Tag Archives: Bistro du Soleil

Meandering On The Saugatuck

Bistro du Soleil — the French-Mediterranean restaurant in the old post office on Riverside Avenue — has a loyal following. But it does not get enough attention, either for its food or the ever-changing art on its walls.

This Sunday (November 3, 4 to 7 p.m.), there’s a reception for Westport photographer Tom Kretsch’s photos of the Saugatuck River — the water that runs directly behind the restaurant.

His new exhibit is called “River Take Me Along.” Tom writes:

“The River that Flows Out” is the translation of the word Saugatuck. The Paugusset Indians gave this 23-mile river, with its origins in Danbury, its name.

This treasure of a resource served first as a place of early settlements by Native Americans. Later, settlers farmed along its banks. In the 19th century it was a large shipping port, with warehouses nestled by the edge.

Saugatuck River (Photo/Tom Kretsch)

Today this winding river, flowing through the heart of our community, serves as a wondrous resource for physical and spiritual reflection. From the fishermaen who cast their lines off the Cribari swing bridge to those who fly fish up stream, from the rowers who ply its waters both solo and in team sculls, to the many who simply stop and pause to sit on a bench by the library, the Saugatuck River holds a place in the hearts and souls of many Westporters.

Living close to its banks for 45 years sparked my interest to capture the many magical moods of this flowing body of water. Its ancient path that winds its way, sacred and slow, through woods, ponds, reservoirs and finally into Long Island Sound has provided me a palette to create my impressions of its spirit and soul.

From vantage points on a kayak floating slowly down the stream, to walking along its wooded banks, to standing on a bridge on a misty morning, the river can truly “take our breath away,” as Dar Williams sings eloquently in “The Hudson.”

Saugatuck in the mist. (Photo/Tom Kretsch)

In my series of images I have tried to create both impressionistic and realistic photographs of this ever-changing body of water. I hope the work will speak to you, and draw you into the beauty and spirit of the river.

I hope too it makes you pause and appreciate what a great natural resource this river is for all of us.

Perhaps it will inspire you to take time to explore the Saugatuck’s many nooks and crannies, or simply pause on a quiet summer evening, an early misty morning fog or deep in the fall foliage season to gaze at this gift we have been given.

My journey on this water is always evolving. I continue to look for those moments that speak to me; to capture the many hidden treasures it holds, and that can only be captured in the light that breathes life into our treasure, the Saugatuck River.

(The reception this Sunday is free, and open to the public. Tom Kretsch’s exhibit runs through December 28.)

Bistro Du Soleil Serves Up Fine Food — And Art

There are 2 types of excellent restaurants in Westport:

The ones everyone talks about. You know what they are.

And the ones that don’t get much buzz at all. Like Bistro du Soleil.

Tucked away in a corner of the old Saugatuck post office — on Riverside Avenue just before the train station, next to now-departed Westport Auction — the Mediterranean-with-a-French-flair spot is beloved by everyone who knows it.

But not everyone does.

Bistro du Soleil is a family affair. Owner Maria Munoz del Castillo works alongside her parents, Soledad and Bernardo. They came to the US in the 1980s.

Soledad was trained as a French chef. Bernardo — a craftsman as well as a restaurateur — lovingly made every table, the outdoor seating and handsome wooden bar. He’s also a playwright and poet.

Bernardo Munoz del Castillo (right) hand-crafted this handsome wooden bar.

Bistro du Soleil is more than a great restaurant. Since it opened 2 years ago, over 200 local and international artists have had their work highlighted on the sunflower gold walls.

Next up: Peter Saverine. A public reception to meet him, see his art, and enjoy wine and treats is set for this Sunday (August 4, 4 to 7 p.m.).

Like Bistro du Soleil, Saverine is a strong believer in giving back. He wants his art to be affordable, so he’s priced it at $20 to $450.

One of Peter Saverine’s works …

When he offered to donate a portion of his sales to a local non-profit, Soledad asked him to choose one supporting women and girls. Saverine selected Project Return, the Homes with Hope facility on North Compo Road that helps homeless young women rebuild their lives.

Like Bistro du Soleil’s owner, Saverine has an intriguing background. Professionally he’s director of philanthropy at STAR, the non-profit serving area residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

But he’s also a self-taught artist. His seascapes capture familiar scenes along Long Island Sound, Cape Cod and Nantucket. Compo Beach is a frequent inspiration.

… and another.

Saverine also authored a children’s book about a mermaid: “Jenny’s Pennies — A Nantucket Tradition.”

Great food and wine; fine (and affordable) art; a wonderful cause — it’s all there Sunday.

Whether you’re a Bistro du Soleil fan or never heard of the place, this is a wonderful reason to stop by.

Bistro Du Soleil Shines On Saugatuck

The latest addition to Westport’s dining scene comes with plenty of ready-made fans.

Bistro du Soleil has opened on Riverside Avenue, across from Minute Men Cleaners — between the Black Duck and the train station.

Owner Maria Munoz del Castillo earned raves for Rincón Taqueria in Norwalk. She cut her teeth at an earlier Bistro du Soleil, also in Norwalk, owned by her parents, Soledad and Bernardo Munoz del Castillo.

Bernardo Munoz del Castillo offers escargots.

That Soleil is now closed, but Bernardo’s wizardry is strongly felt in Saugatuck. A craftsman as well as a restaurateur, he lovingly made every table — including the outdoor seating — as well as the handsome wooden bar. (He’s also a playwright and poet.)

Bernardo hand-crafted this handsome wooden bar.

Soledad and Bernardo came to the U.S. from Chile in the 1980s. Trained as a French chef, she made a name for herself here. In addition to restaurants, Soledad had a catering business — and was a favorite at the Westport Farmers’ Market.

The new Soleil’s menu is Mediterranean, with French flair. Dinners include salmon, seafood bouillabaisse, grilled rack of lamb, marinated grilled skirt steak, Muscovy duck breast — and a parrillada with chorizos, skirt steak, pork chops, half chicken, tomato, onion, bell pepper BBQ and cilantro chimichurri that serves 3-4.

As politicians, consultants, bridge engineers and ordinary Westporters debate the future of Saugatuck, here’s a suggestion: Do it over a meal at Bistro du Soleil.

Westport 1st Selectman Jim Marpe (with scissors) joined Munoz del Castillo family members and friends at last night’s official ribbon-cutting ceremony for Bistro du Soleil.