Sunday, February 13, 2011

David Burke Townhouse

Apparently, Chelsea and I are now Ladies who Lunch.

This week we met in my neighborhood at David Burke Townhouse. An upscale, modern, American restaurant, Townhouse is set in a quaint little house, with a bar at the front and an open dining room in the back.

With whimsical touches everywhere (even on the menu in the form of adorable David Burke eggs indicating pre fixe options), the setting is playful but also elegant, much like the food. The nice thing about Townhouse is they offer a pre fixe lunch menu year-round, so even though restaurant week has been extended through the end of the month, you can go get a great affordable lunch anytime (and be only a block or so away from both Barneys and Bloomingdales).
There are actually two pre fixe options available for lunch; one menu, which is $24.07, with numerous additional options for $37 (a la carte is available too). Their menu is available online, so I had of course studied it carefully before we arrived, as well as noticed that their website includes some links to recipes for their dishes, which is a nice touch. Once we were seated, I immediately perked up when I saw a man with a giant basket of humongous popovers coming toward us. (My sister, Alex, would have been so excited. Popovers are her absolute favorite.) He placed one on my bread plate along with butter for the table. But this was not just any butter...

It was served on a tiny salt block. And look at the little spiral! I was excited. The only flaw I found with this little setup was all the salt. The popover was a little salty, which I learned later, was because it was made with Parmesan cheese, and the butter had the added salt from the salt block as well as some salt flakes that had been sprinkled over it. My popover, while pretty delicious and nice and crispy, was actually still a little gummy inside, but I was so pleased with the presentation (and size!) that I didn't mind.

Chelsea made the wise choice to start with Tomato Soup, served with a small square of gouda and mushroom grilled cheese, garnished with a sunny-side-up quail egg.

Which all looked yummy (minus the egg. And mushrooms). I ordered an Endive and Prosciutto salad with thinly sliced apples and blue cheese.

I loved the combination of the crunchy endive, salty prosciutto and blue cheese, and sweet and tart apple slices; it was sort of like an upscale play on your typical wedge salad with iceberg, bacon, and blue cheese. But buried under the prosciutto was a pile of frisee lettuce which I avoided at all costs since I think it feels like eating plastic, and some of the edges of my endive leaves were a little brown.

For our main course, Chelsea ordered salmon with celery root, mushrooms, artichokes, and red pepper froth. It was simply and elegantly presented, and she enjoyed every bite. I resisted ordering the burger with garlic-lemon fries, and instead went with a Chicken BLT (minus the T). Although I was expecting your average sandwich, I was not disappointed to see a giant pile of food set in front of me. The sandwich was constructed sort of open-faced, but was clearly meant to be a knife-and-fork sandwich based on its size. A toasted slice of thick Brioche was topped with bib lettuce, grilled chicken, bacon, onion, more chicken, grilled apple slices, and avocado. Drizzled on the plate was a yummy aioli, which I suspect was the "chipotle" described on the menu, although it was not spicy at all. Although a little challenging to eat, it was worth the effort.

Finally, there was dessert. I was a little disappointed with the pre fixe dessert options (no chocolate!), but what Townhouse is really known for is their Cheesecake Lollipop Tree, available for a $10 supplement to the pre fixe menu or to share in place of two separate desserts. Small balls of different flavored cheesecake are chilled before they are dipped in tempered chocolate and allowed to set. They are then served on a literal tree. See?

 Why yes, I did stealthily take this picture of a table next to us with my 
phone while pretending to text. Why do you ask?

Instead of the cheesecake tree, Chelsea ordered a trio of sorbets and I chose what was described as a Hot Strawberry Shortcake sundae with spiced pound cake, honey roasted almonds, and torrone ice cream. I sampled Chelsea's sorbets in an attempt to discern what flavors they were since they weren't listed on the menu. We came up with peach, cassis (or black currant), and chocolate. The chocolate was easy to identify and yet I still found my spoon taking a little taste. Imagine that. They were all a nice texture and temperature, and had bright, intense flavors.

As you can see, my dessert was served in a martini glass, which I guess could be considered elegant, but I think it's a little outdated. I was all set to dig into it when it was put on the table, and had just removed the small piece of strawberry caramel on top, when our server reappeared with a glass tea kettle filled with a red liquid. He explained it was strawberry chamomile tea as he poured it into my glass. A presentation like that is always fun, although it really should have been done as soon as the dish was set on the table since I was practically already digging in. I found my dessert pleasant enough but not exceptional. The pound cake was fine although I didn't really taste any spice, and as it sat in the tea it got quite mushy. The strawberries were delicious, which was especially nice given the time of year, and the ice cream was fine but didn't have a strong enough flavor. So, sadly, dessert was a bit of a let down, but it was a nice overall experience anyway.

After lunch, we thought it would be nice to take a little walk. You know, to benefit our digestion. Hmm, where could we go that would be nice and warm...?


  1. my only comment aside from you not having the burger and lemon fries...way to show restraint. Is that YOUR popovers look SO much better. And judging by your description of the one you had, yours tastes SO much better too.

    That being said....all the salt did sound yummy.


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