A Visit to Prime on Whitfield in Guilford

A waiter takes orders at Prime on Whitfield (CT Examiner)


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“Table 110.”

The maître d’ tapped a seating chart for the room, a last-minute reservation, late on a Tuesday afternoon. To the left, an early crowd stood and sat at the bar, lively, casual. To the right, a handsome dining room, almost empty, simple dark wood tables and chairs, warm-lit ceiling fixtures, large windows with a glare of natural light.

The hostess led us to our table tucked into the corner by the service station and a door to tables outside. A small gaggle of servers and busboys chatted amiably among themselves and with owner Kurt Popick, who sat nearby.

Our waiter set the vibe with a populist offer of Guilford’s own tap water and left us menus and a wine list – we ordered Manhattans which soon came whiskey-forward in cut-glass coupes.

The menu is mix of the familiar, tilted toward the approachable in terms of cost and style, like a Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Ahi tuna, seafood tower, a wedge salad, potatoes au gratin. Steaks served with lobster or shrimp, blue-cheese-topped, or Oscar.

In the meantime, pouring her own water from the oversized carafe, my companion splashed her drink across the table, and was left to her own devices while two or three staff chatted a step or two away – affable, but inattentive. Eventually our waiter came and offered to clean up and took our order.

We had fried lightly battered shrimp, a choice of dips, a 14-oz New York strip steak and a 22-oz Delmonico, garlic roasted vegetables and gratinéed potatoes.

The menu also includes a “mutha clucka” chicken sandwich, house-cured slab bacon “pigs on a wire,” and a “superfood” salad Antonia.

The wine list heavily tilted toward popular American and Italian wines, at good prices.

Fried shrimp with Thai-style dipping sauces (CT Examiner)

The quality of the shrimp was superb – sweet, succulent, nicely battered. Enough really for four. Let down only by unexceptional renditions of Thai-style sauces.

The 35-day dry-aged steaks came ungarnished with maître d’ butter.

In the meantime, the dining room, which maintained a pleasant hush throughout was slowly filling, and tables outside appeared a hot item.

A 22-oz Copper Creek ribeye (CT Examiner)

The steaks were good, nicely charred at the edges and clearly benefitting from the advertised high-heat broilers, best perhaps for a diner wanting the flavor a strip steak or ribeye, but well-trimmed. More meaty than succulent. Mild and tender more than beefy.

The potatoes and the garlic roasted vegetables could have used that same heat, alternately underdone and more steamed than roasted.

Overall, the tools are here. The ingredients are good. The staff friendly. The dining room attractive. And it is obvious many locals like it here. But on our night enough of the pieces failed to come together that it was obviously not just our night.