This weekend, merchants of Westport’s west end are collaborating on a fun event to showcase the great business of the area and to raise money for charity. Running roughly from Roanoke to State Line along Westport Road, this part of town houses some wonderful restaurants including two of my favorites, Bluestem and Potpie.
But the rest of the lineup is pretty impressive too: The Filling Station, Cupini’s, Boozefish, The Point, Recordbar and the Westport Flea Market will offer food and drink specials for attendees as well as tastings of “a new beer from Boulevard Brewery.”
I like that the westenders are establishing an identity for themselves distinct from the more youthful, raucous and occasionally douchey vibe of some of their neighbors to the east. More importantly, this is an affordable, small scale charity event that seems like it will be fun and low key.
You can purchase tickets ahead of time at the Recordbar website or in person (cash only) at the Recordbar or Boozefish.
After hearing that Westport fixture One80 pulled a U-turn and remade itself into a sort-of gastro-pub (sorry for using that word), I knew I had to try it soon. I had eaten a lot of meals at One80 and found it mostly good, if not exceptional. The nighttime crowd was a little douchetacular and the presence of a DJ most nights seemed like they were trying to be something they couldn’t quite achieve.
So I really respect the owners’ ability to wrap it up, shut it down and open a brand new concept in mere weeks. While the interior isn’t substantively different, it does feature some nice wood accents, particularly over the bar. A series of beer taps hang from the ceiling in the back of the dining room and weird little bottle sculptures adorn the window sills.
The menu has some items reminiscent of One80, like flatbread pizzas, but also a wide variety of burgers, sandwiches and a few breakfast offerings. A real selling point are their hand-cut french fries which are just about perfectly cooked and presented. They offer six kinds of dipping sauces: Roasted Garlic, Smoked Chipotle, Malt Vinegar, Horseradish, Cucumber-Dill and Sweet Thai Chili. I tried four of them and found them unremarkable. Their homemade “old school” ketchup, however, is some of the best I have ever had. So skip the fancy aiolis unless you can’t resist.
My short rib sandwich was decent, if not great. The meat itself had virtually no flavor and the horseradish aioli was pretty much buried by the flavor of caramelized onions. The grilled sourdough was a nice touch but the bottom was soggy by the time it came out. The homemade bread and butter pickles had nice flavor but were shockingly made with regular cucumbers and not proper pickling cucumbers. As a result they were pretty mushy in the middle. It seemed like they were cut so thickly to compensate for this.
The high point of the evening was probably the service which was maybe a tad overbearing but the server was extremely thoughtful, quick and free of server BS-speak. Food came out quickly, we never had to wait for drinks or anything else we needed. Beer Kitchen is obviously running a good operation. But I think some aspects of the menu need a little more work.
As this is a new concept, you are asked to fill out a comment card after dining. This tells me they are serious about succeeding and open-minded about the direction they take. You can even fill out the comment card online.