One of the biggest Catch-22s about working Downtown is that there are a lot of good places that you can visit to grab a drink with coworkers. On the one hand, variety is awesome. On the other hand… the choices can be daunting. There are classy joints, dive bars, places I’ll only go to if work is paying, places I’d feel completely out of place in, and then there are a few places where I feel completely at home. Thanks to an invitation to a new Chef Launch event at Ten Penny, tonight I got to experience one of those rare places where I feel totally comfortable and at ease.
The BF and I showed up at Ten Penny right around 6, and I was desperate for some food and a drink. What I wasn’t banking on was all the drinks. I really should have eaten something before I left. :) As soon as we got checked in, we were presented with glasses of wine the size of my head. Granted, they weren’t full (thank goodness; I’d be dead), but they were rather ample. Given a choice between an oaky Chardonnay and an Italian Pinot Noir, we both opted for the Italian Pinot. I’m not a big wine drinker (or a big drinker at all, which became evident as the night wore on), but the wine was good. I had no trouble finishing my entire glass. As we sipped, we appreciated the décor. There were casual-chic whitewashed brick walls, lots of exposed wood, stacked cans of San Marzano tomatoes, and comfy grey couches all around the restaurant. It has a nice, clean, homey look to it, and yet it’s also a tad upscale (but not at all pretentious).
As we admired our surroundings and mingled, servers came around with samples of the new fall cocktails that Ten Penny is offering. The first one we were given was a gin-based drink (Bluecoat, I believe) with poached pears. It was pretty sweet, but it was also delicious. We both liked how you could taste the poached pears, and how the pears cut down on the pine tree taste of the gin.
The next cocktail was probably my favorite – it had Patron XO Cafe tequila, iced black coffee, and chili. I liked that it seemed like a lighter drink taste-wise, but it was still warming and it had a nice little kick to it. I love spicy foods and spicy drinks, so I was all over this one.
The last cocktail was a pumpkin pie martini made with Bird Dog Maple whiskey, whipped cream vodka, pumpkin, cream, and spices. In an attempt at full disclosure, I took my first sip and said to the BF, “It tastes like a Yankee Candle.” But to be fair, the taste got more mellow and less intense as I kept drinking it. As I was finishing it, I was just starting to like it. Still, whiskey + vodka is a pretty intense mix, and it was a bit too strong for my liking… but then again, I’m a lightweight when it comes to these things.
As for the most important part – the FOOD – we were both excited about the spread that Ten Penny put out. We started with a mixed plate of samples. From right back to left back on the top picture, we have: Crabcakes with Tropical Fruit Salsa, Pomegranate & Molasses Glazed Salmon, Meatballs, Goat Cheese Stuffed Artichokes, and Maple Bacon Crème Brûlée (<– Oh, HELLO).
The crab cakes were exactly as they should be – full of crab. They weren’t heavy on the mayo, and the spices were just right. I seem to have grabbed a crab cake without the tropical fruit salsa, though. Booooooo.
The salmon was fantastic, in my opinion – I loved the sweetness of the pomegranate and molasses mixed with the mellow salmon. And bonus! There was potato salad inside the salmon! It was like a meal inside a meal, which means I absolutely loved it.
The meatball was interesting and delicious as well, but I didn’t hear much about what was in it, sadly. But the thing beside it? The goat cheese stuffed artichoke? Ridiculous. Rich, creamy goat cheese + tangy artichoke + deep-frying = love. Well, really, anything with goat cheese = love, but still. Omgnoms. Oh, and the maple bacon crème brûlée was okay too. ;) (You all should know me better than to think that anything with maple and bacon is just “okay.”)
There were two passed dishes that we saw – Truffled Mac & Cheese with crumbled bacon, and Pumpkin Soup. We both liked the mac & cheese, but I think the BF liked it more than me. It was a little too truffle-y and rich for my taste. I’d order it again, but as a side that can be tamed with something lighter. The Pumpkin Soup, on the other hand, was probably my favorite food item of the night. It was passed to me as the BF and I were talking to Fox and Michael, so I didn’t get a ‘before’ picture… but my ‘after’ picture pretty much tells the story. It was sooooo good, and I’d definitely recommend it.
We ended up having a pretty great night at Ten Penny, and I can almost guarantee we’ll be back. It seems like an amazing happy hour spot – if you’re like me and a Moscow Mule freak, you’ll enjoy the $6 happy hour Mules. The other happy hour specials sound great too, but muuuules. You really can’t go wrong with them. I look forward to coming here again soon and tasting more of Chef Anthony Hruska’s creations!NB: I was invited to attend the new Chef Launch Event at Ten Penny, but I received no compensation for writing this post. All opinions are my own.