Victoria Park, home to a wide variety of eateries, is adding another feather to its cap. You can find some good pub food at St. James Corner, upscale dining at Yellow Door Bistro, diner food at the Beltliner, a revolving tapas menu at Taste and a cocktail lounge at Proof. And now enter’s the newest restaurant to that diverse list, Ten Foot Henry, recently opened by restaurant veterans Steve Smee & Aja Lapointe both of whom have worked at Una and Ox & Angela before deciding it was time to open their own joint.
The space is very simply designed with well lit high ceilings, neutral white walls, wooden pillars and living decorations hanging from the ceiling. This gives the space a nice relaxed feel and creates a sense that you have been transported to a garden patio. The space is anchored by an open kitchen on the north side and a large bar opposite of it, with both having pull-up seating options. An extension of the restaurant that has not yet opened is Little Henry, which will serve coffee from The Roasterie and offer takeout salad and snack options.
With our food scene here in Calgary so heavily focused on rich meaty dishes, it is refreshing to see a restaurant that allows the humble vegetable to shine. Ten Foot Henry’s menu is driven by vegetarian dishes that can be made vegan friendly upon request. That being said, this is not a vegetarian restaurant by any means, but rather a place best described by co-owner Aja as a place where carnivores and herbivores can break bread at the same table. So not to fret fellow meat eaters, there are plenty of options to satisfy your cravings.
Upon sitting down and ordering some drinks, we were conflicted with what to order as the descriptions of each dish all seemed so appealing. Luckily, we had our server Genitta offer some recommendations of her favorite dishes which we pretty much followed to a tee. Her extensive knowledge of the menu and great service set the tone for the fantastic dinner to come.
Dishes at Ten Foot Henry arrive at the table family style – which is meant to be shared by everyone at the table and arrive in no particular order. The first dish to arrive was the roasted tomatoes, with in-house whipped Macedonian Feta, fresh herbs and sourdough bread. When I asked our server if the bread was cooked in house, I was informed that it came straight from Sidewalk Citizen that morning. Her exact words resonated with me, “There is nothing about this bread that we could improve, so we serve our customers the best bread we can find.” and it gave me a glimpse in what Chef Smee was all about – letting the exceptional ingredients speak for themselves. This tomato dish sounded so simple but was perfectly balanced and somewhat irresistible. The deep tomato flavour paired well with the mildly tart whipped feta while the fresh dill, parsley and chives added a delicious herbaceous notes. There was not nearly enough bread for the delectable toppings but that didn’t stop us from finishing off this dish with a spoon.
The second dish was the crispy skin salmon served over an avocado puree with sautéed mushrooms garnished with pea shoots. The fish was cooked beautifully, while the vibrant puree balanced the rich sautéed mushrooms; the crispy skin added some much needed texture to this dish.
Fresh green beans hit the table and after the first bite, I just couldn’t stop. Crisp beans, covered in a citrus vinaigrette that had a nice spicy kick, topped with rich shaved Manchego cheese and walnuts which combined to make a light, yet surprisingly delicious dish. Who can resist a dish that has fresh cheese and a hint of spice?!
The next dish to hit the table was the Cacio E Pepe, which literally translated means cheese and pepper. This might have been the simplest pasta dish I have ever eaten, which again let the ingredients speak for themselves. Spaghetti, butter, Pecorino Romano and freshly cracked black pepper are combined to make this popular side dish. The only downside was the gummy consistency of the dish, which meant it probably sat for a bit of time before hitting the table, but it’s hard to complain with a dish that was rich, creamy and delicious nonetheless.
The last dish to hit the now over-crowded table of eats was the chargrilled hangar steak, which came cooked mid rare and paired with lightly cooked onions, charred greens and a bright dijon truffle sauce. The charred greens paired well with the grilled steak, while the onions lightened up the dish and the sauce rounded it all out with a dijon pop!
Those that know me will know that I don’t generally give the dessert menu a second look when it is presented after a meal. But on this occasion, our awesome server Genitta recommended the butterscotch pudding and my girlfriend was sold. Let’s just say that I am happy we ended up ordering this dish! The pudding was served cold and had a creamy mousse-like consistency, while not being overly sweet. It was topped with some butterscotch that provided the main sweetness in the dish but the star of this dish was the textural addition of homemade sponge toffee – crispy and mildly salty, with the addition of a few flakes of Maldon salt, gave the dessert a nice sweet and savoury mix.
Every dish offered at Ten Foot Henry matches the space, simply prepared and flawlessly executed, which left me feeling nourished and not overly full. Each dish featured minimal ingredients but were still appealing to the eye and popped on my palate. Ten Foot Henry has a fantastic space to go with their light and flavorful food, giving it an easy 4.5 rating on Zomato. Having seen the owners passion, both in my short discussion with one and tasting the other’s delicious food, I have no doubt that this duo will be wildly successful in their new space! And I am sure to be one of their many repeat customers!