In Season

Enjoying the creative, seasonal cooking of Chef Brian Lewis once required a commute—driving up I-95 to Westport. Our last visit to the James Beard Award semifinalist’s restaurant The Cottage was an autumnal anniversary dinner, and a recent Friday night meal at the new Cottage on Greenwich Avenue turned into a celebration of a friend’s new job. The food here is exceptional enough to deem it a special occasion destination and delicious enough to demand more regular visits. And now that the restaurant is closer, we hope to become frequent fliers. Even as the larger lessons of the pandemic are still being revealed (and debated), the simpler ones are easy to embrace: Life’s too short not to savor excellent food and drink with family and friends.

left: Chef Brian Lewis has twice been a semifinalist in the James Beard Awards for Best Chef, Northeast. He is also the owner of Oko in Westport and Rye. right: Sashimi of wild fluke

The Greenwich restaurant is larger than Westport with a distinctive design created by Frederick William Hoag Architects and MZ Interiors, clad in shiplap and lined with channel-tufted velvet banquettes in a soft teal. A Carrara-marble-topped bar at the center of the space is surrounded by three different dining areas—some with rustic wood tables with lacquered bistro chairs—and at the back, a chef’s counter for four lucky guests to watch the action in the open kitchen. We sat toward the front at a table overlooking the Avenue very early on a Friday. Reservations were not easy to get. A few weeks’ advance notice is needed.

clockwise from top left: Chioggia beet salad • Cottage salad • Spicy pear cocktail • The perfect spot to grab a speciality cocktail

Chef Brian’s menu, which carries over Cottage favorites while featuring original creations for this location, is rich in appetizer options. Some starters are available by the piece, encouraging you to sample more. And sample we did, starting with Kushi oysters, artfully plated on ice with nasturtium flowers, and then the foie gras “toasted almond,” like a brioche toast soldier topped with creamy duck liver, a slightly sweet almond crunch and chopped chives—a treat we’ve been craving ever since.

left: Wagyu brisket bao bun – Photograph by The Cottage; right: King salmon in cedar paper

The Wagyu brisket bao buns, priced per bun, are a signature Cottage dish and served as a make-your-own bao board, with ramekins filled with kimchi, squid ink aioli, a second aioli and potatoes fried in duck fat to go along with the tender meat and buns for the most divine little sandwiches. Lighter dishes are equally tasty and beautifully presented. A Chioggia beet salad starts with slices of the colorful striped root vegetable plus other beet varieties, sweet and earthy, topped with a large dollop of burrata and pistachios.

Cocktails to pair with these apps also reflect the seasons and finesse has gone into the low- and no-alcohol drinks as well, like the matcha-based Cloudy Tokyo with coconut foam and lemongrass and the kumquat saketini.

Chilled Kushi oysters

Our entrées showcased some spring gems. Maine halibut served in a light broth is dressed with delicate, earthy morels, wild ramps and fava beans, and salmon topped with grain mustard is paired with white asparagus, leeks and rhubarb in a rhubarb-laced sauce. Pastas are available in half and full portions, and the lush lobster spaghetti with garlic crumbs and tomatoes did not skimp on the seafood. The lamb main course features the meat prepared two ways—lamb saddle in garlic and rosemary oil, roasted medium rare, and lamb shoulder that’s cured and cooked, pressed and seasoned and then breaded and pan fried. The lamb is dressed in a salsa verde and served with pickled spring onion and potatoes in black garlic. Not something you will find elsewhere.

Chilled Maine lobster

This is my kind of dessert menu, a whole section dedicated to sundaes. We selected the most classic, hot fudge and peanut butter, the ice cream melting from the warm chocolate and pieces of peanut brittle at the bottom of the glass, a sweet surprise. A rich sticky toffee pudding with crème fraiche is perfect to share.

The Cottage menu will continue to change with the seasons with new dishes debuting regularly (see Quick Bites). And more guests will get to enjoy this innovative American cuisine as lunch service begins this month. Save us a seat at the chef’s table.

left: Hot fudge and peanut butter sundae; right: Hazelnut chocolate burnt orange sundae

 

QUICK BITES

Summer forecast
“I’m really excited to introduce our heirloom tomato tart with house made straciatella, basil and frescobaldo olive oil,” Chef Brian says. Other new dishes include Hudson Valley foie gras with salt-roasted peaches, almond financier and Sauternes; sweet corn tortellini with mascarpone, chanterelles and nasturtium; peach tarte tatin with lavender gelato and vanilla caramel.

Chef’s picks
Some favorites from his menu: maple bacon and eggs; miso black cod crepes; linguini neri with buttered crab, Maine sea urchin and Meyer lemon; spicy pear cocktail; tequila highball.

Team work
Executive Chef Christian Wilki and Director of Hospitality Ralph Leon helped to oversee the opening in Greenwich, with Gianfranco Olivier joining as sous chef, and James Lucchesi as bar manager.

 

The hotspot’s new home on the Avenue

THE COTTAGE
49 Greenwich Ave., Greenwich 203-769-1220;
thecottage.kitchen.com

HOURS
Tuesday to Saturday
Lunch, 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.
Dinner, 5–10 p.m. Sunday brunch, 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.

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