To everyone that questions a hotel restaurant, I stand by Tenpenny. The new restaurant, which just opened at the base of the Gotham Hotel, deserves every bit of buzz it is receiving. Executive Chef Chris Cipollone, formerly of Dylan Prime, literally breathes life into his new endeavor. And by life I mean a poached egg surrounded by pillows of Porchetta Ravioli topped with smoked ricotta and forest green rapini.
Tenpenny, with its rustic and cozy charm, is perfect for after work drinks, dates and intimate dining affairs. One of the best tables in the house sits under a skylight. Bookcases adorn the walls with books; a nod to the past tenant Gotham Book Mart. There is much to experience at Tenpenny if you squint beyond the votive lit ambiance. Named after the strength of a nail, the restaurant has good promise considering it is based on a foundation.
The menu is simple with something for everyone. The complimentary pretzel bread is served with thyme butter and warm mustard. There are snacks that will accompany you through one of their signature drinks such as The Madison (made with and bourbon-soaked cherries) or The Tenpenny Negroni (a little Plymouth Gin, punt e mes, Campari, and orange). For my table, we sampled the Tenpenny Chips, Crispy Artichokes, and Pork Belly Croquettes. It was more than enough to whet our appetites. The chips, made of roasted garlic & Gouda, red beet & Gorgonzola, chipotle & tomato, were fiery red and white and seasoned much to tempt fingers to lips. Tenpenny, being a public place of class, provided towels rolled cigarette-like to erase any traces of spice. The artichokes dipped in a lemony aioli were delicate and like lover’s petals. Tenpenny loves you. There is no loves you not. As for the Pork Belly Croquettes, I will leave something left for the imagination. But I will tell you that they are special. Hard cider is a key agent in the dish.
Hooked, we went full force into the six course tasting menu “A Taste of Tenpenny”: a trio of appetizers, two entrees, and petit fours. For a mere $68, I know of no better deal. It’s satisfying and all quality.
The appetizers alone could have sufficed the meal. They were well balanced and proportioned just right. The Baby Lettuce salad incorporated crispy vegetables for texture and had a thin coating of white balsamic vinegar. The Cipollini Soup put a new spin on the classic French Onion soup complete with foamed fontina. The Seared Scallops were my favorite dish of the night. They were caramelized and enhanced with buttery chanterelles, a scallion puree, and peppered with crispy chicken skin.
As the meal moved on to heavier notes, the Potato Gnocchi served as a buffer before the big finish. The gnocchi had me reminiscing about Le Bernardin’s holiday truffle spread as it was garnished with black truffles and sunchoke. The lobster was abundant and the gnocchi was starchy and light, less dense than usual.
The main dish Heritage Pork Rack was a poor man’s rack of lamb. It was elegantly plated complete with one bone to handle. Lacking the gamey taste, the pork was tender and juicy. A miniature apple pie complete with buttery crust sat on the side and was the gourmet version of apple sauce. For height, the pork stood on sautéed dandelion greens. For show, our waiter poured a bourbon glaze over the pork. Like magic it all came together.
No tasting menu would be complete without dessert. We were given multiple trays of bite-sized petit fours. Chocolate truffles, walnut financiers, and strawberry gelee squares rounded out our meal. They were rich, whipped, and sugary. The remaining few proved to us that Tenpenny had gone above and beyond in feeding us. We left full and satiated.
Photography Credits: Jocy Chang, Stella Dacuma Schour Photography
16 East 46th Street
New York, NY 10017