Westchesterites and Nutmeggers...CHAR in Byram is open!
In the crazy scene that was this year’s Culinary Village at The Greenwich Wine+Food Festival there were a few major culinary stand outs…and one was a Grilled Octopus with Garlic Confit prepared by CHAR. From that single bite I knew that a visit to this Greenwich newcomer was required.
Situated along the river in Byram on the NY border, CHAR is owned by experienced GM, Jimmy Rucova, and his two brothers who also run Dolphin and Cafe Hudson, both in Yonkers. CHAR has a warm, but "cool" interior, with multiple dining spaces all outfitted with beautiful reclaimed wood. The wall coverings are former floor joists from old buildings in Brooklyn and the flooring is water-logged white oak from Alabama. A stone fireplace provides the focal point in the main dining room and antique brass fixtures dot the faux-tin ceiling to provide a casually hip environment.
But the food is the real news at CHAR.
Chef David Snyder’s menu draws from Mediterranean, Italian and Asian influences and offers a wide variety for both seafood and meat lovers. He keeps the dishes simple but creative while complementing the presentation with sides and sauces that support and balance the main ingredients. Chef David is passionate about keeping his menu seasonal, full of character and integrity driven, and he informed us that a new fall menu will be unveiled October 30th.
The Starters and Small Plates are easily sharable and we enjoyed a variety of strong dishes.
Of course, ordering the Grilled Octopus was a must, and I was not disappointed. The CHAR Grilled Octopus with red watercress, fingerling potatoes, and garlic confit was dressed with a light lemon oregano dressing. The octopus was tender and each of the accompanying flavors worked nicely as supporting players without overpowering the delicate mollusk.
The Seared Large Scallops were nicely presented…three perfectly seared U-10 scallops were served over a medley of sweet corn, guanciale, shitake mushrooms, and finished with a truffle crema. Each scallop was plump and meaty and finished with a lovely brown crust atop. A simple dish...but done nicely yielding a pleasing mouthfeel with the crunchy corn and creamy scallops.
The House-cured Salmon arrived as three “towers” of tequila-cured gravlax sitting atop fried green banana tostones and topped with cilantro cream and mango relish. Not every chef takes the time to cure their own salmon and we appreciated the result. The almost translucent salmon melted in your mouth providing a nice textural counterpoint to the crispy tostone, and had a wonderful clean flavor.
The most exciting Small Plate was the Maple Braised "All Natural" Pork Belly with a side of green apple and fennel slaw. The creamy smooth texture of the pork belly was offset by the crunch of the fresh apples and fennel. The dish really offered a wonderful play of flavors and textures (Noticing a theme here?). I was however forewarned that this dish is NOT on the upcoming fall menu. We hope it shows up again in the future.
We did a shallow dive into the main courses opting for The Seared Tuna Entrée, crusted with Dijon mustard and herbs, presented over a light salad of olive, haricot verts, red onions and dressed in a slow roasted tomato vinaigrette. The sushi-grade fish was pristine, yielding beautifully to the fork, and the Nicoise preparation was well executed.
Chef David gave us a sneak preview of some of new winter menu items including Braised Oxtail with truffle turnip puree, Artichoke Cannelloni, and a Brown Sugar Glazed Ribeye. We look forward to these on our next visit.
The desserts (save room if you can! ) are worth special mention. CHAR’s pastry chef, Ana Wambach (who spent some time in The Schoolhouse at Cannondale kitchen), created some wonderful choices including White and Milk Chocolate Beignets tossed in Spiced Sugar and served with a Tres Leches Milk Shake for dipping. But it is the Bread Pudding French Toast with Cognac Ice Cream that provided the perfect ending for this flavorful meal. All pastries and ice cream are made on the premises and watch for Ana’s new pastry creations and some new flavors of ice cream on the winter menu.
There is a specialty cocktail list and an extensive wine list which features wines from California, Italy, France and Argentina, and draft and bottled beer, including several from two local breweries; Two Roads and Half Full.
CHAR is a solid choice for dinner or lunch and will be participating in the Hudson Valley Restaurant Week November 4-17 on Sundays –Thursdays with a $20.95 lunch and a $29.95 dinner menu.
CHAR 2 South Water Street, Greenwich CT 203.900.1100