“The SoNo scene has lost a bit of luster and we'd like to help bring some flavor back downtown,” says Chris Hickey, Co-Owner of The Spread opening October 2012.
Mr. Hickey, and his partners, Christopher Rasile, Andrey Cortes, and Shawn Longyear may be just the men for the job. With strong backgrounds in hospitality and almost legendary careers managing Bar at Barcelona’s SoNo and Greenwich locations, these four partners are poised to create some dining buzz in Michael Young's former Habana location.
But, despite boasting one of the largest bars in Fairfield County, The Spread is not just about creative cocktails. Enter the talented Chef Arik Bensimon, most recently the Executive Chef at Napa & Co., and now you’ve got yourself some serious culinary street cred to compliment the talent behind the bar.
Inside, reclaimed wood farm tables, brushed concrete, lounge areas and a “living wall,” paired with antique china create a rustically hip vibe. Large industrial glass garage doors open to the street while a window into the kitchen allows diners a perfect view of Chef Arik and his team. Looking for the best seat in the house? Get in early to score the few spots by the kitchen where guests can perch with their drink and watch the kitchen crew in action.
We spoke with Chef Arik about the menu at The Spread. Guests will find an elegantly rustic menu with lots of small plates that will reflect Arik’s classically French training combined with an elegant comfort-food twist. “My Mother’s strong Moroccan influence will be felt here for sure,” says Arik, whose cooking will draw from ingredients and cuisines around the world. “I want to cook what I feel.” Smaller plates will allow diners to sample and enjoy the full range of Chef Arik's cuisine, while Arik also hopes to do some family style dining in the near future.
What is Chef Bensimon feeling these days? While the menu is still in the rough draft stage, Arik confides that some possible contenders may include: Cavatelli with milk fed veal braised in milk, paired with sage; Foie gras served in Mason jars and topped with prunes soaked in amanac; Grouper with smoked yogurt, dill butter and Char roe; and Korean fried cauliflower, to name a few.
Arik has also expanded his equipment list to include a ceramic grill and white Binchotan charcoal imported from Japan. This charcoal burns very hot but does not release any smoke or odors giving dishes like grilled octopus or quail, a distinctive clean charcoal grilled flavor.
Joining Arik in the kitchen will be Sous Chef, Carlos Baez, and a butcher currently charged with the creation of terrines, pates, and sausages (about which Arik is particularly excited). However, in short order, whole animals will be purchased from local farms and butchered on premises, utilizing every part of the animal. The butcher block in directly in front of a large picture window into the kitchen, which should make for some good visuals during off hours.
As for the cocktail menu, The Spread partner, Chris Hickey says, “in terms of wine we are working with a couple of sommeliers to put together a list that has boutique elements but isn't indecipherable. A reserve list will likely follow." They may even put a rosé on tap. Beer lovers will find a selection of both micro brews and standards, and then there's "the trough," which will hold the coldest beer in Norwalk.
Dining hours at The Spread will be 3PM-whenever this group of night owls decide to turn in.
For late-lunch go-ers, The Spread will be serving a special afternoon menu from 3PM-5PM featuring sandwiches with some of the dinner menu ingredients, such as a chicken galontine or pork shoulder.
The Spread should be open around mid October. Keep an eye out for that OPEN sign as you drive through SoNo.
The Spread is located @ 70 North Main Street, Norwalk (SoNo) (203) 939-1111