Big Wheel

Farm-to-table and waterfront are two categories that top diners’ wish lists. And The Wheel manages to check both boxes, striking an intersection of chic décor, a beautiful setting with water views and food sourced from local farms. In fact, some of the veggies and herbs the chefs use here could be called hyperlocal—they’re grown in the rooftop garden a few stories up. With an expansive bar and lounge, dining room and large patio that’s also a setting for pop-up events and live music, this anchor of The Village in Stamford is a restaurant that serves many fabulous purposes.

There’s an A-List team behind the food and beverage program with Mike Geller of Mike’s Organic acting as chief food curator, helping to source ingredients from forty local farms, fishermen and purveyors (all are listed on the back of the menu). From the cocktails to dessert, the dishes make the most of produce harvested from the garden. Beverage director Kyle Tran, whose credits include The Aviary, a James Beard award-winning cocktail bar, has created a lineup that makes a round of drinks a must. Most cocktails can also be mixed sans alcohol for those who prefer a mocktail. Try the Tahona Mule (orange blossom is the unexpected ingredient) and the Elderflower spritz, made with yuzu soda.

left: Andalusian G&T: Tanqueray gin, Fever-Tree Indian Tonic, kaffir lime and juniper. right: Root Beer “Float”: Madagascar vanilla bean ice cream, stout cake and Foxon Park root beer granita. – Photographs by Mary Blank

We appreciated the versatile menu from Executive Chef Chris Shea, former executive chef of David Burke Kitchen in Manhattan. You can order a Neopolitan-style pizza from the hearth oven or a top-notch burger, but you can also splurge on oysters and indulge in an entrée like the ribeye with horseradish cream. While we were sitting outside at a recent dinner pondering the options, our server brought a snack of white bean spread with warm pita bread. So tasty. The burrata appetizer we tried featured fresh summery flavors: buttery cheese ringed by Adam’s Berry Farm strawberries and purple basil leaves from the garden with grilled sourdough slices to spread it on. It was luscious and, no doubt, the dish will be treated to a different seasonal presentation for the cooler months. Another starter we loved was the salmon crispy rice, heavenly bites that riff on sushi with raw salmon on top of the crunchy rice with jalapeno and a smoky soy “caramel” sauce adding to the appeal. We’ll order these every time. The blooming mushroom was a hit with the vegetarian in our group; it’s an Asian-style fried hen of the woods with togarashi sauce.

For our entrées, lighter dishes such as the Faroe Island salmon and heartier ones like the short ribs were equally well prepared. The short ribs, plated with fresh corn, baby spinach and mushrooms, are not heavy or overly sauced, allowing the flavor of the meat to shine through. The salmon is grilled and rests on a bed of chilled summer squash slices and a zucchini marmalade, a refreshing dish that’s likely to be tweaked for the winter season. Grilled skirt steak came out perfectly charred, topped with garden-fresh cilantro and red onions and served with a smoky tomato sauce. When a server urges me to try a chicken dish, I usually hesitate; but this brick chicken brined in Cisco beer and cooked in the hearth oven was outstanding, so juicy and served over broccoli rabe with tomatoes bursting with flavor.

Creations by Pastry Chef Alessandra Altieri Lopez are prepared with finesse and creativity— and are worth the splurge. Salted caramel ice cream sundae topped with caramel popcorn and hot chocolate sauce poured from a ceramic sake flask? Yes, please. The pistachio cheesecake with blueberry sauce won raves, too, even from those in our group who aren’t into cheesecake; it’s light and not cloyingly sweet.

As we were getting ready to leave on this Saturday night, our server let us know that jazz brunch would be launching the next day with live music and a mix of savory and sweet dishes ranging from banana-buttermilk bread and strawberry-rhubarb brioche French Toast to a lox plate, steak and eggs and a lobster roll. So, we joked, same table tomorrow morning? One more reason to give The Wheel a turn.

above: The chic and inviting interior • Beverage Director Kyle Tran • Maine lobster with house tarragon on a brioche bun and sea salt fries – Photographs: Lobster roll by Jeremy Brugo; Interior by Mary Blank

THE WHEEL
4 Star Point,
475-270-1300;
thevillagewheel.com

HOURS
Dinner Wednesday to Saturday, 5 to 10 p.m.
Dinner Sunday, 5 to 9 p.m.
Brunch Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

WHAT IS THE VILLAGE?
It’s a new indoor-outdoor office campus and event space on the water in Stamford. Greenwich’s Brent and Courtney Montgomery developed The Village, which is home to his Wheelhouse brand, a group of multi-media companies. including Wheelhouse Entertainment, a partnership with Jimmy Kimmel. See our feature “Creators and Connectors” on page 86 to read all about it.

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