In the chills of December, a delicious meal, pint of beer, and enjoyable company is, at times, the only way to fight the freeze and enjoy New England. One place has managed to capture all of these aspects into one. Rothbard Ale and Larder brings the finest of Europe’s Gastropub feels to the under grounds of the old Town Hall building of Westport, Connecticut.
Through the fog of our breath, we walked into the glowing warmth of this establishment. The entrance welcomes you into two halves- bar or tables. Though the space appears small from outside, indoors, the layout opens to accommodate everyone in our party. The combination of industrial, cement build paired with old wood and dim lighting makes for warmth regardless of the temperature outdoors.
Where to begin on this menu!? Oh, I know, with the Raclette! An appetizer of cheese, literally, smothered over potatoes and pickles. I know this sounds a bit far out from a normal “poutine” style app, but this has far more to offer. The combination of bitterness in the pickles, creaminess in the cheese, and a firm vessel of a potato is both rich and delicious. The chef also goes to Darien Cheese Shop on a weekly basis to get these delicious supplies.
If this is not enough cheese for you, our party of 11 also indulged in not one, but two of the Beer Cheese Plates. This is a delicious fondue style appetizer, to share with many of few, depending on your preference. The classic pub options were available (wieners and pretzels) paired with some new options, pickles and asparagus. It is safe to say, we are all embraced the new discovery of pickles and cheese.
With a group as large as ours, we spread ourselves throughout the dinner menu. It should be noted, it is hard to keep a group of our size quiet at any given moment, but once dinner came out, you could hear a pin drop, which speaks great volumes to this incredible food. Some standout characters include the spätzle, patty melt, bratwurst, and steak frites. Each of these meals carried such authentic and simple flavors, truly reflective of the Gastropub feel. This combination of European and American style left all of our stomachs full and satisfied.
To begin, I am a huge German beer fan; these are usually my first selection at any given bar. Lucky for me, Rothbard’s first draft beer was a Hefeweizen! Served appropriately in a Weizen glass, this beer was perfectly cold with an acceptable amount of foam. It was the perfect way to begin the night.Though I did not enjoy a cocktail myself, the overall consensus from the drinks menu mirrored that of dinner.
If the ambiance and edibles were not enough to sell you on this location, meet the staff and you will be sold in seconds. With a staff of under 20, this place gives as much comfort with people as it does appearance. Erik, the manager, greets you at the door with a smile and an encouraging reassurance that everything will be taken care of in mere minutes. Wander over to the bar, where Paul is pouring pints and spirits by the plenty. Our server was attentive and efficient- we were one of two parties in the back room. He was sure to treat both tables with responsiveness and assistance each time he entered the room. In addition, everyone else working at Rothbard was hospitable and warm, making for an easy going feeling throughout the place.
Rothbard Ale and Larder is open daily at 11:30 with the exception of Tuesdays, when it opens at 5:00. Most evenings, the restaurant is open until 10:30 or 11:00 with the except of Sundays, when it closes at 9:00. The location of is at the Old Town Hall, 90 Post Road East, Westport, Connecticut, directly between the Paper Source and Restoration Hardware. Entrance is through a side down to the downstairs. Check online for some fun events including Oktoberfest in the fall and Spargelfest in the spring.