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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.

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