Ten Penny describes itself as “A Comfortable Culinary Experience,” and I couldn’t think of a more fitting description. They have a gigantic bar area, comfortable cushy dining tables, and space a-plenty. We went to Ten Penny for dinner with friends, and I quickly listed this restaurant on my “favorites” for downtown happy hours.
Ten Penny’s cocktails and small plates are their strengths. The visit was long ago that I don’t recall the cocktail I ordered, only that it was great. We started the meal off with an order of the giant cheese-filled meatball and crispy brussels sprouts. Both were excellent, and are perfect, filling bar snacks alongside a few cocktails.
I selected braised beef cheek ragout for my entree. Pasta’s not usually my jam, but the noodles were lightly al dente and the sauce hearty. I thoroughly enjoyed this.
The scallops were another delight. I can’t say I’ve had bad scallops anywhere (I’m sure it’s a possibility), but scallops are fairly straightforward, and if made correctly, consistently good. These did not disappoint.
The veal osso bucco and the blackened ahi tuna were both solid choices as well. Ten Penny does a nice job with the entrees, and is a good choice for diners who like predictability. The offerings are fairly standard on contemporary American menus and are prepared nicely, although with little surprise. I err on the side of whimsy and surprise, so for me, Ten Penny is a more desirable happy hour destination than a dinner location.
While the cocktails and small eats are Ten Penny’s true strength, the desserts are Ten Penny’s weakness. Several of the desserts involve hazelnuts, which are a no-go for me. My dining companion picked the chocolate pretzel torte, and did like it.
However, the s’mores gave me a big sad. The marshmallows and graham crackers are both house-made, but both are very dense and hard. I tried roasting the marshmallows over the provided little fire, but they wouldn’t roast in any reasonable amount of time. The Hershey Bar served to add a level of nostalgia, but this dish would be better presented the other way around, with store-made graham crackers and marshmallows and house-made chocolate truffles.
Like any new restaurant, Ten Penny has a few hiccups to work out, but it shows strength and a lot of promise. The space, cocktail menu and small plates selection are all excellent. The quality of the dishes is impressive. It’s at a great location for pre-event eating both for events in the Cultural District and at the Consol Center.