Embracing the pumpkin at Towne and Eastern Standard
Fall cooking is like fall dressing: It’s time to layer and add a touch of something cozy. Two chefs who transitioned into new kitchens this summer just debuted fall menus that are all about comfort and tradition.
Mark Allen (chef/owner of the now-shuttered, oft-lauded Newton restaurant Le Soir) now heads Back Bay’s Towne and Patrick Campbell (previously No. 9 Park’s chef de cuisine) helms the kitchen at Kenmore’s Eastern Standard.
Nothing says traditional fall flavoring like pumpkin and few things are as comforting as hot soup. At Towne, generous hits of black pepper challenge the caramel undertow in Allen’s pumpkin bisque, and a dollop of cinnamon mascarpone adds spicy, sweet creaminess. Meanwhile, Campbell’s pumpkin soup is a thick, creamy puree with a crest of crisped chestnuts and tart apple balls. Apple brown butter adds a subtle but rich toffee note.
Not everyone loves pumpkin, of course. Towne’s densely flavored beer can chicken -— a backyard technique that allows chicken to be roasted on the grill — is a perfect complement to a pureed apple and squash side dish, which bears co-founding executive chef Lydia Shire’s signature swirl of Tate and Lyle’s golden syrup. Eastern Standard’s free-range chicken schnitzel is crispy coated and tender, and paired with Germanic-style potato salad and brightened by the contrasting piquancy of chunky pickled beets.
Contrasting elements make many a dish tick, but pairing like with like can be daring. Allen’s silky tuna tartare is topped with similarly textured and mildly oily flavored egg salad while Campbell’s ricotta gnocchi adds roasted potatoes and a saucy bread pesto, thus pairing three starches. Both are classics — season be damned.