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Note: Town closed over the Easter weekend in April 2009. A branch of David Chang’s Momofuku chain, Má Pêche, took over the space.


Geoffrey Zakarian operates two upscale restaurants in Manhattan. Country has garnered tons of press this year, including a three-star review from Frank Bruni, a star from Michelin, and if I may humbly say so, four stars on this website. Its older sibling, Town, doesn’t get the buzz any more, as if the hip crowd has moved on—perhaps to Country. Town’s website announces a $71 prix fixe at dinner, but on Sunday night the menu was available à la carte.

This is a hard review to write, because the savory courses my friend ordered were a lot better than mine. Lobster bisque, a steal at $13, had great chunks of succulent lobster floating in a broth that was just about perfect. Filet mignon ($39) was almost tender enough to cut without a knife and had a beautiful exterior char. It was one of the few times I’ve been impressed with steak in a non-steakhouse restaurant.

But my choices, Tuna Tartare ($21) and Bass Papillote ($36), correct and proper, did nothing to set themselves apart, which at those prices I believe they should do. There was nothing wrong with them—they just did not wow. When I think back on the meal, it will be tastes of my friend’s lobster bisque and filet that I remember.

About the dessert there was no doubt: we ordered the chocolate soufflé for two ($20), a large gooey serving of what must be the dessert served in heaven, with an accompanying hunk of spearmint spumoni. The next day, my friend e-mailed me, “Bring me a soufflé. I need another one.” (I replied that they don’t travel well.)

Inexpensive wines aren’t abundant at a restaurant like Town. My friend was content to nurse a glass of rosé champagne ($24), while I had two contrasting wines by the glass ($13–14).

The imposing multi-level space is beautiful to look at. Service is elegant and polished.

Town (15 W. 56th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, West Midtown)

Food: **½
Service: ***
Ambiance: ***
Overall: **½

Reader Comments (4)

Please bring me a chocolate souffle NOW! I wonder if one can go to Town just to eat the souffle and have a glass of dessert wine.
December 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKelly
I don't know if the à la carte menu is a permanent change, or a Sunday-only thing. On the Town website, the only option is a $71 prix fixe. If the menu is ALC, then I assume you could visit just for dessert.

By the way, if the switch to à la carte IS permanent, it almost certainly means the restaurant is having trouble.
December 20, 2006 | Registered CommenterMarc Shepherd
I'm tired of prefixe menus. Why does a switch to a la carte signal trouble?
December 23, 2006 | Unregistered Commentermuro
You may be tired of them, but prix-fixe-only menus are synonymous with high-end fine dining in this city. Nearly all of the most luxurious places in town are prix-fixe only (some offer a tasting menu as an even more expensive choice). This includes all five of the restaurants that currently carry four stars from the Times.

If Town has now switched to an à la carte option, it almost certainly signals that they are having trouble filling the room, and are trying to attract customers by making the price point more accessible. That's why I suggested that the restaurant may be in trouble.
December 31, 2006 | Registered CommenterMarc Shepherd

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