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PostHeaderIcon Emeryville Restaurant Has Colorful Past

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Built in 1926 by Emeryville fireman Frank Mesnickow,  what’s now known as the Townhouse Bar and Grill had quite a notorious past. And according to the Journal of the Emeryville Historical Society, prohibition once paid the rent.

Since those early days as a bootlegging house, it’s been a neighborhood restaurant and bar, a country-western bar and a political handout. The Townhouse is even said to have attracted the likes of jockey Willy Shoemaker, movie stars Betty Grable and Tony Curtis and bandleader Harry James.

After the restaurant closed twice in the 80s, Chef Ellen Hope Rosenberg bought Townhouse and after a year of renovations reopened it complete with a galvanized bar, paved parking lot, outdoor patio and a revamped menu that’s been attracting diners from all over the bay area for years.

A recent dinner with a friend at Townhouse Bar and Grill started with the grilled jalapeno stuffed prawns appetizer. Less spicy than the description makes them out to be, these large juicy prawns were wrapped with thinly sliced pancetta ($13.95) and totally delicious.

For her entrée, my friend chose grilled filet medallions in a cognac-peppercorn sauce ($23.95). Grilled to order and perfectly maranaited, the filet was accompanied by generous servings of mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables. The rich sauce was heavy on the peppercorns and slightly overwhelming, but nonetheless good.

Cold winter nights make me reach for comfort food, so I ordered Townhouse Bar and Grill’s braised short ribs ($20.95). These fork-tender melt in your mouth ribs were slow cooked in a red wine sauce and served on a bed of creamy polenta peppered with lots of cheese. Roasted root vegetables, crispy and slightly sweet rounded out this entree.

Sharing a generous portion of decadent bread pudding topped with a scoop of real vanilla ice cream completed our meal perfectly

Other dinner menu selections include entrée salads, such as a nicoise salad with seared ahi tuna, a grilled lamb salad, a grilled Thai steak salad and several chicken salads. Salad prices range from $15 to $20.

Seafood, pasta, meatloaf and Townhouse Grill’s famous burger on a kaiser bun are available as well.

Townhouse Bar and Grill features a wide selection of moderately priced wines available by the glass or bottle.

The restaurant is open for lunch Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. - 2: 30 p.m. The bar is open for drinks and appetizers all afternoon. Dinner hours are Monday through Saturday 5:30 – 9:30 p.m., (Friday and Saturday until 10 p.m.)  On Saturday, the bar opens at 5 p.m. Townhouse features live jazz Wednesday and Thursday nights from 7 -10 p.m.

Dine at Townhouse Bar and Grill located at 5862 Doyle St. in Emeryville. Call
510-652-6151 to make a reservation. Visit www.townhousebarandgrill.com for a complete menu listing.

Last Updated (Friday, 22 January 2010 14:42)


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