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Neighbors Flock to The Gray Goose

Few and far between are the Fairfield County restaurants where you can enter for a Tuesday lunch and be ushered to the last remaining empty table. The Gray Goose is just such a one. On my recent visit, in fact, there were no remaining tables. So, I settled myself at the cozy bar.

On appearances alone, The Gray Goose has already captured my heart. Its elegantly rustic interior invokes every romantic image of a New England Inn, from the large stone fireplace to the salvaged iron and wood detailing. This is a place one wants to linger on a cold winter evening.

It turns out, that’s all part of the plan.

“We designed the space very thoughtfully,” says co-owner Kevin McHugh. “A restaurant is about more than just the food. You have to be visually transported. Here, we want guests to feel like they’ve taken a trip to Nantucket.” Kevin is an accomplished restaurateur, having previously lit up the SoNo food scene as former co-owner of Match and The Loft Martini Bar, along with Ridgefield’s beloved Little Pub. And in The Gray Goose, which he co-owns with Pete Mennona and Thomas Febbraio, Kevin’s artistry is apparent.

I’m totally hooked. And now, I want to eat.

The menu is packed with upscale pub fare that’s peppered with playful creativity, courtesy of Executive Chef Tom Carney, formerly of Fairfield’s Spazzi restaurant. I’m a sucker for the unexpected, so I start off with crispy vegetarian spring rolls, accompanied by a Thai sweet chili dipping sauce. The rolls are light and flakey and the Thai sauce packs just the right punch, spicy but flavorful.

I see the ahi tuna taco glide past on its way to someone else’s table and know immediately I have to try it. The black and white sesame crusted tuna is sliced and perfectly seared and served with warm tortillas and a grilled pineapple-mint salsa. I use the wasabi-lemon-yogurt sauce liberally both inside the taco and for dipping. It’s a flavor explosion, and easily one of my favorite meals I have eaten in recent memory.

The black and blue burger is a carnivore’s savory dream. It’s huge and stuffed with Maytag Blue cheese, then dusted with butcher’s cracked pepper. It tastes like it came off your neighbor’s grill, if your neighbor were a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America like Chef Carney.

The wine list is carefully chosen, and offers some real deals by the glass. Again, Kevin has been very purposeful.

“One of the reasons I think we’re always so packed is that we’re totally committed to offering delicious food and wine and totally affordable prices. If we can’t do a dish for $19.95 or under, we’re not doing it.”

Kevin and his crew at The Gray Goose need only keep doing what they’re doing, because it doesn’t get much better.

Find The Gray Goose nestled in Southport, at 246 Old Post Road.

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