Location: 1209 1 Street SW
I have wanted to come here ever since the place opened. I heard so many good things about this place and today, I finally got the chance! I came here with a friend from high school, who I hadn’t talked to for a couple of years. It was a wonderful opportunity to catch up as well as try out a “new” restaurant.
Since moving downtown, and being relatively close to 17th Avenue, I have had plenty of restaurants mere steps away from my home. This is in stark contrast to when I was living in the middle of nowhere…a beautiful middle of nowhere, but for a foodie like me, who’s lifeblood is fine food, this was murder.
First thing to note is that the signage for the restaurant isn’t very clear. The name of the restaurant isn’t actually out front, which makes it really easy to miss. The friend I was meeting drove by several times and was unable to find it. As I was walking there, it was much easier to spot the restaurant. The sign, in fact, is their logo hanging on a circular board and their name, printed on their door.
When we first went in, I entered through the wrong side; the cafe rather than the restaurant. Once that was cleared up, we were promptly seated and informed that the menu was online. Given the whole COVID situation, I think this is an elegant solution to having to clean the menus every time between patrons, especially for the higher end restaurants that use unlaminated menus, printing them on paper (beautiful, high quality paper, I might add).
Before coming here, I did my research and got several recommendations from friends who had been here. Some of the dishes we were recommended included the fried potatoes, cauliflower, bucatini, and one of the steaks. Ultimately, we decided on the tomatoes, bucatini, and salmon.
As noted on their menu, the dishes are meant to be shared family style and while some of them were harder than others to eat family style (ref: the salmon), it is absolutely the way I prefer to eat, especially when I’m writing a review. After all, how can you make an assessment on a dish if you’ve never tried it, but it’s being served at the same table? For two people, our waiter recommended with order 3 dishes.
The tomatoes were recommended by our waiter who noted that it was one of the most popular items on the menu. The tomatoes had been warmed and served with feta and herbs and a side of sourdough bread. The acidity of the tomatoes paired beautifully with the rich creaminess of the feta. A word of warning, this is a messy dish. I ate this with the perpetual fear that I was going to end up with exploded tomato all over me. As perfect as this dish was, I think that it could done with a touch of salt, preferably something like fleur de sel. The tomatoes were not something I personally would’ve gone for because it’s simplicity just seemed…well, too simple. However, that’s the thing with simplicity. When done well, it is incredible. Something as simple and classic as tomatoes and feta with herbs has to be done well because with so few ingredients, any mistake will seem much more substantial.
The next dish to be served was the spring salmon. The salmon was served with grilled romaine, quick pickles, and a cashew ranch. The skin on the salmon was perfectly crisped, the flesh moist and fall away, and so delicately seasoned. I have never had grilled lettuce of any kind (to my memory), but this was incredible. The slight smoke taste enhanced and complimented the sweetness of the salmon and lettuce and provided a lovely contrast to the creaminess of the cashew ranch. Now I have had cashew mayo before and the cashew ranch is very similar to that. I wouldn’t call this a sauce as a puree. However, in this dish, that works. The fact that it had form was much more appealing to me than if it had been a ranch sauce drizzled over the fish. This dish actually really surprised me because I was apprehensive about the combination of ranch and salmon, but it actually worked so well! I felt that the quick pickles were the most disappointing part of the dish. The pickling was so mild that it felt like we were simply eating sliced baby cucumbers. Also, there was a freshness I had been expecting from the cucumbers that I just didn’t get. Despite that, I would still have to say this was my favourite dish of the three.
The final dish, the buccatini cacio e pepe, arrived while we were in the midst of eating the salmon. Normally, my issue with buccatini is that its hollow and I can’t really get it in my mouth the way I normally would with spaghetti or fettuccine because the hole would act like a straw and it’s just a bad situation. Cacio e pepe is another extremely “simple” dish. The name translates to cheese and pepper. Again, simple isn’t usually something I go for, but I figured, why not? Trying out new restaurants is about keeping an open mind. I am so glad we did. There was a creaminess with the noodles that I absolutely loved. However, it was very rich and after a generous helping, neither of us were able to finish the dish. That and because we wanted dessert.
For dessert we debated between ordering the chocolate and avocado torte and the coconut cake. We ultimately decided on the cake. I think this was a great finish to the meal as it was light, while the torte had the potential to be slightly heavier. The cake was also better suited for a lunch setting rather than the torte, which feels more like a dinner dessert. The sponge was soft and moist, the toasted coconut flakes provided great texture, the only complaint, if you could call it that was that the icing was a little bit sweet. It was for the most part fine, but near the edge of the cake where there was a little more icing, it was just a little too much.
I didn’t really notice until the end of the meal, but Ten Foot Henry has an open kitchen, which I love! The kitchen was surprisingly small, but the brigade worked together so efficiently that our meal was to our table in no time.
I was so worried that I had built up my expectations to the place, like I did with Owen’s Landing and I didn’t want to be disappointed again. I am happy to report that this is not the case! My experience here was fantastic! I think Ten Foot Henry does simple well. Their menu emphasizes the ingredients in the naming of their items and there is a sort of beauty in that. There are still so many things on the menu that I would love to try and I would 100% come back here. Considering it’s a ten minute walk from here, it would be easy to return there any time I wanted. I would rate this place a 4.25/5.