Food photos by Melissa Hom; interior photos by Hans Neleman
Dining at The Cottage in Westport feels like vacationing in a beloved coastal town—Nantucket, East Hampton, Mendocino. This intimate, forty-four-seat venue sprung up this past December in the space that formerly housed the much-loved leFarm, and has been redone with a whitewashed, Belgium-meets-Bridgehampton décor. The food, wine and signature cocktails are paired with friendly hospitality in a warm and inviting setting, and prices are refreshingly fair.
When he finally found his dream location in Westport, Chef/Owner Brian Lewis called upon Tessa Pimontel and Hans Neleman, of Echo and Mercer Interiors, to bring his vision to life. Interestingly, the name only resonated after the designers presented the logo: a New England country landscape complete with the stone walls, fields, a river, ducks and a single cottage. “That was it. The Cottage just fit after that,” Pimontel notes.
“For the interior, on the other hand, we wanted to avoid such a literal approach, and found creative solutions to bring home a cottage feeling without going the rustic route. Instead, we added an antique French back bar and wooden chandeliers that complemented the hand-hewn beams, the aged wooden tables and the broad-planked, white-stained floor. We kept it light and added mirrors to create dimension and space.”
Lewis, formerly of The Elm in New Canaan and The Bedford Post, brings his interpretation of seasonal American cooking to life at The Cottage, with influences from around the globe. “Instead of being limited by different labels of cuisines,” Lewis says, “I’m more influenced by those I’ve cooked for, and cooked with, and my food represents a more spontaneous cooking from the heart.” Here, you’ll find a range of choices that blend classic shoreline staples, such as locally farmed oysters, with the flavors of Asia (yuzu and ginger mignonette) or Maine lobster with white-miso butter, carrot, ginger and kohlrabi. Lewis focuses on sourcing exceptional ingredients from artisan farmers and growers, and creating a memorable guest experience.
As you peruse the menu, you’ll find that starters are so appetizing that you could make a meal of them alone. Some highlights: The Maine Sea Scallops are perfectly seared in house-made pork lardo and topped with black-kale salsa verde. The gooey Gorgonzola Toastie consists of a generous slice of toasted peasant bread, sprinkled with the sweet-salty combo of melted gorgonzola and a brown-butter-pear and honey-walnut crumble. The Pork-Belly Ramen is a satisfying selection, featuring house-made tonkutso pork ramen broth, poured tableside, to keep the integrity of the noodles, enhanced by a soft egg, nori, sesame, black garlic and scallion. One of the standouts is the shareable platter of Wagyu Brisket Steam Buns with condiments; a fun choice for building your own buns to your liking, with kicky Napa Kimchi, slow-cooked brisket and black garlic aioli.
Working your way down the menu, you will be tempted with a range of homemade pastas. Our favorite is the sublime Chestnut Agnolotti in light sage-brown butter, the best we’ve ever tried. Moving past the pastas, the Duck Fried Rice, The Cottage’s signature dish, is a flavorful mélange of New York State duck, maitake mushrooms, bok choy and sunny quail eggs. Looking for hearty comfort food? The Short Rib Cottage Pie (served in individual ramekins) is ‘winter in a dish.’ Moving into spring and summer, you will find that the menu will change greatly to reflect the seasonal bounty from New England farms and fisheries.
If you have room for dessert, go for it. On a cold winter night, I enjoyed the warm Apple and Quince Tarte Tatin with spiced red wine and vanilla ice cream. My dining companion, on the other hand, grabbed a hold of the Butterscotch Pudding, a fusion of Bananas Foster and caramel, and would not let go.
To get away without leaving town, head on over to The Cottage, but make a reservation! With only forty-four seats, this tiny charmer fills up fast.
256 Post Road East Westport, 203-557-3701
Tuesday-Thursday, 5:30.-9:30 p.m.
Friday-Saturday, 5:30-10:30 p.m.
Sunday, brunch, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Dinner, 5:30-9 p.m.