As the saying goes, "Life is short. Eat dessert first."
Despite having an insatiable sweet tooth, I almost always opt for an appetizer over dessert at a restaurant, so I've never followed that sage bit of wisdom. However, I recently finished a meal with a dessert that was so delicious, I have to recommend it up front.
The apple empanadas at Westport's newest restaurant, Post 154, are fantastic. This, from someone who doesn't like apple pie.
"They're like the old school McDonald's apple pies, only a thousand times better," said Nicole Pocograno, a member of the wait staff.
Although that might sound a little questionable, she was absolutely right. The hand-size pies were golden, fried half-moons, dusted with cinnamon sugar and served with Red Hot cinnamon dip and liquid cream cheese. The crust was crispy and flaky and the filling was warm and fresh -- not at all gloppy or gelatinous, as apple desserts can sometimes be.
Fortunately, the rest of the meal was equally as good. Post 154 opened last month in the former Westport Post Office at, appropriately, 154 Post Road. The building's original façade was maintained, but inside, clearly a whole lot of work was done.
The high-vaulted ceilings make the large interior seem huge, but the dark wood paneling and mix of tables and banquettes make it feel cozy. There's something about the atmosphere that almost makes you feel like, if you looked out the windows at night, it would be snowing.
Chef Alex Rosado hails from Puerto Rico, and his roots can be seen in the menu. Appetizers include things like lobster quesadillas, duck confittaquitos and plantain tostones. Seafood is definitely one of Rosado's strong suits. The crab tater tots were moist little nuggets of crab, potato and spices, served with a remoulade sauce.
Lately, I keep seeing octopus on menus throughout Fairfield County. This was perhaps the best octopus I've had. Small pieces of tender, almost melting octopus, were served on a platter with avocado and a red chili sauce. It looked like something you'd find at a sushi restaurant, presented simply and elegantly.
There are a number of soups and salads, if you're looking for lighter fare. The golden corn bisque was made with grilled corn, giving it a hearty, smoky taste.
As far as entrees are concerned, it's hard to choose between beef or seafood. There's a churrasco steak topped with an Argentinean chimichurri, or there are sweet, buttery scallops served on top of grits. For me, the hands-down winner was the guava BBQ pork tenderloin served with a black bean stew.
In all of the dishes, chef Rosado was judicious with the spices, but in a very controlled, well-balanced way. The flavors all seemed to mingle without being overpowered by any one ingredient.
Post 154 is a huge restaurant. The bar is large and welcoming. There are intimate tables for two and large tables for social gatherings. In the lower level, there is a wine cellar with an attached room for private parties.
As if that weren't enough, there is a spacious outdoor patio on the side of the building.
No doubt Post 154 will see great success, both because of its location and unique, accessible menu. Just remember, eat dessert first.
Post 154: 154 Post Road East