Foodie Road Trip Redux
4. Dressing Room (Westport, Connecticut)
R.I.P., Cool Hand Luke.
Paul Newman—salad dressing magnate, lemonade-industry tycoon, storied actor—died September 27. Chowder coincidentally scored reservations two days later at the restaurant he had recently opened at the Westport Country Playhouse, where his widow, Joanne Woodward, serves as artistic director. As expected, the vibe was somber, but that didn’t stop the top-notch kitchen (under the watchful eye of Chef Michel Nischan) from putting out a truly incredible feast.
Under a soaring ceiling with exposed beams in a dining room with a fieldstone fireplace and wood everywhere, Chowder tucked into Dry Rubbed Baby Back Ribs, fork-tender (well, theoretically….Chowder used fingers: "thumb-tender"?) and served with a bracing apple-cabbage slaw that played brightly against the smoky, fatty pork.
A chopped salad, a well-balanced amalgam of hard-boiled pullet eggs, chickpeas, frisee, blue cheese, blood orange, cucumber, and other treats, boasted such a panoply of flavors the menu suggests using a spoon to ensure that the palate hits all the notes at once.
Upscale chicken and dumplings. Gold-standard onion-gravy-slathered meatloaf. A pan-seared New England striped bass that may be the best Chowder’s ever encountered. This is comfort food through and through, but using persnickety local ingredients in the best of all possible ways.
A glass of rosé, the last of the summer, to toast the great man—not to mention the craveworthy gastronomic legacy he’s left behind.
BEST BETS: Dry-rubbed baby back ribs, chopped salad, New England striped bass, meatloaf
DRIVE TIME FROM BOSTON: 2 hours, 50 minutes
INFORMATION: 25 Powers Ct., Westport, CT, 203-226-1114, dressingroomhomegrown.com