Townsend Restaurant

British, Modern European·
Silver Award

SquareMeal Review of Townsend Restaurant

Silver Award

There’s something about restaurants where the owners are there in the thick of the action, and co-proprietors Nick Gilkinson (previously Anglo) and chef Chris Shaw (ex-Petersham Nurseries & BAO) certainly don’t shirk their shifts at Townsend. The payoff is personal and personable service with that bend-over-backwards attitude which makes you feel like no request would be too much trouble.

As is de rigueur, the menu is staunchly seasonal, but steers clear of pretention. It’s the type of place where soft butter comes swiped across the plate and where in-house pickles seem to be in constant supply. At £32 for four courses, the evening menu is a steal and if you don’t fancy the full line-up you’re welcome to try some of the dishes from it on an a la carte basis, within reason.

Scones have been given a ritzy makeover, served warm and topped generously with smoked mackerel, pickled red onion and horseradish. Hot, molten cheese croquettes are covered in more cheese – an ideal scenario – and pork rillettes are silky smooth with creamy fat and served with, you guessed it, house pickles.

The real sorcery comes with mains in a plate of celeriac. Sounds boring except it is anything but. It’s shaved in paper-thin rounds, tossed in a light dressing, and topped with cheese, truffle and hazelnuts. It’s comfortingly creamy without becoming cloying and it manages to transform what’s billed as a side dish into the star of the show. It’s clever, contemporary handling of veg which we come to learn is par for the course (if you'll pardon the pun) from Chris Shaw. 

If we’re going to talk about the true hero dish though, it’s the beignets – do not leave without trying them. They’re hot and fluffy and dusted in fig leaf sugar and served with a bowl of fruit and cold custard for dipping. It’s Willy Wonka like and the best excuse for greedily stuffing things into your mouth with your hands like a child. 

Dishes throughout are carefully matched with British wines, and in the low hum of the pared-back dining room it’s easy to find yourself sat in the same spot hours later feeling fully relaxed and restored.

Good to know

Spend SquareMeal Smart Vouchers
Average Price
££££ - £30 - £49
British, Modern European
Cool, Cosy
Food Occasions
Dinner, Lunch
Special Features
Gluten-free options, Vegetarian options
Perfect for
Celebrations, Child friendly, Dates, Group dining [8+], Romantic, Special occasions
Food Hygiene Rating


Nestled in the historic Whitechapel Gallery, Townsend offers a constantly changing, loosely British menu with some truly outside-the-box creativity and a wine list to match. The relaxed, wood-floored dining room offers a casual yet refined setting.

The word seasonal, in some cases, has lost its meaning. This is not one of those cases. Head chef Chris Shaw brings together staple British ingredients with more obscure finds to create exciting plates that feel as fun as they do elegant.

For lunch, an a la carte menu allows diners to mix and match a selection of its tasty small plates, while in the evening a set four-course menu takes its place. Examples include options like Red Leicester croquettes with pickled walnut and Maldon rock oysters with fermented chilli. Large plates cater to carnivorous, pescetarian and plant-based customers with hearty mains like roast mallard with stuffed onion, trout with mussels, and potato and squash dumplings respectively. Desserts follow in the above footsteps with highlights like a pear, hazelnut and brown butter tart or rum baba with pink navel oranges and fennel flowers.

Townsend’s set menu’s don’t disappoint with entries such as crab salad with fennel, orange and dill or celeriac with wild mushrooms and egg yolk. Each dish comes with an optional pairing, which and the finishing touch to a simple yet sophisticated culinary journey.

The drinks menu covers all the bases with room to spare, from aperitifs like Vault Vermouth, and Negronis, strong red, white, rose and sparkling selections and a five-year-old Somerset cider brandy or espresso martini to round things off.

Service at Townsend is extremely welcoming and attentive, in part thanks to the co-owners being in the midst. For what you get, Townsend is very reasonably priced, especially the set menus. This is the perfect place to while away a morning, or dine for an evening with friends.

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Who owns the restaurant?

Townsend is run by Nick Gilkinson and chef Chris Shaw.

Helpful? 0

What's the menu like?

The food is modern British. The evening set menu is a steal at £34 for four courses, and don't miss out on the carefully curated wine list too.

Helpful? 0

This venue also offers

Townsend Restaurant
Private Group Dining

Townsend Restaurant


77-82 Whitechapel High Street, Aldgate, London, E1 7QX

020 7522 7896 020 7522 7896


Opening Times

All day
Mon Closed
Tue 10:30-18:00
Wed 10:30-23:00
Thu 10:30-23:00
Fri 10:30-23:00
Sat 10:00-23:00
Sun 22:00-18:00


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1 Review 

Nick G

01 December 2022  
Food & Drink 5
Service 5
Atmosphere 5
Value 5

Love it!

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020 7522 7896 020 7522 7896

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