Having been spoiled by the never ending high profile restaurants in NYC, I never thought I would be wowed by a restaurant in Boston. I lived in Boston for 4 years and visited the city a few times each year after I left. I never experienced a restaurant that left a lasting impression. While visiting my sister in Boston one weekend, we all decided to try out a buzzy new restaurant on the outskirts of Chinatown called the Townsman.
This is the first time in a long time that I was going to be “that” person photographing all the dishes. This review was not planned. I had such a memorable time and was inspired by the food that I had to write this review.
Decor: 4 out of 5
I was struck by the decor which had a wonderful modern New England style that comprised of Shaker style benches and chairs and a lot of rustic industrial decor. When we walked in, we were greeted by a large bar that encompasses a large portion of the dining room. The atmosphere is casual but do not let it fool you into thinking that you are not getting a top notch gourmet meal. I saw people on dates, a large group celebrating a birthday, older couples and college students. This is a restaurant where the vibe is catered to all.
Service: 4 out of 5
The service was attentive without being over bearing. My party of four decided to sit outside where the Townsman had a few tables so we had to hail our waiter at times. This was mostly due to us being outside, while most of the diners were in the main dining area.
Food: 4.5 out of 5
This was where the restaurant won over four frequently traveled and jaded foodie. The presentations were artful without being too pretentious. The dishes nicely highlight seasonal ingredients with portions that continued to wet our appetites for more food.
Dish 1: Hamachi Radish, Beets, Green Garlic $15
This dish was refreshing and delicious. It was very unexpected in terms of presentation and became a great surprise. Our group could not wait to try the next dish after this one.
Dish 2: Lamb Chermoula, Yogurt, Strawberries $15
Somehow, I was not expecting this dish to be raw even though it was listed under crudo. There is a little hint of gaminess so this may not be a dish for everyone. However, the yogurt and strawberries tempered the strong lamb flavor and surprisingly, all three ingredients go together.
Dish 3: Beef Confit, Egg Yolk, Gribiche, Stack of Chips $15
This was a great take on the classic steak tartar. The beef was tender and flavorful. The potato chips were a nice play on the fries that you normally get with steak tartar. Of the two raw meat dishes, this was my favorite.
Dish 4: Chicken Rillette Pierogies Sunflower, Honey, Pea Tendrils $10
Prior to coming, I read some reviews of people raving about this dish. I expected to be wowed again. However, the pierogies were good but did not stand out. I grew up on various types of dumplings so my dumpling standard was a bit high.
Dish 5: Arugula and Ochre Spinach Salad Peaches, Farro, Goat Cheese $14
This appetizer was another great light summer dish. The bite from the arugula nicely counteracted the sweetness of the peaches. The presentation was adorable and didn’t stay on the plate for too long.
Dish 6: Special of the Day- Mushrooms
This was a dish that was not on the menu and focused on mushrooms. All I remembered was that the my group raved about how good the mushrooms were and probably one of the best vegetable dish they had in a while.
Dish 7: Roasted Lamb Ribs Fennel and Brown Sugar Cure, Cucumbers a la Plancha and Black Barley $26
This dish was unexpected. I’m used to lamb ribs served very much like a rack of lamb. This dish reminded me of good old bbq, just an elevated version of it. The lamb’s consistency is similar to good pork ribs. The rub was slightly sweet and absolutely delicious. The cucumbers were a nice refresher to lighten the heaviness of the ribs.
Desserts tend to be an afterthought in many restaurants. Even though we were stuffed, we still had to order desserts after looking at the menu. It was interesting, whimsical and we wondered if it would taste good, despite the odd combination put forth.
Dish 8: Celeriac and Milk Chocolate (House-milled barley ice cream, celery juice) $12
Who thought celery was the focus of this dessert. The dish had a nice crunch and the slightly saltiness of the celery complemented the sweetness of the ice cream. The presentation was delightful and we happily dug in.
Dish 9: Beet & Avocado with Lime, Graham and Ivorie $12
This was another interesting dessert with all of the ingredients working well together. The beet and avocado custard consistently was delicious. The dessert was not overly sweet. It was a refreshing way to end a fabulous meal.
Additionally, the Townsman had a creative cocktail list that is a must try.
Overall Rating: 4.5 / 5
The prices were reasonable for the caliber of food we had. If this restaurant was in NYC, it could easily be $100+ per person. For the innovative dishes, casual cool decor and reasonable price, I give the Townsman 4.5 out of 5.
I look forward to trying the fall menu when I am back in Boston and see what creative dishes these talented chefs will come up with for the fall harvest.
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Author: Chau Hoang
Featured photo: Townsman