A dive gone upscale

Dinner tonight at The Town House in Emeryville with Jack and Carol.

When Gail told me where we were going, I was somewhat stunned that we were headed to a low class dive bar.  What I didn’t realize was the good effects of time and gentrification.

The Town House has been a fixture in Emeryville since it started as a speakeasy in 1926.  Closed a couple of times for economic or legal reasons, it went through a long period as a county/western place in the 70’s and 80’s, not quite catering to the East Bay elite.  It was the sort of place with horseshoes and wagon wheels as decor and hundreds of business cards stapled to the walls.

Not anymore.

As Emeryville has gone up in social and economic status, so has The Town House.  It sits less than a block from Pixar, on Doyle near Powell, and caters to the creative and upwardly mobile of the area.

An old building, a new look. Notice the huge party at the long table--not a good sign for us.


The building has been gutted, cleaned, painted, refurbished and modernized.  From the street it still looks like the dump of  a dive it used to be, inside all is upscale and chi-chi.

Even the waitresses are beautiful:

And she's good at her job, too.


The food is California modern, and decently prepared.  The latest fad in starters seems to be avocado bruschetta: sliced avocado atop grilled bread topped with balsamic vinegar.  First I’d never seen it, then it was on 3 menus in a week.  It’s a lush appetizer, rich and heavy with that super-healthy avocado oil and usually more than enough to share.

You can keep telling yourself you're eating this for your health.


While I ate bruschetta, everyone else ate Ceasar salad. Jack and Gail both had the beef stroganoff, leaving no leftovers.  I enjoyed the chicken fettucine, Carol had the Coho Salmon.  We all enjoyed our meals–decent portions, reasonable prices, attractive presentations.

What we didn’t enjoy was the noise level.  Perhaps it is the room, perhaps it was the 2 large parties that filled the room with well-lubricated people, but we had a very hard time communicating–the bad thing about too much noise is that you have to shout to be heard over it, and that raises the noise level, so everybody else shouts, and it just keeps getting louder.

Service was good, but large parties clog up a kitchen and it took quite a while for our entrees to come out.  So long that we missed the movie we had intended to see.   It’s the Christmas season, the restaurant is in a largely industrial/office area and there are lots of office parties happening.  That’s life.

So we left The Town House and headed out for dessert.  I won’t bore you with how good the trifle was at Origen tonight.  And quiet there, too.


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