Last night, my colleague Kira O’Donnell and I went to Old Sac for a tasting put on by the owners of Ten 22, a new restaurant that’s set to open in October.
We were part of an informal focus group of local food bloggers that included writers from Sac Foodies, TwinSoup and Cakegrrl—all, incidentally, female.
Owner Terry Harvego (whose family owns The Firehouse) told us he wanted our opinions. And that’s exactly what he got: lots and lots of opinions. The group weighed in on everything from the color of the napkins (go with black, said one; white napkins leave schmutz on women’s black pants) to the size and shape of the stemless wine glasses (big glasses are not sexy).
The restaurant’s consulting chef, Irie Gengler, started us off with a jalapeño martini, his signature drink from his days as executive chef at Crush 29, then brought out platters of very pretty, very sexy, very accessible food. A lot of it was reminiscent of the cooking he did at Crush 29: three of the four dishes were on skewers, and the brandy-marinated beef was served on a pile of mashed maple sweet potatoes.
I really liked the warm spiced nuts that will be served instead of bread, and the slow-braised baby back ribs fell off the bone—yum. A little less successful were the Kool-Aid-flavored pickle chips served with mini corn dogs. (My Kool-Aid days, thankfully, are long past.) And while we all loved the skewered shrimp wrapped in a cloud of deep-fried shredded phyllo strings, they were hard to eat. When you bit into one, the phyllo shattered and sprayed all over the table. Not a good first-date dish. The group’s recommendation: lose the skewer.
Harvego has already held six focus group tastings with different types of groups (bloggers, business people, convention bookers, etc.) and is planning to hold more. It’ll be interesting to see what he does with all that feedback when the restaurant finally opens.