Townsman Brings Heritage New England Into the Modern Era
Townsman is Downtown’s newest kid on the (butcher) block. Located at 120 Kingston Street in the new Radian building, Townsman opened to much anticipation on February 26th. The opening date was pushed back due to the continuous snowstorms that plagued the city throughout February, but owners Matt and Kate Jennings worked around the clock to get their farm-to-table New England brasserie up and running. With the staff trained and the kitchen stocked, Townsman is officially tackling the Downtown dinner crowd.
The sprawling restaurant has an open floor plan but each section feels uniquely divided nonetheless. The solid wood bar contains cabinetry fresh out of a country kitchen, but the modular couches and leather chairs invoke a modern urban lounge. Past the bar, a long counter with a butcher block surface and industrial lamps overlooks the kitchen, where flames leap from pans and waiters bustle about with charcuterie plates. Finally, the main dining room’s red metal chairs, salvaged wood tables, and soft orange decor juxtaposes the trendy with the homey.
Much like the decor, Townsman’s cuisine puts a contemporary twist on traditional New England recipes. I started my meal with the clam chowder, which was not of the traditional clam and potato variety. The Townsman clam chowder includes squid and pork in a slightly less creamy soup base. Such a deviation from the normal concept of this popular dish was surprising at first, but this salty soup got better with each bite.
If ‘modern heritage’ is Townman’s schtick, their cocktail menu certainly lives up to it. The restaurant serves an old fashioned on tap, which is quite a newfangled delivery method for a classic drink. It would be regrettable not to give this drink a try.
Since my appetizer proved that Townsman knew their way around seafood, I reasoned that the fisherman’s stew would be nothing short of divine. I also ordered a side of broccoli rabe to get my daily vegetable serving. The broccoli rabe was charred to perfection and accompanied by shavings of crispy garlic and fresno chili that added a spicy kick. The stew, which included fluke and pork belly, was spiced with something reminiscent of an Irish curry. Perplexed, I asked the waiter what spices were used and he informed me it was a mixture of cumin, coriander, and fennel. Paired with the tomato base of the stew, the spice mix rounded out the buttery fish and crispy pork belly for an unexpected yet delightful flavor experience.
The dessert menu had multiple eye-catching options and I finally settled on the mapleline buttermilk cheesecake with ginger graham cracker and bourbon and date ice cream. The cake itself was especially rich and creamy and the kumquat sauce added a tangy element to the dish. Along with a cup of Stumptown coffee, the cheesecake was the perfect nightcap to an awesome meal.
Townsman has proved itself worthy of the fanfare surrounding its inclusion in the Downtown restaurant scene. With its exclusive positioning between Chinatown and South Station and its well-executed modern New England fare, Townsman will easily become a hit among the employees at State Street and the surrounding offices. For anyone who does not find themselves in that area often, Townsman’s exquisitely crafted menu is well worth the trip.