By ELIZABETH KEYSER
Special To The Courant
9:59 AM EDT, August 26, 2014
Prime has two meanings at Washington Prime: location, which is the corner of Washington and Water streets in SoNo's new commercial-residential Ironworks building; and steak, USDA Prime from Creekstone Farms in Kansas.
The new bar and restaurant is across the street from the Norwalk Harbor, which means local seafood is as important as the steaks. Restaurateurs Marco Siguenza of Scena in Darien and Bob Moss recently invited bloggers to sample Washington Prime's land and sea menu and meet the chef.
Executive chef Jared Falco absorbed classic technique working at Daniel in New York City, and he's done stints at WD-50 in New York City and NOMA in Copenhagen. He embraces molecular gastronomical touches, taking such bar food as deviled eggs to new expressions with foie gras powder (and a meatball, pickled onions and sauce). Chef Falco tosses fried wings in kimchi sauce made of spicy fermented cabbage and serves it with soy sauce foam.
Yet some of Falco's best dishes are his most simple. Knuckle & Claw was one of my favorites of the evening, a comforting mass of grits topped with lobster. Spoons of tobiko, tiny fish roe, burst in the mouth, another pleasing texture in a dish of pleasing textures of sweet, tender-chewy lobster and soft Anson Mill blue grits and creamy horseradish sauce.
Another dish featuring what chef Falco calls "Norm's lobster" is lobster bisque, which is sweet and rich. (The lobster is from Norm Bloom & Son Oyster, whose family has been harvesting lobsters and oysters in Long Island Sound since the 1940s). The bisque was brightened and lightened with parsley crème fraîche.
The Kansas steaks come by way of Pat La Frieda Meats. They're cooked on an infrared broiler at 900 degrees, giving them a flavorful char. My favorite was the 32 ounce porterhouse, brought to the table sliced and reassembled on the bone. It's big enough to share with a group. The porterhouse, which had been dry-aged for 28 days, had the beefiest flavor. The New York strip and ribeye were well seasoned and evoked the primal.
Those who like to play with their food will have trouble deciding upon just one of the sauces that come with the steaks. Classic warm clarified butter or béarnaise? Housemade steak sauce or horseradish cream? Latin chimichurri? Or the chef's flavor explosions: maple truffle chili or umami bomb sauce? I think the dry-aged porterhouse is so good it doesn't need sauce. As for salad, the wedge is a meal of a steakhouse salad, iceberg dressed with pickled tomatoes, bacon, blue cheese and house-made ranch dressing.
The drinks menu isn't on the website yet, but I enjoyed a basil and gin cocktail, a refreshing adult drink.
>>Washington Prime, 141 Washington St., South Norwalk, is open for lunch Wednesday to Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; dinner Monday through Sunday, 4 to 10 p.m.; late night dinner Thursday 10 to 11:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 10 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Information: 203-857-1314 and washingtonprimect.com.
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