose lids pop off before you even get back to your desk. This simple one with chickpeas, cranberries, and feta is leading the way.
It’s pretty much just a perfectly cooked piece of chicken, and it doesn’t hurt that it comes with spaghetti and a nice dill sauce.
The ricotta gnocchi and au jus that these lamb chops come with are way better than the green processed sugar you usually get with a lollipop, and you don’t even need to be a brave little child who got a shot to get one. As for the lamb, there’s nothing fancy here, but it’s tender with a great crust.
Pork, veal, and lamb all together in one bolognese. If Marvel ever runs out of superhero teams, they can take some inspiration from this dish and make a movie about three rag-tag meats who come together to save your supper. This is the type of pasta you feel bad about for always ordering but then order it again anyway because it’s just plain good.
If you’re a person who kind of always wants the burger, but feels pressured to get something “more fancy” when you come to a good restaurant, resist the peer pressure here. With crispy pancetta, a big hunk of red pepper remoulade, and creamy cheddar, this is a good one.