The Chelsea, located in the heart of Fairfield on Unquowa Place, will open in a just under a month in mid-July. The new 80 seat restaurant includes 12 outdoor seats, a lively bar, a global gastropub menu and a hefty dose of whimsy. The trio responsible for creating what will likely be Fairfield County’s newest hot spot are: Scott Beck, co-owner of Match and The Loft in South Norwalk, and Tavern in Monroe; Matt Storch, Chef and co-owner of Match in South Norwalk; and Kevin McHugh, Co-Owner of Grey Goose in Southport and Spotted Horse in Westport.
Since jumping the Atlantic, the term “gastropub” has been conflated to include any number of dishes and global influences with a side of drink. No matter the interpretation, the emphasis on ambitious food is the constant. The Chelsea’s take on the concept is no different, beginning with several classic dishes elevated with global touches (especially Asian) with a remarkably fun and playful twist. Broken up into snacks, salads, sandwiches, as well as a section for the “more substantial,” the simplicity of the menu belies a deft construction in every dish.
"I want people to look at the menu and say this is a bar and then read on and say this isn't your average bar, hence nachos and wings and jalepenos poppers but with gastropub mentality," said Chef Matt Storch who will oversee the kitchen with Jeff Spence. "There's a lot of love in every dish."
The menu, quite simply, is a blast. Mozzarella and tomatoes rest in a ponzu sauce, eschewing any trace of balsamic. Fried chicken boasts a 5-spice tamarind treatment paired with waffles (an ode to Roscoe's) and are accompanied with a light avocado and corn slaw. The Chelsea Steak & Egg are just that, but paired with a bacon-potato-onion, spicy-sweet-sour-salty-umami sauce. A Lobster Roll comes on fantastic pretzel bun with a bag of chips. And in a bit of a DIY cafeteria lunch throwback, a tuna dish is served in bento box (actually a lunchroom platter) presented two ways, and you’re left to assemble your own lunch. This is a far cry from the tuna fish sandwich of your youth.
Kevin McHugh is responsible for much of the look and feel, of this well-designed space. Reclaimed rough sawn wood from Montana adorns many surfaces from the walls to the ceiling with swaths of white subway tiles and glass fixtures with exposed filaments. The lights over bar are actually wire chicken feeders turned upside down. An antique gate divides bar from dining space and bright green chairs add pop against dark wood tables in the greenhouse space that is bathed in light.
There is plenty here to get excited about. Check back soon for more opening details.
The Chelsea is located at Unquowa Place in Fairfield, CT. Visit their Facebook page for the latest.