We went to see The Sheila Divine play at the Paradise on Friday night, but since the doors didn’t open until 8 pm and there were two opening bands scheduled, we decided to stay out after work instead of going home first (you know, in case we risked getting too warm and comfortable at the house and deciding to bail on the show … ahhh, old age …).
I managed to find a carved out metered parking spot near the Charles Hotel, so we fed the meter with the last four quarters we could find and started the night with drinks at Rialto’s bar. Well, I had a glass of Malbec while my husband drank two cups of coffee. Yes, coffee. At like 6 pm. I know, strange isn’t it? I have never seen him do that before but he insisted it would help him survive until 1 am. Okay.
Somehow we managed to find a parking spot on Newbury Street, and luckily it was already 7 pm by the time we got there so we only had to pay for another hour. Although, the City of Boston is quite sneaky: they’ve changed it from 15 minutes per quarter to only 12 minutes per quarter. From there, and in the less than 15 degree weather, we walked over to Boylston Street debating on whether we should have sushi at Samurai Boston, or if we should try to see if we could get a seat at a newer restaurant that we had unsuccessfully tried to get into a couple of months ago, Towne Stove and Spirits. We figured that we had a lot of time to kill so we mozied over to Towne.
We were actually surprised that we could get a table for two right away, and upstairs nonetheless, where it’s a tiny bit quieter since it’s farther away from the bar downstairs. It is quite a huge restaurant! We both liked the atmosphere even though it was quite loud. The open kitchen and decor are pretty cool. I really liked the salt and paper shakers because they had cool knobs.
We were both a little surprised at how cheesy the menu looks though: it just didn’t seem to fit with their overall decor and then when you see the prices of the entrees, you’d think they would’ve presented the menu in a classier way. It’s big in size, very colorful, and laminated in plastic. I dare say that their wine and cocktail menu was far nicer than the food menu!
I convinced my husband to share the grilled octopus salad ($11) with me, and then that we would share a flat bread pizza. So of course, I did what I usually do when I place an order: I asked the waitress to inform the chef that I am allergic to cracked red pepper and basically anything spicy. She assured me that she would notify the kitchen.
Alas, she brought the salad to the table and pointed out that they included some type of pepper on the salad.
At this point, I was confused. She clearly knew that there was a pepper on the plate, yet she put it down on the table anyway and asked us if we wanted to have them remake it. I looked up at her and said, “Well I would feel really bad if they had to, but would it take them a long time?” but instead of causing a scene, my husband decided that we would just keep this dish for him to eat and they could make another one for me without the pepper on top this time. (He is way too nice sometimes, seriously.) So we waited another five minutes and she brought a version of the dish back without the sliced peppers on top this time.
The aforementioned situation aside, we both agreed that the octopus was very bland. There was just no flavor at all, which is too bad because it was grilled nicely. The salad itself didn’t have much flavor either.
We got the g & j’s mushroom duxelles wood grilled pizza ($16) which was served with scallions and fresh homemade cheese. It smelled really good and it was large enough to share. I liked the flavor from the mushrooms but it wasn’t a “wow” kind of pizza, which was quite disappointing, especially after the salad situation. We ate about 2/3 of it before deciding to take the last two slices home, and opted for dessert after we saw it at two of the tables near us.
It was the brown sugar angel cake with caramel ice cream and maple cotton candy ($10). Yes! Maple cotton candy! You can imagine our shock when we saw them bring it out to the table behind us (as well as the looks and stares from just about everyone else in the room), simply because we’ve never seen cotton candy as a dessert option at a restaurant before. Let alone something that big and poofy on a linen covered table.
The cotton candy, aside from being pure sugar, was probably the best part of the whole night and our experience at Towne. The angel food cake was a bit dense and difficult to cut through with my spoon, and the ice cream was a bit watery.
Overall, I have to say we were very disappointed at Towne. Despite a lively and fun atmosphere in a beautifully decorated space, the food was very lacking and seemed way overpriced. The entree items were in the $25-$40 range which didn’t seem to fit the vibe they were sending with the menu’s layout and look. I would definitely go back there for a drink and more of their cotton candy, but I think I would leave the dining to tourists and power-suit business folks. I wouldn’t really recommend it for a date night because of the noise factor, and it is definitely not fit for families or kids.
And just to go back to the whole salad thing mentioned earlier: I don’t know who was to blame for that. I kind of felt like the waitress could’ve taken it one step further to address the peppers on the plate with the kitchen instead of dumping the situation on us because I think I had made it clear to her that I was allergic to them, even when she brought the plate over. I also kind of think there’s a bit of ignorance on both sides — the kitchen and the waitress — as to what “cracked red pepper” entails. This touches on how people don’t associate things with each other, such as bell peppers which is where cracked red pepper and paprika come from. It has happened numerous times where I order a burger and tell them I’m allergic to tomatoes, but they usually always bring ketchup with my fries. We gave her a reasonable tip regardless of the situation because she was nice and attentive otherwise, but the way the situation was played out (which ended up kind of putting us in a dampened mood) could’ve been handled differently/better.
Towne Stove and Spirits
900 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02215