Innovation is a habit at Nine-Ten

Nine-Ten opened its doors at the Grande Colonial Hotel in 2000 - when the grand old dame was renovated, remodeled and returned to its original glory. But it wasn’t until Jamaican-born executive chef Jason Knibb brought his culinary wizardry to the restaurant a few years later that the cuisine really began to soar.

Knibb has brought an eclectic cuisine that features fresh vegetables and organic greens, top-quality ingredients and an innovative style of cooking capable of transforming even ordinary dishes into extraordinary creations.

Take the baby beet salad ($12) for example. This fantastic salad mixes tender baby beets with roasted baby carrots, toasted walnuts, candied baby fennel and arugula. A champagne vinaigrette puts the finishing touches on a salad you’ll want to enjoy every time you visit Nine-Ten.

In fact, there are several exceptional starters on the dinner menu, including a delightful house-smoked salmon ($16) with cream cheese, bagel croutons, black radish, fennel and vadouvan. Here again, the chef puts his own special touch on a classic, and most diners think it’s the best smoked salmon preparation on the planet.

Listed under the heading of “Second Course,” are a number of outstanding appetizers that could serve as a light meal. And how does goat cheese and chive tortellini with asparagus tips, carrots, peas, green garlic and parmesan ($14) sound? That’s another great choice you’ll want to enjoy time after time. The chef features Jamaican jerk pork with baby carrots, Swiss chard, plantains, black eyed peas and sweet potato puree ($15) for an exotic second course, not to mention a terrific lobster risotto ($16).

Entrees or “Third Course” selections include slow roasted lamb loin ($35), pan roasted Peking duck breast ($30), Niman Ranch Tomahawk ribeye for two ($90), roasted rabbit roulade ($28) and at least two seafood items. But the chef’s port wine braised short rib ($29) is such a standout, you may not want to look any further. The dish is prepared with wild mushrooms, baby vegetables and white truffle emulsion, and topped with a feather-light potato foam. This is a far cry from the short ribs your mother served!

Another popular main dish is the prime flat iron steak and onions in a red wine sauce ($29), and the soy marinated tofu with Chino Farms baby vegetables ($21) is an excellent choice for vegetarians, or anyone for that matter.

Lunch and breakfast are always served at Nine-Ten, and the selection is just as exciting. You can start off your day with short rib hash ($16) or smoked salmon Benedict ($14). Lunch dishes include the chef’s special three-course menu ($24), which is the best buy around. Also available are interesting sandwiches, such as Serrano ham and brie ($11), entrees the likes of Maine scallops with carrot ginger risotto ($17), and other delicacies.

The selection of desserts would coax anyone off a diet. Among them are banana croquettes ($9), apple butter crepes ($9) and half baked chocolate cake ($10). (You can gild the lily and have the chocolate cake a la mode for $12).

The decor at Nine-Ten is contemporary, with colorful Venetian glass sculptures and modern artwork. The tables are comfortable, and the back walls are lined with high-back upholstered booths which can be curtained off for privacy.

Service is an important part of the dining experience, and Nine-Ten has a well-trained staff to make your meal a memorable experience. The wine list is impressive, and many of the fine wines are available by the glass.

With valet parking available right outside the door, Nine-Ten is a convenient spot to dine, even when summer crowds descend on the Cove.

Nine-Ten Restaurant and Bar is at 910 Prospect St. Call them at (858) 964-5400.