Towne Stove & Spirits

>>  Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Typically, if I see lamb souvlaki, Yangzhou fried rice, pappardelle with housemade ricotta,and lobster tempura all on the same menu, I get very very scared.

There's no way one restaurant could pull off all those dishes well . . .  or is there?

If you've shopped near the Prudential Center anytime in the last year, you must have noticed the brand new space right near the the main entrance of the mall. Towne Stove and Spirits is one of the newest ventures of Lydia Shire and Jasper White, arguably amongst some of the most famous chefs in Boston.

Towne bills itself as a warm, welcoming place where "people relax and enjoy steaks to share, lobster done eleven ways, and plenty of unexpected culinary surprises from around the globe."

One look at the interesting ingredients that dot the multi-national flag filled menu and it's clear - this is not your typical suburban chain restaurant unsuccessfully trying the multi-ethnic thing.

The menu at Towne is dotted with flags indicating the country that inspired each dish. Most of the dishes are not authentic. Instead, they are creative, upscale interpretations of dishes that borrow flavors from a country's cuisine. Dishes with names like "english pea soup with pork belly bap" clearly incorporate ideas from both England and Korea. Similarly, the lobster tempura is very New England in nature, yet is influenced by Japan.

The types of dishes on the menu are not a surprise. The bar menu alone has multiple different renditions of lobster, a nod to Jasper White's seafood expertise. The dinner menu reminded me a lot of Scampo, Lydia Shire's other restaurant at the Liberty Hotel.

I guess we weren't feeling too ethnic that day, and mostly picked dishes that were reasonably Western in nature.

Note - the menu has changed since I dined there, so my descriptions of the dishes are not word for word from the menu, but just my personal summary!

Pan seared scallops with pork belly cracklings over parsnip puree

Roasted beets with whipped goat cheese, watercress, and crushed hazelnuts

Duo of tartare (steak and tuna) with watermelon radish, deep fried capers, taro strings, microgreens, potato crisps

Skirt steak Wagyu

Key lime tart with macadamia nut crust, candied lemon peel, and sorbet

General First Impressions
Overall, we were impressed with the execution of the dishes. The scallops and the steak were cooked perfectly, and the overall flavors of all the dishes were very solid. I especially enjoyed the deep fried capers in my duo of tartare, which added a surprising zing to the muted tartare.  I like how there are many types of dishes at various price points on the menu. You can choose to order a $42 sirloin or a $16 pasta or pizza. Alternatively, you can nibble at the bar, where menu items range between $6 and $24 (most items around $12). The choice is yours.

Upstairs of Towne

The ambiance is festive, and I can imagine it getting pretty loud on the first floor (which has the bar). The upstairs is gorgeous, with an impressive view of the open kitchen. This space would be perfect for a corporate Christmas party or some other sort of celebratory group dinner.

Overall, Towne has the winning combination of good food, a nice space, and an excellent location which will keep it humming along for quite some time.

And really, who can resist such awesome water glasses?

Towne Stove and Spirits
900 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02115
Towne Stove & Spirits on Urbanspoon

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