Last week we had a rare opportunity to dine sans children, so we thought we’d check out the brand new Bartaco in Westport. Unfortunately, when we arrived the cheerful hostess informed us that we would have a 90 minute wait…90 minutes of cocktails on an empty stomach would not be a good thing. So we decided to try another spot that we had our eye on since it opened in April, Rive Bistro.
Rive Bistro, as the name implies, is located along the banks of the Saugatuck River in the former River House location. Its views are spectacular and worthy of a visit for that reason alone. Dining al fresco is always a pleasure, but doing so while watching the elegant swans and rowers glide by sets the stage for a relaxing and enjoyable evening. Guests are seated under a wide gray and white striped awning lit by mercury glass pendants – you almost feel like you are dining along the Seine.
The menu focuses on traditional bistro fare – steak frites, mussels, duck confit, escargot – with a few local favorites with a French flair (Wagu burger is topped with your choice of brie, Roquefort, or Gruyère). Owner and Chef, Eric Sierra is no stranger to Westport, from 1991 to 2000, he owned Bistro Des Amis in Sconset Square (currently Blue Lemon), before opening Il Palio in Shelton.
Mussels were served in the traditional French fashion – in a large steaming tureen – when the lid was lifted, we were pleasantly surprised at the pronounced aroma of Pernod. Pernod lends a lovely anise flavor that draws out the mussels sweet flavor. Of course, frites were a side to the mussels and completely outstanding – crispy and salty (we should have ordered extra frites….so good!).
We continued with a salad of beets sliced so thin they were almost transparent, served with creamy goat cheese and drizzled with a horseradish creme – the nutty flavor of fresh mache was a nice counterpoint to the sweetness of the beets and tartness of the cheese – an inspired take on a standard restaurant dish.
We were impressed with Rive Bistro – an amazing view, attentive service, excellent food, clientele that ran the gamut from older folks dining in pairs, to young families celebrating events (there were two birthday celebrations, and one high-school graduation), we even had a rare celebrity sighting (a TV actor turned film director and producer who is currently filming in Fairfield County!!).
Rive Bistro 299 Riverside Ave Westport, (203) 557-8049