Restaurant Review: TownHall
Let’s pause a take a moment to appreciate the absence of a haul or alco-hol pun here. The temptation is real.
It’s been a true challenge to keep all the halls straight. Some of the hall-businesses are more like food courts in malls. In fact, let’s go ahead and add the Polaris eating zone to the hall mix, as online references frequently call it a “hall” as well. Additionally, some of the halls seem to get themselves in spicy social media trouble for one reason or another. This adds a sense of adventure to any visit.
So let’s look closer at TownHall. It’s not like a food court, it’s a restaurant proper, operating in the Short North. It also has a schtick, offering a healthy-ish menu. TownHall is an import from Cleveland that was preceded here by a fast-casual sister restaurant, Rebol. The Hall itself made its eagerly awaited debut here in January.
TownHall has a cool look. There’s a lot of natural wood in an expansive layout. This includes natural wood ceilings and natural wood walls. It’s all assembled with an interesting blend of engineered architectural angles mixed with organic accents. That’s possibly a metaphor for the menu itself. The menu is expansive, and it sports organic things, as well as items that seem more engineered.
So, we’ll start with the organic. Or if not organic, at least natural-ish: “grass fed beef” is the source for the house beef bone broth. You can’t really get much more groovy than bone broth right now, it’s supposed to be good for…for something*. The Jalapeño Garlic & Mushroom Broth($5) is pleasantly light with good garlic presence. And, as the weather gets colder, it will probably grow more intensely likable. The beef bone broth is a base that can serve as a foundation for DIY broth combos as well, spiking it with options that might include kale or pork belly.
Something from the more engineered side might be the Keto Baked Tenders ($11). Tenders have been a fixture on Ohio plates for years, commonly breaded and fried. To make something like tenders keto (low carbohydrate), the kitchen MacGyvered a different sort of non-bread breading. Enter the house cashew coating; it’s feels like a luxe upgrade, giving tenders a depth and richness that works. The chicken is teamed with sweet potato fries (carby, but evidently the good kind of carbs) and a couple of sauces for extra entertainment.
There’a robust bowl scene, both cold and hot. In the cold department, the Chopped Salad ($13) is based on a busy mix of tender, organic field greens, chicken, lardons (that’s like bacon, think: “lard-ons”), silky avocado, and then brightness from apple, gorgonzola, and a vinaigrette.
For a hot bowl: Grass-Fed Bolognese ($12) fills a void. Instead of regular pasta, it’s built on a foundation of mild-flavored organic spaghetti squash, a choice that provides a serviceable foundation to host the full-bodied bolognese. It’s topped with a big, bodacious fried egg, a pleasing addition that adds an extra-hearty element.
Outside the bowl department, there are more options, burgers, flatbreads, and Food Truck Tacos ($14). The latter lets you pick a protein from options that include chicken, tofu and “vegan chicken,” as well as a tortilla type (flour or corn). The tacos are finished with the expected companions: queso fresco, cilantro, red cabbage and jalapeños. The regular chicken ones are just okay. In retrospect, the point was probably to use one of the less conventional fillings (like tofu or vegan chicken), to create a more interesting experience.
Dessert options include items that are organic, vegan, keto, and a chocolate chip cookie for those who have given up. In addition to a big juice and shake selection, there are also beers and cocktails, and organic wine. TownHall is a lot of things. But, you know, you’d expect a lot from a place that’s called TownHall. You can find it at 792 N. High St. in the Short North.
*TownHall actually does disclose the benefits of bone broth. They include benefits to the immune system and joints.
For more information, visit townhallohiocity.com.