Bowery Street Enterprises is the Sunset Blvd between Gower and Highland super hip and savvy version of SBE. While SBE is overpriced, trying a bit too hard, and scatterbrained, BSE is understated, small, and very concentrated. Like little children released from the Bowery, they all huddle together not that far from each other (with the exception of Bowery and Rosewood Tavern, who stand alone). When one BSE property pops up, another pops up next to it. The Mercantile arrived on Sunset at Seward at the beginning of 2010 to little fanfare, in true BSE tradition: they build it cool, then people find it. Similarly, Mercantile had a fraternal twin called District, which was an old souled beer and English food pub style spot. Sadly, the twin died not too long ago. But, as a phoenix does, BSE has a new property recently opened in the space: Township.
Township is being branded as American cuisine in a saloon–it totally lives up to what it says it is. Although I’ve never been to District (tried to have my birthday there, but they close too early for events at night), I always wanted to go. I love The Mercantile, love that location, and wanted to support the local spot. Unfortunately, time escaped the both of us and I didn’t get to experience it. However, from researching both places, they don’t look that much different aesthetically: an open, high ceiling, gathering place that is the less delicate, woody version of The Mercantile. Today, Township is a red, white, blue, and woody man who wants to give you lots of whiskey and American treats. We walked in and instantly grabbed ahold of that and cuddled it like a blanket: it’s great.
First things first: the drinks. They mainly carry whiskey drinks and beer, with a few wine things and other liquor drinks you can order (but not suggested!) tossed in. The Mint Julep is the crowned drinking jewel along with other delicacies of whiskey cocktails like a liquored up Southern Sweet Tea and Sazerac. If you don’t grab any of the house cocktails (which are surprisingly affordable), there are ample flavored whiskey and bourbons. You have to have one! The beers they have are also A+ as they are American craft beers that you haven’t heard of. They are great!
On to the food, which runs a lot of ground in a little niche of Americana. When you open the menu, you should squeal in delight as “OYSTER SHACK” stares you in the face demanding you order them. Additionally, there are various clam chowders, hot dogs, small plates that go from hot wings to crab cakes to pork sliders, bigger plates that run from crab legs to shrimp and grits to a burger, and the Po Boy Sandwich, which we’ll come back to. As you can see by their selection, the food is a celebration of East coast power meals. It’s kind of like a culinary carnival of East coast meals, a Coney Island full of gourmet treats. They even have salt water taffy in their candy dish at the door!
We had to start off with oysters that were great but we cannot recall the variety. That’s not a big deal but, if you are interested, you have to ask what kind they are because the menu does not say it and the service staff only mention it if asked. Regardless, they are great and can be ordered in half-dozen and dozen, with accompanying lemon, cocktail sauce, and house vinaigrette (which is full of shallots). Great way to kick off any meal and highlights a local trend of seafood becoming a thing (F I N A L L Y). It’s so, so, so great to see oysters on menus all across town, instead of just on the Westside. We are so close to the ocean, I’d hope ocean food would start to proliferate the market! About damn time.
Speaking to that, two must have things that the waitress informed us of and that were on our minds were the crab cakes and the Po’ Boy. The crab cakes were served with a small bit of lettuce and avocado and were rich in sweet spices, unexpected but very welcome. They are nice little start or plate to share with a group. They’re a very safe bet.
The Po’Boy was spectacular and gave Little Dom’s a run for their money (the only place I can think of who has a “gourmet” Po’ Boy). First, it’s spicy. Spicier than you think. Your mouth won’t catch on fire and die, but it will go, “Oh: there’s some spice!” This all comes from the pepper aoili that is delightfully smattered on the warm bread. Similarly, it has a very, very refreshing tomato added to it. Most normal Po’ Boys come with tomato but, when you have one without it for some time, you forget how important that addition is. The oysters are prepared nicely, not too overkill fried. It is to be noted that this is a heavy dish, though. Po’Boys walk a fine line between being a dream and being super heavy. This one is mostly dreamlike, but be prepared: you likely will not be able to finish it. Don’t feel guilty. Have them wrap it up because it’s super great (and tastes great the next day!).
Township is a celebration of East coast staples that will definitely draw you back so that you can sample more. We sat there angry we weren’t more hungry and prepared to return after we paid because Township requires you to do so. And, please, be sure to go to Township because it is really a great place: awesome atmosphere, awesome food, awesome drinks, and fairly awesome prices. Don’t let it go overlooked like District! If anything, let this remind you that BSE is the much more inventive, accessible, and “You’re doing it right!” version of stepsister SBE.