Swyft Opens in Kent From Award Winning Chef Joel Viehland w/ Adventurous Comfort Food

Amy Kundrat

Swyft, historic Kent’s new restaurant featuring wood-fired pizza, is now open offering creative small plates, pastas, rustic entrees, and a large selection of craft beers and natural wines. 

Swyft is the brainchild of chef-owner Joel Viehland, formerly of the award-winning Community Table in Litchfield County. The historic 18th-century building is divided to house both a modern tavern and a fine dining restaurant. Swyft, a 40-seat tavern and bar, will offer seasonal comfort fare, with ingredients largely coming from nearby Rock Cobble Farm. Through a separate entrance is Ore Hill, where eventually Viehland will serve a tasting menu that draws upon his experience cooking at Noma, Gramercy Tavern, and other renowned restaurants.

At Swyft, the focus is on adventurous comfort food. Small plates include baby back pork ribs with guanciale-spiked XO sauce, a salad of lightly charred brassicas with crispy grains and pomegranate, and pickled wild mussels on saffron aioli toast, while entrees range from wood-fired chicken for two to rabbit milanese with cardoon gribiche or a burger with old-school tallow fries. Swyft will offer a selection of seasonal pizzas, wood-fired in a Pavesi oven from Naples, Italy. In addition to classics like margherita, Viehland will offer a kale and potato pie, with both the greens and the milk for the housemade ricotta coming from Rock Cobble Farm just minutes away.

Ore Hill, which will open in Spring 2018, brings Viehland’s fine-dining technique to the fore with a tasting menu that draws from the season’s best, served in three intimate 18th-century rooms. Despite the chef’s four-star background, the food and experience will be both convivial and affordable.

The restaurant offers an extensive wine, beer and cocktail program, with an emphasis on natural wines, including a lengthy rotating by-the-glass list, as well as many craft beers from brewers in Connecticut and the Hudson Valley region. The bar program was curated with the assistance of Will Wyatt from NoMad Restaurant.

“I’m really excited to build upon some of the regional themes I was exploring at my previous restaurant and bring a rustic but elevated experience to diners in Kent,” Chef Viehland said. Viehland has experience in the region, with his celebrated Community Table in Washington, CT, as well as in New York City, New Orleans, and Copenhagen. Most recently he was the opening chef for L’estudio, a cafe on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

The design of the two restaurants has been a collaboration between an award-winning roster that includes architect and interior designer Yvette Adams (Aman Tokyo and Aman Kyoto, Amansara), British landscape architect Arnie Maynard, lighting designer Craig Roberts (Claridge’s, The Carlyle), and tabletop consultation by Amy Mellen (Calvin Klein Home), with branding by Richard Pandiscio (The Grill, Le Coucou). The historic former residence of Asaph Swyft, one of the original settlers of Kent, the building has been completely renovated, with care taken to preserve many details, such as the three original fireplaces and wood beams dating back to 1780.

Swyft will be open Tuesday to Saturday from 5:30PM to 10PM, with lunch and Sunday brunch service and Sunday family supper beginning in the new year. To make reservations, please call (860) 592-0404 or visit orehillandswyft.com Reservations are also available through the app Resy.

Follow us on Instagram — @swyftct @orehillct — and on Facebook at @swyft

For more information or to make reservations, visit orehillandswyft.com.