Michael gave me a warm smile as I saddled up to the bar in the dining room – all inviting dark woods and warm lights. Except I wasn’t so much as saddling, but sadly limping. Two weeks ago I pulled a calf muscle while running and have been dragging my left leg along like I’m dancing Thriller (FYI I am completely recovered by now). So there I was – limping and alone in one of Boston’s hottest spots. And by hottest, I mean newest restaurant headed by two chef icons: Lydia Shire and Jasper White. I was in Towne.
Back to Michael – he’s the bar tender, and everybody seemed to know his name – who assured me I made a good choice by (immediately) ordering a white sangria. I scanned the menu while waiting for my friends even though I already perused it online and enjoyed the calm interiors of the dining room. One of the other, bigger bar areas (there are three total), the one that welcomes diners as soon as they enter the big doors, was buzzing with the post-work crowds and the pre-game Red Sox fans. I was glad I didn’t have to maneuver my leg around that area. Michael said one of his favorite things on the menu is the fettuccine alfredo – “the truth” as it was invented for Paul Pierce. He said it didn’t have any cream on it. An alfredo without cream – I was intrigued. I’m pretty sure he said it, or the white sangria was too strong… Either way, my friends arrived before I had the chance to order anything else at the bar.
Once seated, we were immediately served ice cold water in beakers and a bread basket filled with seductive carbs:
I wasn’t very good with lab/chemistry and had to ask the server what this scientific-looking glass was called
tell me those pillowy rounds of brioche aren’t tempting…
… especially served with this trio: taramosalata (fish roe dip), butter, and roasted eggplant spread
I decided to save Paul Pierce for another visit and order something healthier: the tuna # 1
seared and rare w/1 perfect summer tomato, white miso vinaigrette, white beans & crisped chard leaves
I was perfectly happy with the tuna but I wish the tomato was a little bigger. The white bean puree went uneaten because it was nothing special, but the pesto sauce that dotted the whole dish was really good - mild and fresh tasting. I only ate one of the tuna steaks and shared the rest with my friends, mostly because I wanted to try their dishes too hehehe. My friends were very happy with their dishes – and so was I.
pig chop w/fried milk & wuxi pork riblets
Most of the dishes in Towne had flags next to them on the menu, indicating which country inspired it. This pork chop dish was marked China.
chicken ‘brick’ style
Yes, this chicken dish looks dry and boring, but it was surprisingly tasty and moist. The skin stayed crisp and the meat was tender.
valencia rice mariscos (seafood)
I had some of this Spanish rice dish and I liked it. I’m not a big fan of paella (unless it had a ton of chorizo) BUT this wasn’t authentic paella valencia, even if it looks like it at first glance – it didn’t have the charred rice at the bottom (and it didn’t have chorizo). I did taste the saffron, which I like.
rib roast – towne’s prime xtreme spiced w/russian seasoning…
I didn’t know prime rib was big in Russia, but this one was just big, period. My friend ordered this seared medium; I usually like my steaks medium-rare so I didn’t really appreciate it. The dipping sauces that came with it were all tasty though. There were four: Russian, blue cheese, red wine steak sauce, and a horseradish flavored one. It reminded me of Moo…. (read my review here).
brown sugar cake
We all shared this brown sugar cake with caramel ice cream, cotton candy and brown sugar crumbles. You’d think this dish would be too sugary, but I’d say you are wrong. In my mouth, ice cream, candy, and cake can never be too saccharine. And my dining companions agree! It was good to share just one rich, sugary dessert for the whole table. Always a sweet ending, yes?
By the end of the night, I hobbled out of Towne with a satisfied smile. The food was undeniably good, but I wasn’t blown away. Perhaps I was expecting too much because of the star chefs. However, the ambiance is great – low-key and welcoming – and the service impeccable. I’ll definitely plan to go back and try other dishes, especially because the bar menu sounds appealing.
Have you been to Towne? What about other Lydia Shire restaurants (Scampo, Locke-Ober) or Jasper White’s Summer Shack?