Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Sneak Preview of Ten 22 in Old Sacramento…

Last night, I (along with a panel of others) was invited to preview a restaurant in Old Sacramento tentatively scheduled to open near the end of October. The restaurant will be called Ten 22 and it is owned by Terry Harvego (whose family also owns and operates The Firehouse). It is located on Second Street inside the Orleans project, which is the newest building in Old Sacramento, completed last summer.

The dishes are being devised by Irie Gengler, former chef of Roseville’s Crush 29 restaurant and the former exec chef of The Firehouse.

Ten 22 will focus on a more “sophisticated casual” feel, and it will feature 24 beers on tap, and the wine list will focus on Northern California wines. The menu will showcase salads, full plates such as chicken and ribs, and it will have a pizza oven. (Yesterday, while touring the construction site, I saw the newly arrived pizza oven still in the cardboard box, waiting to be installed in its new home.)

During our tour, Terry also explained what the general layout of the restaurant was going to be, including the bar area, retail shop, banquet room, dining patio, and even small stage area for acoustic music.

Please Pardon Our Dust…

I was pleased to share the dining preview with my guest Joan Silvas, food service worker of 20 years (for a school district in Southern California) and mother of my best friend, along with a full table of stylish and knowledgeable ladies including Julie Berge, Sarah Campbell, Jessica Smith, Liz Conant, Marybeth Bizjak, and Kira O'Donnell sitting all around me. Berge, Conant, and Smith all write for the Sacramento Food Blog Sac Foodies. We were all candid about the prospective menu, seating, glassware, and even napkins being considered for the restaurant.

A sign designed by the owner's son greeted us when we arrived. So cute!

Below are some pictures and comments of the food we tried. I will also note that we tasted four wines that will be served in the restaurant. Railbridge Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, Ehrhardt 76 Chardonnay, and M2 2007 'Old Vine' Zinfandel & M2 2007 'Artist Series' Zinfandel. The Artist Series was my favorite, and matched at least 3 of the dishes I tried (see below).

Stemless wine glasses are being considered to follow the restaurant's "family friendly" appeal. Our panel was asked to choose from five different stemless glasses. Most of our group frowned (hey, we love our stems), but agreed we would not turn good wine away if it were served in a bowl design!

This is the Jalapeño Martini, comprised of Skyy Vodka, Lime Juice, and of course, Jalapeño. This is the signature drink of Chef Gengler and follows him from Crush 29. I was not in love with it to be honest. To be fair, I am not a fan of Jalapeño, and would have preferred even a cucumber-type martini. Still, this drink was not overly spicy/hot and would pair lovely with one of the (contingent) appetizers: The Cornmeal Crusted Corn and Shrimp Cakes.

These warm spiced mixed nuts (ahem, stay classy, Sacramento) were a hit with all of the ladies! They were dusted in chili powder and served with a rosemary sprig. The chef is seemingly a big fan of rosemary and luckily, so am I. The best thing about the nuts, is that they were warm and no peanuts in sight! All pecans, almonds, cashews.

Here is a shot of the beef skewers, formally titled "Brandy Marinated Beef Skewers". The beef dish also went over very well, especially because of the maple sweet potato mash accompaniment and the pomegranate soy dipping sauce. The sauce was sweet and salty and more of a reduction. Points for yummy black and white sesame seeds on the top. A very nice Asian flair with the presentation as well.

These are the "Pogo Sticks". I kind of think corndog dishes are a trainwreck when it comes to fine dining, but at least these were better than the "lobster dogs" at GV Hurley's. Not that you shouldn't try this dish if it makes the final menu cut. Especially if you enjoy a spicy batter and the little smokies that make up this dish. The side was Kool-aid flavored pickle chips. I didn't get it. Sorry. My guest Joan commented that kids wouldn't like it either. And Joan knows kids. She was a cafeteria supervisor and raised 4 boys. She and Kira agreed that kids would probably prefer a standard corndog. On the other hand, I can see "pogo sticks" bouncing onto my plate if someone wanted to share them and Sierra Nevada (slated to be on tap) with me.

This dish was a highlight for me. It was messy, but presentation aside, the Shrimp Sticks Wrapped in Crispy Phyllo Strings reminded me of a dim sum type plate, and the chili cilantro sauce was bold enough to stand up to the zinfandel I was drinking. The shrimp was even well liked by a few non-seafood eaters at the table. I would definitely order this.

Lastly, we have the Slow Braised Baby Back Ribs served with Sweet Potato Fries and Honey BBQ Sauce. Ah, ribs, a dish once too messy for a girl like me. Before I tried this plate of ribs, I would never dream of ordering because baby backs need a side of lemon towelettes. Not too mention looking savage and gnawing meat from bones. Not anymore. I cut a portion from the sampler plate with a spoon, and was able to eat the ribs with a fork. The only drawback for me was that there was a little too much sauce. When the meat is this tender, I don't want to have its taste covered. I thought the fries were good and immediately noticed they were fried in a different oil. I asked the chef, and he told me it was rice oil. It produced a very nice flavor.

Our discussion during the tasting even ranged from what the happy hour range should be, to valet parking availability, and even touched on what the lighting in the bathroom should be like. (Very important for those of us who like to look our best!)

I was happy to be selected for the preview and wish Terry and his family continued success in Old Sacramento, and in revitalizing the district as a hot spot and shopping/dining destination for not just tourists, but locals in the greater Sacramento area.

Ten 22's opening is set for October 22nd, or 10/22.

For the latest on Ten22, you can follow them on twitter.


Jessica Smith said...

My favorite was definitely the shrimp with the phyllo strings as well...the fresh cilantro is really what made it a winner for me.
And I agree, without the skewer, it's a much better and less messy dish.

I really enjoyed meeting you and am hoping some of your wine expertise will rub off on me.

See you soon around Sac and on the interwebs.

cakegrrl2007 said...

You bet, Jessica! I am hoping your good-ness and overall know-ness rubs off on me! ;)

Anonymous said...

Wow, cg actually wrote a critical review for once. I'm impressed.

cakegrrl2007 said...

I am impressed my blog was a part of someone's nothing better to do on a Saturday night. ;)