Archives for February 2015

Restaurant Review: Townsend

Remember when this used to mostly be a blog about food?

Me too.

For obvious reasons, we don’t go out to eat a ton these days. And, when we do, it’s usually for brunch or lunch, to the same places where we already know that the food will be decent, the service will be quick and we’ll get minimal dirty looks if our kid has a meltdown in the middle of the main course.

So, that’s why I was pretty excited to go out to an early Valentine’s Day dinner at Townsend, one of the latest additions to the ever-expanding dining options on East Passyunk Avenue. Chef Townsend Wentz was previously employed at various Center City institutions such as Lacroix and the Fountain at the Four Seasons, so it’s not totally surprising that he chose to fashion this restaurant as a modern French bistro.

The menu changes seasonally, and on the night we visited, it was heavy on the seafood options, which is always okay with me!

To start, I had the beef tartare. This was one of the best versions of the dish that I have had. The beef was prepared with just enough mustard and lemon to give it a memorable flavor, without being overpowering. The grilled slivers of bread, with melted sheep’s milk cheese were an excellent complement.


Chester, meanwhile, had the oysters.He enjoyed them, but thought that the fact that they were cooked and topped with bacon masked some of their natural flavor. I have never heard anyone complain about something being topped with bacon, but I’m not really a fan of oysters, so what do I know?


We shared the next course, escargot and brussel sprouts. The escargot were tender and flavorful and the sprouts were perfectly crunchy,and the sherry cream sauce took the whole dish over the top. The portion looked small, but the dish was so rich that it ended up being just enough. And, we liked it so much that we devoured it without taking a photo.

I feel like I rarely see bouillabaisse on restaurant menus, so I chose that for my entree. While it had a generous helping of seafood (a slightly crispy cod, tender scallops, mussels and clams), it also had a generous helping of Old Bay seasoning, which I didn’t love. It overpowered the flavors of the broth, completely masking any hit of saffron that is characteristic of the dish. I ended up with mixed feelings about the dish, and probably would choose something different on a future visit.


Chester chose the venison, which was on the Valentine’s Day menu. I only had a small bite, but it was tender and flavorful, and not at all gamey (which is what I had expected).


To end the meal, we shared the chocolate soufflé (which means that Chester had half a bite and I ate the rest). This may have been my favorite part of the meal. I mean, you can’t go wrong with warm, fluffy dark chocolate, right?


Overall, I think that Townsend is a great addition to Passyunk Avenue and it’s definitely a nice date night option. It was definitely nice to have a grown-ups only dinner for the first time in a few months.

It was back to regularly scheduled programming the next day, as we took B to Max Brenner for Valentine’s Day brunch. She got the biggest sugar rush of her life from a few sips of a chocolate milkshake and it was completely adorable!

Little B: 17 Months


With the exception of New Year’s festivities at the beginning of January, we have mostly been hibernating at home. It’s cold, and, after the rush of the holiday season, it is kind of nice not to have too many commitments. Still, B has managed to keep herself pretty busy during the last month, and as a result, we are busy chasing after her, as you’ll see in this latest update:


Two more teeth (including another molar), have made their appearance.


B is like a little tornado. She runs through the house, leaving toys and books in her path. She bounces from one end of the couch to the other and tries to ride Poor Tracy (yes, that has become the dog’s proper name lately, although B has also taken to calling her “T”) like a pony. When she falls, it usually doesn’t phase her too much and she’ll spring right back up again. Overall, she is pretty coordinated, unless she is really tired. Then, she stumbles around like a drunk and it’s hilarious.

She still loves to dance. She will start doing the twist and/or bobbing up and down and flapping her hands when her favorite songs come on. It’s a move that we have labeled “The Bridget” and I don’t think words can adequately describe it. I need to start keeping my video camera at the ready so that I can capture it.

Stair-climbing has also been a favorite activity for awhile, but she is getting really good at going up and down while holding our hands. The prospect of going up and down has made it a bit easier to convince her to get a diaper change or go up to bed. All we have to say is “do you want to go up?” and she sprints to the staircase and waits for us to open the gate so she can start her climb.



Cheese face!

Most of the time, B is giggly and affectionate  I don’t know if it’s the cold, continued teething or maybe the fact that she misses me during the day, but she seems to want to be closer than ever to me lately. Often, after she has her milk in the morning or dinner at night, she’ll lead me to the couch and we’ll have a good snuggle. Lately, if I’m wearing a long sleeve shirt, she’ll put her hand up my sleeve and just stroke my arm. Seriously, I notice the most random things. But to me, this is one of the sweetest gestures ever.


Full of sass

Other times, I wonder if “terrible twos” have started early in our house. Lately, she has taken to hitting when she gets frustrated about something and pouting in the corner when we correct her bad behavior.  I know part of it is just frustration about still not being able to communicate her feelings, so I am hoping that as her communication keeps improving these outbursts will diminish as well.


New words this month include “A-den” (again); “Heh” (hair); “Yeah”; “Milp” (Milk). She is also becoming skilled at a wide variety of animal sounds (woof, quack and meow) and using non-verbal communication to get attention—fake crying and coughing are her current specialties.

Favorite Books

This month, it’s “LMNO Peas,” “Goodnight, Mr. Darcy,” “Bunny and Bee Can’t Sleep” and “Happy Hippo, Angry Duck.”

Favorite Songs

The theme song from “Arthur” remains her favorite, although “Elmo’s Song” and “Apples and Bananas” are becoming frequent requests. Sometimes she “sings” along with us, which mostly just involves her trying to copy the melody by making a collection of random sounds.

Favorite Things


Little artist.

She loves her kitchen set and Little People toys and is getting better with crayons. Poor Tracy is still her favorite playmate. Although, their games are pretty one-sided, if you ask me, as they mostly involve B stealing Tracy’s ball, and Tracy looking on pitifully as B scampers away with it.


dinner table

At the big kids’ table

Last month, I mentioned that I was determined to start sneaking some vegetables into B’s diet. I started with a delicious (at least in my opinion) spinach, mango, pineapple and banana smoothie. She took one sip, and said “all done.”

After that, though, she started eating broccoli by the handful. Seriously. Maybe she resented my attempts to fool her into eating her vegetables and wanted to prove that she liked them after all. Or, maybe we just settled on something that she likes (at least for the moment). Either way, I consider this progress!

She has also become a big fan of cheese—grilled, with macaroni, in quesadillas or just by the slice. She still won’t touch chicken, and has been hit or miss with beef, which has been one of our other go-to proteins.

Overall, she really seems to love food. She has been practicing using a fork and gets excited and says “Mmmm!” whenever food-related words are mentioned. We have started a new routine of eating dinner together every night. Sometimes, she gets her own meal, but for the most part, we have been trying to give her whatever we are eating. I’m hoping that this will encourage her to try new things. It’s been hit or miss, but I really enjoy this little bit of time that we all have together at the end of the day, and I think she does too.

Fun Experiences

As I mentioned, we’ve kept things pretty low key this month, but I think we are already reaching the point where we are getting antsy for Spring. We have been hoping for at least one good snowstorm so that we can go out and build a snowman, but so far, everything that has been promised by the weather people has not materialized.

B seems to get especially bored and whiny if she spends a full day indoors (another way in which she is just like her parents) and lately if we tell her we are going out, she’s trying to open the door before we can even bundle her up! So, for the next few weeks, we’ll just keep looking forward to a time when it’s warm and sunny, so that we can take trips to the park, walks around the city and start packing for B’s first international trip—to Ireland! She got her very first passport and is all ready to go!


Official passport photo. She might be detained for cuteness!