I’m actually smiling as I write this review. It isn’t often that I find a new restaurant in Toronto that is creative and ambitious enough to serve dishes with so many wonderful components and multidimensional flavours. But I did find all this at Ten Restaurant at 1132 College Street West, in the Brockton Village area of Toronto.
Just think, I had to drag my husband here when he heard the menu was vegetable-forward, because he is a man who loves his protein. But even he has been inspired and converted in his thinking.
Ten is a progressive, experimental and artistic restaurant emphasizing fresh, seasonal and local produce and a touch of seafood. The menu is a blind 10-course tasting menu at $115 plus, beverages, tax and gratuities. There is a 10 person chef’s kitchen counter, where you can see and interact with the young talented chef Julian Bentivegna, who is all of 25. Don’t let his age fool you, he has quite a pedigree in the kitchen. Starting out at the tender age of 15, he has worked in some serious kitchens. From Arpege to Paul Bocuse, to our own Patrick Kriss at Alo and then Momofuku. He even worked a year and a half at a three-star Michelin restaurant in Chicago, called Grace.
He is humble, passionate, and driven. He opened this cute 1,200 square foot restaurant, and totally gutted a former apartment and turned it into a cool space with a lounge up front where you can drop in for a drink, and eventually will be able to order a blind tasting at $10 a plate until you say stop. The restaurant is casual and intimate. You can speak with your neighbours as well as Chef Julian and his talented sous chef, Simon de Sousa. Their space has beautiful blond millworker, white painted exposed brick, and clean minimalist decor.
You can do a wine pairing which was designed by sommelier Jen Hunter, or order wines by the glass, or bottle, as well as cocktails and mocktails.
There were so many outstanding and tantalizing choices on the night we dined. But for me the standouts were the baby fiddleheads with toasted seeds and ramps. It was so fresh tasting. I adored the homemade sourdough bread with carrot butter, which had me licking my lips and then the mushroom dish, a regular on the menu for good reason, it was out of this world, with toasted crunchy buckwheat, and just cooked white beans. It had all the right elements and interplay of textures and flavours and earthy tones. I didn’t miss meat at all. I actually loved every dish we tried, because there was a purity of ingredients and a seasonality of the dishes.
One of the greatest compliments I can give Ten is to say it reminded me of a NAPA restaurant. The chef treats his food with respect, and he develops relationships with local farmers, and you can taste the difference in the dynamic flavours. You can tell that cooking is an act of pride, love and passion for the chef.
Ten is aptly named, it gets a 10/10 for me.