The Boathouse at Saugatuck
Chef John Holzwarth
From oysters to wine, Chef John Holzwarth seeks local, sustainably produced products for his Boathouse at Saugatuck, in Westport, Connecticut. Situated inside the Saugatuck Rowing Club, but open to the public, the menu here is comprised of local ingredients to which Holzwarth applies “Mediterranean and Italian methods, through a New England looking glass.”
The oysters on the menu are seeded in front of The Boathouse, in the Saugatuck River, and cultivated in the Long Island Sound; their supplier, Jeff Northrup, brings them to the restaurant year round. The same holds true with all of the proteins on the menu, the pasteurized beef, lamb and chicken are sustainably sourced all year long. “There’s seasonability with the products,” says John. “Beef in the winter has different attributes than spring or summer beef, and we can say the same thing about oysters and cheese.” Taking these attributes into consideration when planning his menu, John also varies his cooking methods, based on the season. “In winter, I look for cooking methods that were prominent in the Old World,” he says, “like smoking…smoked scallops and smoked mackerel accompanied by heirloom grains.”
A Winter View from The Boathouse Window
With a menu that’s constantly evolving, John gives just as much attention to his vegetable dishes as he does to his proteins. “Procuring and cooking is just as important with vegetables, pastas [all of which are homemade using heirloom flours] and proteins,” says Holzwarth. It’s a “sustainable way to eat, for the planet and for the individual.” And the same can be said about the wines on his list.
“We’ve had a lot of fun creating this venue, as well as a small wine list that accompanies the menu,” adds John. “When we first opened, we had two dozen wines, now we have under one hundred. It’s still small and eclectic, but we’ve put a lot of thought into what goes on the list and how it pairs with the food and sustainable methods.”
“In the summer,” says John, “we work with a lot of T. Edward Wines: Serge Laloue Sancerre, Ameztoi Txkolina, white and rosé with oysters and roasted duck.” There’s also Casa Julia Sauvignon Blanc and Cava Avinyo on the list. Seeking food-friendly wines with high acidity and small production, The Boathouse offers plenty in the summer from De Maison Selections, wines that are the perfect accompaniment to watching a sunset from the restaurant’s deck. In the winter with its richer cuisine, “people are driven to Burgundy and Bordeaux,” adds Holzwarth, including wines from sustainable producers such as Domaine Fichet and Sybille Kuntz.
“Everything on the menu is created to be consumed with wine,” says Chef Holzwarth in closing; a man who’s clearly after our palates and our locavore loving hearts.
[Where: The Boathouse, 521 Riverside Ave., Westport, CT 06880]