IN THE KITCHEN
Opened in April, Towneship is snuggled into North Easton’s cozy historic district on Main Street, part of Taste Hospitality Group that includes the nearby popular brunch spot, The Farmer’s Daughter. Both are owned by chef Chandra Gouldrup and her business partner, developer David Howe. Towneship’s kitchen is helmed by Gouldrup and chef Cory Williams, formerly of The Met Restaurant Group that includes Met Bar and Grille in Dedham, and Newton’s Social Restaurant and Bar. (“I’m more front of the house,” said Gouldrup with a laugh. “I’m not chasing the chef role.”) Gouldrup and Williams stress locally sourced food supplies for the menu, which she says reflects “heritage New England cuisine with a twist.” That would include razor clam stuffies, lobster corn dogs (a whole tail split in two and flash fried in a corn fritter batter), and seafood potage, a tweaked New England clam chowder. Virtually everything is made in-house, including breads such as anadama, a savory traditional New England blend of flour, cornmeal, and molasses.
Towneship was carved out of a former 150-year-old Swedish church, a renovation that “took a long time,” said Gouldrup. “But this place has great bones, and anything we could salvage, we did.” It paid off: The space is wide open yet intimate, with original cathedral ceilings and mezzanine seating overlooking the main dining area where, set into the far wall and former altar area, a long, rectangular gas fireplace blazes. There are two handcrafted bars, the smaller one playfully dubbed “Alchemy” for its creative cocktails including The Towneship, basically an Old Fashioned with a smoked clove), a giant copper chef’s table facing the open kitchen, and sidewalk seating as well. Overall, despite its small-town location, Towneship has a New York City elegant-dining feel.
ON THE MENU
Our server, Ken, was helpful and knowledgeable about everything on the menu, right down to identifying the beans in the java Towneship uses from Jim’s Organic Coffee in Wareham. The menu is one sheet, small but loaded with diversity that will change with the seasons and daily availability. We started out with charred turkey wings ($13), which greatly ramps up the more usual chicken wings, meaty and crispy offerings that Williams confits, rubs with spices, and grills until they’re fall-off-the-bone tender, easily the best wings we’ve ever had no matter the bird.
If you love chowder, the seafood potage ($17) just might make you forget any other. At tableside, you’re presented a bowl at the bottom of which is basically a molded scallop custard (boudin) topped with surf clam, fresh uni and salmon roe, and over which your server pours hot and creamy potato broth. Served with it are housemade crackers flecked with seaweed. When Gouldrup said they do things with a twist here, this and the turkey wings are shining and very tasty examples of that boast.
For our main dishes, we had the monkfish loin ($32), which Gouldrup said tweaks the classic elements of Portuguese kale soup, a New England staple. This dish has ample, thick chunks of tender monkfish, kale, white beans, little neck clams, and chorizo broth, the latter poured into the dish as you are served, one of the most unusual and decidedly delicious fish dishes we’ve ever tasted. Our second entrée was the Feather Brook roasted chicken ($32), juicy, perfectly prepared chicken pieces with king oyster mushrooms, charred leek, English peas, and asparagus. The bird comes from Feather Brook Farms in Raynham, which Gouldrup said sells only to a few select restaurants including hers, and which she visits regularly to check on the feeding and slaughtering processes.
There wasn’t much room for dessert, but we went with the strawberry-rhubarb tart ($10), of almond frangipane, strawberry, rhubarb compote, and honeycomb candy, which compared with the rest of our meal was rather on the bland side. Next time it’ll be the coffee cabinet mousse cake ($9) or ice cream trio and shortcake ($9) for sure.
Towneship, 140 Main St., Easton, 508-894-2700, www.towneshipne.com.
Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.