Prime Opens in Stamford - A First Look

Emma Jane-Doody Stetson

On Saturday July 3, bursts of fireworks illuminated the Stamford sky in honor of the Fourth of July.  Stamford residents also had something else to celebrate; the opening of Prime restaurant. CTbites reported in January that the Huntington, NY restaurant had secured a second location in Stamford. Now, five months later, Prime is bringing its steak, seafood, sushi, and signature dishes to Connecticut.

The Fourth of July is a fitting time for Prime to open its doors. The holiday embodies summer sun and surf.  Those same elements lie at the heart of Prime. The flagship Huntington, NY restaurant boasts harbor views, dock space, and outdoor seating. The new Stamford location promises the same.  Situated in the waterfront space that once housed Dolce Cubano, Prime Stamford is embracing everything that Long Island Sound has to offer. “Boating will be a big factor for us,” says Michael Bohlsen of Bohlsen Restaurant Group, the team behind Prime. He revealed that the Stamford location obtained ten dock slips. Boaters can make a reservation (separate fee may apply) and bring their vessels directly to Prime. They also hired a dock master to oversee the boats.

Bohlsen Restaurant Group believes in exceptional service and crafting a fine dining experience. As a result, they are taking their time to ensure that every aspect of the restaurant runs smoothly. Their Stamford debut has taken the form of a series of soft openings so that they can perfect their approach. They gave a sneak peek to the community with a cocktail party for local neighbors and members of the Chamber of Commerce. They followed up with two days of friends and family dining, for guests of the staff. Prime’s first dinner service took place on Wednesday June 29. Until July 13, Prime will give diners 50% of what they spend (pre-tax and pre-gratuity) on a gift card that can be redeemed in the fall. “We recognize that it’s only a first or second week.  There are a lot of moving pieces and it’s not yet perfect,” says Bohlsen. “The people coming now are a lot of the local people. This is a way to introduce ourselves.”

Prime also put its team through extensive training. The staff went through three full weeks of training before the restaurant received guests. “It was a lot of hard work, but with the kind of service we promise, it’s necessary,” explains Bohlsen. Furthermore, he wanted to be able to employ people based on their character rather than experience alone. “We hire people based on who they are rather than what they know,” he told me.  The training afforded Prime the time to teach those individuals about service.

Currently, Prime is open from Tuesday-Sunday for dinner only. However, they plan to add lunch and brunch by the end of the month. The goal for August is to be open seven days a week, with a lunch or brunch option and dinner. “For the next few months, we’re mimicking almost exactly what we do at the Prime in Huntington, until we’re comfortable,” Bohlsen says.  “We’ve been honing our menu for a long time.” One of his current favorites is their caramelized figs appetizer, finished with a balsamic drizzle. His description of their lamb made me salivate, too.  He revealed that Prime’s is a Colorado rack of lamb. Many establishments use lamb meat from Australia or New Zealand.  Colorado lamb is widely regarded for its quality, flavor, and consistency.

Of course, differences between Prime Huntington and Stamford are already starting to show. “In Stamford, we pour a lot of Rose, not as much as our other restaurants!” he exclaims. The wine enthusiast in me had to smile at this- we do love our Rose! In addition, the chefs are working on dishes to pay homage to the area. They are finalizing a “Harbor Point” sushi roll, named after the neighborhood. “We look forward to learning more about what the diners here want and tailoring it toward them,” Bohlsen affirms. And it seems that the community is excited about Prime in return.  The restaurant is already attracting members of its Huntington following along with new Connecticut residents.

CTbites looks forward to visiting Prime and experiencing the menu firsthand. Check back for updates and details on the dining experience.

78 Southfield Ave., Stamford, CT