An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
Jul 10, 2013
01:53 PM
The Connecticut Table

Bistro Nights at Litchfield’s West Street Grill: Casual, Affordable, Delicious

Bistro Nights at Litchfield’s West Street Grill: Casual, Affordable, Delicious

photos: Laurie Gaboardi—Litchfield County Times

Pan-seared shrimp with stewed gigantes beans.

Looking for a simpler, less expensive way to connect with a renowned Connecticut restaurant—in this case the West Street Grill in the heart of the scenic Litchfield Hills?

You’re in luck on any Thursday or Sunday evening this summer, when the urbane hotspot created 24 years ago by irrepressible Irishman James O’Shea and partner Charles Kafferman is offering a special “Bistro Nights” menu that provides a more casual outing for regulars and others.

No, the dishes are not the classic bistro onion soup and salade frisse. They reflect the tastes of executive chef James Cosgriff and O’Shea, which translates as sophisticated and delicious food that has Italian, French and Asian influences and falls under the banner of Modern American.

On a recent Sunday, the place was packed and the menu offered dishes such as hand-rolled potato gnocchi (something the chef learned to make at his grandmother’s side as a child), mixed with English peas, Gorgonzola broodo and saba, ($11). It was rich and warm and satisfying. Another tempting choice was involtini of eggplant, with garlic, goat cheese, beets, haricots vert and a tomato vinaigrette ($12).

Around us, people were eating every morsel of their lamb meatball platter with pickled feta and tomato sauce ($13), and the famous West Street Grill fresh tomato salad with fleur de sel, aged balsamic vinegar and native basil ($12). There’s also cauliflower fritti (like a tempura cauliflower) to consider, along with the panzanella salad, which also uses the tomatoes West Street Grill is so known for serving.

Our main dishes were a wild mushroom risotto with a porcini broth, truffle oil and chive blossoms ($24) and a superb pounded, panko-encrusted and perfectly seasoned chicken breast with arugula and chopped tomatoes and lemon wedges. The latter is a classic Italian dish, and had I been dining in Venice, it couldn’t have been any better.

Other options include asparagus, leek and goat cheese ravioli ($26), braised short ribs of beef with polenta cake, braised endive and Gorgonzola—or the Prince Edward Island mussels ($13 from the Small Plates Menu) to satisfy the affordable, accessible “Bistro Nights” theme.

Adding to the appeal of it all, Italian white and red wines have been chosen by sommelier Jillian Philbrick to pair with the bistro dishes. They are specially priced at around $30 a bottle and will change throughout the season.

Pastry chef Sherry Zaslow’s desserts are also specially priced and change with the weekly menus. Espressos and a shared slice of creamy cheesecake completed our meal.

As host and co-owner Kafferman said when I asked for suggestions before ordering, “You can’t make a mistake on this menu.”

To make a reservation, call the West Street Grill at 860-567-3885. The website is http://weststreetgrill.com.

Editor’s note: This story was adapted from the version published in the July issue of LCT magazine, a publication of The Litchfield County Times

West Street Grill

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