Friday, January 27, 2012

Ten Ten

We love Restaurant Week because it allows us to try new-to-us restaurants at an affordable price. This time around, one of the tastiest-looking menus belonged to the restaurant Ten Ten. Located in a handsome brick-walled space in the Bagby Building, Ten Ten offers what has become known as "modern American" cuisine: familiar foods prepared with locally-sourced ingredients and strong international influences.

Ten Ten's Restaurant Week menu, which leans toward Italy, allowed us to try three courses for $30.12. We started off with the flatbread and gnocchi appetizers. My flatbread had a nice combination of meat and cheese, but I did find the jam to be just a little bit too sweet for my taste. Fresh figs would be dynamite, however, in season.

Fig-orange jam, duck confit, goat cheese, Asiago and arugula on grilled Naan bread
Ricotta gnocchi, wilted leeks, Boursin cream, toasted hazelnut
Mr Minx's gnocchi was just about perfect. The tender dumplings had that indescribable flavor that the Chinese call "wok hai," which means they must have been heated in an incredibly hot pan. The cheese sauce was surprisingly light, and the hazelnuts added a perfect contrasting crunch.

Ordinarily, I don't order chicken or pasta when we go out to dinner, but I was glad I did this time. The portion of skin-on chicken breast in my rosemary chicken fusilli was perfectly cooked, the meat was fork-tender and the crisped skin was flavored with garlic. Rosemary flavored the baby spinach, cooked just long enough that the vegetables' natural astringency was tempered. The smoked mushrooms were an unusual addition, and the grated cheese added the right amount of sharpness.

Rosemary chicken fusilli, smoked mushrooms, caramelized onions, Grana Padano, baby spinach, pan sauce
Blackened Delmonico steak, smoked tomato butter, gorgonzola mashed potatoes
Mr Minx ordered the steak, which was extremely tender and flavorful. I would have preferred that the steak have more of a crust on the outside, to lend textural contrast. I didn't notice any gorgonzola in the potatoes, but they were exceedingly creamy and lovely nonetheless. What the dish really needed was a bit of green vegetable, perhaps something like the spinach with my pasta.

On to dessert. I'm a sucker for gingerbread, so I just had to taste Ten Ten's version, which was properly molasses-y and very moist. The butterscotch custard would make a lovely dessert on its own, but my favorite part was the buttery, nutty praline.

Gingerbread sponge cake, butterscotch custard, brandied tangerines, crunchy praline
Chocolate hazelnut torte, citrus gelee, hazelnut brittle, cocoa nib
Mr Minx's dessert also included a crunchy candy element in an absolutely delicious, non-sticky, hazelnut brittle. The torte echoed the flavor of the hazelnuts and added chocolate; the yellow cake layers kept the dish from being overly chocolaty (yes, there is such a thing).

Overall, the meal was quite good. Portions seemed small, particularly my pasta, but everything was so rich that by the time we were finished, we were completely satisfied and then some. I think our next visit might have to be during happy hour, when they offer duck fat fries, pork rillettes, and brioche beignets at the bar, along with a selection of interesting cocktails, at $5 a pop.

Ten Ten
1010 Fleet Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
(410) 244-6867

Ten Ten on Urbanspoon

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