Upon arrival for lunch at The Back Eddy one wintry Saturday afternoon, we were captivated by the view of the Westport Point harbor, and interesting waterfowl floating by. We’d been lured by the promise of “locavore” sensibility. We were charmed by the pleasant waitstaff. We relaxed in the spunky nautical decor. We were cheered by the Big Dog’s perfect black and tan, and Gina’s superb Vinabla malbec.
But when the food started arriving, we were silenced. Reduced to an occasional, heartfelt “Yum,” the Dog said we should start our review that way.
As we’ve observed before, waterfront dining is often a terrible experience. You’re paying for high rents, not experienced staff or quality ingredients. Ditto for the local food joints that are popping up everywhere. We’re fans of the concept, but face it: in a New England winter, we learn that seafood and turnips only go so far.
Not at Back Eddy. No, no, no. Here, the elements come together so flawlessly that you’ll think of the spectacular view as the afterthought. It takes a back seat to the excellent food, a lot of which was sourced thoughtfully.
The Big Dog opened with a bowl of turnip soup ($8). Sounds like something your Irish grandma would foist on you when you were sick, right? Well, Grandma would have enjoyed the sweetness of the pure white soup, but this bowl was tricked out with a garnish of shredded lobster and drizzle of truffle oil. We could smell garlic, but it was so subtle that we couldn’t tell where it was coming from.
Gina started with the simple green salad ($7.50), pictured above. Yes, anyone can put perfect fresh greens on a plate. Anyone can dress them lightly with vinaigrette. Anyone can toss in some hearty, crunchy croutons. But if anyone can do it, why was this salad so unique? It was a salad you would make at home if you really cared about, and were trying to impress, your dining companion.
When the pleasant young bartender returned to take our entree order, we made a pivotal decision that probably affected our whole view of the restaurant: We decided to split an entree. With prices soaring to the 30-buck range, two entrees would have put us over the $100 mark, which is a particularly pricey lunch when you’re on your way to a foodie Christmas party. (Hey, we’re doing a public service, keeping you informed.) But we probably would have chosen the same thing anyway, plus they brought out two plates without that “extra plate charge” nonsense, so we were particularly happy with our decision.
Here’s what we got: A magnificent, moist grilled swordfish ($25), snuggled with melt-in-your-mouth brussels sprouts atop garlicky mashed potatoes. Alongside was a tangle of dressed watercress topped with a golden nasturtium. In the interest of research, we also ordered a side of slaw ($4). It was a brilliant, creamy celebration of cabbage, which Gina said was the best she ever had in a lifetime of searching for the perfect slaw.
Not surprisingly, we’ve heard that The Back Eddy is tough to get into during the summer season. But they’re open year round, so go now. Right now.
The Back Eddy
1 Bridge Street, Westport, MA