Five years ago, four longtime friends Chris Hickey, Christopher Rasile, Shawn Longyear, and Andrey Cortes opened The Spread in South Norwalk. Their eclectic New American cuisine, combined with a buzzy dining room and late-night bar scene made it an instant success. They’re still going strong at The Spread and just last year they introduced El Segundo — a concept that features street food from around the globe — which opened in August 2016 a block away from their flagship. Now, the foursome has moved closer to the Westchester border with a sequel of The Spread in downtown Greenwich.
The Spread Greenwich is located in the former Barcelona Wine Bar space at 18 W. Putnam Avenue that fell victim to an electrical fire in the spring. The location for the friends is nostalgic. Hickey and Rasile are former Barcelona South Norwalk alums, but it’s even more special for Cortes and Longyear who bartended at Barcelona Greenwich way back when.
The makeover of the fire damage is reminiscent of its Norwalk location with reclaimed barn door tables, Borrowed Vintage mismatched china and flatware, and pops of green from garden plants and live vegetation that looks like it’s growing out of a wall near the entrance. But in Greenwich, The Spread is bigger and more open. It has more seats also, including a private dining area, a chef’s table and chef’s counter seating, and a 70-foot bar.
At that big bar — because that’s what you’re now super curious about — you should park yourself, relax, and imbibe. The bar program, put together by beverage director Sean Nye, will showcase a deep wine list with plenty of top-notch selections for the Greenwich clientele, and eight draft beers and 25-plus in bottles. For the mixed drink crowd, cocktails are a pro move. The Amelia (Seagram’s, St. Germaine, lemon, blackberry cordial, mint) is refreshing, while the Pineapple Kush, (Drambuie, Fernet Branca, lime, pineapple juice, bitters; shown above) is a balanced kind of sweet. For something stronger — albeit disguised well — Jungle Juice (Red Burgundy, Dry Curacao, orange cordial, hibiscus, orange juice) is a must. My choice is named after an acclaimed East Village cocktail bar. The Amor y Amargo (Lustau Amontillado Sherry, Cocchi Americano, Banhez Mezcal, Bitterman’s hibiscus cordial) is one you’ll want to sip slowly; it’s boozy but smooth, and brightened up with sweet, floral notes from the hibiscus.
Running the show in the kitchen is chef/partner Carlos Baez (pictured above), who has been with The Spread from the start and took reign as head chef in September 2013. Baez’s food can be classified as New American, but that’s not to say you won’t see his Mexican heritage pop-up often or as a component in a dish. The Spread also supports local purveyors and uses ingredients from places like Horseshoe Farm, Shearwater Coffee Roasters, Westport Farmers’ Market, Wave Hill Breads, and Copps Island Oysters.
On the Greenwich menu you’ll see similar bites to those offered at the original spot; tender veal meatballs (pictured above) resting on a heap of creamy polenta, thinly sliced beef tongue with truffle vinaigrette dressed arugula atop of crispy sourdough, an array of fresh salads, and plenty of interchangeable meat and fish dishes alongside seasonally focused sides. Also coming over from the Norwalk menu is the comforting tagliatelle verde with beef Bolognese, the brick chicken (local greens and polenta), and grilled Portuguese octopus with crispy fingerlings and chorizo that’ll become an instant favorite. And if you’re in the mood to use both hands and have both elbows on the table, get The Spread’s cheeseburger (grass-fed Kobe beef, cheddar, spicy mayo) with a pile of house-made fries. It’s easily one of Connecticut’s best burgers. Adding bacon and pickled jalapeños would be wise.
While the menus at both restaurants will be similar, Greenwich will offer charcuterie, more seafood options (including a caviar program), and multiple steak dishes. Look out for brunch, happy hour, and lunch after the start of 2018 as The Spread hits its stride. In the meantime, get in there for drinks, dinner, and a damn good time.
18 W. Putnam Ave; Greenwich, CT
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