The first time I heard of TEN Restaurant and Wine Bar was via a post by fellow foodie Stella Yu. I remember looking at the pictures and thinking – I gotta check this place out. Fast forward a few months later and I was preparing for the Chef’s Challenge in support of women’s cancer at Mount Sinai Hospital and that’s when I got to know Nic Prong, the executive chef at TEN who donated a tasting menu with wine pairings for me to auction off. He is one of the reasons why I made it onto the list of top 50 fundraisers and got to cook alongside celebrity Food Network Chefs and the rest, they say is history.
Since we lived/worked in totally opposite ends of the city, we had never had the chance to meet in person (though there were a few missed opportunities such as during Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert’s Good vs. Evil) – so I was delighted when Nic invited me up to preview his new summer menu.
TEN is located in Port Credit, a short drive from downtown Toronto. The area is beautiful and I’m definitely going to return to sit out on the patio in the summer which is just steps away from the Credit River, on the North Shore of Lake Ontario. It would make for a great date night spot – especially for a romantic walk along the water post-dinner.
The décor is very modern with high ceilings of exposed beam. The rich reds and orbs of hanging lights definitely make this a trendy place to have dinner while enjoying live music on select weeknights. It is what I would call a resto-lounge sort of like Bloke & 4th in Toronto.
I especially love the idea that you can buy the kitchen a round as the back-end staff seldom receive recognition in the role they play in the overall dining experience. At $10 a round, it is a small price to pay to show your appreciation for the delicious food that makes its way into your belly. I also like the fact that Nic has taken such a hands-on approach by making his cell phone number and contact details readily available for customer feedback. I don’t think I’ve seen this kind of 2-way communication very often in the restaurant industry. I can however, think of a few restaurants who have Twitter accounts not for the purpose of customer engagement.
True to its namesake, the wine list is quite extensive with plenty of options (even by the glass). The wines by flight is also a great way to sample different wines or pair with your meal; select any 3 that are available by the glass for the low price of $15. Seeing as summer is upon us, I definitely urge you to order a pitcher of sangria available in white, pink (rosé) or red for $45. We opted for the white sangria made of Grey Goose L’Orange, triple sec, white wine, white cranberry juice, 7-Up and fresh fruit. My dinner companion said it was one of the best he’s had and I can’t help but agree.
The list of appetizers is Nic’s way of poking fun at food trends featuring tacos, poutine and lobster rolls. We nibbled on the Pulled Pork Slyder ($3.98 per piece) which featured a low country slaw and house cut hickory chips. The slider was served on buttery toast and the okra added an added bit of crunch to the slaw.
Next up was the Wedge salad ($8.98), featuring a whole quarter wedge of iceberg lettuce with gin-soaked double smoked bacon, popper tomatoes, Roaring Forties bleu and housemade onion + ranch dressing. The dressing was surprisingly light and I liked that the whole wedge of iceberg was left intact as it meant added crunch without overdressing the salad. I could wax poetic about the bacon and bleu, but I won’t :p
I have a love-hate relationship with pasta – love eating it, but hate that most are so high in calories. I have seldom found a pasta that is worthy of the calories. Nic’s Agnolotti Schweine Kopf ($15.98) with pork + tomato ragout, Parmesan crumb and Fuji however, was quite light and I loved the hint of sweet and tart from the apple.
The showstopper for me however, was the juicy, succulent St. William’s Cheeseburger so named after an area in Nic’s hometown of Norfolk, Ontario. This burger is composed of rump steak with secret fats (I suspect pork + duck fat?!) with the mushrooms du jour. They actually grow their own mushrooms and today’s selection featured Button, Portobello and Shimeji. The red onion did a good job at cutting some of the richness of the burger and the bun held up against the juices. The Parmesan-dusted fries were also good (though you probably won’t have room for it after you’re done downing this bad boy).
The palate cleanser was a Caesar sorbet which tasted like Thousand Island ice cream?
Our final savory dish was the Pork Tenderloin ($22.98), a dish that represents the very essence of farm to table with mini squash, baby carrots, potatoes Boulangères and parsley salad. I had never had potatoes Boulangères before (in essence, a potato gratinée but sub the cream and cheese with delicious duck fat).
To end off the evening we finished with the Flourless Malbec Cake ($7.98) with wine-soaked cherries and vanilla ice cream. It was delicious; not too dense or heavy like most flourless chocolate cake, but just as decadent!
Many thanks to HIP Restaurants, TEN Restaurant and Wine Bar and of course, our happy-go-lucky chef Nic Prong for having me as their guest. I can’t wait to go back!
Psst! Head over to their Facebook page and play the $50 Instant Win daily for a chance to eat free.