Last night I went to a great concierge dinner at Towne Stove & Spirits on Boylston Street. The restaurant is the concept by local chefs Lydia Shire (Locke Ober & Scampo) and Jasper White (Summer Shack). And we were given the immense pleasure to have dinner with Ms. Shire herself.
It was seriously like meeting a celebrity for me. She was so open to all of our ideas on how we can improve upon the restaurant and just getting our general feelings on what we look for when we are going out dining. I even had the pleasure of sitting down with her one on one and we just talked about restaurants and life in general. I asked her what her favorite restaurant is and I was very surprised with her answer. She loves Ken’s Steakhouse in Framingham, MA. But her reason was something that I definitely understood. Ken’s Steakhouse is always and consistently good. They know her and they know how to make her favorite cocktail and her favorite dish. She says that a favorite restaurant shouldn’t be what the reviews are telling you to like (what’s the latest trend, who has the most intriguing menu, who is on the “it” list, etc…), it should be a place where you know that you are going to feel like you are at home and you know that you are going to get good food. For me, that is how I feel about Limoncello in the North End. It’s not on Hanover Street and it’s not the latest craze in Italian dining, but the food is always good, the service is great and I feel welcome and at home when I’m there. It was actually very refreshing to hear that coming from such a renowned Boston chef. It made me like her even more.
Now onto the food!
This dinner was a little different because we were placed in a private dining room and had passed hors d’oeurve’s before we sat down to dinner. To start, I had a taste of the tuna tartar with wasabi and lemon aioli. I loved it. I never thought I’d be a raw tuna fan, but these were delicious. I also tried the beef tartar with aioli, but it was a bit too salty for me. For a drink, I had a delicious meritage. I love meritage wine.
When we sat down we were instructed that we had free rein of the menu and to get whatever we wanted. Score. They had already placed a nice basket of bread on the table with three different spreads: an eggplant spread, butter, and one that had a very complicated list of ingredients. Unfortunately I didn’t write them down. They had also ordered a lobster flatbread for the table.
I’m not a huge lobster fan but this flatbread was amazing. It had red Swiss chard and meyer lemon aioli. The lobster was so juicy and tender.
For my own appetizer, I decided on the apple and celery root soup with chestnut flan. The restaurant tries to incorporate entrée’s from different countries and this soup was from Great Britain. It had a subtle apple flavor but it was a bit to buttery for my liking. After a few spoonful’s, I was done.
But first, I was instructed to take a picture of a dish that they were taking off the menu: the fettuccini alfredo called The Truth which was invented by Paul Pierce. It’s a creamy, cheesy dish that has no cream in it. It was pretty darn tasty.
And I was so excited for my entrée: the Peking chicken with scallion pancake.
The chicken was perfectly cooked; moist in the middle with a crispy skin. The only thing that I was disappointed in was the scallion pancake. I was under the impression that it may be like a latke (potato pancake) but it was more like fried dough with scallions. When Lydia asked us our thoughts on the dishes, I brought this up. And they welcomed the criticism. I loved it they were truly interested in our impression.
Side note: The restaurant is only 9 months old so they are still working things out when it comes to the menu. But even at that young age, they were voted, out of 50 restaurants in America, #7 hippest new restaurants on OpenTable.com. Very cool!
I also had a side of cauliflower with golden raisins, pine nut and parsley “picata”. It was good. I ended up taking the rest home.
For dessert, Lydia recommended the pavlova with lemon curd and raspberries.
Mine ended up with blueberries but that was ok. The meringue was tough on the outside and the inside wasn’t too much different. There were a few spots where it was smooth but for the most part, it was like one big crust. The lemon curd was a nice silky touch but a tad too tart for me. The blueberries were nice and juicy. I also had a coffee with Baileys to end the night.
Overall, my experience at Towne was definitely a memorable one. The food, company and service were very good and being able to dine with Lydia Shire was the crowning jewel.
Like all previous concierge dinners, everything was complimentary and these opinions are that of my own.
Towne Stove & Spirits is located at 900 Boylston Street, Boston, MA in the Hynes Convention Center.