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.

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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?

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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.

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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).

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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?

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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!

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