CTbites recently attended a press dinner at Post 154 in Westport to sample numerous selections from its award winning Chef Alex Rosado's introductory menu. Overall the dishes were visually artistic in their construct and many presented delicious flavors.
All reviews of Post 154 must include a little history of the building. The 1935 cornerstone outside the entrance commemorates the site’s original purpose as the Westport Post Office, constructed under The New Deal during the Great Depression. Architect Lansing Colton Holden Jr., a World War I flying ace who was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, designed the building upon his return from battle. The building’s new ownership redesigned the spacious interior with a combination of wood paneling, flowing drapes and relics from the early 1900’s surrounding the tables. A large U-Shaped bar, with over 250 seats, occupies the entire left side and leads to an inviting patio that allows for al fresco dining in warmer weather.
Overseeing the kitchen is Chef Alex Rosado. After graduating from The Culinary School at The Art Institute of Atlanta, Chef Alex worked at several outstanding Atlanta and Florida restaurants. Most recently, he was the Executive Chef at The Dining Room at Little Palm Island Resort & Spa, winning numerous accolades from Zagat’s and fellow chefs. Chef Alex’s opening menu at Post 154 is reflective of his Puerto Rican roots, and expands on the chef’s boldness in fusing flavors and ingredients from other regions.
The event started with three “Small Plates;” the “Portuguese Octopus” with avocado, red chili sauce and EVOO, “The Bowl of Mussels” with Chorizo, shallots, roasted garlic in a saffron wine broth, and “Lobster Quesadillas” with huitlacoche, Queso Chihuahua, salsa and avocado. The octopus was outstanding. Chef Alex braised the octopus for four hours before marinating in a key lime vinaigrette. The texture of the octopus was soft and delicate, a major accomplishment, and the red chili sauce added a touch of spice. I also enjoyed the mussels, which were large and served in a slightly spiced broth. The lobster quesadilla was not to my liking. The lobster was overwhelmed by the bold flavors of the other ingredients.
Shortly thereafter, the table received the “Eggplant Meatball Parmesan,” the “Duck Confit Taquitos” and a portion of “St. Louis Style Ribs.” The eggplant meatballs and the duck taquitos were outstanding. The meatballs were served in tomato gravy with three cheeses, truffles and herbs. They were soft and luscious and were delicious when combined with the tomato gravy and melted cheeses. The duck taquitos were rolled tortillas filled with a slow roasted duck, lightly deep fried and served with roasted tomato salsa, guacamole, and Cojita cheese sitting atop tomato salsa. The duck filling was rich in flavor and the guacamole and fried tortillas provided delightful textural differences. The ribs were paired with Chili BBQ sauce, liquid black beans and mango stew. The meat was very tender and moist but somewhat tasteless, while the Chili BBQ sauce provided excellent flavor.
The meal continued at a good pace with the arrival of the “Golden Corn Bisque” with grilled corn, crème fraiche and chives. This was one of the best bisques I have eaten. Chef Alex prepared the stock from the corn cobs, added the cooked kernels and pureed for thickness. He finished the soup with a few grilled kernels and a dollop of crème fraiche. The bisque was delicious, and the crème fraiche added the correct amount of tang to the soup.
At this point the service slowed to a painful crawl. While the first three courses arrived within 90 minutes the three entrees arrived intermittently over the next 90 minutes. The first entrees that arrived were the “Scallops & Grits” and the “Salmon.” The “Scallops & Grits” was served with spinach, smoked ham jus, and topped with Tabasco Crisps, and delivered some delightful flavors. The scallop was sweet and perfectly seared, and the course-ground grits and ham jus were very good. I liked the flavors of each of the ingredients but I was not as fond of their combination. The “Salmon“ was paired with pickled fennel, smoked tomato coulis, and maple lime butter. The combination of flavors did not work. The sweet maple butter was too sweet and the pickled fennel did not complement the salmon.
After another extended wait the “Guava BBQ Pork Tenderloin” with a black bean stew and the “C.A.B. Churrasco Steak” with Argentinian Chimichurri arrived with a few side dishes. The pork tenderloin was delicious. The exterior of the pork loin was rubbed with a spicy blend and cooked perfectly to medium. The black bean stew complemented the spiciness of the pork. I was not fond of the steak, which was very fatty, and sat in too much oil from the Chimichurri, which was more onion and oil versus the traditional vinegar based sauce.
The menu also contains numerous sweet desserts to end the meal. They include “Apple Empanadas” with a red hot cinnamon dip and liquid cream cheese, a “Chocolate Flan” with Tuaca fired oranges, and a Tres Leches with wild berry stew.
Overall many of the creative dishes that Chef Alex prepared were outstanding, and the Post 154’s extensive menu of nearly thirty-five different choices of small plates, soups, salads and entrees allows each guest to construct a meal to satisfy any appetite. On a Thursday night the restaurant and bar were both packed and the vibe was fantastic. If you carefully select from Chef Alex’s bold creations you will have a memorable meal, but the kitchen needs to work on the pace of the courses leaving the kitchen.
Post 154, 154 Post Road East, Westport, CT, 06880 - (203) 454-0154
- Portuguese Octopus
- Eggplant Meatball Parmesan
- Duck Confit Taquitos
- Golden Corn Bisque
- Guava BBQ Pork Tenderloin
- The Bowl of Mussels
Did Not Like
- Lobster Quesadillas
- St. Louis Style Ribs
- Scallops & Grits
- C.A.B. Churrasco Steak
[Photography Courtesy of Tom McGovern]