With excellent service, a laid back atmosphere, and food so delicious that you’d dedicate a song to it on Q102, East Passyunk’s Townsend is one of the better fine dining restaurants in Philly. It has all the qualities of a high-end special occasion place perfect for celebrating an anniversary or birthday, all while comfortably wearing a t-shirt.
When you walk into the intimate French restaurant you’ll pass a long wooden bar packed with friends having a pre-dinner drink or people from the neighborhood who know that they serve some of the best cocktails in the area. From there, you can see right into the main dining space, which has all the elements of a typical fancy spot: white tablecloths, low lighting, and more candles than the set of Hocus Pocus. On some nights, they crank Dua Lipa, friends toast to a three-day weekend with tequila and ginger ales, and it’s as chatty as a movie theater before the film rolls. On others, it’s a quieter scene, where slow Feist songs play in the background, couples exchange a few words, and it feels more like a library at Penn. Whatever the mood of the night, there are only six tables, so you’ll overhear everything—from a couple practicing their French for an upcoming trip to why the halibut cheek is the best thing they’ve ever tasted.
The locally-sourced, $95 prix-fixe tasting menu has five courses (it changes often). Visually, each dish is like watching Zendaya walk the red carpet—flawless. The risotto’s porcini glace drizzle makes it look like a work of abstract art, and it all tastes so incredible you’ll want to keep coming back to try every variation of the menu. From a foie gras custard with toasted brioche to the escargot swimming in a sweet potato, apple, and hazelnut chai cream, it’s all an unexpected blend of flavors and textures that seamlessly works. There are also a la carte options if you want to tack on some extra courses for around $30. If you can, try the juicy dry-aged ribeye. It’s sublime, and they present it simmering in a pan (pre-cut) like they’re trying to trump the marriage proposal happening a few chairs over.
Thanks to its incredibly romantic yet casual feel, this is a place to bring anyone on an impressive date night while still feeling like yourself. Sure, you may sit next to a guy whose French accent is more Lumière from Beauty and the Beast than Marion Cotillard. But the excellent, inventive food more than makes up for it.
The menu here changes often, but here are a few examples of things you might see.