Charlottesville Restaurant Week

Minutes before we left for Restaurant Week, I noticed a tweet from one of my friends reviewing his RW meal [the beauty of technology: instant review]. It wasn’t the most positive and it turned out to be about the place we were heading to. I got nervous. “I hope we didn’t make the wrong decision,” I said to Shaun. I had already spent the entirety of the week looking at other restaurants’ RW menus and wondering that same thing, so at this point my hesitancy doubled.

My tweeting friend and I will have to agree to disagree, however. Our [first eating] experience at TEN last night was an all-around blast. I wouldn’t trade it in, and I’m kicking myself for my skepticism now. Hindsight, right?

TEN is a Japanese restaurant above Blue Light Grill on the Downtown Mall, famous for their sushi and [wildly delicious] cocktails. Shaun and I had been once for drinks before a show at the Jefferson, which is next door [oh hi, wedding], but this was our first meal there.

We were initially drawn to TEN for two reasons. First, I like to use Restaurant Week as a way to explore a restaurant I’ve never been to. That knocked out most of the places on the list. Then, after perusing the menus, we noticed that Ten’s prix-fixe didn’t include dessert. As we’re not big on dessert and don’t normally order it, this pushed us over the edge.

The menu included three courses: a tempura, a sushi, and a main dish. I came into this meal knowing I would eat fish for one course; however, most upscale sushi restaurants make conscious choices about where their fish comes from, and I trusted Ten. Shaun and I did have a serious discussion during dinner, though, about how eating fish like tuna or salmon from any source is probably markedly worse than eating sustainable beef, because at this point it’s not as if there are “sustainable” Polyface-style “tuna farms.” Tuna’s going extinct [thanks to us], it’s just a matter of when.

We walked upstairs and were greeted by the friendliest host and hostess. I love the atmosphere there. At first, it screams campy lounge; however, look closely and the hanging lights and subtle music give it more of a jazz club feel. It’s bright, open and modern.

The menu was as follows:

I chose the wasabi salad, the maguro [tuna] and the green tea soba noodles. Shaun ordered the rock shrimp, salmon and oxtail wontons. Additionally, I opted for the wine pairing – a 2 or 2.5 ounce pour [couldn’t tell, the wine glasses were square] of wine with each course. They were all wines I wouldn’t normally order, which was part of the reason I chose the pairing. Plus, I’m non-committal so 2 ounces of three different wines is up my alley. While we waited for our meals, we snacked on a bowl of edamame and Shaun tried the Hitachino White Ale, a Japanese Belgian-style white that Brewed Awakening recommended.

The beautiful courses were timed such that we felt no need to rush. The wasabi salad had goat cheese, walnuts, and a spicy dressing and was paired perfectly with a Riesling. Sweet and spicy go so well together. My sweet wine also paired well with a bite of Shaun’s rock shrimp tempura – also spicy, with a creamy chile sauce. The sushi course was [in my opinion] the best. My tuna had a citrus cream sauce [accented with a glass of Muscadet, a bright, citrus-y white I compared to a Gruner Veltliner] and a sprinkling of caviar. The fish melted in your mouth. Seriously, melted. I also housed my wasabi. I can’t get enough of that stuff.

The final course was so unique. My noodles were, well, green, and the prominent tea flavor was matched by a Rose wine. With a mushroom broth and more wasabi, I was in heaven. My only criticism is stupid: my entree was cold, and the restaurant was cold, so I was shivering. That’s seriously all I’ve got. Shaun paired his oxtail wontons with a 12-year Japanese single malt whiskey [neat]. It was surprisingly smooth and super powerful. From what I understand, he loved his dish, too. It’s one he’s been dying to try since reading the first issue of Lucky Peach on Ramen.

We had a great time. It was delicious and creative, and the service was out of this world. Everyone was friendly, we never felt rushed, and truly got to enjoy each bite. I was stuffed and thankful for the walk home. Another C’Ville Restaurant Week WIN – we branched out and found a new place in Charlottesville to love.

Note: I’m not the biggest fan of taking photos at special meals like this. I think pulling out my camera breaks up the flow of the meal and the conversation. Date nights like these are special and few and far between, so I’d rather just tell you it rocked than shower you with photos I rushed to take so I could get back to eating and talking. That’s why you won’t see any pictures of food from our anniversary, restaurant week, or upcoming Valentine’ Day reservation.



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Categories: C-Ville, Food


Courtney grew up in Reading, PA, and has lived in New York City (where she earned a bachelor's degree at NYU), Prague, Philadelphia, and Charlottesville (where she received a J.D. from UVa Law). Courtney and her new husband will settle in Philadelphia following a six-week Euro-trip extravaganza in September of 2012. Courtney's interests include music, writing, criticism, fitness, travel, cooking, and sports. Please enjoy the blog. LinkedIn: Tumblr:


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