Friday, March 21, 2014

On The Corner Of Comfortable

On the corner of Penn and 10th Street sits Ten Penny (960 Penn Avenue, 15222), a self-proclaimed "comfortable culinary experience." I do not completely agree. Comfortable? Yes. Culinary experience? Sort of. Let me explain...

Ten Penny's atmosphere is fantastic. Kudos to their designer(s) for creating an invitingly warm eatery that anchors the a row of Penn Avenue restaurants. The melange of design elements really works throughout the space, especially the vast windows, which will spill onto the street once warmer temperatures come back to our city.
I love this wallpaper. Love. Love. Love. 
This view is looking out into the main dining room from the back.
Our table, which sat in the front of the main dining room looking out toward the Convention Center. 

Next to atmosphere, Ten Penny's drink selection is a strength. In the drink menu, I counted five pages of wine bottle selections and two pages of liquors; this coincided with a healthy balance of bottle beer (domestic, craft, and imports), nine local and fifteen imports/craft drafts, and eleven cocktails ($9). The bartenders kindly indulged two of my pregnant friends with virgin mojitos, and I really appreciated that some wines came with the option of ordering 3 oz, 6 oz, 9 oz, or a bottle (I went with a bottle... it was my birthday after all).

As for food...
Scallop Crudo ($14, blood orange, pickled jalapeno, sweet soy, sea salt, risotto)
Brussel Sprouts & Radicchio ($8, dates, parmesan, brown butter vinaigrette) 
Margherita Flatbread ($11, whipped ricotta, tomato, basil, oregano basil oil)
Traditional Burger ($14, lettuce, tomato, cheddar, onion, pickle, fries)
Hot Rocks! ($16, pickled vegetables, sweet soy, wild mushrooms, seaweed salad, tofu, portobello mushroom)
...nothing created a pleasantly memorable culinary experience. The quality of the atmosphere and drink selection overshadowed the quality of our meal(s). While the menu did feature some interesting and intriguing items, what was delivered to the table didn't meet the expectations. For instance, the tender Scallops Crudo lacked the kick one would expect from pickled jalapeno, and were slightly cool in the middle; the Brussel Sprouts & Radicchio, while having a great crisp texture, was light on flavor; the Margherita Flatbread, while creamy, wasn't any better than other establishments' versions; the Traditional Burger was not worth $14 and paled in comparison to the excellent local competition (as you can tell from the picture); and the Hot Rocks! needed more vegetables and much better instructions from the server as far as cooking time (especially for the tofu).

And inevitably, Ten Penny will do well. Its location near the Westin and the Convention Center is prime, the hours are good, there is valet, and its large size (with private dining space) can accommodate parties of various numbers. Despite the "culinary experience," I remain keen on returning once the weather breaks and I can experience a drink (or two) in the "comfortable" atmosphere of Ten Penny with their spacious windows wide open.

(2.75 stars, 2.75/4)

Ten Penny on Urbanspoon