shamelessly reposted here from my yelp review. nooo i am certainly not a pro.
White Tablecloth Service for a Party of 380 x 4, I'll Take All Seating Times Please!
Leighann graciously extended an invite to attend Towne Stove & Spirit's soft opening, a fundraiser for Mass Eye And Ear Infirmary. I do not know how this new venue escaped me, let's just say the rate of openings in Q2 to Q3 2010 is pretty astonishing as of right now.
Lydia Shire of Locke-Ober and Scampo fame has paired with a surprising choice in Jasper White, the man behind Summer Shack and many books on New England style fare. The backing power comes from the Lyons Brothers and they definitely brought it. Big time.
The real estate is mind-bogglingly prime, basically a T-bone sized chunk of the Northeast corner of the Hynes Convention Center. I would of named it "The N.E. Corner of Hynes C.C.". It occupies both levels, and the view from the more enclosed banquet style room has a stunning view of Boylston due to windows arrangement above and all sides of the room, nearly 180 and above your head. It also peers into the Hynes main hallway adjacent, an extended view of easily 150 meters across the entire length of the Hynes. The main room is also gorgeous, with a modern open kitchen, yet charming whimsical touches throughout that is very Lydia. The downstairs has yet another room, looking into the expansive not-so-gorgeous cement courtyard of the Prudential Mall. The bar as you enter rivals anything on Boylston, and in fact, being the corner part of the Hynes affords the luxury of massive and tall plate glass windows in every room. Quite frankly it is second to none in terms of curbside and inside appeal compared to anything inside the Mandarin, and that is quite the architectural boast.
The menu and food is decidedly safely chosen, an amalgam of Jasper's and Lydia's greatest hits, with some crowd pleasers thrown in. The menu is actually a bit longer than expected for such a nice looking venue, no doubt an effort to quickly appeal to the many conventioneers who will be peering into the banquet room and saying "What is THAT?".
Lobster Popovers, from Scampo are being ported over, along with some of Jasper's previous dishes. Also seen were flatbreads, skirt steaks, even a burger. Frites are typically served with the meat dishes. The fish on the other hand, various rice sides or veggies can be ordered, separately. Aside from various duck and lamb entrees, that is pretty much it, very simple and not confusing, again I suspect a nod to traffic they anticipate from within the Hynes.
From my judgement (Very little fish was served on this soft-opening, (In fact none of the kitchen equipment was hooked up, all the cooking was done patio-side in a temporary tent.) but Jasper did come out with skin-on pan-seared Salmon dressed in cucumber and accoutrements. Undoubtably wild from the taste of the oil coming off the salmon. I was frankly distraught to see Bluefin Tuna on the menu, unless it is of the farmed Kindai variety, I will encourage it's removal from the menu.
The stellar menu item is Lydia's Colorado Lamb Ribs. When I used to eat meat, I sourced my lamb from New Hampshire, from Halal butchers and it was night and day from New Zealand. No gameyness, or strings, just smooth as silk meat. Lydia goes further, to Colorado using more fully grown sheep. The result is an enormous eye in the rib, larger than a diver scallop unbelievably, absolutely succulent, pleasing non-gamey aroma, a texture between tenderloin of beef and sirloin. It was so appealing I cheated and tried one, it simply surpassed any Lamb Rib I've tried, which was formerly my favorite cut of meat, any type of BBQ or skirt steak be damned. So I would order that for you, while I resumed on Jasper's side of the menu because I'm supposed to be a vegetarian.
Perhaps the menu does not have the savoir faire of Scampo, or say Clink next door to Scampo in the Liberty Hotel. None-the-less this is destined to be hallmark establishment, known outside of Boston, that Back Bay really needs, something you might see editorialized in in-flight magazines as a hot spot in the future, but also a very swank rendezvous for the citizens of Boston herself with solid food from Team Shire/White and their underlings.
Quite frankly, as an event planner, I would have my convention inside Towne and skip the Hynes all-together. The service was ridiculously well-prepared, an army of staff picking up glasses at all times in nylon picnic baskets shows serious party planning skills. You can fit 1000 conventioneers in a 380 seat restaurant in one evening. And thus the title of my review.
Towne Stove and Spirits
900 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02115