Night out with The Parents — Townsend’s in Hyde Park

A few months ago, I wrote of a chance meeting with Townsend’s owner, Michael Tallon. At the time, I was extremely impressed with the new space they were comfortably settling into and was even more enamoured by Michael’s attention to detail, hospitality and the creativity of his executive team.

I have been wanting to make a formal visit for some time now and decided that this past Saturday night would be perfect. My parents were in town vi sting from NJ and I wanted to take them to a place where they would feel comfortable, enjoy the food and where my dad would have an amazing beer list to pick from. Townsend’s seemed like the obvious choice and we were not disappointed.

I emailed Michael last minute and he graciously squeezed us in for 6:30pm that night. We sat upstairs in the space that can also be used for private functions. We learned that this was the last weekend for their summer menu — which will definitely encourage The Husband and I to go back again soon for the Fall version.

We started our evening with drinks. I had a glass of the Croney Estate, Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand ($7) — a full-bodied and fruity wine that I enjoyed. The Husband opted for the beer Tasting Sampler — four 6-ounce pours of beer for $12. Michael provided him with some great recommendations and he enjoyed each course. My mom got the CBC Pumpkin Ale from Cambridge ($4.85) and my dad went with the Wittekerke Wheat from Belgium ($6.25); both beers arrived in a 20oz pint glass and both were easily finished and enjoyed.

Only The Husband and I opted for appetizers. I decided to stick with something seasonal that would be coming off the menu and got the Spring Greens Salad — with raspberries, golden beets, pistachio rolled goat cheese & sherry vinaigrette ($7). The salad was fresh, the goat cheese was creamy and nicely flavored, but the dressing was a little too tart for me. I still enjoyed the salad very much… but puckered a bit after my first bite.

The Husband went with the Pate of the Day, which was veal ($12), for his appetizer. This was a spectacular dish (from what I hear). The pate was creamy, gamey (in a good way) and everyone at the table wanted a taste. This was a special of the evening and does not normally appear on the menu. Therefore, if they have it when you visit… be sure to scarf this one up!

Shortly after, another appetizer arrived — the Seafood Trio of skewered shrimp, smoked bluefish pate & fried salmon bellies with honey soy — compliments of the chef (and normally $11)! Thank you again, Michael! The shrimp were sweet and succulent with a spicy rub. The salmon was super tender and moist and had almost a tempura (or maybe a beer batter) coating. I have never had salmon “bellies” before… this is obviously a fatter portion of the fish, as the meat melted like butter on the tongue. The bluefish pate was smokey and savory and paired great with the crostini that came on the side.

For my dinner, I also wanted to reap the last benefits of the summer season by ordering the PEI Beer Mussels (which were actually an appetizer) — served with Smithwick’s red Ale, herbs, butter & foccacia crostinis ($8). This was a huge portion (which I couldn’t finish) and is easily large enough for a dinner entree. The mussels were tender, briny and the ale broth was delicious — especially when sopped up with the foccacia.

The Husband followed cue and got the Big Summer Salad with shrimp skewers ($15) as his main course. The description didn’t lie… this was a big salad. The shrimp skewers included 3 jumbo shrimp atop red leaf lettuce, huge cucumber slices and dressed in a what looked like a red wine vinaigrette. The plate was left empty…

My mom choose a classic… the Grilled Beef Hanger Steak — served with pomme frites and Townsend’s own pickle ($21). While she enjoyed this, in retrospect, she wished that she had opted for the special entree of the evening — a stewed ox tail (one of her favorite dishes).

My dad jumped right into Fall with the Molasses Glazed Berkshire Pork Tenderloin — with roast sweet potatoes & Asian pear jam ($22). He loved everything about this dish. It was cooked perfected, was a huge portion and the flavors melded together making this a delicious and satisfying meal.

Being the hogs that we are, we couldn’t finish our evening without trying some of Rosalee’s (Michael’s wife) famous deserts. The Husband and I split her signature Banana Bread Pudding with bourbon caramel ($6). It was to die for… I pretty much licked the ramekin clean. My dad tried one of the homemade Seasonal Sorbets — going with the Papaya flavor ($3). He liked it, but would have preferred mango (which was not on the menu that night).

Overall, a wonderful dining experience coupled with unsurpassed hospitality from the Tallon’s and their crew. We will definitely be going back and cannot wait to try to new Fall menu (which started this week). It’s a bit different than the past, with an entire section of the menu dedicated to small plates… many of which can also be requested as entree-sized portions. This will give the diner a chance to taste more of what Townsend’s has to offer. Personally, I have my eye on the Butternut Gnocchi — with roast sugar pumpkins and crushed gingersnaps ($10) and the Handmade Truffle Pappardelle — with red currants and wild mushrooms ($12). Mmmm….

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