Tag Archives: Kawa Ni

COVID Roundup: Restaurant News; Graduation Gowns; Live Music; More


Looking for a list of open restaurants and delis — those with outdoor dining, along with takeout and delivery?

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce has you covered.

They maintain an up-to-date list. Click here for their website. As of this morning, the list included Arezzo, Bartaco, The Boathouse, Calise’s Market, Granola Bar, GG & Joe (the new acai bowl spot in Parker Harding Plaza, near TD Bank), Joe’s Pizza, Little Barn, The Naan, Pearl at Longshore, Rive Bistro, Rizzuto’s, Romanacci Xpress, Spotted Horse, Viva Zapata and The Whelk.

The Chamber site also includes FAQs, applications, and rules and regulations for restaurant owners.

There’s also this: a great new logo. It was created by (of course!) Westport’s go-to graphic designer, Miggs Burroughs.

 


On the long list of things people really, really want, then never look at again after wearing them once, the only thing less than a wedding dress is a graduation gown.

Except now. That goofy, floor-length outfit could save a life.

As healthcare workers lack personal protective equipment in the fight against COVID-19, they grab anything they can think of. Even trash bags.

Graduation gowns are a lot more effective than that. They cover legs and arms, and offer easy zipper access.

The Gowns4Good program provides graduation gowns to the men and women who desperately need them. Whether yours from years ago is gathering dust somewhere, or yours is spanking new for that less-than-raucous, socially distant 2020 ceremony: It can help.

Just click here. Fill out a short form. Select a medical facility from the dropdown list (pro tip: the closest to Westport is Stamford Hospital). Submit.
You’ll get an email back, with instructions on how to ship your gown.

Whether you graduated first in your class or last, you know: This is a very smart idea! (Hat tip: Becky Acselrod)

Despite the cigar smoke, these gowns will be useful.


Talk about “burying the lede”!

At the bottom of an email sent yesterday announcing new outdoor hours for The Whelk (Tuesday through Saturday, 4 to 8 p.m.), and the opening of a new Kawa Ni patio in “the next few days,” there was this momentous news from Bill Taibe’s group:

“With the seismic change that is happening in the world, we look at this as an opportunity to pivot and grow. Over the next few weeks Jesup Hall will evolve into Don Memo.

“While it is bittersweet to say goodbye to Jesup Hall, it is so exciting to create this new concept and be able to bring what we love about this cuisine and culture to downtown Westport. See you soon!”

“06880” will keep you posted. One thing is for sure: Don Memo won’t have to worry about creating outdoor seating. The patio in front of the old stone building next to Restoration Hardware — Westport’s original Town Hall — is already perfect.

Jesup Hall, soon to be Don Memo, aka the old Town Hall.


Westport’s Parks & Rec Department is posting clever new signs at their facilities around town.

Good thing they didn’t try to spell out “Recreation.”


If you wander by Jeff Franzel’s Saugatuck Island house any Thursday from 5 to 6:30 p.m., you may hear him playing piano.

But you don’t have to live here to hear Jeff. His listeners span the globe, via Facebook Live. They suggest themes; he improvises. Original songs, plus those by Elton John, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Thelonious Monk, Count Basie, Ed Sheeran, Billie Eilish — he plays them all.

And very well. The Westport native has quite a resume. He’s played piano for the Hues Corporation (“Rock the Boat”), Les Brown, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Mel Torme and Bob Hope. He wrote hits like “Don’t Rush Me” for Taylor Dayne, and others for the Temptations, NSYNC, Shawn Colvin, Josh Groban, Placido Domingo and Clay Aiken. He mentors songwriters around the world, and brings some to his Songwriting Academy, at his home.

Intrigued? You’re in luck: Today is Thursday. Click here at 5 p.m., for Jeff’s 10th concert.

Jeff Franzel


Looking for a good read — and podcast? Persona’s Rob Simmelkjaer interviews Westporter Emily Liebert. Her 6th novel, “Perfectly Famous,” will be published June 2.


And finally … it will be a while before we get 400,000 people together in one place.

Or even 40.

But the Youngbloods’ message is as relevant today as it was more than half a century (!) ago.

Pic Of The Day #1070

Great food — carefully delivered — at Kawa Ni … (Photo/Darcy Hicks)

… and curbside at Jeera Thai, one of Westport’s most flavorful restaurants. Pook — the great, giving owner — and all other restaurants in Westport need our support!

Restaurants Take Drastic Steps; Savvy + Grace Closes Temporarily

First it was schools. Then the library, Town Hall and Y. Last night, it was the beaches and Compo playground.

Now, COVID-19 is rippling through our restaurants.

Yesterday, Bill Taibe closed his 3 restaurants — The Whelk, Kawa Ni and Jesup Hall — for in-house dining.

Takeout meals are available through curbside pick-up. If you can’t leave the house — or don’t want to — they’ll deliver. It may take some time how to do it, Taube says, “but we’ll figure it out. Everybody’s got to eat!

“We feel this is necessary in order to do our part to help stop the spread of this virus,” says the owner of 3 of Westport’s most popular dining spots.

“If there’s ever a time to tip, this is it,” he adds.

For the time being, the doors to The Whelk will be closed. (Photo courtesy of Our Town Crier)

While not closing, other restaurants are taking their own measures during the pandemic.

Pearl at Longshore — which recently hired a new chef, reworked the menu and remodeled the interior — has removed some tables, creating more distance between diners. They offer 10% off on takeout orders, and will bring it outside for pickup.

Pearl at Longshore has made changes….

In addition to also removing tables, offering curbside pick-up and delivery (within 3 miles), Rizzuto’s has removed items like flowers and salt and pepper shakers from all tables. They’re printing menus on lightweight paper for single use. too.

… and so has Rizzuto’s …

The Boathouse has added curbside pick-up, and will soon offer delivery.

… and the Boathouse, at the Saugatuck Rowing Club.

They — and every other restaurant in town — have strengthened existing health policies, and implemented new ones, such as washing hands upon arrival at work; before and after serving or removing food and beverages; before resetting tables, and after every customer interaction, including credit card processing. They’ve also expanded and enhanced their cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

Restaurants also encourage patrons to buy gift cards. They provide much-needed cash now — particularly for small, great places like Jeera Thai — and can be used whenever you feel comfortable going inside.

PS: It’s not just restaurants. Customers can call Calise’s Market (203-227-3257). They’ll put together hot foods, soups, sandwiches, cold cuts, homemade pizzas, drinks, snacks, milk, water, bread, eggs, butter, dry goods — whatever you want  — all for curbside service or delivery.

Sandra Calise-Cenatiempo reports they just stocked up on pasta, sauces and many canned goods. Tomorrow (Monday) they’ll start making dishes that can be frozen.

If you own a restaurant — or store — and would like “06880” readers to know what you’re doing, click “Comments” below.


But restaurants are not the only small businesses reeling from COVID-19.

Savvy + Grace — the great, locally own downtown unique gifts-and-more store — will close for a while. But only the doors.

Owner Annette Norton — Main Street’s biggest booster — says:

As a small business owner I have been grappling with how to handle this.

I am responsible for the rent, vendor bills, expenses, yet with all of the information I am collection, it pales in comparison with our community’s health. Therefore, I have decided to close until further notice.

I will be inside, alone, processing all of our new merchandise for spring. Which, by the way, allows me to offer curbside delivery and call-ins, or direct message me on Instagram for shipping: @savvyandgracewestport. You can also call the store: 203-221-0077.

My store has always been, and always will be, about putting my customers first. This too shall pass.

I just want to do what is responsible, given the information available. It has been my pleasure to serve this community, and I am committed to seeing this through.

See you soon. Stay healthy!

Savvy + Grace, a jewel on Main Street. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Menu Moments: What To Eat At Kawa Ni

Kawa Ni (Japanese for “on the river”) is an Asian-inspired establishment. They serve a wide array of drinks and food in a cozy interior. It’s a casual setting for an after-work get-together with co-workers, or a destination for friends and family.

Though a Japanese-style restaurant, chef/owner Bill Taibe, and his brother and fellow chef Jeff Taibe, draw inspiration from other Asian cuisines (notably Vietnamese, Chinese and Korean).

As a nod to the Japanese-style pub called “izakaya,” Kawa Ni specializes in many small plates, a few one-dish entree portions with rice or noodles, and an impressive variety of sake, other alcoholic beverages and teas. Westport-based nutritionist, Heather Bauer serves up her top healthy picks below.

Bill Taibe (right) and his Kawa Ni staff.

Heather’s Tips

Kawa Ni does not do special requests (except for edamame), so plan your day around dinner; eat clean at breakfast and lunch. Be sure to drink your daily water allotment by 3 p.m., to help your body handle the extra sodium at dinner.

Kimchi — a traditional Korean food made from fermented cabbage — is served as a condiment or on the side. Since it’s fermented, this food helps improve gut bacteria, lowers cholesterol, boosts your immune system, reduces inflammation, and has antibacterial properties.

Pickled kelp is another highly nutritious Asian food rich in vitamins K and A, iodine, calcium, iron and more.

Appetizers

  • Share edamame (request butter on side) and shishito
  • Choose one appetizer (green papaya salad) for yourself.

Entrees

  • Hamachi ochazuke
    • Sliced raw fish over chilled yuzu dashi (no carbs)
  • Kani crab salad
    • While this hass a mayo base, it’s not a carb. Plus it’s so good!
  • Hamachi sashimi appetizer.

Add side veggies to an entree:

  • Tsukemono (pickled vegetables, kimchi)
  • Shaved broccoli miso goma
  • Pickled kelp.

Willkommen, Westoberfest

For a decade, the Westport Downtown Merchants Association sponsored Blues, Views & BBQ.

This year, after the Labor Day weekend music and food festival evolved into a regional event — drawing visitors from as far as New York, but who seldom ventured beyond the Levitt Pavilion and Imperial Avenue venues — the WDMA handed it off to the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce.

That left a hole in the downtown group’s calendar. They wanted something new — but Main Street oriented.

Welcome, Westoberfest! It’s set for next Saturday (October 13), from 1 to 5 p.m.

Like Oktoberfests everywhere, this one features beer, food, music and more. Over 18 local and regional breweries will offer seasonal craft beers in the Elm Street parking lot. Merchants will walk around, handing out coupons and free items.

Rothbard Ale + Larder and Kawa Ni will serve special cuisines. Amber Anchor plays; kids can enjoy face painting, and the Westport Artists Collective, Historical Society, Library, Wakeman Town Farm and Earthplace will all participate too.

Also on tap: a pop-up artisan market courtesy of the Westport Farmers’ Market, and a classic car rally and exhibition through the Small Car Company of Westport.

It’s all free (except for the beer tasting). Those tickets ($35 for single, $60 for a pair, in advance online only, and a pack of 10 for $280, in advance online only) are available here.

If you think a lot goes on in Westport next weekend, you’re right. There’s also Saugatuck StoryFest at the library, Jesup Green and other sites.

This is one time no one will sing the downtown blues.

Farmers’ Market Serves Up Top Chef Battle

The Westport Farmers’ Market is 12 years old — and wildly popular.

Every Thursday from May through November throngs fill the Imperial Avenue parking lot, on a hunt for fresh produce, meat and fish, baked goods, even pizza, tacos and dog food.

But the Market always looks to add spice to its spices, herbs and more.

So — even though the Westport Farmers’ Market is a community celebration, not a competition — they’re introducing a Chef of the Market contest.

Starting this Thursday — and running once a month through the fall — 12 well-known names battle it out through an opening round, semifinals and finals. The winner will be, I guess, the chief chef.

The brainchild of board member — and no-slouch-himself chef Bill Taibe — works like this.

On the 3rd Thursday of each month, 3 chefs go head-to-head-to-head.

At 10 a.m., they get $20. They have 45 minutes to shop for ingredients, cook, and present their appetizer-size dish to the judges. PS: Electricity is not allowed.

In keeping with the fun theme, judges are randomly selected from any shopper who wants to participate.

In 2015, chefs prepared a recipe at the Westport Farmers’ Market. This year, they’ll compete against others. (Photo/Oliver Parini)

The first round runs through August. The winner of each group moves on to the semifinals, the 3rd Thursday in September.

Finals are set for “Fork it Over,” the Westport Farmers’ Market annual October fundraiser.

All chefs donate one $50 gift certificate from their restaurant. The winner gets every gift card — so he can enjoy his competitors’ meals yet not pay for them — along with other prizes.

The early chefs — particularly those tomorrow — have it tough. They can’t choose from flavorful snap peas, strawberries or squash. However, Taibe is sure they’ll do imaginative, tasty things with this month’s bounty, like radishes and kale.

Fresh produce is one of the Westport Farmer’s Market’s most popular attractions. Chefs competing in this year’s competition know exactly how to prepare it. But can they shop for it — and finish their dish — in just 45 minutes?

All 12 chefs gathered at the Market last week, to pick their dates out of a hat.

There was already smack talk — including between the chefs at Taibe’s own Whelk, Kawa Ni and Jesup Hall, all of whom are competing. Other Westport chefs represent The Cottage, OKO, Match Lobster Burger and Amis.

There’s chatter on social media too.

Starting Thursday, the rest of us can see where it all leads.

Let the Chef of the Market games begin!

Chef competitors include: May 24, Geoff Lazlo, Ben Freemole, Christian Wilki; (June 21) Matt Storch, Jeff Taibe, Adam Roytman; (July 19), Jonas/Brad, Anthony Kostelis, Anthony Rinaldi; (August 16) Nick Martschenko, Dan Sabia, Carlos Baez.

Remembering Jessica Shure

Jessica Shure — a Staples Players star in productions like “Guys and Dolls,” “Mame,” “The Mystery of  Edwin Drood” and “The Sound of Music” — died on Wednesday of a brain aneurysm.

The 2001 graduate is remembered by Players directors David Roth and Kerry Long for her “exceptional soprano voice, quirky sense of humor and devotion to musical theatre.” Here she is as Deirdre Peregrine/Rosa Bud in “Drood”:

As a senior, she performed a memorable spring concert solo with Alice Lipson’s choir.

She headed to Northwestern University and pursued acting after Staples, then changed careers and focused on food. She became a valued pastry chef at Bill Taibe’s Whelk and Kawa Ni. (Click here for a profile of her there.)

Jessica Shure (Photo courtesy of CTEatsOut.com)

Friends are invited to stop by the Shure house today (Saturday, December 30), from 1 to 6 p.m.

Her sister Caitlin and brother Dan suggest that contributions in her name can be made to a local animal shelter or the American Civil Liberties Union,

(Hat tip: Jim Honeycutt)

Slicing Up Saugatuck

The 6th annual Slice of Saugatuck was the best yet.

Perfect late-summer weather; a record number of 50-plus restaurants and businesses, and a large, relaxed crowd enjoyed an afternoon of strolling, eating, music, eating, shopping, eating, kids’ activities, and eating.

Thanks go to the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, plus the Slice’s many sponsors.

And congrats to the Gillespie Food Pantry: recipient of some of today’s funds.

Here’s what the Slice looked like, starting and ending at Bridge Square:

Owner Bill Taibe (right) and his Kawa Ni staff served Japanese delicacies (and drinks).

Firefighters at the Saugatuck station promoted fire safety (and offered a seat in their very cool truck).

The Whelk offered some delicacies …

… while a few feet away on the riverfront plaza, the Silver Steel Band played.

Matt Storch dished out fries. The Staples High School graduate’s new Match Burger Lobster restaurant opens in 2 weeks.

Socks — a face painter — came from Norwalk.

The Funicello family’s Tutti’s is always a Slice of Saugatuck favorite.

Mersene — owner of the very popular Indulge by Mersene — welcomed Railroad Place Slice-goers with her typically funky goods.

Every kid loves a bounce house.

A tae kwan do place lured passersby with this inflatable guy.

The Slice included Saugatuck Avenue too. Here’s the mouth-watering scene at Dunville’s.

All roads led to the Slice of Saugatuck. If you’re reading this before 5 p.m. — there’s still time. After 5, several restaurants extend the fun with specially priced menus.

Bill Taibe Honors Yesterday, Tomorrow

Starting with Le Farm — and continuing through the Whelk and Kawa Ni — Bill Taibe has offered diners 3 very different visions of what a great restaurant can be.

Now he’s preparing a new space.

It’s in Westport’s original Town Hall: the 1908 stone building next to Restoration Hardware on the Post Road, opposite Patagonia. The building already houses another dining spot — Rothbard Ale + Larder — in the lower level (once the town’s police headquarters, including a jail).

Westport's original Town Hall, on the Post Road next to Restoration Hardware. It's now home to Rothbard Ale + Lager -- and, soon, a new Bill Taibe restaurant.

Westport’s original Town Hall, on the Post Road next to Restoration Hardware. It’s now home to Rothbard Ale + Larder — and, soon, a new Bill Taibe restaurant.

Even as he builds, Bill is not sure of the menu. The other day, CTBites reported:

“Westport needs a real old time tavern,” Taibe told us. Unlike his other restaurants, there will likely be few twists, no high wire acts. “This menu would probably not be as aggressive,” he suggested. “Unlike the Whelk and Kawa Ni, we’d even have red meat.”

He loves the downtown location, and the site’s historic bones. So even though his new, as-yet-unnamed restaurant is a work in progress, Bill knows one thing.

He’s asking Westporters for old photos of the 1st Town Hall. You can donate other memorabilia too: menus or anything else from produce markets, shops, butchers, bakers, and fish mongers.

You can find him at wtaibe@aol.com.

Or any of his restaurants, current or future.

(Hat tip: Johanna Rossi)

Entree Nous: For Valentine’s Day

No, the headline above is not misspelled.

Just between us: “Entrée Nous” is a beautifully produced, creatively conceived and cleverly named concept.

The hard-cover book features a dozen Fairfield County restaurants.

But it’s more than just gorgeous photos of food. If you call for a reservation, tell the restaurant you’ll be using “Entrée Nous” — and bring the book — you’ll receive 1 complimentary entrée.

That sure beats flowers for a Valentine’s Day gift.

“Entrée Nous” is the brainchild of Weston residents Mica DeSantis and Elizabeth Menke. They met through the Weston Women’s League.

Mica DeSantis and Elizabeth Menke.

Mica DeSantis and Elizabeth Menke.

Mica is a New Jersey native with an IBM marketing background, and plenty of volunteer experience with charities.

Elizabeth grew up in Minnesota, earned an MBA and spent years in Europe as an investment banker. Overseas, she was intrigued by “passport-style” guides that introduced residents to area restaurants, while offering complimentary meals and donating part of the proceeds to charity.

For the Fairfield County edition — the prototype of an idea they hope to replicate in similar areas around the country — they sought an interesting, eclectic mix of dining options. They wanted a variety of price points, cuisines and towns.

Westport is represented by Kawa Ni. The women like Bill Taibe’s concept, and strong flavors.

Kawa Ni's photo in "Entree Nous." (Photo/Lauren Santagata)

Kawa Ni’s photo in “Entree Nous.” (Photo/Lauren Santagata)

Other “Entrée Nous” restaurants near Westport include The Spread and Cafë Chocopologie in SoNo, Barcelona and Martel in Fairfield, and Artisan in Southport.

Like a chef who sends out an unexpected dessert, the book delivers a couple of delightful surprises. A section toward the end explores Fairfield County’s “food support system,” including the Westport Farmers’ Market.

And a page dedicated to Community Plates explains how the non-profit transfers fresh, usable food that would otherwise be thrown away by restaurants, markets and other food industry sources, to folks who need it.

A portion of the book’s proceeds will benefit Community Plates.

Mica and Elizabeth plan to keep that concept — a wide range of restaurants, a focus on local markets and farms, and a page dedicated to a food-oriented  volunteer organization — in every “Entrêe Nous” they produce.

"Entree Nous" features a handsome hard cover, and gorgeous photos inside.

“Entree Nous” features a handsome hard cover, and gorgeous photos inside.

A US Customs delay pushed delivery of the books to December 22. Elizabeth drove to New Jersey, then hand-delivered pre-ordered copies in time for Christmas.

Reaction has been very positive. In addition to introducing newcomers to the culinary delights of Fairfield County — and expanding the horizons of longtime residents — “Entrêe Nous” is popular with realtors and stores specializing in local products.

The dozen restaurants featured are happy to spread the word about their menus. They appreciate the luscious photographs, showing off their food and decor. (None of them paid for inclusion.)

And, of course, lovers everywhere are delighted they can give the gift of a complimentary meal — not chocolates or flowers — on Valentine’s Day.

(To order a copy, click on http://www.entreenous.net. For information on bringing “Entrêe Nous” to your community outside of Fairfield County, email info@entreenous.net.)