Hooray for birthday dinners! My original plan was to allow my parents to treat me to a night at Sorellina (which normally I can’t afford), but I heard about Lydia Shire & Jasper White’s new restaurant Towne in the Hynes Convention Center and couldn’t resist. Upon entering it appears to be a small neighborhood bar, but round the corner to the left and you’ll find yourself in the cozy & contemporary dining room, complete with booths, tables, and a 2nd bar. Each table top is adorned with picnic patterned cloth napkins, lab beakers in replace of water glasses, and salt & peppers shakers that resemble sink faucets.
Bread: 3 different types with 3 different spreads. Unfortunately I couldn’t fully understand the server who delivered the bread but on the right we have an eggplant puree, the middle is butter which I didn’t try b/c the spread on the left was too damn good. Not spicy, but had a nice bite to it!
Menu: Large & laminated. Oversized menus annoy me; there’s never any room for them on the table (and mainly I’m concerned that I’m going to knock over a wine glass with it). The print & style of the menu was reminiscent of Lydia Shire’s Scampo: sections read vertical & horizontal and are divided into a variety of categories (Crustacea, Wood-Fired Rotisserie, Ocean, Rice etc…). Random flags appear next to certain meals representing their country of origin. After bouncing from one food group to the other I eventually landed on the “Salmon… charred wild king w/ tart key lime & palm sugar gastrique… okinawan yam”.
Presentation/Taste: I can’t say much about the “tart key lime & palm sugar gastrique”, mainly because I don’t know what/where it was… but the salmon was topped with swiss chard next to the beautifully displayed okinawan yam puree. I’ve never tried the purple yam before and I’m sorry I haven’t! The salmon was cooked ‘medium’ like I requested and paired well with the yam. And for dessert: Brown Butter Angel Food Cake. Known to certain diners as “The Don King”, the cake was topped with a mound of brown sugar cotton candy. What a b-day dessert this was! The cake itself was a bit too dense for me to consider it an “angel food cake”, but I wasn’t complaining, especially after trying the caramel ice cream.
Bathroom: Clean, sleek, with an odd green theme: the countertop is lime-ish green and the brick walls were a lighter shade of the same hue. I really enjoyed the sinks: motion activated and the water came pouring right out of the faucet. Always appreciate something different!
Wait Staff: Wonderful. When I called earlier in the day to add my uncle to the reservation they said it wasn’t possible, but upon arrival they were more than happy to change our table or pull up another chair to our 1/2 booth. Our waitress was personable, had answers to our many questions, and pretended like my over-zealous bday attitude was charming … therefore, I thoroughly enjoyed her.
Overall: While the menu doesn’t excite me to tears, there are still a few items I’d love to try. This is a fairly new restaurant (which I believe opened in July 2010) but I would have loved to see some seasonal dishes (not a pumpkin/butternut squash meal in sight!). Some items are over priced – the $21 hamburger for instance – but you can still have a full meal without digging too deep into your wallet (salads run around $11, pizzas around $17).
The Perfect Bite: Just give me the okinawan… purple yam all the way!