Post 154: A Restaurant Review

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Casey Lu, Staff Writer

Portuguese octopus. Plantain “aranitas.” The cheezy mac.

South America meets classic American at Post 154, the new brainchild of Chef Alex Rosado, formerly of The Ritz-Carlton San Juan and the acclaimed Little Palm Island.

Appropriately named, the restaurant made waves this past August when it replaced the decades-old post office downtown. The Westport Post Office had served its community since 1935, so expectations were nothing but high for its successor.

When doors finally opened to the eager public, customers were surprised to find the interior had an authentic rustic look that screamed old world Venezuela, sporting brick and dark wood panels, plush chestnut leather booths, and oil paintings.

Among high ceilings and exposed piping, tasteful murals stretch the width of the dining tables, depicting mailmen making their deliveries.

There  had also been quite some buzz about the place as the dimly-lit main dining room was loud and packed. However, it was the kind of noise that comes with good food and comfortable, aesthetically-pleasing decor — the sound of satisfied customers, from families to couples out on their romantic night or the lone reviewer out on her high school newspaper assignment.

Along with satisfaction, variety defined my own Post 154 experience. Chef Rosado, a recipient of the Best Chefs of America award, definitely took advantage of many globetrotting experiences from prior jobs.

As I perused the expansive menu, adobo grilled veal took me to Latin America. Lobster quasedillas took me to Mexico. Steak bearnaise to France, then crab tater tots dropped me back to New England. The question at Post 154 is: Do you play it safe or take a risk?

I went with golden corn bisque and crab tater tots as starters. The bisque was your typical corn chowder variant, but Chartwells’ own bacon corn chowder concoction still does it no justice. The corn was obviously very fresh, and the bisque was the perfect balance between thick and thin. Chives also added a light onion flavor – not too much but just enough.

The crab tater tots were reminiscent of crab cakes, only more concentrated – more lumpcrab, less creamy filler – and just as delicious.

They were accompanied by a special lemon verbena ketchup, with a tanginess that was too much for me. I think traditional ketchup already has enough tartness, so I obviously did not enjoy a second sour component.

For my main course, I finally decided to go international and selected the kobe beef churrasco, an Argentinean dish and essentially a steak. The steak was grilled to a perfect medium pink and incredibly tender and flavorful.

The deep green chimchurro sauce that was slathered over it provided another medley of flavors: parsley, garlic, olive oil. I was afraid the sauce would mask the taste of the steak itself, but it proved to be a well-chosen accompaniment. To better describe the sauce, it was pesto-like, though I must say I prefer pesto, for the chimchurro had a slight vinegar aftertaste.

Another criticism I have for the dish is that it was a smaller entrée – about the size of your fist. As I scanned surrounding tables, that seemed to be the case for many main courses.

Although there were some elements of the meal that I was not fond of, such as the portion size and the sauces that accompanied two of my dishes (which might have been enjoyed by someone with a different palate), the quality of the meal was evident. The food was nothing short of what is expected for a restaurant of a $$ price range; I found my dishes to be very appetizing and well-cooked overall, with layered flavors and aesthetically pleasing plating. Service was also satisfying, and nothing dimmed my Post 154 experience.

Plus, classy touches such as an elevator existing solely to transport diners to the restrooms did not hurt.

In my view, this posh eatery has earned a place as one of Westport’s top-tier restaurants, making good use of a historic landmark on the way. The adress 154 Post Road East, once sorting through mail, is now cooking up the world for our little town.