Townsend spruces up East Passyunk

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Chef Townsend Wentz in the window seat overlooking East Passyunk Avenue from his new restaurant, Townsend.

East Passyunk Avenue is building quite the collection of white-tablecloth joints, including Paradiso, Noord, Fond, Will, Laurel, and Da Vinci (plus Le Virtu, which may lack tablecloths but certainly not style).

Its newest is Townsend (1632 E. Passyunk Ave., 267-639-3203), an elegant French bistro on two floors of a onetime rowhouse last known as Sophia’s after a few years as Salt & Pepper.

Its namesake is chef Townsend “Tod” Wentz, the Lacroix and Four Seasons alum who won two bells for his work at McCrossen’s Tavern.

Wentz uses classic techniques for what is now a small menu (rabbit pot-a-feu, seared Icelandic cod, wild striped bass, all priced in the mid-$20s). Wine list of mostly Europeans includes two wines on tap at the first-floor bar.

Wentz salvaged the cherry bar top from Twenty21 in Commerce Square after its June 2008 closing and stashed it in his yard pending his solo debut.

Wentz, general manager Lauren Harris, and chefs Colin Leary and Michael Millon all are Twenty21 alums. (Millon will be chef of the Italian restaurant that Wentz plans to open in Fairmount; that project is awaiting zoning approval).

Townsend is open nightly except for Tuesday.

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