Exclusivity when dining out has a way of making us feel special. The smaller, the better. It’s like being part of a special club. It’s cool knowing that at that very moment, in a space half the size of a normal living room, that you and 20 people are the only ones that get to take part in an intimate dinner.
Most often the problem is that “exclusive” equates to “EXPENSIVE.”
That brings us to Greenwich! Wait, before you think this is going to be some $150 per person affair, you’re so very wrong.
What if I told you that there’s a great four-course tasting menu offered on the first Friday and Saturday of every month for $65?
If eating out is your thing, I bet you’d be intrigued. What am I saying? It’s Fairfield County, of course eating out is your thing.
Would it be crazier if I mentioned that it goes down at a luxury lifestyle boutique store? And that it’s BYOB? Bet you didn’t see those swerves coming.
That brings us to the where. It happens at The Perfect Provenance’s petite Café 47 where normally they’re serving up delectable bites, salads, sandwiches, and a pretty epic burger for lunch, or they’re rocking French toast, eggs Benny, and deep-dish quiche for brunch.
What happens at dinner is none of the above. It’s different. It’s creative. It’s seasonal. It’s where executive chef Duane Shand gets to shine and reach into his bag of tricks.
When we first covered Shand’s arrival at Café 47, dinner wasn’t serving in a tasting format. “When I took over, we did an à la carte service,” he said. “I was alone in the kitchen, so a tasting made more sense, so I can send out everything at once in accordance with the seating times.”
The fun part about the tasting is diners never know what they’re going to get until just before it’s time to eat. The only hints beforehand are a teaser or two on The Perfect Provenance’s social media.
What Shand did reveal is that he likes to get “pretty eclectic” with the menu, drawing inspiration from past gigs in Spain, Australia, and San Francisco, but also from his home country of Trinidad where seafood is a staple. “I grew up eating lots of seafood, so you will see that here,” Shand said. “But I try to give diners a little bit of everything; fresh, seasonal vegetables in the summer, and I always try to put one meat dish in there.”
During a recent visit, he did all of that. The meal began with fruit and vegetables, a medley of multi-colored heirloom tomatoes and mixed berries in a tangy, but light, sake vinaigrette. A fish dish, as promised, would follow. Shand went with a flaky white tilefish with crisped skin in a shallow pool of mussels escabeche.
Halfway through and my only thoughts were, “This is nice and light, but satisfying,” and how $65 is a bargain for what Shand is dishing out. “We do what we can to stick to the price point,” he said. “I ask myself, ‘What can we do that’s inventive?’ We can’t buy ribeye, but we can buy brisket.”
The result? A two-day, slow-cooked wagyu brisket that you could cut with fork pressure. On the side was a crock of seasoned rice topped with avocado mousse. “It’s a riff on Trinidadian okra and rice with a sauce similar to oxtail stew,” Shand said. “You can mix the rice in or have it separately. It’s up to you. Typically, it’d be a one pot meal.”
The four-courses ended sweetly with an airy, super caramelly flan with candied rose petals. It was as delicious as it was beautiful.
Shand mentioned that this is one of his favorite times at the 24-seat maximum café because he gets to be different and push the envelope with his food in hopes of progressing The Perfect Provenance. “I want to give people dishes they haven’t had before while showing off my uniqueness; I don’t want to be like anyone else in the area,” he said. “We want you to have a different experience and want to come back again.”
“Different” is what you will experience should you go. The menu at each month’s tasting will not be the same. If you paid attention earlier, Café 47’s dinner service takes place on the first Friday and Saturday of the month with seatings at 5:30 and 7:30. Reserve a spot, pick out a bottle, and enjoy one of Fairfield County’s best kept neighborhood secrets.
Café 47 at The Perfect Provenance
47 Arch Street; Greenwich
(203) 900-1131; https://www.theperfectprovenance.com/