Times Touts Tavern

Tomorrow’s New York Times contains a review of the Spotted Horse Tavern. Patricia Brooks likes it as much as the hordes of Westporters who have flocked there since it opened in March.

Among the highlights:

It “has the homey, tavernesque décor of a longtime establishment, with simple, unadorned wooden tables, wood flooring and exposed beams…. The only modern touches are the three framed photo blowups of horse heads on the dining room walls. Never mind that only one horse has spots.”

The Spotted Horse (and the horse).

As in many pubs, brew pubs or taverns, the Spotted Horse menu is fairly concise, but here the food is a lot more sophisticated and better-prepared than basic pub grub. This may be why, even midweek, the dining room is a feeding frenzy during peak hours and the U-shaped bar is occupied three-deep. The moderate prices might also have something to do with it.

The choices are limited; one can select from seven entrees. But they cover most bases — sea, land, air — and are anything but old-time ordinary.

Brooks praised much of the menu. She wrote:

(A) humongous single grilled pork chop, tender beyond belief, marinated — believe this — in Dr Pepper soda, comes with a purée of sweet potato infused with a murmur of vanilla at a price of $21.95. At the same price, a glistening pan-roasted Atlantic salmon filet — barely cooked, as requested — swims in a creamy, well-made sweet pea risotto. Just as delicious, at $14.95, is the grilled “under a brick” half chicken, moist, fully flavored and snuggled into a mound of creamy polenta.

The famous pork chop.

Of course, all was not perfect: “(W)hile the chicken and black bean empanadas were spicy and flavor-rich, especially when dipped into their creamily piquant lime sauce, they needed more filling, less of the heavy pastry casket.”

Hey, nobody’s perfect.

But reviews like this come at a price. The Times has juice. For the next few weeks, finding a table at the Spotted Horse will be tougher than ever.

29 responses to “Times Touts Tavern

  1. Babette d'Yveine

    Interesting that the reviewer doesn’t mention the deafening noise level.

  2. Ate there twice; never again. Over priced mediocre food served by a staff of amateurs in a room with the ambiance of the Holland Tunnel at rush hour. Perfect for the newbies.

  3. Tommy and Donna have introduced yet another phenomenal restaurant!

    Have been 5 times now.

    From the Eggplant Stack to the Pan-Seared Diver Scallops to the Black Truffle Burger, I have tried many dishes here. Wonderful fresh food and great service!! The energy is overwhelmingly positive.

    If you do not like the din of people enjoying themselves, may I suggest you take a sandwich with you the next time you visit the library!

    Tonight I am taking my lovely wife for a big birthday!

    We can’t wait!!

    Bon Appetit!


    • Lighten up on the !!!!!!!!!!
      It’s a sign of insecurity.

      • Lamplight JD

        Yeah, YOU should certainly know!

      • OneByLandOneBySea

        [“Lighten up on the !!!!!!!!!!
        It’s a sign of insecurity.”]

        Says who?
        Point us all in the right direction as to where this is written, oh wise one.
        I, too, use exclamation points, when I want to emphasize my point !

        And, I am very secure with myself.


  4. i’m a big fan of the english maitre d’ but then again, i may be a little biased!

  5. I went there last week and it was packed for dinner – even after 10pm! The crowd definitely dies down (around 11pm) but it’s worth it. I got a great margarita/martini and the empanadas (which I thought were GREAT).

  6. Ate there for the first time on Tuesday and was fortunate to score a table outside. Nothing short of lovely. Good food. Suprisingly reasonable prices. Outdoor eating that wasn’t in a parking lot. What could be better? See you there!

  7. Well, another meal at Spotted Horse, and so well done, once again!

    Hoops, I thank you for making my wife’s 50th birthday one she will always remember.
    The food and service was outstanding, as usual!

    We will see you again soon!

    My best,

    Steve 🙂

  8. I can’t comment on the quality of the restaurant, but I rarely trust Patricia Brooks’s “reviews” which are in fact nothing more than run downs of the facts about the restaurants. Like every review she gives, the Spotted Horse got a “Worth It”.

    Seriously is every restaurant in CT the same quality?! Plus, she writes like a third grader.

  9. She writes like a third grader? Your own writing is pretty funky: “Brooks’s”? Comma after seriously. Comma after reviews. Discuss! 🙂

    • Sure. I’m not talking about petty grammar rules on a website (and Brooks’s is perfectly acceptable). I’m talking about the fact that it quite literally sounds like a review I’d read in a grade school newspaper. Basic facts, no literary flow, no character, etc.

  10. westport mom

    isn’t this the same restaurant that violated some conditions of approval by cutting down mature trees and not replacing them??? Was that issue ever resolved?

    • Are you serious? The saved a home from 1808 and put a great restaurant in it place. The site has beautiful landscaping and relates perfect in its urban environment it sits within. The only “violation” is that people like you like to try and push buttons and stir the pot, never with anything close to real facts. As for the fact’s, the final plan called for one (1) more tree to be added and it was not because of underground site issues. In order to resolve the issue the restaurant will be adding much more then the one tree. Also, they did not cut down any mature trees to cause a violation, they only neglected to add one which the P&Z asked for.

      Westport mom – more like Westport idiot

      • that’s right, just ignore p+z. They neglected to do what they were required to do and then got called out on it. btw: I believe westport mom asked a question, how about just a polite answer if you choose to respond.

  11. Mediocre fare served by a staff of drunks. What could be more inviting?

  12. A commuter, who loves westport.

    Good for them to get the write-up. I love to see people with an entrepreneurial spirit get some wins. However, I agree–food and service not the standard of a NYC restaurant, who would receive a “worth it” review. And yes– I have walked out because of the noise level.

  13. When the Bootleggers Express arrives in Westport next week, we may have to check this out. Thanks for the tip!

  14. Too noisy. Too crowded. Service is poor. Waiters can’t be found. After the usual new Westport “rush” is over, it may be OK. Let’s hope so.

    • Manager is a dolt. We ate there and waited 45 min for our food which arrived lukewarm. The bartender, tall guy, manager, couldn’t have been more unimpressive. Drunk on duty. Nice for him but we walked out and ended up much happier at the Black Duck.

      • Westport Convert

        “Drunk on duty” at Spotted? But, then you headed over to the Duck?! And you didn’t have a problem with their entire team being blitzed out of their mind?

        I’m actually a fan of the Duck. Let’s be real, though. Their staff is drunk on duty EVERY night. It’s funny that you complain about that, and then have no problem with it at the Duck.


    • Lamplight JD

      Disagree. You know what they say about “opinions”.

  15. Looks good, tastes OK at best, loud meat market at night!

  16. Marcia Sargent

    I’ve been there numerous times and had a good to positive experience every time. I must say the last few visits have been far more consistent with both the food quality, service(staff and food timing) and overall feel. Nice to see a restaurant address their customer’s comments/concerns.

  17. Around Town Foodie

    Was shocked by the negative comments. Went there for dinner last night and had a great experience. The mussels were amazing so was the pork chop. Our server was very friendly and so was the host at the door. The only downside was there was a slight wait and we were starving. There was standing room only at the bar but we were seated quicker than what we were told the wait was. Overall great place. Will definitely go back and can’t wait to try more of the menu.