Washington Prime :: SoNo's newest restaurant to grace the waterfront is a little bit surf and a little bit turf

At the corner of Washington and Water Streets, in the heart of South Norwalk, a new restaurant graces the waterfront with its presence. In an area that has been described as "hipster meets historic," Washington Prime is the collective vision of restaurateurs Rob Moss and Marco Siguenza. Steering the ship, Executive Chef Jared Falco, creates a menu that is collective, creative and inspirational. Don't let the name fool you, Washington Prime is as much surf as it is turf - offering something for every discernible palate. 

The interior has that industrial feel so often seen in the area that is combined with an element that is both warm and inviting. The high ceilings give the restaurant a spacious feel while the warm woods and moss covered walls and booths lend themselves to create a warm and nature-like ambiance which seems to echo the popular trend of bringing the outside in. A large U-shaped bar takes center stage and you are invited to try one of their specialty cocktails. From there meander over to the tables that are lined up along floor to ceiling windows, offering great natural lighting a panoramic view of the harbor. Outside, plenty of comfortable seating awaits those wishing for a more relaxed setting. 

I had the privilege of attending a special blogger/press dinner last week where I was able to sample a wide array of items on the menu. We started off with the Seafood Tower which consists of colossal shrimp, little necks, Alaskan king crab legs, and Maine lobster served with a spicy mustard sauce, house made cocktail sauce and a classic mignonette. The serving was generous - The seafood, sweet, tender and fresh. I had to pace myself and save room for all the food yet to come. I could have easily feasted on this and made it my dinner. 

Next we moved on to the Small Plates where we delighted in Falco's version of Poutine. Here oxtail ragu, cheese curds and green onion sit on top a generous serving of French Fries. This fun and hash-like creation - a twist of your basic meat and potatoes -  is comfort food at its best. This is like a grown up, hipper version of the chili cheese fries. The meat is saturated with intense flavor that seem to infiltrate the fries without overwhelming them. This is not a dieter's delight... but it certainly is delightful!

Next we moved on to the Wings. Fried chicken wings served with a kimchi sauce, scallions, soy and chili. Ordinarily wings are not something I would order, but I found the description to be intriguing and the presentation to be very palatable. I took a bite - These wings were different - so very different. Jared's twist, playfulness and creativity shines through here as well. The spice is just enough so as not to overwhelm. The heat is strong enough to be present but not so much as to overwhelm. The flavors marry beautifully. Both wings fans and non wings fan will enjoy this dish.

Next we had Jared's take on the deviled egg - These certainly ain't your grandma's deviled eggs. The intensely smooth and creamy yolk is topped off with a prime meatball, chicken fried bacon, pickled onions and the foie gras powder. The pickled onions added the perfect acidic contrast to the creamy yolk.

For the seafood lover, Knuckle and Claw is a decadent treat with sweet lobster meat over blue corn grits, lobster sauce and tobiko.

I've been on an octopus kick lately and if you happen to love Octopus this is a dish you simply must try. Share it with a friend - or keep it all to yourself.... that would be my choice! The perfectly charred octopus is tender and sweet. (If you equate octopus with something chewy and rubbery, you've not had it cooked properly.) Served with pickled peppers that give this dish the perfect amount of heat, duck fat marbled potatoes that simply melt in your mouth served over a pepper emulsion, this dish knocks it off the charts. I think we all felt the same way about this dish. I wonder if Chef Jared Falco would make this as an entrée for me?

From the octopus we dug right into the Burrata. Again, Jared defies the ordinary - no tomato, no olive oil, vinegar and basil with this burrata. Instead we have a creamy slaw, an aoili that is reminiscent of a traditional Russian Dressing that is topped with sesame seeds and served over a slice of toasted pretzel bread. The creaminess of the buratta lends itself perfectly to the slaw and the aioli - Again, a perfect example of creativity and innovation.

You've had one Chop Chop Salad, you've had them all, right? Here the finely chopped provolone and salami, together with the onion, carrot, red bell peppers, iceberg and romaine and creamy red wine vinaigrette have a very anti-pasta like quality. This salad is hearty and would make a perfect lunch eaten on its own. Dare I say it's a guy's kind of a salad?

The Iceberg Wedge has been given a mini modern twist. Served with pickled heirloom tomatoes, ewes blue cheese - creamy and mild - bacon, which is not really bacon at all, but an incredibly crispy, smoky pork belly. The house dressing is soft and mellow, without the acrid bite that so many blues tend to have. This version seems to have a lighter fresher feel to the iceberg wedges traditionally served at steak houses.

And now on to the entrees.We sampled filet mignon, ribeye and a porterhouse steak. Each was perfectly cooked - a well seasoned, seared crust sealed in all the flavors and juices. The steaks were tender to cut, completely eliminating the need for any steak knife. The meats were buttery and soft, each with a deep and intense flavor. Meat lovers and fussy meat eaters alike will delight in these steaks.

The scallops are served with corn relish, Nicoise olives and hunter's sauce over midlins. The flavors play beautifully together, and once again Chef Jared Falco adds a creative and modern twist to a classic dish, giving it a fresher feel. The scallops were perfectly seared on the outside and seemed almost butter-like as I bit into it.

The grouper, not pictured, was ternder and flaky, served over Carolina gold rice, tomatoes, asparagus and drizzled in a sweet carrot butter sauce. A nice lighter alternative.

If you have the room and can at all stand it, the desserts at Washington Prime are equally as fabulous. The key lime pie, not exactly, light does offer a refreshing mild key lime flavor a perfect palate tamer. 

This chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich is served up with a twist, a Fruity Pebbles milk reduction. Being the purist I am, I had to keep the Fruity Pebble concoction away from my chip-which.

Bombastic! Perhaps my favorite of all... the Ice cream bomb with chocolate and vanilla ice cream over a chocolate crust, buried beneath a deep chocolate and caramel coating. I may have to return just for dessert...

Cheesecake lovers will not be disappointed with this New York cheesecake. My suggestion, go to Washington Prime with a group of friends, order a lot and share it all - that includes, of course, all the desserts!

Pictured above: Chef Jared Falco and Marco Siguenza, co-Owner

Run (or swim) on over to Washington Prime. You'll not be disappointed. For more information, please visit their Website.

*All photos are property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House. Re-use only with permission and proper attribution.