Ever since the Spotted Horse opened a week ago in Westport the crowds have been coming out. That crowd included the Food Dudes on March 31. Last Saturday was my birthday and I was looking for a cool place to hang out and have a good birthday dinner. First we decided on Darien Social but quickly nixed that idea since the reviews have been sub-par, I briefly considered Elm in New Canaan but knew getting in would prove difficult. I heard about this new spot in Westport called, you guessed it, the Spotted Horse. With hope of getting a table, we chanced it and were glad we did.
As we walked over we remarked how cool the place looked from the outside. The building is a remodeled 1802 Sherwood House and at night it’s even cooler with lit lanterns lined up along the front. The inside is a tribute of sorts to horses with reclaimed wood from horse stables and photos of a seemingly regular horse and a spotted horse of course. Mr. Ed lyric shout-out anyone?
Wow was this place packed! We put our name on the hour and a half long wait list and had a beer while we anticipated the food. Usually we like a place to have a wider variety of beer on draft but we found a craft beer or two to keep us happy. However, if you’re a mixed drink person give one a shot, they even stick with the whole horse theme by mixing the classic Kentucky drink, the Mint Julep.
After we got over our shock of the crowded bar area, the manager came over to us and offered us a table after 20 minutes or so but said we had to be out in an hour. We politely declined since we wanted to take it slow. In another 10 minutes the manager came back, this time offering us a table with a two hour limit. “Why thank you sir!” You know we jumped on it but appreciated the service and even though we shook his hand and thanked him on our way out, I am taking the this time again to say, “Big Ups!” or in a less ghetto way, “Thank you again.”
We then glanced over the menu and wanted to order one of everything since we were ravenous at 7 p.m. but decided to keep it light, we had a night of partying in store anyway. We decided on the Chicken and Black Bean Empanada to start. This empanada got a resounding yes from all three of us, it was fried crispy and the smoky/spicy effect took place in the back of your mouth without overwhelming the flavor of the filling. We were satisfied on our decision even though we badly wanted to try the Hanger Steak Skewers with Chimichurri sauce. Seafood lovers will be head over heels for Spotted Horse’s appetizer/small plate section with lots of fresh local choices like Blue Point Oysters, Sautéed Gulf Shrimp, Gratin of Bay Scallops Casino, and others.
The Spotted Horse has a small entrées section with something for everyone including Grilled “Under a Brick” Half Chicken, Pan Roasted Scottish Salmon, and risotto and fish specials. We tried three items starting with their Steak Frites ($20.95) with a red wine shallot reduction, spinach and leek purée, and parmesan fries. The steak was a perfectly cooked medium rare, tender, and the reduction was off the wall good, I was soon dipping my fries in it. Then we sampled one of our favorite items that night, the Dr. Pepper Grilled Pork Chop ($21.95) with sweet vanilla potato purée, spinach, and a bourbon demi glaze. Rob ordered the tender, bone-in chop medium, and I can attest, it was one of the better chops I’ve ever tasted. He even went in on it just leaving the bone with no trace of meat left. Cooking pork is not easy and we are careful about where we order it, at the Spotted Horse we will certainly order it again.
In addition, they also feature sandwiches and if Damion’s Grilled Portabella Panini ($11.95) with pesto, roasted red pepper, mozzarella, and baby spinach is any indication of how good their sandwiches are we will be stopping in for lunch once in a while too.
While the service was a little spotty, we understood, it was the second day they were open to the public. We did appreciate the price with a bill of only $67 and change, plus tip of course.
If you are looking for something to do this weekend, the Spotted Horse is a great place to start, expect a crowd but it is worth the wait. It seems like a place where people of all ages can hang out and get their grownup on and have a good, classic but modern American meal in the process. The Spotted Horse will be a winner in Westport.
Spotted Horse Tavern
26 Church Lane
Westport, CT 06880
Hours: Monday-Thursday 11:30 a.m.-1:00 a.m., Friday-Saturday 11:30 a.m.-2:00 a.m., Sunday 11:30 a.m.-11:00 p.m.