Restaurant News & Reviews

June 18, 2012

Mexican restaurant Port Fonda now has a home in Westport

Port Fonda now has a home. The popular Mexican restaurant inside a 36-foot vintage Airstream trailer will open its new full-service restaurant next Tuesday in Westport. The new restaurant, at 4141 Pennsylvania Ave., will serve Port Fonda favorites and new items.

Port Fonda now has a home.

The popular Mexican restaurant inside a 36-foot vintage Airstream trailer will open its new full-service restaurant next Tuesday in Westport.

The new operation, at 4141 Pennsylvania Ave., will serve Port Fonda favorites and new items.

Its chilaquiles (chips, salsa, fried egg, crema, cilantro, onion and lime) became an addiction for some trailer customers. Other menu items include new soups and stews, pork and ricotta meatballs, braised goat and potatoes, pork belly fajitas, pork shoulder and pineapple tacos, and fried pork tails in hot sauce.

Patrick Ryan, a co-owner and chef at Port Fonda — the trailer — is partnering with Jamie Davila in the new restaurant. Ryan also will keep his trailer operation.

The new Westport restaurant will be open daily for lunch and dinner and Saturday and Sunday for brunch. Davila will manage the front of the house, while Ryan will concentrate on the kitchen. The restaurant will have 50 seats in the dining area and 15 at the bar.

John Anderson, owner of The Utilitarian Workshop, a design studio, created Port Fonda’s look from a “brand new, completely raw concrete box.”

It features high ceilings, lots of natural light, tables and benches along the floor-to-ceiling windows in front, a long bar, and wood paneling to soften and warm up the space. The “semi-translucent pictorial collages” in the front windows allow diners a view of the outside traffic while giving them some privacy.

“It’s modern, industrial, without being too shabby. A balance between rustic and clean,” Anderson said. “Everything is pretty much handmade, repurposed from scrap yards.”

In a related development, Anderson plans to open The Utilitarian Workshop retail store, selling handmade goods. He just signed a lease at 1659 Summit St., next to the Westside Local, and hopes to open in spring 2013.

Retail shuffle

Retailers in three shopping centers are making moves.

For starters, the Country Club Plaza’s Peruvian Connection is relocating — slowly.

It plans to open in the Crestwood Shops, 335 E. 55th St., by late July. But it will continue to operate in its Plaza location, at 4725 Wyandotte St., through spring 2013. Then the Plaza Peruvian Connection will close.

“We’ll have Christmas in Crestwood, as well as the Plaza, and we will have our spring season merchandise in both stores, so the Plaza location will be a very live store through March of next year,” said Annie Hurlbut, chief executive officer of the Peruvian Connection, which is based in Tonganoxie, Kan.

While both stores are open, they will have slightly different merchandise, so customers might want to visit both locations, Hurlbut said.

“It will be fun to showcase different things in each place,” she said. “I wish we could keep both.”

Peruvian Connection is an original design firm specializing in knitwear, as well as other apparel primarily for women. It does carry men’s apparel in the fall season. The designs are based on cross-cultural textiles from Peru, Asia, Africa and Europe, even the American Southwest. Its products are sold through its catalogs, its website and its retail stores in Santa Fe, N.M., San Francisco and Washington, as well as Henley-on-Thames in England. It also will open a Chicago store in late October.

“The Crestwood Shops offer a smaller, more intimate shopping experience, and we feel our customers will be drawn to that and feel right at home shopping there. And it’s a beautiful piece of architecture,” Hurlbut said. “We love neighborhoods. We don’t like malls.”

Peruvian Connection shares its Plaza space with Prize, which sells antiques and specialty items. Prize also plans to continue to operate in the space at least until next March.

Peruvian Connection is taking the former The Little House space in the Crestwood Shops.

• The Little House, which closed in February, plans to reopen in the Fairway Shops, 2808 W. 53rd St., in late August, after an extensive remodeling.

The Little House sells children’s clothing and shoes, as well as children’s gifts. It was founded in 1969 in a small house near 47th Street and Belleview Avenue, then was on Rainbow Boulevard before opening in Crestwood in 2007.

“(The Fairway store) will be a one-of-a-kind children’s store — the brands we carry, custom ordering, custom monogramming, custom shoe fitting,” said manager Whitney Davis. “We will carry many choices and brands of children’s shoes. It will be a fun, interactive place.”

• Isaac Alongi Portraits previously operated in the first floor at 2808 W. 53rd St. and is moving to the lower level of that space. Owner and photographer Isaac Alongi had used the lower level for printing and framing. It has an entrance on the north side of the shops.

• Longtime retailer Bennett Schneider has closed in the Crestwood Shops. The space, at 311 E. 55th St., is available for lease.

Bennett Schneider opened on the Country Club Plaza in 1929, and in 1970 it relocated, nearly doubling its space in the shopping district. But when a bookstore chain opened nearby in the mid 1990s, Bennett Schneider relocated again, this time to a smaller Plaza space, and dropped most of its books to concentrate on stationery and other items such as personal journals and English picture frames.

The current owner said customers could still reach her at the Bennett Schneider phone number.

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