As Primary Food & Drink in Greenwich nears opening day, we wanted to dig a little deeper than we got with our original post. What would the interior be like, what’s been challenging about opening, and what are some of the dishes that Executive Chef Merlin Verrier is excited about making? We must admit that we got a little help from Merlin with these questions via phone, though.
Starting off, the decor is described by Merlin as Mid-century with a timeless feel. “It’s something that’s never been done in the area. We’re not trying to be trendy, we’re just being us.” Part of that Mid-century charm comes from custom pieces (a stunning chandelier and banquettes) that were created just for the restaurant and acted as the muse (as Chef Verrier calls it) for the decor. There is enough room for 95 people in two openly connected rooms. The space can be divided by a curtain, too, creating a private room that can seat 45. Also, at the bar 36 people can sit and enjoy drinks and the full Primary Food & Drink menu.
We asked him if he saw any correlation between the decor and the food that he and co-owner Graham Elliot will be serving and he had an immediate answer. He made the connection: “Classic American dishes are very Mid-century. But, to make those dishes timeless, you need to add a modern twist.” This jives so well with the entire concept of Primary Food & Drink: creative spins on classic American dishes. Speaking of the dishes, we were curious to see what Merlin was very excited to start cooking in his kitchen as Primary Food & Drink nears opening. He shared that he and Graham are excited about their tried and true dishes, especially their modern takes on classics like Cheddar Risotto, Caesar Salad, and Beef Stroganoff.
But, he also got even more excited when he began to talk about some other items on the menu. For example, there will be a beautiful fluke dish highlighted with Japanese flavors and a Lobster Schnitzel topped with bisque gravy and some bright Meyer lemon. And, there’s also the Kung Pao Sweetbreads that they are both proud of. “It’s a gateway to try organs…the sweet and sourness is perfect because it cuts down on the minerality.” With that kind of gateway drug, we feel like we’ll be hooked in no time flat…it’s not offal at all.
Although they had recently planned to open on December 6,
they’ve had to postpone because of the usual reasons such as securing final permits they’ll be open on Monday, 12/9/13. But, Chefs Elliot and Verrier see this as an opportunity to perfect dishes and to continue training the staff.
When they do open, they will start off with dinner and will soon move into lunch and brunch as spring arrives. You will also be able to take reservations by phone, so charge up your Droids and iPhones!
We’d like to thank Executive Chef Merlin Verrier for taking time away from his busy schedule to talk with us. Welcome to Connecticut and welcome to Greenwich. See you around town and see you at the dinner table.
Primary Food & Drink by Graham Elliot
Address: 409 Greenwich Avenue
Greenwich, CT 06830