By Bovey Rao ’19
Let’s retake brunch and make it our own. Brunch, of all the meals, has the most posh reputation with fancy sounding dishes and cocktails. Not to say that I do not love a well-made eggs benedict with hollandaise or a perfect slice of spinach gruyere quiche. But sometimes a little adventure is needed to blow the dust off the brunch tradition. Brunch needs to be an event.
One of Boston’s best new restaurants, Townsman, on the periphery of the Financial District, makes brunch its own. Normally, Townsman is the destination for towers of fresh seafood, imaginative cocktails, and nuanced entrees. However, on the last Saturday of each month, they open their doors on Saturday morning for brunch. It is everything that brunch needs.
Loud electronic music reverberated through the restaurant as you open the door. Immediately, I felt the excitement as the warm light and tasteful decorations draw you in further. While the hostess brought my group to our table, we couldn’t help but marvel at the comfortable and expansive cocktail lounge and bar. We pass a live DJ expertly manipulating the soundboard and peer into the open kitchen for a live shot of the action.
Our last stop before being seated was the renowned cake table, which is periodically restocked with a wide array of breads, cakes, and pastries. The large windows bathed the dining room comfortably with warm light, as we excitedly sat down examined the menu.
Being a devout fan of pastry natural brought me to the cake table (AYCE for $10), as I examined the various prepared confections. The thin slices of quiche were unbelievably buttery as the crust simply melted in the mouth. The splendid puffed pastries filled with a savory mix of ingredients that I was unable to identify served as an excellent counterbalance to the sweets. Monkey, zucchini, and banana breads covered my plate as I nibbled at the thin slice of filled brioche. The overwhelming variety of pastries seemed more appropriate for a coffee shop window, but I relished the opportunity to finally reach over and help myself to whatever I so wanted. The peanut butter and chocolate trifle might have been better as a dessert, but the rich chocolate cake with light peanut mousse would help satisfy any sweet tooth.
Already feeling slightly full after spending 20 minutes at the cake table, our meals arrived. While the menu contains of the classic dishes like chicken and waffles or steel cut oatmeal, the chef playfully modifies the dishes with touches like a sweet and sour piperade or fried sprigs of rosemary. My chicken and oatmeal waffles was a misstep on my part. After the cake table, the amount of starch began to slow me down. The complex sweetness of the maple syrup absorbed deep into waffle and complemented the spicy creamy mayonnaise. The true surprise was the pickle brined fried chicken. My first bite simply melted in my mouth as the chicken was juicy beyond belief. It was truly a revelation as my chicken vanished from the plate. The unique chicken fried (chicken fried is a method of preparation) hanger steak with poached eggs and pepper gravy was a savory masterpiece. As the yolks slowly dripped over the steak and melded with gravy, it was almost an orgasmic sensation. Finally, the breakfast burger with oven roasted potatoes was a satisfactory rendition albeit slightly hard to eat. The burger fell apart after a few futile attempts but was delicious nevertheless.
Townsman delivered a memorable brunch with a unique approach to the menu. While incorporating many traditional dishes in the menu, the modifications proved to be necessary improvements and refreshed the archaic identity of brunch. After hosting only a few brunches, the level of execution and the innovative menu at Townsman are representative of a great restaurant. Perfect for a casual date or a hip business meeting, Townsman’s brunch is one of the best in the city. And there is an endless cake table.
Location: 120 Kingston St, Boston, MA 02111
Reservation: Recommended (2-3 weeks in advance)
Stand out dishes*: Cake Table, Chicken Fried Hanger Steak
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
* Note: Menu changes monthly, so menu items may not be available at each dining session.