Ten Penny has a new chef and oh is he wonderful.
Chef Anthony Hruska started just a couple of months ago and is slowly transitioning new items onto the menu.
Fortunately I got to try some of these new things recently at a chef’s tasting and it was all scrumptious. It’s been a while since I’ve uttered so many consecutive mmm’s (at least a couple of hours), because I was so in love with everything I ate.
This is how I know it’s good: the menu items I usually wouldn’t go for ended up being my favorites.
The thing I keep thinking about the most is the chicken meatballs. I like chicken, meatballs are OK, but I wouldn’t normally jump at the chance to eat a chicken meatball. Whelp, that all changed thanks to Chef Hruska. These chicken meatballs were light, tender, subtle and had a barely-there sweet pineapple-rum glaze. It had just the essence of sweetness.
Not sure if this one made it onto the menu quite yet, but you can get the mega meatball, which comes with garlic bread and ricotta – if you want to go more traditional — or the stuffed chicken breast with feta and mushroom stuffing would be a tasty substitute.
The other thing I keep thinking about is the salmon. It has a pomegranate molasses glaze, with warm potato salad, lemon grass and a saffron drizzle. It was creamy, starchy and tangy all at the same time. I barely had to chew it because the salmon just melted in my mouth.
I also loved the crab cake which was much more than your typical Old Bay-coated patty of seafood, with its citrus drizzle and fruit salsa on top. The fruity topping was a perfect complement to the naturally sweet crab and the light outer breading gave it just enough crunch.
The pumpkin soup was hearty and thick and nutmeg cream added the spice of seasonal pumpkin dishes without it tasting like you’re drinking pumpkin pie, plus a sprinkling of pepitas on top added a nice texture.
As a lover of all things cheese and pasta, of course the truffled mac and cheese was a winner. I love truffle oil, but personally feel too much of it can be a bad thing. But this had just enough to lend richness without overpowering the dish, in addition to the saltiness of the bacon on top.
And for dessert: a good way to end the meal would be with the assorted truffles (especially the Grand Marnier-filled ones). They have a butter-y texture and distinct coca flavor, with just a hint of each filling, including chili lime, milk chocolate caramel crunch, lemon goat cheese and raspberry.
I really enjoyed Ten Penny. It has a great atmosphere with a cozy vibe, thanks to its rustic wood interior and powder blue leather booths that look like couches you’d find in your cool vintage-loving friend’s living room. And it has enough space that you don’t feel like you’re sitting on top of anyone.
As for the food, it’s excellent. They appear to do a lot of familiar dishes with a twist and really well. Chef Hruska told me he loves charcuterie and hopes to incorporate more of it into the menu, so I’ll be eager to see that on there as well.