Thursday, January 3, 2008
The Dressing Room-Old Man Newman's place in Westport...
The Dressing Room Restaraunt is situated in Westport Ct. and is famously a collaboration between Michel Nischan and Paul Newman. The intent was to have a restaurant that, paraphrasing the mission statement on the website, would "Celebrate and update regional American heirloom recipes." Naturally, the restaurant works hard to utilize local and organic resources in the menu and is very conscious of the role a restaurant plays in the life and welfare of a community.
Lynn and I had eaten there almost a year ago to the day as a part of Lynn's birthday celebration. We had read about the place previously and had stopped by at one point on the way back from upstate NY (but got there too late for lunch, too early for dinner). When he did eat there we were a bit disappointed. The food seemed heavy (especially for lunch) and while it was well-prepared, lacked any interesting flavors. Our waiter, though friendly and competent, was, for some reason, nervous, which made it hard for Lynn or I to relax.
We did not give up on the place, and, indeed, had thought that we might make a visit there part of a December ritual in conjunction with the proximity of Lynn's birthday (12/17) and Christ's birthday (12/25). Another reason for this strategy was that the Westport Country Playhouse (which Newman has also been involved with over the years) which is literally next door has a tradition of staging The Christmas Carol and we thought that would be fun to see this performance and get something to eat.
So, this year we did just that. We got tickets to the Christmas Carol (thanks Sara) and I took Lynn out on Dec. 16th to Westport to check out the Dressing room and celebrate her birthday.
This time, we were much more impressed and satisfied. The clear winner of the lunch menu was the "Super fresh Connecticut Oysters" which had an amazing flavor and were elegantly displayed.
We made quick work of them and ordered another batch.
I had the Tobago Blackfin Tuna which was served Sashimi style. It too was excellent. Lynn had the Niman Ranch Hanger Steak which she seemed to be very satisfied with. We had a couple of excellent glasses of red wine (can't remember the grape or vineyard).
Overall, we were much happier with our experience this time around. The menu does still have a lot of rich, heavy food that is not typically something we gravitate towards (i.e. bacon, apple cabbage slaw, onion gravy, etc.) in our eating out, and, again, this is the lunch menu. There still is not much in the way of flavoring (for example the sauce with the oysters was not memorable). Part of this is that there seems to be a kind of rock ribbed Yankee/New England/Puritan quality to the food that is part of the philosophy of the DR. Knowing what to expect food wise helped us enjoy the place better the second time around.
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Links of note from M & L...
- I (Mark) have written for The Christian Science Monitor, Clear Magazine, Picture Magazine, Film Score Monthly, Dan's Papers, Rue Morgue, In Flight USA and a lot more publications that I can't remember.... My wife Lynn was a model with the Ford Agency and her photography has been featured in most of the publications I have written for...