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.
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!
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!
Lobster roll with sherry butter in a brioche bun, served with house-made chips
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.
For other restaurant reviews, check out my restaurant reviews page.