By Charly SHELTON
The news is out – there’s a new restaurant in town. Since it opened a month ago, there have been hour-long waits for tables and reservations held every night. Many diners have tried out the new, more upscale fare in the Montrose Shopping Park and have reported back with wildly positive reviews. The restaurant – Town Kitchen and Grill in the 2200 block of Honolulu Avenue.
Reservations are a must to avoid a wait but were obtained easily enough with a phone call the morning I planned to stop in. When I arrived, guests at the door were challenging who I was and made sure to inform the hostess that I had just arrived and they were in line first.
We were seated in the middle of the room, which is a single long and narrow dining room, with a bar on one side and exposed original brick on the opposite. The menu is simple but elegant, with an array of specials as well. The cocktails are pretty standard fare – old fashioned, Manhattan, margarita, etc. – with a few surprises, like the cucumber mint gimlet, peach Cosmo, and a scotch and ginger drink called “Disky Business.”
The dining selection is much more dynamic. We started with Not-Your-Mama’s Brussels Sprouts, which is the perfect way to get kids and adults alike to eat their vegetables. For anyone who cringed when reading Brussels sprouts, let me tell you they were cooked to crispy perfection and tossed with a bacon vinaigrette. Yeah, a bacon vinaigrette. These will change the way you think about Brussels sprouts from now on, and make you disappointed when you eat them any other way than this.
The entrees are just as impressive. I had the Australian lamb chops, grilled to order and served with a basil Parmesan polenta (like a gritty and crispy cornbread cake). These types of fine dining places usually offer a small piece of lamb perched gently atop a single bite of the side dish. Not at Town. The lamb chops came four at a time (about the size of an iPhone each), with a decent sized polenta, double stacked, and even some spinach and onions to round it all out nicely. By no means was it too much food, but I didn’t walk away hungry. My friend ordered the almond and chicken risotto. I am not a risotto fan, but he said that he was pleased with it.
I’m not really sure how, but we found room to have dessert as well. The Town Brown is their brownie à la mode, with chocolate, raspberry and caramel sauces. The raspberry sauce was very tart and a little weird but the others were great and the brownie was a solid way to end the evening.
All in all, I really enjoyed Town. The only thing that I can’t put my finger on is the feel of the place. The food is amazing, menu choices (as in which dishes are offered) are something that you really can’t get at any of the other local restaurants and it has an upscale price tag to go with it. And yet it seems like a laid-back bistro you would expect to see in Montrose, not fine dining. With entrees ranging from $14 to $29, it is a bit more pricey than the average mid-level restaurant (like a BJ’s or Black Cow), and menu selections are more reminiscent of Los Angeles than Montrose. I can’t decide if this is supposed to be fine dining or not. And that’s not a bad thing.
I thought that fine dining in Montrose would be met with resistance or disinterest. But a place like Town Kitchen and Grill brings the fine dining experience without the intimidation. Diners won’t feel out of place in a suit or a T-shirt. This is like coming to our town, where you can relax and have a good time, and be surprised that the glitz and glitter of the big city not so far away can be encapsulated in this little hideaway in the valley behind the mountains – if you know where to look. Invite anyone from here or not from here to come to Town and they will be pleasantly surprised. I know I will be going in again soon, hungry for more.