Food is a priority for chef Brian Lewis, but he believes comfort and the overall dining experience are also essential ingredients for the success of his new restaurant, The Cottage.

The restaurant at 256 Post Road East opened Dec. 4, but already Lewis hopes he has created a dining spot that feels both homey and familiar to patrons. “It’s about them,” he said. “They come here. I don’t want them to be anything, but wonderfully comfortable and have just a wonderful, cozy experience.”

Lewis’s culinary talents are known throughout the region, in part from his Elm Restaurant in New Canaan, as well as the Farmhouse at the Bedford Post Inn in Westchester, N.Y., where he partnered with actor Richard Gere.

Now, with a lovingly redecorated space that formerly was the site of Le Farm restaurant, Lewis hopes diners will discover experience a pleasing combination of food and atmosphere.

“We’re already having such an amazing response from the guests,” said Lewis, whose interest in food began at age 13.

“It’s in my blood,” he said, “so the cooking for me is the best of this … My daily prize is when I’m working.”

The Cottage menu is American at heart, but Lewis brings in a range of accents from Italy, Spain, Japan and other places. “It doesn’t mean it’s fusion necessarily,” he said, but fare that is beyond strict culinary categories.

“We’re all about everything done in-house,” he said, with bread, brioche and more coming right out of The Cottage’s ovens. Beyond unique offerings such as lobster spaghetti and duck fried rice, Lewis said he hopes customers will help guide the evolution of the menu. Other featured fare includes: Italian chestnut soup, foie gras cappelacci, sea scallop crudo, short rib cottage pie, salmon in cedar paper, and a burger with fries.

“I take my cues from my guests,” he said. “It’s very personal. I interact and I get their feedback, and ultimately they help shape what we’re going to be come.”

The Cottage, which begins serving Sunday brunch starting Dec. 27, is open for dinner Tuesday through Thursday from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.thecottagewestport.com or call 203-557-3701.