Rothbard Ale + Larder opened in Westport last November, the second restaurant by Chef Adam Roytman and his business partner, Joseph Farrell. The pair also own Walrus + Carpenter in Bridgeport. Roytman and Farrell’s original idea was to recreate a German beer hall, but as the concept of the restaurant progressed, the vision was slightly modified to design a restaurant that would offer comfort food based on the regional cuisines of central Europe including Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Alsace, Switzerland, with an occasional side trip to Italy.
Access to Rothbard is a throwback to a 1920's speakeasy, with its unassuming side entrance leading to the lower level. Once inside, you are surrounded by a central European ambience, with its reclaimed wood and brick walls and cement and metal beams protruding from the ceiling. To the left of the entrance is a bar with several high-tables plus nine stools in front of antler-topped beer taps, plus a refrigerator that houses up to 45 traditional and unique European beers including Einbecker, Tripel Karmeliet, Del Ducato, Christian Drouin and Abbaye. Wine, aperitifs, an array of Schnapps and Absinthe are also available. With low-lighting illuminating the entire space, the atmosphere is very European gastro-pubbish.
The owners invited CTbites to sample several of their new menu additions and discuss their vision and the restaurant’s unique trans-central European cuisine, which is singular and unique for Fairfield County.
The Small Plates include items that can be individually eaten, but more likely shared. My favorite was the house-made Bratwurst, which was served on a wooden cutting board and joined by pickled red Fresno chilies, gherkins, a small chunk of Epoisses cheese, whole grain mustard and a pretzel roll. The Brat was delicious, with rich flavor and texture. It was grilled to create a crusty crunch to the casing. The spicy-tangy peppers were an excellent complement to the Brat and delivered a great balance. The cheese was a little too mild for the other bold flavor on the plate.
The Sausage en Croute was a simple dish that featured slices of a meaty sausage encased in brioche, served with a traditional whole grain mustard and gherkins. The slices delightfully paired the mildly spicy sausage with the ultra-buttery brioche and a dab of the mustard.
The Wings were served as whole wings for each guest to enjoy both the “drumstick” and “forearm.” They were covered with a Sriracha-mustard butter sauce, and were crispy on the exterior and moist throughout. They were a little less meaty than many and the sauce was an interesting combination of the spiciness of the Sriracha and the tanginess of the mustard.
The Currywurst was presented in a bowl and topped with frizzled onion strips. The wurst was sliced into thick rounds and lathered with a mildly spicy red curry sauce, which offered a rich and delicious complement to the sausage. The frizzled onions added a level of pungency and a bit of crunch to the dish.
The Endive Salad combined thick chunks of this sweet green combined with thinly sliced red onions, black grapes and finished with a Roquefort dressing. The salad was wonderfully balanced with the sweet endives, the pungency of the onions and additional sweetness from the grapes. The Roquefort dressing elevated the combination with a creamy, deep tanginess.
The Schweinehaxe was enormous and could easily feed 2+ guests. The hock was brined, then confit’d in duck and chicken fat before deep frying in lard. The result was a diverse array of textures. The schweinehaxe was served with an assortment of pickled vegetables and mustard. My favorite section was the area where the meat was connected to the fattiest portion of the hock, where the meat was incredibly moist and delicious, a perfect counterbalance to the crispy cracklin’.
The Wiener Schnitzel was topped with a mustard-caper sauce, a fried egg, anchovies and served with warm potato salad. On my two visits, the schnitzel was impeccably fried with the exterior crunchy while maintaining a moistness to the cutlet, and the fried egg delivered a richness to the dish when the yolk was released. On one visit the caper mustard sauce was a delightful accompaniment with a touch of saltiness from the anchovies while on the other visit it overwhelmed the meat. The potato salad was fantastic, with a combination of soft chunks of potatoes mixed with chunks of hard boiled eggs, bacon and a creamy dressing.
The Cassoulet combined French navy beans, garlic sausage, smoked bacon and garlic breadcrumbs, with a confit of duck thigh and leg nestled in the rich bean mixture. The beans were outstanding, with a deep, rich combination of beef and red wine, accompanied with a hint of tomato, on one of my visits, but were slightly overcooked and a bit dry on the other. The texture of the duck was soft and tender but a little salty for my taste.
The kitchen stepped into southern Europe with its Cavatelli with Pork Ragu. The pasta was perfectly cooked to al dente and was accompanied by a flavorful red sauce that featured shredded pork. The result was delightful with the moist pork and tomato-y sauce a delicious combination with a surprise sweet-hit from the large diced carrots.
For a novelty dessert, the Pretzel Sundae was a fun way to end the meal. Large sections of a house-made pretzel were topped with B&J Chubby Hubby ice cream, caramel and chocolate sauces and finished with peanuts. This ice cream novelty was delectable once the pretzel was cut into bite-sized pieces and then the peanut-chocolate-caramel combination was enjoyed with the luscious ice cream.
Overall, Rothbard Ale + Larder is creating modernized interpretations of central European recipes in a cool environment. From a refreshing and light endive salad to a table sharing Schweinehaxe, the unique menu, combined with a tremendous selection of beers will create a culinary adventure for friends and family.
- Bratwurst ($15)
- Sausage en Croute ($10)
- Currywurst ($9)
- Endive Salad ($14)
- Pasta with Pork Ragu
- Schweinehaxe ($32)
- Wiener Schnitzel ($23)
- Wings ($12)
- Pretzel Sundae
Did Not Like
- Cassoulet ($26)
90 Post Rd E, Westport, CT 06880