Restaurant Roulette

If you play the popular Westport game — “Where should we go for dinner?” — your options always change.

This week was particularly head-swiveling.

Here’s an update. NOTE: I wrote this last night, so it might not be the latest news.

Jasmine — closed since 2010 — may reopen as the Blue Parrot by October. The landmark building at the corner of Saugatuck Avenue and Charles Street — known for 44 years as the Arrow — will feature live music.

That’s a no-brainer. There’s a lack of those places in town — and the new owner is Adam Lubarsky. The 1973 Staples grad was the long-time owner of the Georgetown Saloon, one of the shit-kickingest music venues around.

The Arrow restaurant became Jasmine. This fall, it will reopen as the Blue Parrot.

Around the corner, Saugatuck Grain and Grape — a liquor store — earned a Planning and Zoning Commission 5-space parking waiver to open a wine bar at 40 Railroad Place. The spot is currently a realty company. But the block — across from the westbound railroad station platform — is a hospitable place for eating and drinking. Mario’s and Tarantino have been there forever.

As previously reported, plans are moving ahead for 2 new places on the west bank of the Saugatuck River, near National Hall: Safita (Mid-Eastern) and Moja (Brazilian sushi).

Of course, when one (restaurant) door opens, another closes. V — a 15-year mainstay on the Post Road near Maple Avenue — closed last Sunday. The reason had nothing to do with business; it was one of Westport’s most popular basic- food-in-a-nice-atmosphere places. An old-fashioned lease dispute did V in.

Meanwhile, Energy Kitchen — a small chain offering grilled, baked or steamed items, all under 500 calories — will have to wait a bit longer before offering its “fast food, not fat food.”

The P&Z held off voting on Energy Kitchen’s application, citing parking issues in the proposed Playhouse Square location. While the restaurant’s consultant, former P&Z director Mel Barr, said there was plenty of space — he said a 14-day lunch-hour survey showed an average of 14 spots — the P&Z was not buying it.

I don’t either. I live in the condos right behind Playhouse Square, so you can accuse me of NIMFY on this. But if you’ve been in that lot lately — for the post office, the new Achorn Pharmacy, the long-established Organic Market or anyplace else — you know there are seldom 2.7 parking spaces available, let alone 27.

Finally, Terrain. The new garden shop next to the fire station has drawn much attention for its wide variety of plants and garden goods (plus its own parking problems).

Terrain’s restaurant — before the rush.

But there’s a restaurant there too — quite a popular one, my spies say.

There are still a few kinks in the kitchen. Yet the staff works very creatively to solve them. Check out this review by interior designer Olga Adler, on her blog. (Hat tip to alert “06880” reader William Adler, for sending this along).

I was very excited about dining at Terrain, as it is run by people who support locally grown food and only use fresh and organic ingredients. I had high expectations. I wanted to see lots of vegetarian and vegan options.

We arrived on time and even though we had a reservation we were seated at a table all the way in the back and just 2 feet from the kitchen door. …After a short wait we were led outside by an unapologetic hostess. We liked the setting and got immediately lost in a conversation.

I studied (my menu), only to realize there is only one vegetarian option in entrees – the dreaded “vegetarian platter.” I ordered fish instead and moved on. William, also scared of the “platter” ordered a bunch of sides – a vegetarian’s rescue in vegetarian-unfriendly eateries.

About 20 minutes later (as I pictured my fish slowly cooking on the grill) our waitress (who saved the evening with her good sense of humor and desserts on the house) informed us that the kitchen ran out of fish. She asked me and my friend to choose a replacement, but gave us hope that the chef may find another kind of fish after all.

I wanted to find out where exactly he would go fishing at that late hour. It turned out a fish scout was sent to Whole Foods, in an attempt to save our original order. Meanwhile, we were almost done with the first bottle of wine and the situation seemed more funny than annoying.

The salads arrived and they were OK. The second bottle of wine was even better than the first (isn’t that always the case?) and finally we got the good news – the fish is here and ready!

My dish was very good, William liked his veggie combo, and by the time the free deserts arrived we were happy.

(Bonus restaurant news:  Remember Positano’s patio? Last week the P&Z voted unanimously to reject their application to lease town-owned land — beachfront property built illegally 12 years ago, by a previous restaurant — for outdoor dining.)

8 responses to “Restaurant Roulette

  1. OMG! So excited to hear about the prospect of LIVE MUSIC again in Westport, especially the HOSTED BY ADAM LUBARSKY part…Yippee!

  2. Anyone else notice all the new roads in Saugatuck? Neither have I. I really like all the stuff they’re putting in there (no nikegapjcrewrepublic down there) – I just don’t know how the infrastructure is supposed to accommodate all the increased traffic/activity. Not sure what the solution is – I’m also pretty sure no else is either.

    • You are so right, but it always happens to Saugatuck! It can take 15 to 20 minutes from exit 17 to get to the traffic light at Riverside and Saugatuck—but just keep it coming!!

  3. Rick! Hide Me!

    Excited to have a music venue in town. Here’s hoping it’s as stylish as its namesake in Casablanca 🙂

    Also, here’s another (balanced) review of terrain:

    http://www.ctbites.com/home/2012/6/3/terrain-westport-garden-cafe-farm-to-table-fare.html

  4. Love all the interesting new places that are opening in town. Seems like there had been a drought for a long time (my dad never turns down an opportunity to blame Save Westport Now). Whatever the reason for it was, it seems to have vanished, and this town is quickly making up for lost time. It’s nice not having to go to Fairfield so often anymore.

  5. I loved the Arrow. My grandfather used to take me there. Once I asked him why it was always so dark in there, only the little candles on the table to light your way to the baked ziti,and shrimp scampi and he replied, “This is where people having affairs like to come, they don’t want to be recognized.” Of course I was too young to really get it, I just nodded my head and kept eating.