Townsman [Boston, MA]

I did a search and it comes up in a couple of lists but I did not find anything substantive about Townsman on this board. Unless you all advise me otherwise I am meeting a friend for dinner here tonight.

I’ve eaten there once. It was enjoyable, but it’s just too far away from home for it to become a regular in the rotation.

It’s a fine place to meet a friend and there are worse options in the area for sure. I have been there several times but not on over a year. I loved my first meal there, had an uneven second meal, and witnessed the chef treat a patron seated at the food bar in an unacceptable manner on my last visit. That left a bad taste and I have not been back since. If someone chose it to meet at, I would be OK to try it again.

I recall enjoying Townsman’s charcuterie very much. They have excellent cocktails as well. I found it over priced, however that seems to be the norm in Boston nowadays.

In the same vein, I am meeting a friend at Bar Mezzana this evening. I am looking forward to trying it. I’d be interested to hear any impressions here.

Thanks @uni, you and I will both need to report back tomorrow. This friend has many weeks coming up of one or two nights in town at a hotel nearish both Townsman and Bar Mezzana so we’ll be going to a lot of different restaurants.

I’m surprised to hear that chef (was it Matt Jennings or an underling?) exhibited bad behavior towards a patron. Based on visits to his Providence joints, I would say the exact opposite about him. He and his wife struck me as consummate professionals. Of course, everyone has a bad day at work, even those in hospitality.

My report:

Short version: excellent food, lovely service, great night out.

My friend and I thoroughly enjoyed our dinner at Townsman last night. They initially tried to seat us at a two-top but graciously moved us to a four-top when we explained we like to order lots of stuff and needed more room. Since they never filled up I’m not sure why they didn’t put us there in the first place but it worked out fine.

As always, we ordered far too much so we could try a lot. Lucky me, I got the leftovers. In order we had:

Bread service. This consisted of two slices of house made Boston brown bread in requisite circular shape together with maple butter sprinkled with salt and togarashi. Tasty but not worth filling up on in my book. More was offered and declined.

Kale, radish and grapefruit salad with buttermilk dressing. Excellent very fresh kale, succulent supremes of red grapefruit, slices of several different types of radishes, good buttermilk dressing, chopped nuts. Very enjoyable, no leftovers.

Bluefish pâté with pickled onions and cornichons came in a small tin tub with very lightly grilled, thickly sliced bread. The pâté itself was excellent with plenty of bluefish flavor and was nicely complemented by the thin slices of pickled things. I thought it would have been better served on something crispy as the bread sort of over-powered it. A quibble, I’d certainly order it again.

Deviled eggs, fried capers, clay pepper, crispy hen’s skin. A slightly bigger quibble here. Loved the dish but it wasn’t deviled eggs, at best it was “deviled” eggs. It was two soft-boiled (probably sous vide) eggs, sliced and placed sliced side down in a lovely lemon aioli sprinkled with some nice Aleppo-ish pepper flakes and garnished with very thinly-sliced celery and nice crunchy pieces of chicken skin, no memory of any capers. I loved it, my friend thought it was too sour.

Beef confit, egg yolk, gribiche, stack of chips. A ravishing dish but really a big quibble with the menu description – nothing confit about it, this was straight ahead beef tartare. And an excellent rendition it was, served with an intact egg yolk for us to stir into the perfectly seasoned chopped beef and gribiche, with lovely sturdy house made potato chips to eat it off. My new favorite beef tartare in town. The potato chips were also a great way to convey more bluefish pâté into our mouths and confirmed my suspicion that the pâté should be served with something crispy.

Smoked swordfish belly (from the Crudo section of the menu). The current online version of the menu shows something else but ours was served with thin slices of different kinds of citrus, some tiny thin slices of peppers, green harissa, some salad leaves and some kind of vinaigrette. We loved the rest but neither of us loved the smoked swordfish belly, it had textural issues. The one element of the food we did not enjoy. We sure ate everything else on that plate and really enjoyed the play of flavors.

Crispy brussels sprouts, malt vinegar aioli, garlic croutons, harissa. My friend is incapable of passing up brussels sprouts in any form and she loved this. I was very full at this point and only had a couple which were very good. I didn’t notice croutons or harissa but they could easily have been there.

Pork blade steak (a special for the evening) with roasted baby carrots and grits and some kind of jus. Fading fast by this time we didn’t get through much of this but it was very good and probably on an empty stomach it would have lived up to everything that came before it.

Looking forward to leftovers tonight!

We had absolutely stellar service throughout from a variety of folks including (I believe) the chef-owner who delivered the brussels sprouts. A serviceable Bordeaux by the glass and constantly refilled water glasses provided the beverages. I am sure we’ll be back.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

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