Fargo meets fried tomatoes at this Camelback nosh spot. Satisfying? You betcha.
Most nights, you’ll catch chef/owner Jeff Hostenske prowling the dining room at TEN Handcrafted American Fare & Spirits, chatting up guests to ensure their dining experience is topnotch. It’s a nice, personal touch and reflects TEN’s esprit de corps – a chef-driven restaurant that pairs thoughtfully prepared food with attentive service.
A former corporate chef for Z’Tejas Southwestern Grill, Ohio native Hostenske opened TEN in August at the Camelback Esplanade to showcase his expertise in blending Midwestern and Southern cuisine – skills he picked up from his grandmothers and, later, at culinary school in Charleston, South Carolina.
With minimalist décor of wooden tables, painted concrete floors and a compact bar with an overhead TV, TEN is a mash-up of neighborhood pub and high-end café. The grub, however, is straight-up American comfort food. To test out Hostenske’s Southern cooking chops, I sampled the fried green tomatoes ($7), a generous plateful of four hand-cut-to-order tomatoes rolled in cornmeal and lightly fried. Topped with spinach dressed in sweet vinaigrette and served with dots of spicy red pepper aioli, the crunchy rounds passed muster. So did spinach and green apple salad ($8), featuring baby spinach and shreds of apple with a liberal sprinkling of goat cheese, bound with balsamic.
Sandwiches here are substantial. The barbecue pulled pork ($12), served on a fluffy bun from Wildflower Bread Company and draped with a slab of pepper jack cheese and a mound of tangy coleslaw, oozed juice with every bite and proved to be tender, smoky and spicy. It was too big to finish, as was the burger ($12), a slab of freshly ground beef with layers of caramelized onions, house-made sweet pickles, iceberg slaw, cheddar cheese and tomatoes.
On the entrée front, the pan-roasted fresh fish of the day ($17) is a real standout. The day I ordered it, Hostenske whipped up salmon atop a bed of fresh corn and haricot verts, crowned by a handful of lightly dressed greens. The salmon was perfectly cooked, succulent and flavorful. Ditto on the pot roast ($17), a hearty slice of slow-roasted beef perched on creamy mashed potatoes and buttered carrot coins, surrounded by a rich, salty beef reduction. Old-school.
The only miss on an otherwise solid menu was the Chicken a La King and Queen ($15), a hot mess of crispy skin-on, bone-in chicken breast served atop a bun and surrounded by wilted spinach and mushrooms, chicken pieces and onions in an uninspired white sauce.
Are you curious about the restaurant’s name? It comes from the “ten” tucked away in Hostenske. Tucked inside the Esplanade with no street visibility, TEN is similarly concealed, but well worth a visit. Hostenske turns out quality food at reasonable prices. His grandmothers should be proud.
TEN Handcrafted American Fare & Spirits
Contact: 2501 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, 602-374-2611, tenfareandspirits.com
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. M-Th; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. F; 2-11 p.m. Sa; happy hour 2-6 p.m. M-Sa
Highlights: Barbecue pulled pork sandwich ($12); roasted fish of the day ($17); spinach and green apple salad ($8)
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