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Tenpenny Tasting Menu – American (New) – Midtown East
April 28th, 2011 by plumpdumpling

My boyfriend noticed that the latest Eater.com Heatmap included newcomer Tenpenny, which has been getting rave reviews for its pretzel bread, lobster gnocchi, and giant rack of pork.

The only problem is that all of the reviews we saw were filled with terrible dark, grainy photos where the bread could’ve been barf and the pork could’ve been poo, so we were a little unsure about what we were getting into. At $68 for six courses and $115 for seven courses with wine, though, we were willing to give it a shot.

Tenpenny NYC
complimentary pretzel bread

So greasy! So yummy!

Tenpenny NYC
Tenpenny chips: roasted garlic & gouda, red beet & gorgonzola, chipotle & tomato

We were so amused when the first course turned out to be an appetizer sampler, because these were exactly the three we were most interested in and had considered ordering additionally just to make sure we got to try them. Talk about exceeding expectations.

The chips were extremely crispy, puffed little slices of potato. The very spicy chipotle one was my favourite, and although I did like all three of the flavors, I think the other two appetizers were more delicious and complex, and I’d be more apt to order them again.

Tenpenny NYC
crispy artichoke, lemon aioli, stallard’s hickory-smoked trout roe

Not that you can do anything wrong with artichokes, but frying them is particularly great because all of the layers get crispy. I’m used to smaller, firmer types of roe that aren’t so juicy, so the way these little trout babies popped so easily between my teeth and leaked out all their fishy goodness was a little surprising. Not unpleasant, but surprising. This was certainly the most challenging of the appetizers, ifyouknowwhatImean.

Tenpenny NYC
pork belly croquette, potato flake, hard cider sauce

My grandmother makes a ham loaf that’s celebrated among my family members on every holiday. Up until recently, I didn’t get it. Why would you grind up ham and form it into a little sauce-covered turd when an unadulterated slice of ham is as good as it gets on its own? Well, I got over the mindblock a few holidays ago, and now I look forward to the ham loaf as much as the next gal. I was going to miss Easter back home in Ohio this year, but wouldn’t you know it, Tenpenny is serving my grandma’s famous ham loaf.

Only their sauce hardens on the outside of the croquette, making it sweet and crunchy. It’s just the perfect little bite of ham, and I could’ve easily eaten a plateful of these on my own.

Tenpenny NYC
spring vegetables: raw, cooked, pickled, and crunchy; “ranch”

I like vegetables, but usually only when they’re served alongside an intimidating slab of meat. I have friends who don’t eat green things. I have friends who literally don’t eat vegetables period. But this was a plate of vegetables that I truly believe could win anyone over. They were heavily dusted with dehydrated ranch flavoring and tasted like junk food. It was like eating a bag of chips, except that every once in a while, you’d run into a fresh radish.

The mix of raw and fried, sweet and spicy was brilliant. We loved the contrast between the soft carrots with their tops still on and the crunchy sunchoke “soil” underneath, which were like bitter bacon bits. I would definitely, definitely order this again, and I wouldn’t even care if there wasn’t a hunk of meat in my future.

Tenpenny NYC
seared scallops, chanterelles, scallion, crispy chicken skin

The puree garnishing this dish was far more vegetabley than anything on the last plate, funnily enough. We loved the texture play of the granola-like crispy chicken skin, the slick scallop, and the chewy chanterelles. Like most kids, I grew up avoiding black licorice, but I’ve come to appreciate anise as an adult, and it was used especially well here.

Tenpenny NYC
potato gnocchi, butter-poached lobster, black truffle, sunchoke

I could not wait to taste this. I truly love gnocchi, and I was so excited to see how the soft little dumplings would interact with that special segmented rubbery thing that lobster has going on. The gnocchi were the lightest little pillows of hash-brown-y flavor, and I loved the added texture the sear on them provided. Plus, that earthy, rich truffle in the sauce? Come on.

Tenpenny NYC
halibut, artichoke barigoule, kalamata olive, meyer lemon

Now, you know I’m no sucker for fish, but you drop a dehydrated lemon with all of its condensed tart flavor on top of a piece of perfectly-seared halibut, and I’m sold. This was one of the better fish dishes I’ve had with those soft onions and artichokes underneath. I’m still pretty anti-olive, though, and the bitterness of the paste on the side of the plate was too much for me, especially since it looked like sweet, sweet chocolate.

Tenpenny NYC
heritage pork rack, savory apple pie, dandelion greens, bourbon

I’m not sure if my picture of this didn’t turn out well because I was trashed or if it’s because it’s just a hard dish to capture with its plate-spanning girth and ceiling-reaching height. Either way, what you see doesn’t in any way compare to what I tasted, which were tender, well-crusted slices of pork complimented by a what amounted to an apple pot pie.

When we saw “savory apple pie”, we thought, Yeah, right, but it really, truly was not sweet! I think a lot of its non-dessert-ness came from the caramelized onions inside. It was just such a great play on pork chops and applesauce that we were sad when the pie ran out.

Tenpenny NYC
petit fours

Dessert was a little tray of two salty walnut financiers, melt-in-your-mouth hazelnut truffles, and gummy strawberry pate de fruits. Now, even as a dessertphile, I didn’t mind that this was the only sweet course. Most tasting menus, no matter how many courses they claim to be, include a little plate of petit fours much like these after the actual dessert course, but having not seen the dessert menu, I thought maybe they just didn’t do sweets. My boyfriend was disappointed, but I said, “Hey, if you’re not good at them, I’d rather you not try to fake it.” But I later looked at the dessert menu online and saw that they have a lime tart and a chamomile panna cotta, which both sound like totally real desserts!

How could you do that to me, Tenpenny?

Another thing Tenpenny did was mess. us. up. They did a great job with drink pairings, but it was almost too good. They started with a cocktail–a Negroni–gave us a white wine, and then slipped in a few reds, all of which were nicely paired. Then the pork rolled around, and we got both a beer and a shot of bourbon. Then the dessert tray came with two liqueurs! All in all, it was nine drinks, and the best part was that Managing Partner Jeffrey Tascarella told us, “We start out with small pours, but if we see that you’re enjoying something, we’ll bring you more.” HA!

We went from this a couple of courses in:

Tenpenny NYC

to this at the end of the night:

Tenpenny NYC

And that’s after they had taken away many, many glasses. “It’s criminal!” we said on the walk back to my boyfriend’s apartment. “They should be arrested for that!” But we sure did enjoy it.

Rating One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf Star

Tenpenny NYC
via Tenpenny

Tenpenny is casual and cool, with exposed brick on the walls and Wilco and Radiohead on the speakers. Chef Chris Cipollone‘s dishes were all so outstanding that we had a hard time choosing our favourites. Was it the homey pork with the unexpected savory pie? Was it the vegetables that were so good they should be considered junk food? Was it the lobster with the gnocchi? I don’t know, and I want them all again. I’m hoping that Tenpenny’s unassuming location, the Gotham Hotel, will keep all the other eaters away, but this is a restaurant deserving of its hype.

Tenpenny
The Gotham Hotel
16 East 46th Street
New York, NY 10017 (map)
Tenpenny on Twitter


10 Responses  
  • Dishy writes:
    April 28th, 20111:10 pmat

    Katie, this looks like a meal I would ADORE. The look of the veggie plate alone is BRILLIANT! but with that ranch dusting? Wow. The scallop – ooooh how I love thee. And can I say, your photos are all gorgeous. They really truly do do the food justice. I would go to sample just the drinks! But then again, I really like my booze. plus food. This place looks great.

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      April 29th, 201112:22 pmat

      Thank you! I’m sure the vegetables would’ve been good on their own just because of the different ways they were prepared, but because of that ranch, I would eat these over a bag of chips any way. And ooooh, the scallop indeed. There were too many reds for me, but I know you’re not a lover of sweet wines, so I’m sure you would’ve been delighted. The sheer range of drinks was pretty exciting for me, though.

  • Heesa Phadie writes:
    April 28th, 20112:08 pmat

    Jebus! They way you’ve been eating and drinking, I’d think you’d be attending the royal wedding tomorrow. You’re certainly dining like kings and queens. This looks and sounds amazing! …and the photos of the bread don’t look like barf and the pork doesn’t look like poo :P

    I want everything about this meal…from the pretzel rolls (one of my favorites) right on down to the the dessert…everything is just incredible. (only wish there were some ice cream to go along with the final course).

    That gnocchi and pork rack look downright sinister. …and all this for only $115….with all that booze…I’m endlessly jealous of you. This is just too much for words. Honestly…aside from last weeks, I think this might me number 1 now…I’m going to have to come to New York City soon…but you’ve featured WAY too many good places to eat in just one trip….damn you!

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      April 29th, 201112:29 pmat

      With Kamran finishing law school and then finishing the bar exam, we’ve had a couple of good excuses to celebrate mixed in with our regular love of eating. I hope it doesn’t seem like I just rate everything highly; we just make a point of going to places we think we’ll like!

      Pretzels in the bread basket are the greatest idea ever. We were talking about how this and the pretzel bread we got at One if by Land, Two if by Sea were totally different and yet both delicious, but it’s not like a bad pretzel exists.

      You really should come back. You’re on the East coast now, right? It’s a short flight/train ride from wherever!

  • han writes:
    April 29th, 20111:00 amat

    absolutely stunning – i am so jealous of all your tasting menu feasts! that pretzel bread bun is a beaut. heck, everything was. great pics!

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      April 29th, 20112:17 pmat

      Haha, thanks! We were talking the other day about how we should probably tone it down and go to some normal, cheap dinners so people don’t think I’m some snob. At my core, I really just want those cookies and pancakes you’ve been posting!

  • Jessica R. writes:
    April 29th, 201112:21 pmat

    Potato gnocchi, butter-poached lobster, black truffle, sunchoke? Yes please!

    And you should have an insanely good alcohol tolerance built up by now. Fabulous.

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      April 29th, 20115:47 pmat

      Even after having had it, it still sounds too rich to exist!

      And you would THINK we would’ve built up our tolerances. But neither of us can really remember the walk home, and we both woke up feeling like crap the next day. Well worth it!

  • Mrs. Bachelor Girl writes:
    May 3rd, 20115:38 pmat

    OK, you know my food preferences are effed all the hell up when that plate of vegetables looks FAR more appetizing to me than the pretzel bread or the petit fours.

    But still, I think they look mighty tasty by anyone’s standards.

  • donuts4dinner.com» Blog Archive » Degustation Chef’s Ten-Course Tasting Menu – Spanish/Tapas – East Village writes:
    May 24th, 201111:34 amat

    […] coming back to, trying to scrape more off my plate. This still wasn’t as good as the one at Tenpenny, but I think it was improved over the last time we were at […]


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