Having some down time over break allowed me more than just the extra study opportunity, it also allowed me to get out to a local eatery I’ve had my eye on, Eastend in Greenwich, Ct. Eastend has taken over the vacancy left by Television Chef Grahm Elliot’s Primary Food & Drink, which occupied the lower Greenwich Ave. location for a little under a year. This void on the strip created the perfect opportunity for the Z Hospitality Group to expand its empire with what is now their third restaurant in the area. Having heard good buzz, and after seeing the Chef de Cuisine, Matthew McNerny, is a CIA alumn, Eastend shot right up to the top of my list of places to try. With my plans set, I made a reservation for the weekend and eagerly waited in anticipation.
As I arrived for my 7pm reservation, I was happy to see it was rather crowded. In fact, as I waited for the rest of my party to arrive, I saw a handful of walk-in patrons turned away by the Maitre D’, explaining that the restaurant was booked solid by reservations for the rest of the night. The restaurant opened in December of 2015, allowing ample time for the new restaurant buzz to die down. I took the crowd as a sign of satisfied patrons and repeat business.
The restaurant decor is beautiful. It’s modern, trim, and trendy, featuring a moderate sized dining space. The majority of the main room consists of half booth seating, and can accommodate a somewhat sizeable crowd. The bar area is located at the front of the restaurant and features a full bar, along with a couple of small tables. It is a bit more of a younger social scene, and plays music relatively loud. The bar area is cut off from the dining room, removing any issue of the music spilling over.
Upon the arrival of the rest of my party, we were seated and promptly greeted by our attentive waitress. Though the restaurant describes its cuisine as a “contemporary take on the ‘Seasons of America’,” the menu seems to have a rather eclectic variety of dishes, with an overarching Mediterranean flair. Even the butter that would traditionally be served with bread before appetizers was replaced with hummus. It was a much welcomed change of pace from standard fair.
We started our meal with an order of the crispy calamari, which was served with a lemon aioli, and tomato harissa puree. I have never before had calamari as tender as these. There was none of that “rubber band” like chewiness that calamari is typically known for. They were subtle and melt in your mouth below their crisp fried exterior. The lemon aioli was something like an extra smooth tarter sauce, adding wonderful citrus cream into the mix. The harissa puree was equally as flavorful, and more along the lines of the tomato sauce traditionally served with the dish. All members of my party cleaned the plate and were left satisfied as we anticipated our next course.
For my main course, I ordered the Australian lamb chops served with lentil-chickpea salad, eggplant, and marinated feta. This dish was like dynamite on the tongue. Every element stood on its own, packing wonderful and unique flavors that came together to create something truly special. The lamb had a smoky charred flavor that lingered on the tongue. The lentil-chickpea salad was tangy, moist, and crunchy. The marinated feta was salty and smooth, contrasting the crunchiness of the salad it sat upon. The eggplant puree added even more textural interest. Everything was remarkably balanced. The only issue I found with it was its degree of doneness. I ordered the lamb medium, but received it much closer to medium-well. I t didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the dish, but I believe I would have enjoyed it even more had it been cooked a little less. Ultimately, it was an absolutely delicious dish. To accompany my lamb, I also ordered a side of hummus, with roasted cauliflower, caramelized onions, and curry. It was simple and a nice addition to what was already a terrific meal.
Overall, I am very impressed by Eastend. In addition to their excellent food, they seem to value good service and aesthetics. The restaurant has a younger crowd and can get a bit loud, but I take that as a sign of people enjoying themselves. I will most certainly be heading back in the future.