FOOD- THE DISH- Perfect Ten? Urban oasis hovers over the Mall

As our cover story this week suggests, our little ville is fast-becoming an oasis (or is it an outpost?) of urban cool. Joining Kiki, the Blue Light Grill, Bang, Oxo, and the X-Lounge in their efforts to raise Charlottesville's sophistication quotient, Coran Capshaw's new restaurant Ten (it means "heaven" or "sky" in Japanese) made its debut on Halloween night.

"Every single person's been blown away," says Ten's business manager, Michael Keaveny, refering to Ten's contemporary Japanese-style cusine and urban feel. "It's like stepping out of Charlottesville," he adds.

Indeed, Ten's designer digs radiate urban ambition, setting a new standard for the other urban cool wannabees. Spacious, expertly lit, with abstract decor that includes a gleaming white sushi bar and seating area (what a sushi bar might look like in heaven), and bouquets of glass rods on an acending platform beside the bar (they reminded Dish of the crystal memory rods that Superman used to talk to his father, Jor-El, in his Fortress of Solitude), Ten makes Capshaw's own Blue Light Grill below look like a townie bar! And that was no accident. As Keaveny told Dish in July, "There has been no expense spared to bring in the best."

Still, Keaveny obviously has no plans to push Blue Light off any most popular list. In fact, he hopes the upstairs-downstairs dynamic of the two Capshaw ventures will make for a unique late-night bar scene.

"Ten is a little more low-key and upscale than Blue Light," says Keaveny. "I think the two places will really complement each other."

Indeed, on a recent visit, Dish noticed that Blue Light served as Ten's racier cousin, accommodating a few customers who'd ducked out for a moment from Ten's smokeless quiet to light up, enjoy some loud music, and check out the more raucus scene.

But the menu may be where Ten's urban ambitions are most evident. As Dish revealed in July, Capshaw recruited chef Brian Emperor, who has worked at both Nobu and Megu, two of the most highly acclaimed Japanese restaurants in New York City. Of Nobu, Gourmet Magazine writer Jonathan Gold wrote, "God himself couldn't get a nine o'clock reservation at...Nobu on a weekend, not unless He had an in with [part owner] Robert De Niro."

Of course, you don't have to be God to get a reservation at Ten (we haven't become that urban yet, thank... God), but it helps to have a little extra cash on hand and a healthy sense of urban style to enjoy this little bit of heaven on the Downtown Mall.

Viva Boheme!

On Saturday, October 28, the new restaurant Boheme (no la) opened quietly in its space across from City Hall on Market Street.

"We were glad it was quiet," says owner Tom Fussell. "We didn't want to be overwhelmed."

With the help of chef Clive Papayanis, Fussell hopes to bring a bit of the bayou to that end of Market Street.

"What we call it is old-style New Orleans," says Fussell, "seafood and meat with a French style and an American twist."

Fussell rattles off a list of dishes that include duck, veal, strip steaks, sweetbreads, and creme sauces to make diners' mouths water. He's also excited about the atmosphere. "After dark it's especially nice, with the candles," he says. "And people love eating at the bar."

"Crayfish and peas," says Fussell, commenting on both the food and the concept. "Now that's Southern."

And that makes Dish want to wander away from the Mall for a visit!

Urban ambitions: Ten brings big-city cool to the Downtown Mall.