I had dined at Ten Penny, a new restaurant by the AMPD Group in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District earlier this year for brunch, and had an excellent meal. I know that I definitely wanted to return for dinner sometime but when your restaurant bucket list is infinitely long, it’s sometimes hard to find room to fit in a place that’s “already been done,” even if it would be for another meal. However, last week I received an invitation to a tasting event at the restaurant where I would have the opportunity to meet Ten Penny’s new executive chef, Anthony Hruska, and also try some of the items he’s concocted on the restaurant’s new seasonal menu. I of course accepted.
Chef Hruska was on hand the entire evening and it was great being able to chat with him. He was definitely enthusiastic about sharing some of the new menu items he created. He had been working in Florida as a chef for many years but always wanted to return to the Pittsburgh area where he was originally from. He also said that his time in Florida definitely made him appreciate the vast seafood available there and wants to do the same for Ten Penny with seafood menu selections (cioppino and blackened ahi tuna are two such choices).
Excluding the delicious food, one of the things I like most about Ten Penny is its interior look. Exposed beams, fantastic “old school” style lighting, and an ambiance that exudes an air of classy casual. But back to last night’s tasting event. It was held more in the back of the restaurant, in an open space where you could mingle and talk with attendees. I met a lot of new faces and also got to put faces to blog names which is always a fun thing. They had two wine selections to choose from-an Italian Pinot Noir and an “oak vineyard” Chardonnay (I opted for the former).
The vino wasn’t the only spirit making the rounds last night-in the course of the evening they had a Junipear selection (gin based), Caliente Cafe (a selection featuring Patron Cafe Tequila Liqueur) and the best of them all, a Smores Martini (the glass featured graham cracker crumbs along the rim).
Along with the cocktails being passed, there was the amazing Truffled Mac n’ Cheese shooters (this consisted of Parmesan, cheddar and Tartuffo cheeses topped with white truffle oil and pancetta). These were addicting and I think I had at least three in the course of the night (they just kept coming and coming).
Then there was the Pumpkin Soup that was topped with pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and nutmeg cream. They were rather adorably served in espresso cups so it was fun to drink the soup…except when you got to the bottom and those last bits would just not come out.
From the buffet, selections included the following:
Pomegranate Molasses Glazed Salmon with a lemongrass and saffron drizzle (this is an item on the new seasonal menu). I eat salmon in moderation but this was honestly some of the best I have ever had. You would think between the sweetness of the fruit and molasses it would be too much, but it was a great pairing and even lessened the fishy taste a bit.
Goat cheese stuffed artichokes (two of my favorite things). I would love to try making these myself but am sure I wouldn’t even come close to replicating those that I tried here.
Crab cake “poppers.” I have always loved crab cakes and the ones at Ten Penny were sheer They were topped with a tropical fruit salsa and a citrus drizzle. A nice change from the standard “here’s your remoulade or tartar sauce.”
Chicken meatballs which had been prepared with ginger scallions and topped with a pineapple rum glaze. I am all about deviating from the boring and overdone ground beef, and loved that ground chicken played a role.
And even though I was getting a bit full by then, there was still the sweet finish for dessert. Two creme brulee selections (traditional and mocha) as well as house made truffles (caramel, Grand Marnier-orange, peppermint and an additional flavor that I can’t remember). Oh my, so good.
Now that I’ve had a “sampling” of some of the wonderful tasting items on Ten Penny’s new seasonal menu, I will by all means be returning for a full, honest to goodness meal. The food is delectable and the staff (every person I encountered and spoke with last night), utterly pleasant and accommodating. Brunch, lunch, or dinner, be sure to try Ten Penny.
NOTE: I was invited to the complimentary tasting but all thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely my own.
960 Penn Avenue Pittsburgh PA. 15222