One of Connecticut's most highly anticipated restaurant openings is nearing go time in downtown Westport. Bill Taibe and the team from Kawa Ni and The Whelk will open the doors to a new concept next week, Jesup Hall, located in Westport's old Town Hall. In Jesup, Taibe and Chef Daniel Sabia have created a community hangout, a restaurant that serves honest food, "the food we want to eat," says Sabia. In fact, there is nostalgia in both the menu and the concept. The Jesup family played a huge role in Westport's early years and our goal was to create something that felt like it had patina and age, says Taibe" The kitchen reveals a similar sentiment in its large cuts of meat, big salads, extensive burger menu, and popovers you'll wanna stash in your purse. With elegant vintage wallpaper, antique fixtures, warm tones and high ceilings, Jesup Hall is Westport's new local hangout.
When describing Jesup, Taibe says he is excited to be able to do everything here that he couldn't do at his other restaurants. He had been previously hesitant to offer beef on his menus as sourcing quality local cattle had been difficult. However, leveraging Chef Sabia's expertise working with large cuts of meat, the team has worked with Fleisher's to procure some outstanding cuts, including mature dairy cows. It's "beef that tastes like beef," says Sabia. These cuts will find their way into a Beef Prime Rib, Beef Sirloin Roast, and Roast Beef Dip Au Jus. These "Everyday Roasts," sit alongside a rotating and diverse burger menu that includes such beauties as the Bar Burger (beer cheese, great bacon, hot pickles) as well as the Rossini (aged beef burger, foie gras, truffle beef jus).
The meatier offerings have been balanced nicely with lighter fare including an extensive selection of vegetables, soups and salads. Diners will be delighted to find everything from a large Kale Caesar (pecans, salty cheese, sultana) to a full seasonal Vegetable menu. At Jesup Hall, vegetables are never an afterthought. They have been treated with the same care and respect as their meat counterparts, and in keeping with Taibe's philosophy of local sourcing, the menu will reflect CT's seasonal harvest. "The menu lends itself to guests really creating their own experiences," says Sabia, "there will truly be something for everyone."
In line with Jesup's underlying nostalgia, bartender Craig Ventrice is mixing it old school with a Prohibition style drink menu. There will be a Jesup Hall Martini service alongside classics including an Old Fashioned, Perfect Manhattan, Whiskey Sour and, of course, the Gimlet. Don't forget to save some room for that after dinner drink with tasty beverages such as The Dude (vodka, coffee cordial, cream) or the always elegant, Grasshopper. And yes, even teetotalers will enjoy finding a dedicated menu complete with a Matcha Latte, Shrub of the Moment & Soda, and the "Roger Rabbit" (Carrot Juice, Caraway Syrup, Ginger). Taibe says he is hoping to offer afternoon Tea Service in the future, featuring neighboring Aroyga Teas.
And then there is the space. Jesups carefully placed antique pieces, playful wallpaper, and warm earth tone hues make this an immensely pleasing and comfortable dining room...with just the right amount of vibe. There is ample seating to be found at the large bar spanning nearly the length of the room, as well as plenty of room to hang out while still being "at the bar." In the middle of the dining room are communal tables (walk in only), 2 large rounds for group dining, and banquettes (by reservation) that wrap around the three exterior walls. Another nice feature is the patio out front which will be put to good use in the warmer months. It should be noted that the entrance to Jesup Hall can be found in the back parking lot, and not in the front of the building on the Post Road.
For the first few weeks, Jesup will be open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday, but will very shortly be open Sundays as well. Lunch and Brunch service is around the corner. Check back for updates on Jesup Hall's hours. Taibe says, "The goal is all day dining once we are up and running."
Note: Jesup Hall is introducing a revolutionary new concept in an effort to support the people who cook the food you love. On your check you will notice a 3% “Kitchen Share” which represents a surcharge on the food only portion of your bill. This is not intended to profit the restaurant or its owners. It will be passed directly through to our kitchen staff for the tremendous efforts they put forth each and every day to prepare the food our customers eat. Our goal and hope is that the community will help us improve their quality of life and provide a more equitable distribution of gratuities amongst our staff.
Jesup Hall: Old Town Hall, Westport, 90 Post Road East Westport. 203-557-6198