Tag Archives: The Whelk

Patching Together Westport’s Top 10 Restaurants

Patch is not exactly at the forefront of Westport media. That’s not surprising, since it is was owned by AOL — you know, the company that back in the last century was for a while the world’s largest distributor of CDs.

Kids! Ask your parents what these were.

Kids! Ask your parents what these were!

But the other day someone sent me a link to Patch’s list of the Top 10 Restaurants in Westport (according to Yelp).

It must have been a slow news day over at Patch. But hey — it’s a slow news day at “06880” too!

So here is the Yelp list.

There’s no arguing with #10 and 9: Acqua and Via Sforza. Kibberia is #8, though I’d bump this great Middle Eastern spot a few notches higher.

Some of the many intriguing dishes at Kibberia.

Some of the many intriguing dishes at Kibberia.

#7 is Rainbow Thai, in Bridge Square. I’m glad it’s not overlooked.

Checking in at #6 is Yamafuji, which apparently is a sushi place across from Super Stop & Shop. I’ve never heard of it, but Yelpers give it rave reviews.

The Top 5 is where things get a little odd.

Yelp’s 5th most popular restaurant in Westport is Gold’s Delicatessen. Sure, it’s been around since Moses. And yeah, the lox and bagels are good. But when was the last time you heard anyone say answer “Gold’s!” to the question, “We’re looking for a really good restaurant in Westport. What do you recommend?”*

Westport's 5th favorite restaurant. (Photos/Judy Crowley Simonetti)

Westport’s 5th favorite restaurant. (Photos/Judy Crowley Simonetti)

#4 is Finalmente — that’s reasonable — but #3 is Westfair Fish & Chips.

Let me repeat that. The 3rd best restaurant in Westport is a place whose signature dish comes wrapped in newspaper.

Fortunately, Westport’s Top 2 are actual restaurants, with many devoted fans. The Whelk is #2, LeFarm is #1 — and Bill Taibe is a very happy man.

lefarm-logo

I know that ranking restaurants is subjective. One man’s meat is another man’s poison, to use a pretty gross but nonetheless apt saying.

Westport Patch invited readers to comment on Yelp’s Top 10 list. There were none.

I bet there will be a few here on “06880.”

*Around the last time you clicked on Westport Patch for the latest town news.

 

 

Scores Of Santas Stumble Through Saugatuck

Saugatuck, Santa Claus and alcohol. It doesn’t get better than that.

The trifecta is our 2nd annual “Santa Cause.” The creation of Westporters Kelley and Drew Schutte, it’s an absurdly fun (and adult) afternoon. And it’s a fundraiser for a wonderful beneficiary: Adam’s Camp New England, which helps special needs children realize their full potential.

Did I mention there are drinks?

Drew and Kelley Schutte — aka Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Here’s the deal. This Saturday (November 29), attendees must dress up in Santa and Mrs. Claus outfits. (Full costumes, please!)

Everyone gathers at the Whelk, at 3 p.m. sharp. Every 45 minutes they drink/crawl their way from one fine Saugatuck establishment to the next. (Saugatuck Sweets provides free coffee, because man does not live by bread beer alone.)

At the last stop — the Rowing Club — awards will be presented (don’t ask). Then come (surprise!) drinks, bites, and dancing your bells off to Fry Daddy’s.

Here’s the holiday catch: The cost is a minimum of $125 per person Santa.

Of course — this being the holiday, and there’s alcohol involved — you can give more. $2,700 covers a full camp experience for one child.

Christmas drinkThis being litigious Westport, there are guidelines. Each party’s drop-off and pick-up rides must be arranged in advance (unless there’s a designated sleigh or car driver).

Cash is requested for drinks and tips. No credit cards — bartenders have enough trouble without trying to figure out which Santa bought which Christmas ale.

Ho ho ho!

(Pre-registration is requested; send a check made out to “Adam’s Camp,” with a list of the number attending and your email address, to the Schuttes, 12 Sunnyside La., Westport, CT 06880. Include the name of all your Santas, and your email address. For more info, call 917-297-1324.)

Slice Is Nice!

Hundreds of Westporters — and many more out-of-towners — poured into the narrow streets of Saugatuck today.

They ambled along Riverside Avenue, Railroad Place and Saugatuck Avenue, enjoying our 3rd annual Slice of Saugatuck festival.

Food and drink was the main attraction. Over 25 restaurants and merchanats — including Viva’s, Mansion, Rainbow Thai, Craft Butchery, Saugatuck Sweets, The Duck, Chinese Takeout, Cuatros Hermanos — even 99 Bottles and Dunkin’ Donuts — offered treats.

But there was music too, ranging from School of Rock and folk to steel drums, along with stuff from hair salons, galleries and a tae kwan do place.

The weather was perfect. The vibe was cool.

And — because most people stayed off the roads — even the traffic was fine.

It was a fantastic slice of life, on a wonderful Sunday afternoon. With proceeds benefiting the Gillespie Center food pantry too, what’s not to like?

Tutti's was 1 of many Saugatuck restaurants dishing out some of its most popular items. Lines formed instantly, and stayed long.

Tutti’s was one of many Saugatuck restaurants dishing out some of its most popular items. Lines formed instantly, and stayed long.

The plaza between Saugatuck Sweets and The Whelk rocked all afternoon long.

The plaza between Saugatuck Sweets and The Whelk rocked all afternoon long.

What's a street festival without a bounce house? This one was in the Rizzuto's parking lot.

What’s a street festival without a bounce house? This one was in the Rizzuto’s lot.

Mr. Sausage showed up too, to help promote Saugatuck Craft Butchery's carnivorous samples.

Mr. Sausage showed up too, to help promote Saugatuck Craft Butchery’s carnivorous samples.

Downunder was busy all day, offering kayak and paddleboard rides. Nearby, boat owners tied up at the dock.

Downunder was busy all day, offering kayak and paddleboard rides. Nearby, boat owners tied up at the dock.

 

This Is Literally A Scoop

Saugatuck Sweets has its official, grand opening, ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday, May 3 (12 noon).

What? You heard rumors already? What makes this a “scoop”?

Well, Saugatuck Sweets is that neighborhood’s newest (and only) ice cream shop.

Sure, they also sell high-quality desserts, yogurt and great candy. But you can’t make those into clever headlines.

Saugatuck Center is Westport’s hot new neighborhood. Ice cream from Saugatuck Sweets will be the perfect way to chill.

(Saugatuck Sweets is located in the former Craft Butchery on Riverside Avenue, next to The Whelk restaurant.)

Saugatuck Sweets

 

The 3rd Time’s The Charm

Actually, the 1st 2 are pretty charming as well.

Bill Taibe — owner of Le Farm and The Whelk — will open his 3rd Westport restaurant early this summer.

CT Bites reports that the site is the short-lived Bistro 88 space in Bridge Square — formerly Peter’s Bridge Market. It’s just a few steps away from The Whelk in Saugatuck Center.

Bill Taibe serves up octopus and squid at The Whelk.

Bill Taibe serves up octopus and squid at The Whelk.

Taibe — much beloved for his fierce dedication to locally sourced farms and distributors — told the food blog that the new spot will “take its culinary and design inspiration” from Japanese pubs. The emphasis is on small dishes, and great drinks.

He called it an Asian version of The Whelk — including a communal table — offering a mix of Japanese and Chinese dishes. You can also buy a bottle, write your name on it and store it for later.

Saugatuck has been on the culinary map for a couple of years now. In June, a new kitchen warms up — and the area will be even hotter.

 

Ho Ho Ho! They’ll Drink To That!

Seventy or so Santa Clauses — and a few random Mrs. Clauses, elves and Grinches — descended on Saugatuck Center this afternoon.

They drank, ate and ambled their way — no sleighs allowed, not after all that beer! — from Dunville’s to the Whelk, then Viva’s, Rizzuto’s and the Duck. Dessert was at Saugatuck Sweets.

The price to party: $100. Plus, you had wear a costume. There were some very serious Santas today.

It was all for a great cause: Adam’s Camp, a special summer spot for children with special needs.

Everywhere the merry group went, traffic stopped. It was as if no one has ever seen 70 Santas drinking their way through Saugatuck before.

Kelly and Drew Schuette, who organized this afternoon's Santa pub crawl.

Kelley and Drew Schuette, who organized this afternoon’s Santa pub crawl. More shots are below.

Santa - 2

Santa - 3

Santa - 4

Santa - 5

Nearly everyone made it to the plaza outside the Whelk for a group shot. A few were still inside, enjoying their beers and oysters.

Nearly everyone made it to the plaza outside the Whelk for a group shot. A few were still inside, enjoying their beers and oysters.

Lights! Christmas! Action!

Those beautiful lights that make the Bridge Street Bridge sparkle don’t screw themselves in.

At midnight Friday, Al DiGuido, Vinny Penna and a crew of helpers were out, ensuring another bright holiday season.

(Photo/Pete Romano)

(Photo/Pete Romano)

Al’s Angels — the Westport-based charity helping children and families battle cancer and severe hardships (among many other good works) — ensures that the well-traveled bridge looks its best every holiday season.

You can see the lights for yourself on Wednesday, December 4. That’s when Santa arrives (6 p.m.), and a Christmas tree will be lit in Saugatuck Center, on the plaza between the Whelk and Saugatuck Sweets.

From 5:30 to 8 p.m. there’s refreshments,  fun, and old-fashioned community spirit.

And — in that holiday spirit — the sponsoring Gault family asks everyone to bring an unwrapped toy, for a child under 10.

Al’s Angels will take care of the rest.

As — very quietly, but lovingly, all year long — they always do.

Farmer’s Market Forks It Over

The Whelk was hopping tonight.

Bill Taibe’s popular, sustainably fresh Saugatuck restaurant hosted the 3rd of 4 Westport Farmers’ Market “Fork It Over” fundraisers.

Farmers MarketIn addition to the Whelk’s great food — the Mexican theme included guacamole with grasshoppers (!); ceviche with local shrimp, lobsters and razor clams; tacos including chorizo and burnt scallions, blood sausage and squash, and smoked brisket and adobo — there was sangria and watermelon tequila punch from Saugatuck Grain & Grape, the Whelk’s around-the-corner neighbor. All the fruit and vegetables came from Easton’s Sport Hill Farm.

Taibe, and chefs Geoff Lazlo and Avi Benson of The Whelk and Le Farm, mingled with the 60 guests, and spoke about their dishes.

They — and all the food purveyors — were happy to help the Farmers’ Market. They believe in its mission: helping “real farmers connect with real consumers over real food.”

The Farmers’ Market does that in many ways, beyond its May-to-November Thursday Imperial Avenue markets. There’s a Saturday winter market, at Gilbertie’s Herb Gardens.

Plus, the food that Staples High School’s culinary classes use, when they prepare meals for the Gillespie Center.

And the usual expenses for any non-profit: insurance, attorneys, accountants…

Lori Cochran-Dougall, Westport Farmers' Market director.

Lori Cochran-Dougall, Farmers’ Market director.

The winter market costs organizers $15,000 a year. Director Lori Cochran-Dougall says the Farmers’ Market has raised vendors’ fees only $50 over the past 8 years.

That’s why the Market is running these “Fork It Over” fundraisers. And doing it in their typical fun, friendly fashion.

If you missed the 1st 3, no problem. Tickets go on sale tomorrow (Monday, October 7) for the final event (Sunday, October 20).

To get info, you must be on the Farmers’ Market email list (click here).

But even with tickets, you won’t find out where the event is — or the theme — until the morning of the dinner.

Kind of like going to the Farmers’ Market itself, and happily discovering whatever is on sale that day.

Simon And Garfunkel’s Local Tour

Simon and Garfunkel made great music together. They also were not particularly fond of each other, and have spent the bulk of their careers breaking up and reuniting.

This past weekend, both were in this area. Separately, of course.

Paul Simon had dinner at The Whelk. It was a summer weekend night, so like everyone else he had to wait for a table. No word on whether he ordered a dish with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.

A few miles away, Art Garfunkel was rehearsing his new act at the Wilton Library. He sang “Scarborough Fair,” “The Boxer” and — perhaps in deference to the library location — “The Sounds of Silence.”

Simon and Garfunkel have both gone off — separately — to look for America.

Or at least, southern Fairfield County.

Simon and Garfunkel (above, Garfunkel and Simon) harmonized beautifully. They were not always looking at each other, however.

Simon and Garfunkel (above, Garfunkel and Simon) harmonized beautifully. They were not always looking at each other, however.

Whelk’s Deviled Eggs: You Can’t Beat ‘Em

What’s better than the Chinese pork-belly sandwich at Butcher & Bee in Charleston, South Carolina?

Better than sunchoke soup with potato, lobster and white truffle foam at Goosefoot in Chicago?

Better, in fact, than every other dish in the country?

Green-goddess deviled eggs at The Whelk, in Westport, Connecticut.

The #1 dish in the country.

The #1 dish in the country. (Photo/GQ.com)

That’s not me talking. It’s Alan Richman. He named that egg dish #1 — Number One!  — on his GQ list of “The 50 Best Things to Eat and Drink Right Now.”

So obviously The Whelk’s green-goddess deviled eggs are also better than the 97 jazillion other dishes — at the Whelk, Butcher & Bee, Goosefoot, Peter Luger’s Steakhouse, Viva’s, Red Lobster, Waffle House, and every other momofuku restaurant in the entire country!

It’s right there on the GQ website. Richman writes:

This has been the breakout year for deviled eggs, forgotten except in southern and midwestern kitchens. I ate them across the country, but none came close to this complex and captivating variation: yolks mashed and mixed with a homemade green-goddess dressing (creamy, tangy, and once as beloved as ranch), then stuffed into egg-white halves.

The dish gets better. The eggs are topped with two elements similar in texture but opposite in character—crunchy, sweet pickled onions and crunchy, sweet baconlike guanciale. Or you can have your deviled eggs with fried oysters on top. Both are right.

Whelk logoAfter this honor, the Whelk — named for an edible sea snail — may have to change its name.

Just kidding. That was a yolk.

(Hat-tip to Johanna Rossi and the Omnomct blog for this great catch.)