Last week we had the opportunity to attend a media dinner at the recently opened Post 154 restaurant located in Westport Connecticut’s historical post office building at 154 Post Road E, Westport, CT. While retaining the limestone and brick facade of the exterior, the interior of the restaurant was transformed into a rich, warm, and relaxing atmosphere around the high-vaulted structure.
Post 154 interior pays homage to both modern contemporary and the historical past. The story of the postal service and era of the building is presented via wall murals and prints from the United States Congress’s Work Projects Administration (WPA) movement (1936-1943). Custom coach lanterns and natural sunlight add warmth and richness to the wall paneling, oak wood and stone flooring, and deep colored furnishings and textiles. The upper level houses the main dining area, bar, and an open kitchen. The central staircase leads to the lower level, where the extensive wine cellar and event rooms reside.
With the history of the circa 1935 building in mind, the exterior has been surrounded with an attractive landscape foundation, accented with hanging boulevard lanterns, mustard gold awnings and outdoor dining areas equal to European cafés.
Executive Chef Alex Rosado offers a Latin / Puerto Rico based cuisine with global influences that is ” bold and vibrant menu featuring an eclectic repertoire which incorporates Chef Rosado’s sphere of influences from his travels and mentors. The land and sea menu concept is global, often playful, occasionally more refined, and always flavorful and contrasting.” He sources his ingredients locally and from afar, while keeping seasonality and quality at the forefront.
The bar is open from noon – to Connecticut Legal Closing Time. Lunch is served from noon to 3:00 PM, dinner from 5:30 pm to midnight seven days a week. Happy Hour runs from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. During the evening hours only, valet parking is available.
Starting off with cocktails, we had a variety of cocktails from the menu including the Pomegranate Spritz and the Strawberry Moon-jito.
Prior to commencing our sampling menu, Chef Rosado surprised us with presenting us with Crab Tater Tots and Plantain “Tostones.” The Crab Tater Tots were a light and crunchy tot of crab accompanied by a zesty Latin remoulade and tiny onions. Whereas, the Plantain “Tostones” were lightly fried and firm slices of plantains that came with an aioli criollo and sparkled with Maldon Sea Salt.
After nibbling on those for a few minutes, out came the Portuguese Octopus which had been suveed in a red chile sauce and extra virgin olive oil at 201 degrees for 4 hours, thus rendering it extremely tender with a hint of heat. The subtle flavor of the fresh avocado married well with the slightly spicy octopus.
Mussels in a Chorizo, shallots, roasted garlic, and Saffron wine broth accompanied by lightly grilled “Italian’ bread. The amazing broth added depth to the flavor of the succulent mussels. The broth was rich with flavor and a mild level of heat. We had to ask for more bread into order to soak up the wonderful broth.
Lobster Quesadilla with Huitlacoche, queso chihuahua, salsa, and avocado. These were creamy with bold flavors, however the lobster was lost within the Latin flavor
St. Luis Ribs in a Chile barbeque sauce with liquid black beans and Mango slaw. The slow cooked ribs were so tender that the meat just fall off the bone tender, did not need a knife to cut the meat. The mango slaw added a nice citrus taste to the dish that balanced out the barbeque sauce. The liquid black beans added an earthy taste to the overall dish.
Duck confit Taquitos with roasted tomato salsa, guacamole, and Cotija cheese. The duck confit is made in house.
The Eggplant Meatball Parmesan came covered in tomato gravy, three cheeses, truffles, and herbs. WOW, is how I will describe these. If one did not know that it was eggplant, one would think it was meat. The rosemary and thyme added another level of depth to the flavor. Everybody at the table was amazed with these meatballs and we all agreed we would come back to Post 154 just for this dish alone.
Golden Corn Bisque at Post 154 consists of grilled corn, creme fraiche, and chives. Other than the creme fraiche added as a garnish, there was no cream in this bisque. The natural sweetness of the corn was noticeable. The creme fraiche added some sweetness.
The grilled Salmon was accompanied by pickled fennel, smoked tomato coulis, and maple lime butter. The salmon was well prepared, grilled nicely on the outside, moving towards a medium rare center. The salmon was not overpowered by the tang of the pickled fennel, smokiness of the coulis, nor the sweet, tartness of the maple lime butter. Which surprised me, as I thought with combination, the salmon may take a backseat.
Scallops & Grits with spinach, smoked ham jus, and Tabasco chip. The grits were creamy with a smokey flavor from the jus. The scallop was nicely grilled result. A little less jus would elevate this dish more, so it was a tad liquidly.
The last entree we had was Guava BBQ Pork Tenderlion & C.A.B. Churrasco Steak with black bean stew, onion mojo, cilantro, and Argentinean chimichuri. Both meats were juicy and flavorful, nearly melting in my mouth.
Accompanying the entrees were Grilled Vegetables and Sauteed Mushrooms. The grilled vegetables were drizzled with Herb de Provencal and extra virgin olive oil. Fresh thyme and roasted garlic butter accented the grilled mushrooms.
The Cheesy Mac, “Baked & Creamy Westport Goodness” also was served with the entrees. Another crowd pleaser. Everybody at the table was smiling with delight after trying this creamy dish. A nice crunch was offered from the thin layer of bread crumbs on top. We all were trying to determined what gave it a little tang, characterize of yogurt or sour cream, but we could not place it. So, when Chef Rosado dropped by to chat, are first question was what gave the “tang” to the Cheesy Mac. We offered up our thoughts of sour cream, yogurt, and butter milk, but he said no to all the above. So, we asked if it was a blend of cheeses, to that he said he only uses one cheese in it. His final response was that it is all in the way they made the sauce. I guess the secret is still safe tucked away in the Post 154 kitchen vault.
To close out the meal, we were presented with three different desserts. First up, Apple Empanadas with Red Hot cinnamon dip and liquid cream cheese. The best way for me to describe the apple empanadas is: a properly deep fried apple pie. When eaten by itself, it was like biting into a slice of warm, freshly baked apple pie. Adding the Red Hot cinnamon and cream cheese, just added uniqueness to it, in a good way.
Chocolate Flan with Almond Florentine and Tuaca Fried oranges was a smooth and creamy custard flan that had a rich and chocolaty flavor. The citrus of the orange was a great combination for the chocolate flan.
Lastly, was Tres Leches with wild berry stew. The tres leches was light and fluffy, fully absorbing the three milks that it was soaked in. The wild berry stew paired extremely well with the cake, making refreshing and fruity.
One can taste Chef Rosado’s Puerto Rico roots in each dish, but yet one also tastes the global infusions he adds. Creativity, boldness, and playing on contrast was readily apparent in several offerings, resulting in flavorful and delicious mouthfuls that sometimes left your taste buds wondering what they just sensed, all in a pleasing way. Presentation was easily seen as being important to Chef Rosado as well. Half way through our sampling, our host presented us with warm, lemon scented hand towels to freshen up with, which are always offered with multiple course meals.