… is the word that comes to mind when I ponder over my recent meal at The Whelk, Westport. A deep reverence that its chefs feel for nature’s wondrous bounty. For the seasonal vegetables picked and prepared at their prime. For jarring colors of these vegetables in their natural state. For the taste of the ocean offered in the fresh seafood prepared and presented daily. And most importantly, for the inherent flavors each ingredient offers.
These days, “Farm to Table” and “Locally Sourced Ingredients” are phrases we see in write-ups of practically every restaurant. They are the latest buzz words and perceived to be important marketing techniques. But I feel that very few restaurants and chefs actually succeed in truly implementing these concepts. The team at The Whelk is one such success story. They take these phrases from being mere words and turn them into real-life experiences for diners. Chef Geoff Lazlo, does a phenomenal job of executing his personal style with the vision that our rockstar Chef Bill Taibe instituted at The Whelk. Ever since I first dined here a year ago, I have been a believer.
Last weekend I had dinner at The Whelk with some family from New York. Coming from New York city my guests are very savvy about the culinary scene and latest dining trends. And I had a strong desire to knock their socks off with what Fairfield County has to offer. My choice was obvious. In fact, in retrospect, it was a brilliant one!
I could write pages and pages on how delightful, well thought out and superbly executed each dish was. I mean, there is a reason why the tables here get booked weeks in advance! Chef Taibe and Chef Lazlo work closely with local farms and famers market to insure that they have the freshest and the most seasonal ingredients. The Beet, Carrot, Green Bean Salad for instance – blew us away! Mmm… the gorgeous sweetness and luscious texture of colorful beets and carrots, the earthiness and texture from the roasted nuts and the delightful creaminess of the yogurt with the slight tang of the crumbled goat feta!!! The flavors were crisp and clean… with the veggies cooked ever so gently to make sure their inherent flavors remained intact and subtly enhanced.
The Green Goddess Deviled Eggs were so well composed! This is the dish that made it on the top of GQ magazine’s 50 best eats recently. Well deserved. The yolks are blended with green goddess dressing resulting in a delicately tart and superbly creamy texture. The eggs were topped with super crunchy fried oysters and delicious pickled onions. It was amazing how the pickled onion juxtaposed with wonderful creaminess of the egg and the crunchy oyster. You have got to try this, people!
Lamb Meatballs were ever so moist and were paired with some Carolina Gold rice. My first thought was, “what an odd pairing!”… but it worked like magic. I could not get enough of that rice! It tasted like tons of butter and cheese went into preparing it. I was so surprised when Chef Lazlo told me that I am experiencing the natural flavor and buttery texture of this rice.
With a name like Whelk, there is obviously strong focus in the menu, on seafood. Grilled Octopus is offered as an entree or as a small plate. The small plate version was what we ordered and it was delicious. There are about 20 different varieties of raw oysters to chose from! Additionally, on the menu, there are scallops, mussels, lobsters, crabs, shrimp and …..
You could watch me go on and on about this place or you could just get your you-know-what there ASAP – if you haven’t already!
The Whelk, Westport | www.thewhelkwestport.com