La Plage at Longshore opens on Westport waterfront

Photo of Leeanne Griffin

La Plage translates to "the beach" in French, an appropriate name for the new Westport restaurant's setting on the waterfront between Long Island Sound and Longshore Golf Course.

Described as a casual coastal restaurant and oyster bar, La Plage, which opened Aug. 4, takes the place of Pearl, the former restaurant at the Inn at Longshore. The restaurant is a collaboration between Charles Mallory, founder of the Greenwich Hospitality Group (including the DELAMAR hotels in Greenwich, Southport and West Hartford); restaurateurs Michael Ryan and Hicham Amaaou and chef Frederic Kieffer. 

The hospitality group took over the Inn at Longshore last fall, and the Pearl closed in November. Ryan said the inn has been an "institution in Westport forever," and that it seemed natural to bring in the established group with roots and infrastructure in Fairfield County. 

The water view was also a major draw. "When you move to Westport, it's one of those stops. Your realtor will eventually bring you to the park at Longshore," Ryan said.

Seating provides views of the Saugatuck River and Long Island Sound. The restaurant showcases a central raw bar with fresh shellfish: oysters and clams from New England and Canada, Maine lobster, peel-and-eat pink shrimp from Florida. Polpo a la plancha, or grilled octopus with chorizo and fingerling potatoes, has been a top-selling plate.

The menu focuses on seafood and plant-based dishes, with "garden appetizers" highlighting fresh vegetables: gazpacho, organic greens, sea salt-baked beetroot. A section of "baked/grilled/broiled" items features a superfood chopped salad with kale and avocado, and a vegan tort with bean, eggplant, tomato, spinach and golden romesco. Cavatelli "arrabiata" features cherry peppers, eggplant and basil.

A crispy artichoke appetizer with burratina and prosciutto has been an early hit, Ryan said, along with simply-prepared seasonal heirloom tomatoes with Dijon dressing and basil. 

La Plage offers "pinsas," described as light, crusty hand-pressed flatbreads, which are grilled and then finished in the oven. Toppings include a truffle kale version with quark cheese and mushroom, a Caesar variety with romaine and boquerones, and grilled prosciutto with Bayley Hazen bleu cheese, figs, arugula and spicy honey.

The pinsas are not loaded with cheese or sauce like a traditional pizza, Kieffer said, and he suggested that they're ideal for sharing with groups.

From the sea, there's a lobster roll on brioche baked with seaweed, chitarra pasta with cockles and Faroe Island salmon with bulgur tabouleh. Other options include premium Green Circle chicken with griddled corn fritter and rose wine sauce, steak frites and a burger with a custom meat blend.

Desserts include "île flottante," or "floating island," with vanilla English cream, caramel and almond; a white chocolate creme brulee with raspberries, chocolate lava cake and lemon panna cotta. The bar offers creative cocktails like The Catamaran (gin, rhubarb liqueur, grapefruit, tiki bitters and rosemary) and Rio Praia (vodka, passion fruit liqueur, guava nectar.) 

Appetizers and raw bar range from $12 to $24; entrees from $16 to $38, and desserts $7 to $10. 

Lobster rolls, pinsas and raw bar items are top sellers, but all menu items have been selling evenly in the first week, Ryan said, to his surprise.

"We're in the park; we have a ton of different potential constituencies here. People that are coming from the tennis courts or the golf course, or people that are looking for a nice night out on the water," he said. "We definitely took that into mind when Frederic was designing the menu, to have a very good mix."

La Plage, at 260 Compo Rd. S.,  is currently open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday from 4 to 10 p.m. The restaurant will open in phases, with plans to open the patio in the next few weeks. Next will come a lunch menu, to service golfers and visitors from the tennis complex, and there are plans for weekend brunch. 

Reservations and information: 203-684-6232, laplagewestport.com.