30 by 30: lobster roll at Towne

I’m feeling cranky so it’s high time to bitch tell you about a really disappointing restaurant experience Adam and I had at Towne last week.

I’m sure that all of you locals know it’s a new-ish spot by the Hynes Convention center established with Lydia Shire and Jasper White’s creative direction. I happen to live a few blocks away and have been eager to try the place for many months. Well, hesitantly eager actually.

The place has very mixed reviews. One of these reviews came from my friends Katie and Mike, whose opinions I trust. They are foodies from the South End (well Katie is a foodie and Mike just likes more traditional good food) and our conversations often turn to the latest and greatest (and worst, overhyped, etc.) dining spots around Boston. Mike and Katie weren’t impressed. So I put it off and off… until I figured I gave the place enough time to work out its “new restaurant” kinks (they didn’t used to have a lunch menu for example which is just silly being right next to several high rise buildings full of hungry business folks – they do now).

So last Thursday Adam and I were hungry for a dinner out. The restaurant was rightthere and also happened to be on my 30 by 30 list so we decided to go for it! [Not so coincidently, I read Daisy’s super positive review that very afternoon… I’m sure that had a lot to do with why Towne was on my brain.] We were there early since we just wanted to grab a bite to eat after work, and it was sort of dead in the dining room area. I wasn’t particularly impressed with the décor – I found it to be too close to something a chain restaurant would try to pull off – dark leather booths with quirky images on walls (I’ve read that the second floor is a little more impressive). Like I said we were mostly there to just grab a bite to eat so I wasn’t necessarily looking for a good “atmosphere” anyway.

The bread basket with an eggplant dip, butter and something unrecognizable arrived soon enough (the runner mumbled what the dibs were so apologies for not really knowing). The bread was cold and sweet and did not work with the dips provided.

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The sangria was awesome though! I think the bread basket is an easy and cheap way to impress the guests from the start but good drinks can certainly score some extra points if needed. I loved that the sangria wasn’t very sweet. Very refreshing on a hot summer day!

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Time to peruse the menu… whoa, expensive!! The fish entrees are all in the low $30’s with some meat items priced into the $40’s. That’s extremely expensive for a place of this caliber in my opinion. After being completely shocked by the prices (seriously, nothing about this place says high end except for the prices!) we made our choices.

I wanted to try their lobster roll since I haven’t had one this summer at all! It wasn’t actually on the menu (despite being on the menu online) so I got scared for a moment when I didn’t see it but the waitress informed us that they just brought it back today. Yay!

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Lobster roll with sherry butter in a brioche bun, served with house-made chips

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The moment of truth. The place is expensive and isn’t particularly inviting, the service is average at best… but how is the food?

The brioche bun was tiny (the size of a regular hot dog bun I suppose), overflowing with big chunks of lobster meat, which was delicious. It was warm, rich and buttery, slightly sweet – very flavorful (one of the best lobster roll fillings I’ve ever had!). BUT, the bun was not only small, it got soggy in seconds so a sandwich that was difficult to hold from the start, got impossible to pick up after the first bite. The bun seriously was inedible after a minute so I was picking at the lobster meat with a fork. For $27, just a few forkfuls of lobster meat were not satisfying enough. [For full disclosure, the waitress did ask how things were and I told her about the bun. She asked if I wanted the chef to make me another one but I was just over it at that point so I declined.]

Adam got the half order of fried clams ($21) which were no better than the stuff you’d get anywhere. Absolutely NOTHING special about them at all.

It’s safe to say this was a complete bust. We both felt cheated. The restaurant is in a great location and has very talented names behind it but the concept (or maybe just the price point) makes absolutely no sense… and even execution was clearly lacking. This was the most disappointing meal we’ve had this year and we eat out several times a week! I absolutely would not recommend this spot for dinner. The brunch seems to get better scores from the yelpers but it’s unlikely I’ll get to find out for myself.

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19 comments to 30 by 30: lobster roll at Towne

  • I’m so glad you reviewed this place, and I’m glad it was a thoroughly honest review! Kyle and I always pass by Towne and we’ll momentarily consider it when we’re in the area, but now I think we’ll just continue passing it over for someplace else.

    Damn shame too, because lobster rolls are so tasty! :(

  • Wow, so disappointing when you have a restaurant experience like that… especially when it is expensive! Sometimes you just need to see it for yourself, though, even if you have a feeling that might happen:-)

  • I am totally with you about Towne – not a fan. I also find their service to be incredibly pretentious.

  • I’ve only been once for brunch, but I wasn’t really impressed either. (And the host was kind of rude.) I was hoping a dinner experience would be better. It sounds like I just need to go have that burger at lunch, and then I’ll be set there.

  • If you want an opposite situation – head back across the river to your new favorite spot – Davis Square – and hit up Out of the Blue. Not fancy, definitley a litlte local hidden treasure. Amazingly fresh seafood, great portions, awesome prices, open kitchen, cheap wine. I”m often there at the bar happily with a book, wine (HUGE pour), and the sauteed calamri app. YUM. Don’t go for decor or ambience, it’s just purely amazing, local, family owned, great food. That’s it.

  • I’ve heard and read so many bad reviews about Towne that now I simply have no interest in checking it out. I was excited when they first opened and like you, wanted to wait until they worked out the kinks. Oh well, I’ll just have to stick to the Cape and Portland, ME for my lobstah!!

  • Ugh. Such a bummer. I’ve never successfully dined at Towne because it is always WAY to packed when I’ve gone in. Sounds like it’s not worth it…

  • I love this recap and I’m a big believer in telling the truth. I am OFTEN disappointed by the restaurants that are supposed to be the new trendy GO-TO place. I’m happy you told the truth. That Towne is overpriced for what it is!! Thanks for the honest review.

    Now if you want a lobster roll that is absolutely worth the price tag, go to Neptune Oyster.

  • i am glad you were honest! i’ve heard mixed reviews as well..the lobster roll sounds good but i agree seems WAY overpriced. the place seems like it’s trying so hard but just not holding up. i wonder how long it will last?

  • Oh my… sorry it was disappointing, but at least that nagging curiousity is now gone, and another item ticked off!

  • Wow, those prices are outrageous for what you get.

    But now I want a lobster roll. And I live in Nashville. I kind of don’t think that’s going to happen. ;)

  • ooh, i saw that good review too, but now i’m not convinced! bummer it didn’t turn out so hot :(

  • I’ve only been to Towne once and was really surprised by how pricey is was. I felt like it was too large of a spot to have such high price points, if that makes sense? That said, my cocktail was amazing as was my steak. The menu was so odd though, with weird things starred and italicized and random flags on some of the dishes. I feel like they were *trying* to do something cool, but didn’t follow through.

  • aww thanks for linking back to my post! Sorry you were disappointed, that seems to be the consensus with Towne. I probably wouldn’t bother going back for dinner since everyone’s reviews are so mediocre, even though I had a good burger and nice time on the patio. I am in agreement that everything else was wayy overpriced!!

  • [...] dieting.  I love that she has tried making a lot of new things I want to make and eats at a lot of places I’d like to eat.  But more importantly, I too would love to not be on a [...]

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