Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ten Restaurant & Wine Bar

I never eat in Mississauga because I'm hardly in Mississauga. Like I tell everybody, I literally just sleep there. I work, eat and hang out in downtown. In short, most of my waking hours are spent in downtown. And if I'm ever craving Chinese food I would drive up to Markham or Richmond Hill (I'm not a Chinatown gal). In all honesty, except for pho, I have zero urge to eat out in Mississauga (especially when my Mom is such an amazing cook!). There is just nothing good there. So many boring corporate, big chains in Mississauga. Seriously, I don't even bother. In any event, after visiting Ten Restaurant & Wine Bar last week, I realize there is hope! YES!

Actually, by being on Twitter, Ten has already made a good impression on me. Although it seems like the norm for many restaurants and chefs in downtown Toronto to have Twitter accounts, the same cannot be said for restaurants in the 'burbs; most are not social media savvy, to say the least. So it was extremely refreshing to see that both Chef Nic Prong of Ten (@NicCanCook) and Ten itself (Twitter: @tenrestaurant, Facebook: Ten Restaurant & Wine Bar) actively engage on Twitter. 

Chef Nic Prong

Anyway, after reading my blog posts and seeing that I wasn't giving much love to restaurants in the west end, Chef Prong was determined to show me that Ten is different and not like the other cookie-cutter chain restaurants in Mississauga. And after exchanging a few tweets, Chef Prong invited me to his restaurant in Port Credit last week. Over fine wine and an elaborate tasting menu prepared by Sous Chef Jackie and Chef De Partie Ryan (@hamillofficial), Chef Prong, his brother Brendan Prong (@chef_prong), Chef De Cuisine at West50 Pourhouseand I had a very delightful evening chatting (only natural with two chefs and a food blogger, no? =P). And boy, let me say this: plate after plate, I was thoroughly impressed at the level of creativity that Chef Prong is bringing to the table (literally) at Ten Restaurant & Wine Bar .

Spacious and roomy with deep red booths and floor-to-ceiling windows, Ten is a very modern and chic looking restaurant.

We started off with a bottle of Tawse 2009 Cabernet Franc.


East Coast oysters, pickled vegetables, cucumber wine

Obviously curious about Ten, I asked Chef Prong a couple of questions during dinner...

1) Why did you become a chef?
 "I always have felt privlaged growing up in small town rural Ontario. As a kid I got to enjoy garden to table produce, visiting the local butcher for Sundays meat choice and seeing the importance of small town agriculture. Moving to the city and being raised by a single mother gave me a whole new perspective.  As she worked hard to simply provide enough food to eat, it began to fall on me to have dinner ready when she arrived home from work.  I guess this was where my curiosity was peeked and I gravitated towards a life of food culture.  It's great when work and passion meet."

Pig Foot Dashi: Soya marinated tofu, starchy corn, kohlrabi, salt pork, pickled ramps

2) What are your thoughts on sustainability and sourcing locally? 
"When it comes down to it, always use the best product available.  Yes I agree that local is most of the time the best product, but I do offer some USDA beef on my menu unapologetically.  I am constantly sourcing, tasting and searching for the best products.  I am a strong believer in Oceanwise and responsible sourcing but at the same time its the consumer that must start to speak out with their wallets and support Restaurants that support these beliefs.  I try to do my part in tiny Port Credit to educate as much as possible."


Menonite Rabbit: Underfoot cauliflower gnocchi, panchetta, Ontario blue haze

3) How would you describe the style of food at Ten? 
"Suburbia obviously provides its difficulties when wanting to go gung-ho 100% my food philosophy.  The menu process includes a lot of back and forth and comprimise.  I do however see the tide turning in our favour and more and more people are starting to become adveturous suburban foodies.  My a la carte menu is a mix of wine culture, Canadiana, local and simple with my European background never too far away.  Its our daily features and tasting menus where my crew and I get to play and where my Nose to tail simple gets to be unleashed.  I thank my loyal foodies for coming in weekly to constantly challenge me and raise the bar."

Compressed & Crispy Sweetbreads: Zucchini bread, 2011 Niagara preserved peaches, faux marrow bones, bacon crackers

4) What differentiates the food at Ten and other restaurants in Mississauga?
"We offer the full package. A unique dining experience that breaks the corporate mould.  Mississauga has been long considered a culinary wasteland of big box restaurants.  Its great to be the alternative.  There exists just a handful of original dining spots...mainly in Port Credit.  Each night we offer our diners entertainment through live bands at the begining of the week and DJ's to end off your week." 

Bacon Wrapped Suckling Pig: Marrowfat peas, ramp tops, baby cabbage, kozliks triple crunch

 5) How do you stay educated about new food trends? 
"EAT EAT EAT...That's really the only true way to be on top of your game...I spend a lot of money monthly dining out.  I'm always reading as well and spend hours surfing the web.  Work & reward is a philosophy where I take my kitchen, serving and bartending staff to different dining feeds the soul, sparks curiosity and provides everyone with a chance to see what else exists.  Social media has become my new addiction to follow the cooking crowd."

Port Dover Pickerel: Horseradish, oolong steeped raisins, kohlrabi, pine nuts

6) Favourite restaurant?
"Tough many in Toronto.  I will always have my addiction to the Black Hoof, head to toe done simply yet oh so well.  Matt Blondin at Acadia has been doing some phenomenal food.  Marben has always impressed using quality ingredients, again done simply, and of course my Lil Brother always cooks me a great meal at West 50 Pourhouse."


Gluten-Free Chocolate Ganache Malbec Cake: Malbec & strawberry sauce, vanilla ice cream

Ryan's Tiramisu: Espresso shortbread, mascarpone, espresso snap, orange

Ten's Memphis: Cornpop crusted zucchini bread, peanut butter ice cream, banana pudding, bacon candy, salted caramel

Ontario Cheeses: Grey Owl, Arpends & Niagara Gold

Ten's menu is original, tasty, and clever, and Chef Prong is putting out plates that I personally have not seen in Mississauga before. Although Ten doesn't look like the restaurants in Parkdale or College, I urge you to not judge a book by its cover. It is obvious to me that Chef Prong is passionate, inspired, and determined to change the dining scene in Mississauga. I think diners in Mississauga are too safe, too scared to try new things, they stick with stuff like spinach & artichoke dips, calamari and boring pastas when they are out. So really, kudos to Chef Prong for taking the step to diversify and make a difference!

*This meal was complimentary. The opinions and views expressed on this post are my own*

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