Photographs by Julie Bidwell
Set inside an impeccably restored 1912 Victorian, this chic shop-and-nosh spot can satisfy your taste buds and your holiday gift list in one fell swoop. Like Greenwich’s smaller version of Freds at Barneys, the place owned by Lisa Lori blends a luxury goods boutique with a tiny but charming café. The Perfect Provenance is stocked with handpicked items you can’t help but covet: fashion finds like velvet sneakers and gold leather cage sandals, luxe French fragrances, copper cocktail shakers, and even colorful Martone bicycles. Too many businesses toss around the term “curated” these days, but at Perfect Provenance it’s accurate, reflecting Lisa’s personal selection and ongoing art exhibits (Rock ‘n’ Roll launched this fall). The café features an evolving menu, too, recently shifting from French bistro favorites that paired with the exhibit We’ll Always Have Paris, to American classics with a twist to accompany the Rock ‘n’ Roll theme.
Given Lisa’s eye for detail, it’s fitting that she attracted Arik Bensimon to serve as her chef. A Culinary Institute of America grad, Chef Arik developed a serious following at LeFarm in Westport and Napa & Co, not to mention stints at Le Cirque and Picholine. Now in this café setting, he’s cooking for just five or six tables (plus a few more on the porch in season) and his pared-down menu showcases his talent. This is truly intimate dining.
Lunch here draws downtown shoppers to the café, which feels like its own destination. With its deep Hague Blue walls, brick walkways built from an old chimney and a refurbished original front door, the space could be an outpost in Litchfield or Vermont. From the latest lunch menu, some popular dishes include the Lucky Lobster Club, more decadent thanks to the black truffle mayo; a curried chicken salad on sourdough; the perfect grass-fed burger with bernaise sauce and a truffle macaroni and cheese. The chef gets creative with Devils on Horseback (bacon wrapped dates with blue cheese) and whips up seasonal soups, among many tasty starters.
When I visited “47” for dinner recently, it was a warm fall evening and we were able to sit outside on the porch. Dinner is served only on Thursday and Friday nights, and the brief menu comprises whatever Arik dreams up that week. We sampled and savored almost everything he cooked that evening. That night’s salad mixed a variety of greens with haricot vert, kohlrabi and currants along with sunflower and pumpkin seeds, a fresh combination that picked up a nutty flavor from the seeds and a hint of sweetness from lime–crème fraiche dressing. Another app that drew raves: a flavorful and not-at-all-chewy octopus plated with bites of chorizo, red pepper and potato topped with a fresh herb sauce and sprinkling of smoked paprika. We also enjoyed a starter of spicy lamb sausage with peppers and eggplant. The mains we tried were devoured with gusto—an Alaskan salmon with summer squash topped with sorrel in a bright, lemony sauce, and a tender beef brisket that’s not overly sauced and served with butter beans and char.
We enjoyed iced tea with our meal, but if you prefer wine, you’ll have to bring a bottle (there’s no liquor license) and pay the $10 corkage fee. Service was on the slow side considering the small number of tables. Also, we were disappointed that there was no decaf coffee to go along with the excellent desserts: chocolate budino (a mousse-like pudding with whipped cream and chunks of chocolate) and ice cream sandwiches with homemade chocolate chip cookies and strawberry ice cream.
Don’t be surprised if you find yourself shopping between courses. After dinner we wound up trying on tops and shoes upstairs at 10 p.m. In the end, some Scandinavian tableware proved irresistible. But whether you cap your meal by purchasing a wood-and-glass salad bowl or diving into a bowl of pear-ginger sorbet, you’re bound to leave with all cravings sated.
47 Arch Street, 203-900-1131; theperfectprovenance.com
11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Dinner, Thursday and
Friday, 6–9 p.m.