Cafe 47, an intimate dining space inside Perfect Provenance in Greenwich, reflects the luxury retail and exhibition space that surrounds it: tasteful, diverse, and capricious. The restaurant’s new chef, Duane Shand, fits right in to the unpredictability of the place.
He radiates a rainbow of ethnicities -- West Indian, African, and Asian—a callaloo kid from Trinidad who unexpectedly, delightfully, now presides over a chic restaurant in one of America’s most patrician enclaves.
Shand landed in Greenwich via a serpentine culinary route: from training at Le Cordon Bleu in Orlando to restaurants around the world, such as the Royal Mail Hotel in Australia, Asador Etxebarr in Spain and Bad Saint in DC. But what ultimately brought him to Greenwich was…
“A woman, of course,” the Chef admits, grinning. “I followed my girlfriend to Rye.”
Happenstance aside, it’s as if Shand precisely curated his talents for the tiny kitchen and cozy 5-6 table dining room. Many items on his boutique, almost bespoke menu are creative takes on the store’s exhibitions, retail products and foodstuffs. The day we dined, he was in the throes of developing dishes for an olive oil tasting with The Secret Ingredient Girls, an online partner of the store. Duane was also working on an upcoming Italian themed menu.
We began with a Fluke Crudo. Chef Shand drizzled a rosé vinegar over the thinly sliced raw fluke (from local waters) which was cured it with citric acids (orange and grapefruit). He then served the fish with a rosé granita. Tart and sweet, delicate but firm, the slightly chilled dish and its puddle of juices and ices was refreshing, as if a light start to an Italian feast. For all its complexity, the crudo tasted clean and simple.
“Simplicity,” Shand says, “is what my cooking is all about.”
We next tried his Cappelletti in Broda. Duane made the fresh pasta inhouse and plumped the “little hats” with pumpkin, so they virtually floated in his chicken-based broth, simmered long and low. Pasta, pumpkin, and chicken stock – the epitome of autumn and its comfort food. The dish was so savory, rustic and authentic, I peeked in the kitchen to check if an Italian Nanna was working the stove. Only Chef Shand. I looked outside to see if we were amidst the hills of Tuscany. Only a parking lot off Arch Street.
Shand’s next dish combined the terroirs of New England and South Asia. Few know that the weather of Martha’s Vineyard compares remarkably to that of Japan. Recently, farmers on the Massachusetts island have experimented and successfully grown mushrooms (shiitakes en escabeche) on fallen oak logs, as they do in Japan
Duane learned about this little known (almost local) treasure and brought the highly prized delicacies to his Greenwich kitchen. For his “MVM Mushrooms” (Martha’s Vineyard Micological), he gently sautéed the soft, spongy shiitakes in onions, garlic and other aromatics. Cooked to perfection, the Kobe Beef of Fungi tasted exquisite, woodsy and meaty, with even more depth than their Asian counterparts.
Two years ago, when Arik Bensimon cooked at Café 47, CTBites ranked his “Perfect Burger” as one of the Top Ten in Southwest Connecticut. We were treated to Duane’s version. One of the distinguishing features of the first iteration was that it was enrobed in Bearnaise Sause. Instead, for his Perfect Burger, Duane switches out the French cheese sauce for melted American cheddar. Visually and taste-wise I may prefer the familiarity of the new version, but do miss the lushness and surprise of the bearnaise. Rather than Fleisher’s Craft Butchery, Shand sources his 70-30 grass fed blend from Joyce Farms in the Carolinas. He pan sears the 8 ounce paddy, paints it with a special mayo sauce and places the burger, juices running, inside the eggy pillows of a brioche bun.
Does the new Perfect Burger earn a spot on the Top Ten? Find out in our annual survey next June.
And then there was the exquisite Almond Crostata, created from scratch. Shand’s golden crust (including the lattice top) was buttery and flakey, its texture and flavor framing the bubbly, sugary fruit filling. All this topped with his homemade vanilla ice cream, so cold and dense, playing off the crunchy crust and the warm, light filling. The tart was, in a word, Perfect.
It was the work of a gifted Pastry Chef. Chef Duane Shand is a one man, tour de force show.
Café 47 offers a unique dinning platform. The food is meant to be paired with Perfect Provenance’s shopping and browsing experiences, which inform and inspire the menu. Think Lavish Leisure and Lush Lunch.
The Café shutters at 6 pm, when the store closes. Dinner is only served the first Friday and Saturday night of the month. Because of the limited space, call early for a reservation. 47 accepts BYOB and charges a 15-dollar corkage fee.
47 Arch Street 203 900-1133 theperfectprovenance.com