Category Archives: Restaurants

Unsung Heroes #119

The other day, I posted a story about a long, important RTM meeting. After 3 hours, our town’s legislative body voted narrowly — 18-16 — against a motion to ban recreational marijuana sales in Westport. (Such sales are not yet legal in Connecticut.)

That was typical of our Representative Town Meeting. Once a month they meet to debate and approve town and education budgets, and all town appropriations over $20,000; enact ordinances; review bonds, leases, sales and purhcases of town property; review zoning, recreation and other regulations, and oversee labor agreements with town and Board of Education employees.

They meet much more frequently in committees. Each member serves on several.

It’s time-consuming, arduous and thankless work. And every 2 years, RTM members must run for re-election.

Fortunately, serving on the body is not all work and no play. Last week, 23 members — along with the town clerk and RTM secretary — gathered for lunch at Tavern on Main.

Member Matthew Mandell — whose day job is executive director of the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce — organized the event. It was a way for everyone to spend time together outside of Town Hall. (And yes, for the Chamber to promote Restaurant Week.)

The RTM lunch at Tavern on Main.

It was the middle of election season. But, Mandell says, “people enjoyed that we could all sit together. Political party means nothing to us” — the RTM is non-partisan.

“It was nice to just BS, and not discuss any issue coming before us, or even around town. The RTM has had some late nights recently. This was a good break.”

(Even though there was a quorum, no official notice was required. “Social gatherings do not constitute an illegal meeting — just fun,” explains town clerk Patty Strauss.)

“The RTM is a collegial bunch who volunteer a lot of time to the town,” Mandell notes.

So, to all 36 members — and all the others, running for a seat — thank you for all you do for Westport. You are our Unsung Heroes of the Week.

We hope you enjoyed your lunch. Now get back to work!

(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

 

Willkommen, Westoberfest!

If you’ve ever been to a German Oktoberfest — a real one — you know the drill.

Volks enjoy beer from steins the size of kegs, and sausages larger than pigs. They dance in lederhosen to oompah bands. It is quite a party, no?

Westport is not Munich. But if you want great fun without a passport, Westoberfest is the place to be.

The 2nd annual event — set for this Saturday (October 19, 1 to 5 p.m., Elm Street) — builds on the success of last year’s inaugural event.

A slew of restaurants, businesses and non-profits joins together for this fun afternoon in the heart of downtown.

A scene from last year’s Westoberfest.

It’s family-friendly, but let’s start with beer. Beginning at 2 p.m., over 30 New England craft breweries will offer more than 50 pours, for unlimited tasting.

But man does not live by beer alone. Rothbard Ale + Larder (of course!) and Kawa Ni (surprise!) provide traditional brats and pretzels, and untraditional spicy miso ramen, tofu pockets and sesame noodles.

Live music comes from StompBoxTrio. Nearby, there’s a classic car rally.

Meanwhile, kids enjoy pumpkin decorating, face painting, apples and a live animal exhibit.

Westoberfest is sponsored by the Westport Downtown Merchants Association, with support from The Grapevine, Westport Farmers’ Market, Air-cooled Car Company, Earthplace, Westport Museum of History & Culture, Artists Collective of Westport, One River, Gault, Princeton Review, Southern Tide, Lux Bond & Green and the Goddard School.

Prost!

(Advance ticket prices are $40 for 1, $70 for a pair, $320 for a party pack of 10. Click here to purchase. Single tickets are available for $45 at the gate.)

Menu Moments: What To Eat At The Whelk

The Whelk is a gem on Westport’s restaurant scene.

Fortunately, the Saugatuck spot’s tasty farm-to-table menu — specializing in seafood — does not make healthy choices seem like a sacrifice.

Chef/owner Bill Taibe has created a special dining experience. He is committed to locally sourced food, through farmers and oystermen.

As with all of Taibe’s restaurants, a “kitchen share” program enables them to increase wages for their hard-working kitchen help. That’s one more reason to feel good at The Whelk.

The Whelk (Photo courtesy of Our Town Crier)

This is not a place to make special requests. Enjoy your food the way it was meant to be prepared.

Also, the menu changes along with the seasons. What you see here is on the menu today. In a few weeks, it may not be.

The best strategy is to steer clear of bread, shoestring fries, pasta dishes and (of course, unfortunately) dessert.

Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian or meat eater, you can’t go wrong with this impressive menu. Westport nutritionist Heather Bauer serves up her healthiest picks below.

For Vegetarians

Appetizer:

  • The gem lettuce salad is perfect for both vegans and vegetarians alike
  • The radicchio salad (if you’re okay with a little Parmesan cheese, which is relatively high in protein and low in fat)
  • The snap peas and feta salad is also a great choice.

Entree: Choose a veggie option. Current favorites:

  • Roasted squash and runner beans
  • Burrata (leave half the toast)

For Pescatarians

Appetizer:

  • Share the raw bar, ideally enjoying a half dozen oysters or littlenecks. Oysters are high in zinc, which boosts immunity
  • Any of the vegetarian salad recommendations

At The Whelk.

Entree:

  • Pair the radicchio, gem lettuce or snap pea and feta salad with either the king salmon crudo or scallop crudo.
  • Halibut
  • Cod

For Meat Eaters

Appetizer:

  • Any of the salad options above
  • Alternatively, order the raw bar

Entree:

  • Roasted Chicken is a great option (leaving some of the skin makes it a little healthier). Eat all of the squash; leave some polenta on your plate.
  • The burger. Just leave the bun!

  • Heather’s Tips

    Make sure you drink 8 cups of water every day, especially when you plan on having a rich dinner. Water helps your body process a heavier meal.

    When you get home, don’t blow it by having a second dinner! Instead, get ready for bed and call it a night.

    Fat and flavor are important in satiety and staying healthy. When you deprive your body of too much fat and delicious flavor, you end up craving less healthy food.

 

Arrow Restaurant Shares In Nobel Prize

You don’t win a Nobel Prize without a great work ethic.

And for generations, teenagers learned how to work at the Arrow restaurant.

It paid off for countless local youngsters. Including Billy Kaelin.

The Fairfield youth — and his 3 brothers — all worked there as busboys.

Yesterday, Dr. William G. Kaelin Jr. was awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

Dr. William Kaelin, and his prize.

Kaelin — a professor at Harvard Medical School — shared science’s greatest honor with 2 others. They researched how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability. The work has implications for cancer and other diseases, such as anemia, myocardial infarction and stroke.

Tommy Nistico — a member of the legendary, beloved family that owned the Saugatuck institution for years (originally on Saugatuck Avenue, then located at the current site of Mystic Market) — posted the news on Facebook.

He noted that Kaelin and his 3 brothers all attended Duke University. The younger siblings are now lawyers.

The Arrow restaurant nourished decades of hungry Westporters. Along the way, it also fed the hunger of a young boy to work hard, and make his mark on the world.

Kaelin will receive his Nobel Prize in December, in Stockholm.

Too bad the Arrow is no longer around to cater the event.

(Hat tip: Fred Cantor)

Town Invited To Big Block Party

The 3 restaurants — one Japanese-inspired, another featuring tacos, the third specializing in meatballs — could not be more different.

But OKO, Bartaco and The Meatball Shop have already joined forces with valet parking. This Sunday (October 6), they’re collaborating on a family afternoon — for a great cause.

National Hall is the site of the 1st-ever Push Against Cancer Block Party. From 2 to 5 p.m. there’ s appetizers from all 3 spots, drinks courtesy of TUCK Gin, and fun activities like Cornhole and an obstacle course for kids and adults, thanks to Upper Deck Fitness.

National Hall and Upper Deck Fitness: the site of Sunday’s block party.

It all benefits the Hole in the Wall Gang Camps — the wonderful site in Ashford, Connecticut for children with life-threatening illnesses founded by Westport’s own Paul Newman.

OKO chef/owner Brian Lewis participated in this spring’s Push Against Cancer push-up contest at Staples High School — also a Hole in the Wall Gang fundraiser. He was so moved by what he learned that he offered OKO — or his other restaurant, The Cottage — for a future event.

PAC organizers Andy Berman and Sherry Jonas were happy to oblige.

Bartaco, The Meatball Shop, Upper Deck Fitness and National Hall’s landlord were equally eager to join in.

There’s a lot going on in Westport this weekend. But if you can, block out time for this great block party.

And yes, there’s plenty of parking.

(Tickets will he sold at the “door.” The cost is $40 per adult, $10 per child under age 12.)

Backyard Dumping In Front Of Westfair Village

An alert “06880” reader living in Westfair Village — behind Westfair Center, between Post Road East and North Bulkley Avenue — writes:

This is a fantastic neighborhood. In the last few years, many homes have turned over to new families with young children. There is almost a full school bus just for our little area. There are also families that have lived here for decades.

All of the houses are on lots of about 1/3 acre, so there is a tremendous feeling of community. It’s common to see kids and parents walking the streets each day.  Of course, there’s an annual block party. It’s a Halloween destination for many families who live elsewhere, because it’s so easy to walk to so many homes.

Westfair Drive. (Photo/Google Maps)

We (and many of our neighbors) truly love the area — and its proximity to the Post Road.

However, Westfair meets the Post Road near the shopping complex that houses Shanghai Gourmet, Gaetano’s and Yamafuji Sushi. Over the years, the back parking lot has become progressively more of a dumping ground.

An oil dumpster has leaked for years.  The lot is littered with boxes, bottles and cans — no one looks after it. A bin of soiled aprons is a permanent fixture — along with a discarded refrigeration unit.

The building needs a good paint job. And the roof fence needs fixing.

It’s unclear whether anyone has complained to the owner: 1701 Post Road East LLC (registered to a parent company with an address of 30 Shorehaven Road, Norwalk).

If so, and they’ve done nothing: Shame.

If no one has contacted them: They should know what’s going on with their tenants, anyway.

And be good neighbors, regardless.

Of Course: Restaurant Week Returns

There’s always something new on Westport’s dining plate.

The Meatball Shop opened last summer, to spicy reviews. If you haven’t tried it yet — now’s your chance.

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce’s “Restaurant Week” starts this Monday (September 30).

Actually, that’s a misnomer. The event is 2 weeks — it runs all the way through October 13.

Throughout the event, 24 restaurants — from Saugatuck to Southport — offer prix fixe meals. They range from $15 to $25 for lunch, $25 to $40 for dinner, $20 and up for brunch.

A meatball meal to look forward to.

This is a perfect chance to head to new spots. Then visit an older one you’ve always wanted to try.

And after that, hit up an old standby.

On October 14, you can head to the Y.

Participating restaurants:

  • 190 Main
  • Amis
  • Boathouse
  • Gray Goose
  • Harvest
  • Julian’s
  • Le Penguin
  • Mama Chow
  • Pane e Bene
  • Pink Sumo
  • Rio Bravo
  • Rive Bistro
  • Rizzuto’s
  • Rothbard Ale + Larder
  • Sakura
  • Spotted Horse
  • Tarantino
  • Tarry Lodge
  • Tavern on Main
  • Terrain Garden Café
  • The Meatball Shop
  • Tutti”s
  • Via Sforza
  • Wafu Korean Barbecue

For more details — including menus — click here

Menu Moments: What To Eat At Little Kitchen

Little Kitchen — the fast, tasty pan-Asian restaurant in Compo Shopping Center — has been around more than 2 decades. (It started in an actual “little kitchen” — the old Soup’s On — on Main Street.)

Nearly every item is made in house. Cuisine includes Thai, Japanese and Chinese. In the latest installment of our continuing series, Westport nutritionist Heather Bauer serves up her top healthy picks for the popular spot.

Healthy choice appetizers

  • Small hot-and-sour (100 calories per cup), egg-drop soup (66 calories per cup) or Thai tom yum soup. NOTE: Soups are high in sodium, so if you’re salt-sensitive, pay attention.
  • 1-2 spare ribs (no more than that! — they’re 80 to 100 calories per rib). Enjoy, then pair with one of the steamed recommendations below.
  • Because Little Kitchen has a fusion menu, you can also order a house salad or edamame. Both are very healthy appetizer options.

Healthy choice entrees

  • Any dish with a steamed protein and veggies. Ask for sauce on the side; no cornstarch. Shrimp and veggies with sauce on the side is one of my favorites.
  • Moo shu chicken. If you order this steamed, mix in a little Hoisin sauce, and add light soy sauce. Request lettuce wraps instead of regular wraps if you do not order it steamed. If you ordered hot and sour soup as your appetizer, this also works as a nice sauce on the steamed moo shoo.
  • Moo goo gai pan. To order a dish that is not steamed, this is a great option. It comes with stir-fried chicken, mushrooms and lots of other veggies, but is lighter on the sauce.
  • Chicken lettuce wraps (on the menu under Appetizers): chicken, lettuce, protein/veggies, perfection. This is another top choice for a non-steamed option. Remember, no rice or other carbs in the meal; the sauce is the carb.
  • Sauteed asparagus with chicken or shrimp. Request sauce on the side; you can ask for this to be steamed.

Moo goo gai pan

Healthy sides

  • Order extra side of steamed bok choy or any steamed veggies to help fill you up.

Sushi

  • Appetizer: house salad, seaweed salad or edamame.
  • Entree: 1 naruto roll (yellowtail, salmon, tuna wrapped in cucumber) and 4-6 pieces of sashimi (ask for light soy sauce; at home, use coconut secret sauce).

Skips

  • Avoid sweet-and-sour protein choices; they are often deep-fried. Avoid egg rolls and crunchy noodles, and skip the sesame/General Tso’s/lo mein options.
  • Watch out for eggplant dishes. They seem innocent, but the eggplant acts like a sponge and absorbs way more oil than you would expect. Skip all Szechuan-style dishes; they’re cooked in a lot of oil at a very high temperature.

Additional tips, notes and tricks

  • Eat with chopsticks. It slows you down.
  • When ordering with a group, request one steamed dish.
  • Skip the rice/noodle dishes; the sauces will count as your carb.
  • When eating family-style, fill your plate with 50-75% veggies, and the rest protein. If you need to fill your plate for seconds, try to stick to only vegetables.
  • In general, order sauce on the side. Mix in the sauce served with low-sodium soy sauce.
  • If you order in, keep good condiments at home: sriracha and Coconut Secret coconut amino soy sauce as a replacement instead of soy sauce.
  • Brown or white rice? Remember that when you order dishes that come with the sauce in it, often the sauce is made with sugar and corn starch — so you don’t need the sauce and the rice. But if you choose a steamed dish and want to eat the rice, both have 200 or so calories per cup. However, brown rice has triple the fiber (about 3.5 grams per cup) and a lower glycemic index than white, meaning it takes more time to digest and will stick with you longer.
  • Try to drink 2 liters of water by 3 p.m. on days when you go out for Chinese. Your body will handle the sodium more easily.

Naruto roll

Friday Flashback #159

Alert “06880” reader — and native Westporter — sent this photo:

The Stage Door Restaurant — on the Post Road in Greens Farms — was before my time.

I never heard of it. I’m intrigued by the 60-cent dinners (that 75-cent turkey dinner must have been extra special).

And I wonder where the name came from. What “stage” could have been close by?

If you remember the Stage Door Restaurant — or know anything about it — click “Comments” below.

Menu Moments: What To Eat At Le Penguin

Le Penguin is a perfect spot for date night, dinner with friends, and adult birthday parties (gotta love the giant stuffed penguins and party music).

If you’re willing to forgo the bread basket, a healthy meal is surprisingly easy to put together right from the menu. In the latest installment of our continuing series, Westport nutritionist Heather Bauer serves up her top healthy picks for the popular Sconset Square spot.

Enjoy a warm welcome — and plenty of healthy options — at Le Penguin.

Healthy choice appetizers

  • Fresh baby artichoke salad (vegan)
  • Tuna tartare
  • Appetizer mussels in white wine
  • Boston Bibb salad (vegan)

Healthy choice entrees

  • Grilled salmon
  • Red snapper
  • Grass-fed grilled filet mignon (request no potatoes, sauce on the side, and all veggies instead of potatoes)
  • Entree portion of mussels in white wine (request veggies or salad instead of fries)
  • Appetizer beef carpaccio
  • NOTE: Chicken paillard lightly breaded with panko crust over arugula and parm: This is not on the menu, but it’s one of my favorite entrees at Le Penguin. The chicken is very thin, topped with a ton of arugula and freshly shaved parmesan.