The Whelk

A whelk is an edible sea snail.

The Whelk” is the name of the newest restaurant in town. Located across from the old Doc’s on Riverside Avenue, it’s the latest addition to the funky mix of Italian, Mexican, seafood, steak and Mario Batali-type places that are fast making Saugatuck an actual lively place to be.

The owner’s name — Bill Taibe — is familiar. He also owns leFarm, the highly acclaimed Colonial Green restaurant offering fantastic local produce, fish and meats.

Bill Taibe serves up his octopus, squid and fries in beef gravy dish.

His newest venture is similar — much of the food is locally sourced — but very different. The Whelk’s menu spotlights oysters, clams and shrimp.

There’s smoked fish pate, salmon jerky and lobster rolls, along with chilled seafood salads, a tuna burger and blackened fish sandwiches. I recommend the spectacular (and innovative) octopus, squid and fries in beef gravy.

Meat (for dishes like the lamb burger) comes from just across the plaza — the mouth-watering Craft Butchery — while general manager Massimo Tulio (you know him from Fat Cat Pie and  Fountainhead) has designed an extensive list of hand-crafted wines. “All the growers have their hands in making it,” he says proudly. “There’s nothing with chemicals.”

Like the rest of the Saugatuck development, The Whelk is light and airy. There’s a long white marble bar, a couple of large communal tables, then plenty of window tables. There will be outside dining too (whenever).

Last night, the place was filled for a private party. Bill plans a soft opening next week. It should fill quickly, as many new restaurants do.

A whelk

But The Whelk will have staying power. And when spring and summer finally arrive, it and the entire Saugatuck neighborhood — including a new Asian cuisine and sushi bistro around the corner in the former Peter’s Bridge Market — will be rockin’.

They’ll do it 2012-style. But in many other ways, Saugatuck will be just as alive as it was 50 or 100 years ago.

11 responses to “The Whelk

  1. LOVE it…am SOOOOOO excited for this developing area!!! GREAT for our beloved town and all of its amazing residents!!!

  2. The Whelk is Awesome! New life on the River. The organic food, amazing wines, friendly people and the super window views of Saugatuck Life; is a real winner. Congrats to all the team; and for Dan’s great article 06880. Go visit soon!! Thanks Bill and Massimo…..and all.

  3. Wow.. maybe we can solve a life long question of mine.. is a Whelk a Squingilli or is it one of those things about all Squingillis are Whelks but not all Whelks are Squingillis. I am on my way if it’s open.

  4. Hey Woog, how about a piece describing the new Saugatuck, from the Rowing Club to the train station? Maybe later in the Spring? I think that the out-of-towners (me, Singer, etc) would appreciate it.

  5. and somewhere in this mix, could someone persuade the Gaults to give us a small grocery store? All the new local residents cannot dine on restaurants alone. Perhaps we locals could invest in a co-op in the old gym/AAA office across from Dunvilles run by the current convenience store owners? We need milk, eggs and pancake mix nearby!

    • Richard Lawrence Stein

      Just to let you know… The space you speak of is 6000+ sq ft … And costs in the range of 35to40 dollars triple net… So let’s do some math… $20,000 a month rent before expenses of any kind… Very sadly good luck on getting a CSA or farmers market

  6. Whelkome to Westport

  7. A whelk is carnivorous.