Haute Dining SF: Town Hall, Upscale Comfort Food

Town Hall is a restaurant destination I have wanted to try for some time now. Last night, I finally got an opportunity to eat at this SOMA venue and I was so happy I did.

Town Hall has a warm and cozy atmosphere. The brick walls and rustic chandeliers create the perfect ambiance for the new American cuisine they serve. The restaurant hosts a mixture of large family-style tables and smaller table seating. The vibe of the venue is very lively and as they draw a great Financial District happy hour crowd.

I have to be honest, I struggled with my order. Every item on the menu sounded delicious to me. It was so difficult for my party and me to commit to our order that we had to delay the waitress twice. In my opinion, that is always a sign of a great menu.

We finally settled on our order. We started with two appetizers, the cornmeal fried oysters and the tuna tartare. I am a big fan of tuna tartar and have had more than my fair share. Typically they are all served in a similar fashion, and basically all taste the same. This tartar was different. The chef pairs the tuna with cornmeal fried green tomatoes and serves them on a garlic chip with Tabasco green onion vinaigrette. It had such a great punch of flavor, really kicking up the tuna to a whole other level. The cornmeal fried oysters were also very delicious. They are served on a smear of herbsaint spinach puree and topped with Hobbs bacon and preserved lemon. Bacon on anything is amazing and this was no exception.

For an entrée, I chose the buttermilk fried chicken, because how could I not? It was served with chayote, mushroom and corn bread pudding lathered with home-style bacon gravy. This was my first experience with chayote and I can’t really say I am a fan, but the rest of the dish was perfection. The fried chicken had a fantastic crisp to it and my party was jealous of my order as they all had a taste.

When dessert time rolled around we were all stuffed…until we saw the menu. I am admittedly not a big dessert person, but once I took a glance, I know I had to order something. The group settled on the caramelized brioche French toast and the “coffee and doughnuts” a dish of cinnamon-sugar doughnuts and Blue Bottle coffee ice cream. Both dishes were wiped clean instantly.

Town Hall is a great low-key, yet still upscale restaurant. The vibe isn’t stuffy, yet the food delivers. This venue is great for grabbing a few cocktails and appetizers with a co-worker, or for a dinner with the family. I can’t wait to go back to further explore their entire menu, especially those tasty desserts.

Town Hall is located at 342 Howard St., San Francisco. For reservations, call 415.908.3900 or visit www.townhallsf.com.