If you’re looking for an impeccable meal, look no further than Town Hall, in the San Marco space that was once the Grotto.
The menu changes daily, so ingredients may be different when you go; that’s how they serve the freshest dishes possible. It’s a neat, clean menu, with just one pasta, fish, chicken, etc. per category. Fear not, veg lovers, you’re not forgotten. How about a well-aged (read: incredibly fresh) cauliflower steak? #VeganHumor
At my server’s recommendation, I started with Casal Garcia Vinho Verde ($6/glass), a crisp white wine that complemented my entire meal. Town Hall’s a wine bar, so check out wine cocktails like The Cooper ($8), with Croft Pink Port, Soledad Solmayor Tempranillo, lemon juice and cherry-walnut shrub or a straight Champagne cocktail ($8) with a sugar cube, Angostura bitters and Simonet Brut Champagne.
Tantalized by aromas from the table next to me, I started with Steamed Mussels ($12). The shelled mussels–no work–are sautéed in a lightly spiced tomato sauce and ladled over a thick slice of garlic toast.
Next up was Seared Local Fish ($25). That day, it was grouper with patty pan squash and fingerling potatoes. Patty pan squash is uncommon and I’ve never had it cooked so precisely. Slightly charred on the outside, yet tender; I’d eat it all day. The fish was flaky, seared and seasoned so you actually taste the fish, a huge plus.
Another noteworthy dish is Town Hall “Loaded” Fries ($9) because of the unusual toppings. The crisp, thin fries include cured duck egg yolk, shaved goat cheese and truffle-balsamic. Expecting an entire fried duck egg, I was delighted to see shavings of cured yolk on top instead. New techniques are unusual, so this unexpected treat was a refreshing surprise.
One of the richest dishes on their menu, maybe on the planet, is Duck Fat Cornbread ($7). The sliced cornbread is crisp on the outside, dense on the inside, paired with a clean slaw with pickled jalapeno that adds a nice flavor. There was a level of sweetness that would almost make it an interesting dessert choice if you were looking for something a little less sweet with a carb-y punch.
The Town Hall Lamb Chop ($29) is flawless. Go with the chef’s temperature recommendation; ordering it any other way is sabotage.
For the grand finale, I indulged in a summer treat of Seared Pound Cake with blueberry compote and lemon sorbet ($7). A fresh chopped mint dusting adds a glorious flavor explosion.
The restaurant takes reservations, and weekends can be busy, so you may want to call ahead. Personally, I don’t mind sipping at the bar while waiting for a table. (Word to the wise: They now serve brunch!) Town Hall is a touch pricey for a weeknight dinner, but you won’t be disappointed in your meal.