LE FARM: 256 POST ROAD EAST, WESTPORT (OPENS WEDNESDAY FOR DINER SERVICE)
After posting that Napa & Company chef Bill Taibe was leaving the highly regarded Stamford restaurant and launching his own venture, there was a brief flurry of activity on the Web, the Chow.com message board, and Facebook.
Once Chef Taibe announced (via Facebook) exactly what was going on, that he was opening a new, small, farm-to-table-style restaurant in Westport, called Le Farm, the restaurant’s new Facebook page quickly garnered a few hundred fans.
I’ve been curious too, but then after corresponding with a reader and friend of the chef, I asked him to let me know what he thought of Le Farm as he would certainly visit before I would. But then, he sent me a lengthy description of a friends-and-family-type meal served pre-opening last week.
Having never published a reader review, much less one with a personal connection to the chef/owner, I wasn’t sure what to do, but I didn’t want to let this go to waste, so I’m posting most of it here:
Alan Hariton, of Weston, was invited as a friend for a test run at the pre-opening of Le Farm. He’s not a chef or an industry guy, but you can tell he likes food:
According to Bill, The menu should change daily but you never know what will happen until he gets to the farms in the morning.
The first impression that you get when you walk in is not chic hip Westport, New York Style dining. You get thrown into the New England laid-back farm scene. The entire inside has been transformed into what you would see if you went to any local barn and cleaned it up nicely, added some tables and soft lighting. It immediately relaxes you. The dining room is a long narrow space that is filled with one six top in the corner and the rest are two tops that can be made into four to six. There is a high bar area in the back just before the open kitchen which will serve as a dining area as well that will allow anyone to watch Bill Taibe’s magic at work.
The meal that we had was not your ordinary one, only because it was designed for a second evening of test runs for the staff. Our group of four was seated and served menus that allowed us to pick one item from the top section and one from the bottom. We told our server to tell Bill we are requesting the farm version of “Omakase” from the Japanese term which means the chef has control of our table.
We were told that all our dishes would be different to allow us to try everything. Our first dishes consisted of fluke crudo, which was served elegantly on a piece of slate that had olive oil drizzled over the raw fish. Duck Sausage with a fried duck egg and a corn relish was the second of what would be five starters.
Burrata came next which was served on top of black kale which was perfect because the cheese was so fresh, firm and moist. The kale was an excellent choice here because it stayed crunchy until the last bite.
We noticed the diver scallops were not in our selection so we made a special request for this dish and were awarded with perfectly sautéed scallops swimming in a aioli-like sauce that was perfectly matched. The last starter was my personal favorite, the roasted bone barrow. Instead of the usual cylindrical bone with dainty spoon that you get at other places, Bill chose to take an eight-inch bone and cut it in half long ways allowing the diner to remove the rich buttery marrow. It was served with some fresh country baguettes that you could spread along with thinly sliced shallots and a small ramekin of parsley mustard that gave it a bite taking it from incredible to spectacular.
At this point I stepped into the back to tell Bill how wonderful everything was and how we were looking forward to the mains. I glanced at my ticket to see what to expect and noticed the Burger missing. As you may recall from Napa & Company, the burger is what many came for. It even inspired a burger special night on the menu. I asked to add the burger and to have it split into quarters so we could each sample what would be the most ultimate burger that has ever been set to plate.
The mains consisted of the burger, which I will explain later as we enjoyed it so much, we actually ordered another one to split, Berkshire pork belly, cannelloni, duck breast, and Chatham codfish.
The cannelloni was a delight; two large rolled pasta crepes enveloped the cheese that had a hint of anise or fennel in it. It was topped with a creamy béchamel sauce.
The duck breast has large and hearty. I’m not a real big fan of duck but what won me over was the addition of the figs that sweetened up each bite. The Berkshire pork belly was a favorite as it was cooked so well; it wasn’t overly fatty or salty as it can sometimes be. It was done just right. The Pork was served on a bed of lentils that were laced with black truffles. Really a decadent dish.
The codfish was a table favorite as everyone enjoyed the bacon butter it was served with.
But the real gem of the night was the burger. It was layered on soft bacon and covered with Vermont Cheddar. The brioche bun that encased it absorbed all the juices that the burger had dripping from it. It was impossible to put down.
There was a small but delicious selection of desserts to order from. We ordered cookies and particularly enjoyed the lemon cilantro glazed cookies. The apple cake with beets was good and an interesting twist adding sweet beets to the cake. The cheese plate was excellent as it offered a great selection of hard and soft cheeses.
The fun bonus fact that Bill and Rachel have added to Le Farm is that they offer both sparkling and still water to serve and it’s not from a bottling source. It’s from Westport. They have a machine that triple filters the water and adds the sparkle to the water for patrons that ask for it. It’s a nice touch.
All in all, it was really an incredible meal and we have lots to look forward to with Le Farm in the future.
The best part about the restaurant is that they have no limitations to the fabulous sources of fresh local farm food they get from each and every day. I have seen the interaction that Bill and Rachel have with the farm sources that they buy from and it’s absolutely family- like.
We look forward to many great meals and memories for years to come.