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The Whelk, Westport, CT.

Has anyone gone to the Whelk yet? What did you get? How was it? How crazy busy is it in there!?

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  1. We went. Had roasted oysters, squid ink cavatelli with red shrimp and chorizo, and octopus and squid with beef gravy, harissa, and fries. Everything was excellent, if a bit too salty. We each had a different favorite dish so I'd recommend all 3. As you might expect this is not a light seafood restaurant.

    Was very, very busy. Definitely make a reservation. The walk-in tables and bar were filled at 630 on a Tuesday. Thought by 8:30 or so it had emptied out a bit.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Tubulus

      Thank you. I think I am going to wait a few weeks and then try it. I am not a salt fan, so hopefully that was a fluke.

      1. re: taboo

        I don't see any fluke on the current menu. :)

        JFW

        1. re: jfw

          Not sure if the salt was a fluke - le farm is not exactly light on the salt and seasonings either. Seems to be the house style - when every dish has bacon or sausage it's gonna be salty. Of course it's still delicious, I just have to remember to wear loose shoes.

          1. re: Tubulus

            Any updates on The Whelk? I've got a reservation for next weekend.

            Any must-orders?

            1. re: wreckers00

              Menu changes often...it's gotten longer since they first opened too, more choices. Crab fondue app is really good...mussels are always delicious...smoked trout dip yum...lamb burger is really nice. Place seems to be doing really well, always packed, fun vibe, tasty food. Report back, would love to hear what you had!

              1. re: sibeats

                I'll try to write up a quick review:

                Overall the food was great--the seafood very fresh. The service needs to improve, especially at these high prices.

                I started with some oysters which were very fresh, then moved onto Soft-shell crab with fried rice which was really fantastic. The crab was great and the ham in the fried rice was a good touch.

                I also tried a salad of escarole, blue cheese, beets and pig ears which had a really nice vinaigrette. The Lobster main was outstanding I thought.

                Some of the dishes I tried fell flat for me, though I only had a couple bites--the halibut was just boring though cooked nicely, while the jonah crab claws had a kind of weird texture and a so-so dipping sauce.

                Desserts were too boring for me--they need to improve these.

                The service could have been far better. Even before the reservation they grilled me about being 7 people and could only squeeze us into one table. Then said I had to either take a 5pm or 9pm reservation, though others were still available. They then said they needed a credit card and we had to be out in 2 hours, which I find rude and ridiculous.

                When we got to the restaurant, the waiter was nice, knowledgeable enough, though he seemed to disappear after our appetizers and then again after our entrees.

                All in all, I think the Whelk serves the best seafood in Fairfield County and they are using some really interesting ingredients. I would like to see them get more creative as well, especially with desserts. Lastly, the service needs to improve at these prices--7 people came out to $350 without alcohol or tip. That's not a cheap meal for service I can get across the street at Rizzuto's

                1. re: wreckers00

                  Granted my standards may be warped given I lived in Manhattan for awhile and now reside in Greenwich (home to many overpriced restaurants) but $350 for 7 adults before tip and drinks is not particularly pricey in my opinion given the high quality of ingredients and the execution of the dishes at the Whelk. You had to suspect walking in there that it wasn't going to be a $20/person kind of meal - most seafood meals aren't. Now if the food didn't warrant the prices I'd agree with you wholeheartedly (i.e. I wrote a rant several months ago about how overpriced Napa & Co is for what you get) but I truly think Bill Taibe is making the best food in FFC and it's worth the price of admission.

                  1. re: mla19

                    Just to clarify: I had no problem with the prices for the food quality. I had a problem with the prices compared to the service. I agree Taibe has two of the top 10, if not top five, restaurants in the county.

                    Maybe I'm just being overly harsh, but I thought the service could be better (I mean some of the entrees are $36).

                    1. re: wreckers00

                      We have been there a number of times and have enjoyed everything we've eaten. My feeling is that they are a bit overwhelmed with the number of people coming in every night and could use some more waitstaff out there. It seems as though one waiter covers half the tables plus one of the community tables. Took a long time to get our empty plates cleared last time for both courses.
                      That being said, we do appreciate the friendly service from the waiters and the conversation and don't mind waiting a little longer knowing they might be chatting with a customer and they'll get to us soon.
                      Beyond that, they do take credit cards for all of their reservations, same at their other place, and same as the Schoolhouse has been doing lately. Too many no shows, so they have to protect themselves. And sometimes when we make reservations at busy places, they say yes, we can seat you but we do need the table at (insert time), especially if you have a larger party, so in my opinion it's understandable...of course not if it was done rudely as you said.

    2. Finally made it to The Whelk tonight. Hubby had 2 beers($11- each!) I don't remember the name of that came in a weird bottle, I had a "Frogger"($12) a refreshing cucumber cocktail. We decided to just share apps, and ordered blackened pig tails($12), fried oysters($18), peeky toe crab fondue ($18)and fries ($9). We got the "candy bars" dessert ($8)to take home.

      Service was excellent, start to finish. We did not have a reservation, and walked in around 7:30. It was very busy, but we were in perfect time for a canceled reservation, so got a table(there were a few spots open at the communal tables, but no other open tables when we got there). The tables are pretty tightly spaced, but not horrible. Our server Stephanie was great with suggestions for both drink and food, and gave us friendly, efficient and unobtrusive service. The pacing was slightly slow at times, but it was packed, with tables still seating when we left at 9.

      Pig tails and fries came out first. The Pig tails were quite spicy and delicious, with a very small amount of tender and delicious meat on each bone, It was accompanied by a light and creamy "ewe bleu" cheese dipping sauce. The fries are a generous portion of hand- cut very thin, crisp and well - seasoned fries, and are accompanied by ketchup and house- made mayo.

      Next came the oysters- after eating the first 1, DH, said, "can we order 5 more of those?". They were truly outstanding, and perfectly cooked with a cornmeal coating, and served on a bed of (very)creamy sweet corn.

      Finally, the Crab Fondue- I have no idea why they call it a fondue, because it is basically a bowl of grits(really good grits, but still) with some creamy crabby goo on top. Very, very good- Dh loved the wasabi tobiko it was topped with( at least I think that's what it was).

      We are still so full we haven't gotten to the dessert yet, but the table next to us had it, and looked like they were having trouble restraining themselves from licking the plate.

      We will definitely be back- the food was prepared and presented thoughtfully, and in my opinion, was perfectly seasoned. It is not cheap, but it is a good value- at least for the food. We were pretty amused that DH's 2 beers were the most expensive thing on our bill- Yankee Stadium prices, he said.

      2 Replies
      1. re: JenJeninCT

        At least a chic place like this has and is promoting (I assume?) good beer. Something you NEVER saw in Fairfield County until recently. Awesome to finally see this happening more and more.

        If you remember the beer please post the name here. But you said it was bottled? So bars/restaurants tend to mark up bottled beer prices a bit more than draft. If it was draft and it was $11 a pint then I would scream foul (ball...and Yankee Stadium can shove their beer prices).

        1. re: LorenV

          DH just brought home a bottle- St Peter's Organic Ale- $4.50/bottle in the liquor store.