The Dressing Room, CT - Review (Long)
My husband (J) and I had lunch today at this fairly new and very popular Westport restaurant, founded by Paul Newman. Sadly, Mr. Blue Eyes wasn't there, but lunch was very good nonetheless, despite one major issue which needs immediate attention.
Decor- Like the Westport Playhouse itself where the restaurant is located, the building is rustically warm with walls of dark tobacco wood. On display are old playhouse ads for shows featuring Westport neighbors such as Olivia De Havilland and Eva La Gallienne. There are two dining areas. The one in front near the bar is more open. The one in back has a long banquette along one wall (I personally hate this type of seating) as well as some tables. It's a bit quieter back there and for no reason we chose this room (and a table).
The bathrooms are located down a stairway. For those with disabilites, you may want to ask if they have an accessible bathroom. We didn't notice one.
Of all things, it was both mens and ladies rooms, that were the BIG problem I alluded to above. They smell. Really really bad. I thought it was just the ladies' room but my husband confirmed it was the men's room too. Be careful going before dinner...until the situation is fixed you will lose your appetite. I am glad I went after dessert. As J said, "I've been in outhouses that smell better." And he has. As Willie says in Death of a Salesman, "Attention must be paid."
Food - The theme is upscale organic comfort food, and it really succeeds (with one small glitch). This was a terrific meal for a cold winter's day. Although it set us back $70 after tax but before tip, we both felt it was well worth it. In fact, for dinner all we ate was a bowl of grapes. So it all evens out.
We ordered the beef ribs to share as an appetizer. Our meal order came out first, and our server said the ribs take longer to cook...so we started with our mains... But when the ribs did come out they were terrific. Unsauced and smoky, the meat fell off the bone. The menu said it was accompanied by slaw...not something I like..but this SLAW!! Oh yes!! Finely chopped greens and pippin apple matchstickes covered in a tangy apple cider vinaigrette were an excellent accompaniment to the ribs. Not a trace of mayo in sight. J and I really loved this.
For mains we had the chicken and dumplings and a hot turkey sandwich. My first bite of the chicken was ...not kidding... almost orgasmic. The skin was crunchy and delicious and the broth was deeply rich. "Oooh." Was that me saying that? Yes it was. The dumplings were like noodles and were fine, and root veggies cooked al dente were a good touch. The broth though was amazing. I can't believe I just described broth that way...but it was.
Although the menu says bread is by request, our server asked if we wanted bread. We said yes, and it arrived hot in a small silver bucket. Very good and crusty and perfect for sopping up the liquid gold.
The turkey in the sandwich was Niman Ranch, organic and very tender. The bread it sat on was super thick and soft. Underneath was a small mound of what appeared to be mashed Yukon Golds. They were good. The pan gravy on the sandwich was delicious but J thought they went a bit light on it and I agree. Could have been a ladle or two more. Same with the cranberry sauce. They serve a very small amount and it is so good and fresh (and not too sweet) that you wish there was a bit more.
We decided to go all the way and order dessert. There were just two choices, a chocolate souffle-cake and an apple crumble. We chose to split the chocolate cake and ordered coffee and a cappucino. Both beverages were very good. The chocolate souffle cake looked like a lava cake...but it was terrible. It was dry and flavorless, no liquid. Just as we had eaten a couple bites and had realized there wasn't going to be any moistness, our server came to the table and said "So, it's terrible, isn't it?" I said "Wow, how did you know?" She smiled and walked away. I said to J that I was very impressed she could read us so well. He said he thought she was just kidding. We put the cake, way unfished, to the side and continued to sip, when the server came back. Indeed she was kidding... and now she realized I was serious. She asked what was wrong, so I told her that the cake was dry, flavorless.... she apologized profusely and asked if we wanted the crumble but at this point we were full, so politely declined. Nothing else was said and the cake was taken off the bill.
For libations, I had a vodka collins and a diet coke. Both were fine. For water, they gave us a carafe of cold tap with ice and kept refilling our glasses as necessary.
Service was very attentive and quite friendly.
Reservations can be made on opentable.com. The place was only about half full for lunch today, I hear it is jammed for dinner.
We'll come back again, and next time we'd like to try dinner... But only after the water closet issue is resolved.