In spite of their Eastern-seaboard background, it was in San Francisco that the Rosenthals really made their mark on the American culinary scene, as co-chefs at Wolfgang Puck's swank downtown eatery, Postrio. When they decided it was time to open their own place in their adopted city, they partnered with yet another Puck alumnus, Doug Washington, who had expertly run the front of the house not only at Postrio, but at several other top San Francisco restaurants. It's a good combination of talent, and the wealth of expertise makes Town Hall seem older and more established than it actually is. (It opened in November of last year.)

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But let's get to the food. When Mitchell Rosenthal calls Town Hall's approach "East meets West" cuisine, he's not talking about Singapore meets Seattle. He's talking about Maine meets Mendocino. The menu is decidedly American, with dishes that draw on raw materials ranging from California Dungeness crab to Virginia Smithfield ham. In fact, Southern influences abound ("I listened to the blues a lot while thinking about this place," Mitchell confesses). Signature dishes such as the cedar-plank salmon with shoestring potatoes, or the grilled rib-eye with hash browns and creamed leeks, could be considered comfort foods, but with a difference. "It's accessible, yes," says Mitchell, "but there's a lot of technique going on."

If Easterners get a distinct dose of nostalgia when eating at Town Hall, the Rosenthals know the reason: "This restaurant is our memories."

Owen Roe Abbot's Table 2002 ($21)
This spicy Zinfandel-driven blend from Oregon is perfect with Town Hall's slow-roasted duck with toasted wild rice and gingersnap gravy.


The all-American food at Town Hall calls for quaffable, all-American wines. Here are some top choices.