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Town revisited (avoid on weekends!)

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Town revisited (avoid on weekends!)

Caseophile | Nov 11, 2003 01:42 PM

Repeated visits to Town have left me more and more impressed with its quality and consistency. So much so that I decided to put Town to the ultimate test one Friday after returning to the City rather late at night. Town is situated in the stylishly designed Chambers Hotel, and its beautiful bar is only just past its zenith as one of the prime after-work drinking spots among chic white-collar Manhattanites. In light one of this, one might expect Town to be a difficult place in which to enjoy a good meal on a weekend night.

One would be correct. The scene at Town on Friday night was almost completely out of control. It was jam-packed with out-of-town partiers, whipped into a frenzy by dance music booming in from the bar upstairs and innumerable Long Island iced teas. They were screaming at maximum volume, knocking things over, and snapping flash pictures so constantly and from so many different directions that I felt like I was in the middle of a severe thunderstorm. Of course, the quality of the service was degraded even from the beginning. The Spiegelau wine glasses had been put away, presumably so that the classless crowd wouldn’t break them along with the rest of the dining room. It took much longer for each course to arrive, although considering the demands on the staff, I was quite impressed by how the they managed to keep up. There was a noticeable decrement in the quality of the food, but it was still quite good.

I think a more energetic atmosphere is definitely in order on weekend nights, especially late, but this was way past appropriate for a restaurant, well into sports-bar-by-the-stadium territory. So here's my question: Has anyone been there early on a weekend night? Any idea what time it starts getting out of hand?

Also, while I’m posting, here are a few more thoughts on what to order at Town:

If you’re thinking land animals, I recommend the ribeye or the lamb highly. Both were excellent. I wasn’t as impressed by the duck steak, although it was still quite good.

Avoid the lobster bisque with ginger coconut royale and wood sorrel. There is indeed a piece of lobster in the middle of the bowl, but I couldn’t make out any of the other ingredients mentioned in the title. It basically tasted like flour. It’s the only dish I’ve found disappointing at Town.

A lot of people have posted recommending the “signature” chocolate beignets for dessert, and they’re indeed excellent. They’re like little warm donuts, without the hole in the middle, filled with warm, rich, gooey chocolate. They’re served with a “frozen café brulot” which, frankly, is weak and could use improvement. But it’s still a great dessert.

I would also recommend the apple beignet, which I think is even better. It’s very different from the chocolate beignets: a little apple pie in self-contained “turnover” form, basically a McDonald’s apple pie carried to its perfect extreme. The crust is flaky and delicious, and the filling perfectly balances sugar and apple essence, maintaining a decadent gooey texture, with just enough of the firmness of the apples maintained. A scoop of ice cream on the side (was it vanilla or apple?) is weak in flavor and unremarkable by itself, but competently partners its cold, creamy mouthfeel with the hot, flaky crust and the gooey filling. It would be nice if the ice cream itself had more flavor, but that would be, um, icing on the cake, so to speak.

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