Tuesday, October 5, 2010

towne stove + spirits

I have to admit that this is one of the most unusual restaurant impressions I've ever written and it took weeks for me to figure out how to present it. In between appointments one day I decided to stop in at towne, the new Lydia Shire/Jasper White venture, and I was given full roaming rights. They let me just walk around for an hour in the empty space (only the 1st floor is open for lunch but I had access to the 2nd floor) and photograph to my heart's content.

This turned out to be an amazing restaurant experience because what's most interesting here is the space. First, it has to be the largest dining spot in Boston. Second, the huge scale is not lost on the tiny details. Third, there are all sorts of interesting, really thoughtful nuances that reflect the tastes and personalities of both famous Boston Chefs. Let's take a look and I'd love to hear from others about their reactions and opinions.

The very large 1st floor bar area fronts Boylston Street with the dining room tucked into the back. Good choice as it seems like it operates as an entirely separate space.

One of the first things that caught my eye was this low mural that reminded me of a Parisian bistro. Not something I expected.

I have to admit I chomped down my roast beef and brie sandwich, which was great, served with perfect fries and an au jus dipping sauce, as every roast beef sandwich should be. Impeccably clean with professional attendance, everything about the food and service was admirable in a place of any size.

Big windows, small tables that can be grouped and regrouped, the 1st floor is a very flexible space. Near to me was a fashionable group of about ten diners enjoying a fine lunch with lots of wine bottles on the table.

The downstairs dining area is the more casual choice with a large bar area.

Notice on this table the salt and pepper grinders are turned with knobs reminiscent of hot and cold water spigots from a 1940s bathroom design. It's just one of the oddball slants that made me think of another place and time.

Iced water is served in beaker glasses, another example of the quirky touches. What really freaked me out here is that I've been attending a lecture series at Harvard where they actually use these in demonstrations of food and science interactions.

Very tall ceilings with subtle lighting makes the main room on the 2nd floor the more romantic choice.

The main dining room is dramatically large and more elegant. Although it was empty I could envision people of a certain age vying for choice tables on a Saturday night.

One of the many smaller bar areas on the 2nd floor offers an option to the larger bar.

Quieter, more intimate spots almost make for a private dining experience.

Both larger and smaller tables are tucked into comfortable nooks.

Window views include this view onto the plaza at Prudential Center.

The alternate window view is out onto busy Boylston Street.

What I think I took away from this is that towne is immense and will probably succeed because it is about ten restaurants in one, synched into a space with stellar design and service. And the location? Just what more could a Convention Center want than a fine dining option? If you have ever worked at a convention you know what I mean. Yet, it also stands alone. I can't wait to go back some weekend night with a group of friends for the second impression.

towne stove + spirits
900 Boylston st
Boston, MA 02115
Telephone: 617.247.0400

Towne Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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