The Westport Inn has a little secret you should know about – The Red Hen. Walk inside the Westport Inn, take a quick right and you’ll find yourself in a cozy restaurant dedicated to serving you the best local ingredients Connecticut has to offer.
The inviting decor is a little rustic and a little provincial with light wooden tables and a mix of wooden chairs and upholstered benches. When you walk inside The Red Hen you’ll want to sit down and see what Chef Paul Cordero has on the menu for the day. That’s right, the menu at The Red Hen changes daily.
Chef Paul talked with us throughout the evening and it’s immediately clear that he is very passionate about what he does. When you ask him what his personal mission is as a chef, Chef Paul’s response is: “It is my job to nourish people, period. I just want people to be happy and healthy and to give the body the best you can give it.”
Chef Paul (center), Hunter King (right)
Our tasting menu for the evening offered nine courses!First Course: Scallop Crudo with Blood Orange Juice and Micro Greens Our tasting began with the delicate scallop crudo. The scallops were extremely fresh and sliced thin. Presented in blood orange juice with micro greens, the scallops taste of citrus with a hint of cilantro and black pepper. If you do not prefer a distinct taste of scallops this dish is for you since the strongest taste is the lovely blood orange juice.
Second Course: Garden Vegetable Fritters with Housemade Aoli
My favorite course of the evening were these Garden Vegetable Fritters. If this item is on the menu you must, must, must order it! A winner of a James Beard Foundation Award, the Garden Vegetable Fritters are made of shredded zucchini and squash and a little garlic, onion, salt, and flour (to bind all the ingredients together). The fritters are pan fried with basil olive oil for a crispy texture on the outside and a softer texture inside somewhat reminiscent of the consistency you’d find in a potato pancake. However, these vegetable fritters were not greasy at all, rather they are light and flavorful. Presented on a balsamic reduction and accompanied by a housemade aioli with a lovely smoky flavor to it with just a little heat, these fritters will make you want to order a second round.
Third Course: Hand Cut Sweet Potato Chips
Do you like sweet potatoes? Do you like potato chips? If so, then you’ll want to try these homemade sweet potato chips. The chips are a mixture in their texture – a little crunchy, and yet, soft and chewy in the centers. These chips were tasty just plain or dipped in the lime and dill aioli that accompanied them.
Fourth course: Heirloom Tomato Bisque
Chef Paul’s Heirloom Tomato Bisque is light and flavorful and it does not have the typical heavy consistency you’d expect in a bisque. I cannot emphasize enough the freshness of all the ingredients Chef Paul uses in all his dishes, and in a dish like this with one main ingredient, the taste of the heirloom tomatoes are put front and center for your palette.
Fifth Course: Vegan Gluten-Free Gnocchi with Cherry TomatoesThis was my first experience eating vegan and gluten free pasta. Made free of eggs and using only red potatoes and gluten-free flour, the gnocchi had a consistency similar to a traditional gnocchi. Yet, as with all gluten-free dishes there are some differences in taste and texture.The tomato sauce tasted of the freshest tomatoes and roasted garlic.
Sixth Course: Chicken Marsala with Roasted Garlic PolentaThis being my first experience with polenta (shocking, I know), I can say that you will notice the unique texture of the grains of polenta as you eat it. I didn’t taste much garlic and thought the dish could have used a little more along with some salt. This Chicken Marsala dish is very sweet, which is different from most typical chicken marsala dishes. I did like how the chicken was lightly breaded.
Seventh course: Beaver Brook Lamb Slider with Midnight Moon CheeseThis slider is different from most since it is made with lamb and Midnight Moon cheese. My favorite part of this slider is the onion jam, which further accentuates the flavors of the Midnight Moon cheese and lamb. The slider is topped with tomato and baby greens.
Eighth course: Bacon Crusted Arctic Char
Bacon lovers take note! This Arctic Char, a fish very similar in taste and consistency to salmon, is topped with a bacon pâté that is pan fried to create a flavorful bacon crust on top of the piece of fish before it is put in the oven to finish cooking. The smoky taste of the bacon is a little on the strong side, however it did not overpower the fish, instead it complimented it. If you are a bacon lover (who isn’t?!) and like fresh fish similar to salmon – try this dish!
Ninth Course: Pots Du Creme with Fresh Whipped Cream With a consistency and taste very similar to chocolate mousse, The Red Hen’s Post Du Creme is topped with freshly made whip cream and was a hit with the chocolate lovers at the table.
The Red Hen
1595 Post Road East
Westport, CT 06880
The Red Hen does take reservations: (203) 293-4113
Breakfast: Monday – Friday, 7am – 11am; Saturday – Sunday, 7am – 12pm
Dinner: Monday – Friday, 5pm – 10pm; Saturday – Sunday, 5pm – 11pm
Bar: Sunday – Thursday, 5pm – 10pm; Friday & Saturday, 5pm – 11pm
Disclaimer: We were invited to this sampling dinner by The Red Hen, however the views and opinions expressed herein are my own.