Never before have I been to a restaurant that has featured as much as Ten Restaurant & Wine Bar.
Maybe it's because it's a large space - 195 seats downstairs (including the patio and bar) and 80 seats on the second level - but look at the incredible versatility of the place. General Manager Jody Ashton takes me through the dizzying array of events, specials and features of the restaurant:
-It's near the water and only 5 minutes to the lake.
-They are open for lunch, dinner, and the la
te night crowd.
-There is free underground parking.
-There is a semi-private loft in which to host your private function, party or event complete with its own dedicated bar, dance floor and washrooms.
-There are three or five course meals that Executive Chef Nic Prong can create for you and your table (by reservation only).
-Lobsterfest starts September 3rd for three weeks. This is an annual event with lots of appetizers and entrees that feature lobster.
-Mondays are "Cork Free Nights", meaning that you can bring in your own bottle (LCBO product only) and there is no corkage fee.
-Tuesdays feature a live 5-piece jazz band from 9 pm to close.
-Wednesdays are steak night and are one of the busiest nights at the restaurant. The steaks are not from the regular menu, so this is a great opportunity to experience new cuts and flavours. There is also a 2-piece live cover band from 9 pm onward.
-Thursdays offer $5 martinis and $3 Coronas all day.
-Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays you can get your dance on with the DJ from 930 pm till close.
-Sundays, from 5 pm on, there is a $24.95, 3-course fixed price menu.
- Monday-Sunday there is a 3-course Prime Time Menu offered from 430-630 pm for $24.95.
- Half Price Appetizers are available from 4-630 pm.
-At lunch time, there is a "Ten at Ten" menu featuring 10 items for $10 served in 10 minutes; this menu is changed weekly.
At 630 pm, there is a nightly feature menu in addition to the whopping regular menu. Jody says, "We really are all about the food. It's a lot, but at the end of the day, the guest loves it."
There are other features that you'll want to take advantage of, like their new wine list that features over 100 wines. Ten is one of the few restaurants to offer flights (which means that you can try three 3oz. wines for only $14) and on half and full bottles, they'll re-cork your wine, so if you don't finish it while you're at the restaurant you can enjoy the rest at home. They also offer bottle service for liquor anywhere in the restaurant.
Somehow Executive Chef Nic Prong, 28, manages to not only keep track of all of these menus, but create new dishes daily as a result of constantly experimenting with new flavours and techniques.
Nic started in the business at age 14 or 15, but it wasn't until Master Chef Olaf Mertens took him under his wing, trained him and then gave him the chance to head up the kitchen here at Ten.
The challenges don't seem to faze this young guy. He says, "Everyday's different. It's exciting. We try to bring a little something to everybody."
Nic calls the food "simple Italian," where he "takes it to a Metropolitan view with fine Canadiana cusine. But the food speaks for itself. The plates are standard with not a lot of garnishes."
It is interesting to note that Ten uses local produce and producers.
The Taste of Ten ($23.98), for example, was Nic's idea. It features brie fondue, spring rolls, smoked salmon blini, and crispy garlic chicken drumettes. The fondue has Kirsch in it, the salmon is smoked in house, the spring rolls have whole green peppercorns in them and the chicken comes with an intriguing fennel BBQ sauce.
To get into the mood for Lobsterfest, I order Lobster Spaghetti ($19.47), which is topped with a fricassée of double smoked bacon, leeks and sweet peas and finished with a crushed tomato sauce. The Atlantic Lobster is meaty and fresh and there is a lot of it. The fresh pasta is al dente while fresh tarragon, basil and parsley dance amongst the hearty bacon, leeks and sweet peas. Simply divine and since it isn't drowning in a heavy cream sauce, it's indulgent without being obscene.
Olaf's Signature Schnitzel ($17.91) is one of the best schnitzels you'll ever have. It's light, yet the portion is massive. The lemon caper parsley salsa and citrus-scented butter head lettuce keep it summery, while the double smoked bacon, roasted baby potatoes and onions add sheer comfort food value.
And Grilled Atlantic Salmon ($22.12) is served on a hot salad of orzo pasta, smoked salmon, and spinach and finished in a tomato- fennel soup with orange preserve. It's certainly unique, but incredibly fascinating as your mouth is introduced to flavours that are constantly complementing and juxtaposing against one another. Finally, a salmon dish that isn't boring.
The restaurant has a ton of food and wine options along with different places to sit, varied entertainment, events and the dishes are unexpectedly exciting.
Ten really does have everything.
Currently HIP Restaurants offer a number of concepts including restaurants On the Curve, Ten Restaurant and West 50.