Veteran restauranteurs Antoine Blech and Anshu Vidyarthi will open Le Penguin in Westport at the end of July. After enjoying tremendous success in Greenwich for the past three years, the partners (who also own Le Poodle in Old Greenwich) decided to open a second location. Prior to joining forces in Greenwich, the two men had illustrious careers. Antoine’s includes such esteemed restaurants as Spago, L’Orangerie, Le Bec Fin, Le Bilboquet, Le Comptoir, Le Colonial, and Orienta which he co-owned in Manhattan. Anshu's includes Los Angeles’ infamous The Ivy, Brentwood Bar & Grill, The Olive as well as the landmark location of Le Colonial in New York. In 2003, Anshu delighted guests as Director of Operations of l'Escale in Greenwich.
For those not familiar with the menu at Le Penguin one can expect fine, traditional French bistro fare with a farm to table approach. Local seasonal ingredients only heighten the quintessential bistro experience. Diners can look forward to such favorites as Escargots, Frisee au Lardons, Salade Nicoise, Steak Tartare, Steak Frites, Steak au Poivre, Soupe a l’oignon, Coq au Vin, and Tarte Tartin among many other menu selections. “The restaurant experience is much more than the food. It is about the ambiance,” Antoine told me. “We have cheerful restaurants. We like to make everyone feel happy. We even sing Happy Birthday to our guests.” (Something to keep in mind if you prefer your Big Day to slide under the radar!) “The decor is happy and colorful too,” he added. “We will have a bright orange wall over there,” Antoine noted as he pointed over to the bar area, as I spied a box of bright orange Phillip Jeffries grasscloth wallpaper sitting on the bar. Lynn Morgan of Lynn Morgan Design, a longtime family friend, designed the Greenwich location and is working on the Westport site. When I asked her to describe the restaurant she told me “Penguin Westport has been styled with a modern vibe, a chic atmosphere, and garden dining - Le Penguin's got great food and a few surprises!”
The restaurant’s name - which seems almost serendipitous - came to Antoine as he was designing a logo for a restaurant that he was taking over in Manhattan. “It completely lacked character. The first thing I designed was a penguin logo - I liked the logo and I knew I wanted to do something with it. One day I asked my daughter what kind of animal I would be and she told me “You are a free spirited, and you’re funny but you can’t fly so you’d be a penguin. Also, my son was the chef for a few months when we first opened and when he was in LA he worked in a restaurant and that was his nickname.” The Penguin is also a term used to describe the old style French waiters with their white aprons and black suits.
When not busy in the restaurant Anshu can be seen on the tennis courts and Antoine can be heard singing and composing. A well accomplished musician he has been praised by the legendary Eric Clapton himself. While you wait for the Westport location to open, you might want to check out his music at The French Crooner!
Le Penguin Greenwich
61 Lewis Street - Greenwich, CT
Le Penguin Westport
15 Myrtle Avenue - Westport, CT