No. 47: Ten Foot Henry
Three years after opening, Ten Foot Henry still evokes an impression of something new and fresh to Calgary’s dining scene.
Despite its nod to history—in the form of the iconic, oversized plywood cutout of a ’30s comic book character that resides in the corridor near the bathrooms—Ten Foot Henry has nevertheless firmly planted itself into the current trend of offering a menu in which vegetables have better billing than beef. Launched in 2016 by husband-and-wife team Aja Lapointe and Steve Smee, this spot matches a lightness of design—a windowless space that still manages to feel airy with its high ceilings, white walls and lush plants—with a menu where the ingredients speak for themselves. Chef Smee’s vegetable-centric plates are never fussy. Instead, he enhances ingredients with subtle counterpoints of flavour and texture, such as cauliflower enlivened with jerk spice and crunchy root chips.
And at a time when most chefs update their menus about as often as their table linens, Smee isn’t afraid to leave well enough alone. Regular favourites—including the soothing warmed tomatoes and herbs set atop sourdough toast with tangy whipped feta, or the yam tortilla with its bright orange layers and tangle of red-tinged radishes—are not going to be cast aside. Neither will the crowd-pleasing, vegetarian-friendly cacio e pepe, made with bucatini. Although vegetables dominate the menu, there is a strong selection of fish and meat, from tuna crudo and seared pickerel to hanger steak. They are not pushing vegetarianism here, just healthier eating, done well.
Photos by: Deserae Evenson