after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

forgetting Townsend

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t says:  It had been a while since the four of us (g, t, a, v) went out to eat for dinner, so we were super-psyched when v’s new resolution – “New Restaurant Fridays” – took us to Townsend on East Passyunk.  You see, we’ve been so strapped for time lately that g and I just kept on going back to our favorites: Serpico, Sotto, Mercato, etc.  Not only that, we couldn’t even make it to all of our favorites (it’s been ages since we’ve been back to Talula’s Garden!)  So the real question was going to be this one: could Townsend put on a strong enough show to be added to the rotation?  Let’s find out …

September 2014, Friday Dinner, Party of 4.  To get things started on this very special occasion, I called up the restaurant and asked them if they did corkage.  Nope.  That’s a big fat negative.  They played it as, “we have a wine list that pairs excellently with our food – we don’t allow outside wine”.  Now, I’m ok if a place just doesn’t want us to bring wine – that’s fine – just say: “we have a full bar and we don’t allow outside wine” – and I’d give you more props for saying: “bringing your wine eats into our profits” (because really, that’s what restaurants really mean).  But if you’re going to have the audacity to promote your excellent wines, you better back it up with … some excellent wines.  When we arrived, we were greeted with a wine list … and no actual suggestions on what they recommended to pair with each dish.  That was weird: what happened to the excellent pairings?  That’s ok – this wasn’t a’s and my first rodeo.  Next we were surprised by the markups.  Like “holy crap” markups.  Spending over $40 for a bottle of Gruet is insane.  Absolutely insane. Finally, the wines kinda sorta sucked.  I had a rose that tasted like water-downed grenache (a felt it was more like rubbing alcohol), a mediocre red (and a steal at $8/glass!), and a pretty run-of-the-mill French chardonnay.  Basically, not a single “oh I can’t believe they have that” or “whoa – where is that from?” … just “meh” after “meh”.  Ok – time to step down from my wine soapbox and get on with the food:

The escargots were "ok", but the real winner was the surrounding broth, full of usual bait.

The escargots in the foreground were “ok”, but the real winner was the surrounding broth it was in, full of a creamy delicious savory broth that we just couldn’t get enough of (it was full of bait: mushrooms, bacon, etc).  The ramekin in the back held a foie mousse which was fine, but not really at all that special.

hamachi was ok

hamachi was crudo hit the usual notes one would expect for a crudo, while the tartare had some nice mustard accents.


my skate was tasty but a little overcooked.  That bed of corn was delectable, however, allowing me to believe that I won dinner.


v’s chicken was nice – solid, but nothing that extraordinary.


g’s fish was also nicely done, on a bed of smokey paprika-fied accompaniments.

As you can see, our descriptions here are a little on the light side.  Normally we gush or put forth some real criticism.  And you know what, we did have some things to say about their food as we were leaving that night – we had some real strong opinions … but we forgot them all … because we immediately had our brains melted … by this:


after dinner at Townsend, the gang went to Fond for some drinks and dessert.  and that’s where a and I saw it: the pork belly was on the menu.  Would it be ridiculous to eat pork belly for dessert?  Not if you’ve ever had this pork belly.  You see, Lee Styer is such a stud; his pork belly is the softest, most flavorful pork product we’ve had this year, and that’s even before taking into account that thick crispy crust that mocks the “braised pork belly” on any other menu in the city.  It’s just not even fair.  Bibou had once stolen the adsz award for “best pork belly” from Lee a while back (with a special that was on for only one night), but with this show, Lee has reclaimed the belt.  And, as we sat there at the bar, a and I greedily eating this belly, ignoring for a moment the incredulous smirks from our life-mates g and v, we realized that we had forgotten all the nitpicky details about Townsend’s food, as they melted away into a single problem: they had no Fond Pork Belly.  There was not one bite that would haunt us like this one.  Even now as I write this, I find myself ever so slightly on the verge of drooling.

So I guess that’s it.  Townsend was fine for food, but not better than another’s in the immediate area.  Then consider their wine list which got 8 thumbs down from the gang, both for assaulting our wallets and our palates.  And while their very attentive and kind service tried to save the night (they’re not Talula’s Garden good, but still good), ultimately, we expect the noise will die down, as people go back to the restaurants like Fond that sparked the dining explosion in Philadelphia … and could very well keep it burning for years to come.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

28 September 2014 at 9:48pm

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