Tenpenny’s spring vegetables might well be the best (and possibly the only) elevated ranch dish since Park Avenue Autumn’s sweet potato fries with homemade dressing. It’s also quite pretty. Enough to counteract the unfounded ugly room criticism? I happen to like my spaces generic and spacious (surprisingly spacious on a Friday night, two days post-New York Times review) rather than cramped and twee.
The hodgepodge of green peas, wax beans, tomatoes, corn, squash blossoms and one microscopic frond-topped carrot were surrounded by a sweet, crunchy sunchoke dirt that looked like Bac-O-Bits. The dusting of ranch was subtle, more of a perfume than omnipresent.
Same for the root beer extract vermouth in The Madison, which along with Michter’s rye and a bourbon steeped cherry, smelled more like a soda and tasted more like an sweeter Manhattan. The Negroni (pictured) and The Landlady, a salt, cucumber, chile drink, also made an appearance, making up three of the four featured cocktails. The Unstrung Harp, Sam Sifton’s cocktail of the summer just didn’t appeal. I’d rather just have a glass of white wine, so I did. Albariño. Ok, mystery…the cocktail listed on Tenpenny's site contains white wine, not prosecco like recipe detailed on Diner's Journal. The sparkle might've changed my mind.
Pretzel rolls come with horseradish-spiked mustard and an apple butter that’s flavored butter not jammy and made of fruit.
The next morning, there was some horrible infomercial being passed off on public broadcasting as an educational show. A doctor was telling an audience that they could break free of their food addictions, and there was lots of head-nodding and tearing-up. There was a lot of talk about salads and fruit, which I’m totally for and should be for, but I started getting depressed (or maybe I was just hungover from the cocktails) about having to live in an all lean protein world when pork belly tots exist.
Sure, they’re coated in potato flakes and fried, but the Granny Smith slivers and green leafy shoots must count for something.
You’d better like wax beans, such is the way of seasonal cooking. The burnished duck confit came in a skillet (more down home-style than Applebee’s affectation) atop a succotash with still-pliable croutons that appeared to have been soaked in chorizo oil. Just in time to snap me out of my Spain-vacation-is-a-fading-memory funk.
Dessert wasn’t really necessary, but a small slab of “Barely Buzzed” had to be tried because I’d never eaten cheese from Utah, nor cheese rubbed in coffee and lavender. Firm and a little nutty, it was definitely dessert-like paired with fig jam and walnut bread.
Tenpenny * 16 E. 46th, New York, NY