Mattapoisett gets French bistro in Walrus & Captain
A versatile menu with solid entrees that can be prepared as a wrap, rice bowl, or panini. The feel of a French bistro -- with a comfortable, laid-back atmosphere that makes people want to sit, grab a beverage and some food, and stay awhile.
And, Mike Sudofsky hopes... the best French fries on the South Coast.
Those are the goals for the newly-opened Walrus & Captain, owned by Sudofsky and his wife, Kate, and located in the Ropewalk plaza on Route 6, which the couple also owns and manages.
The Marion residents are no strangers to property management. In addition to the Ropewalk, which their company, Sky Development, acquired in 2015, they own the historic building at 163 Front Street in Marion (home to Sippican Week) and partnered with the Sippican Historical Society and the Croll Foundation to purchase and preserve the historic Capt. Hadley House on Route 6 in Marion when CVS reps were looking to bulldoze the home-turned-office-building to build a pharmacy.
The Walrus & Captain, however, is the couple's first foray into the restaurant business. It occupies the space that formerly housed Panino's and was most recently vacated by Flour Girls, which remains in operation at its Fairhaven location.
The Sudofskys' renovation -- completed by Mattapoisett builder Dave Cabeceiras and partner Tracy Spangler -- exposed the building's high ceilings and added a large U-shaped bar and striking red paint complemented by shiny, white subway tile. It left the place nearly unrecognizable. In a good way.
In creating the Walrus & Captain, Sudofsky was inspired by the menus and atmospheres of bistros like Eastern Standard in Boston and the Balthazar Restaurant in New York City. He imagined a place like those in Mattapoisett, with a menu that would lend itself to many options. The kind of menu, Sudofsky noted, that would prompt people to "come anytime."
A menu that would be palatable to the clientele that frequents the Ropewalk, which features gift shop Isabelle's, new clothing store Belle's Boutique, specialty toy store No Kidding!, Boutique Fitness, Kitchens & Baths, and The Glossarie, a recently-opened "blow-dry bar" offering hair styling, spray tanning, and waxing.
"It's a bistro, which is simple, good, fast, food, available all day," Sudofsky explains, "with a boutique bar."
A boutique bar with a French wine list and full liquor license. On a recent Friday evening following the restaurant's official opening on the Tuesday prior, general manager and bartender Gary Rosa could be found slinging everything from carefully concocted wine spritzers to specialty cocktails and craft beer.
The bar was full. The nearby tables featured couples and friends dining together in addition to families with young children. The atmosphere was cozy. Friendly. Comfortable. That, Sudofsky said, was his vision.
The menu -- which is naturally gluten-friendly because the kitchen uses non-wheat flours -- is being perfected by Chef Bill Brandi, whose sous chef is his son, Coty.
The idea is that customers can mix and match the various items to create a custom meal. Everything on the menu is available all day. (Yes. Go ahead and order eggs at 7 p.m.) Bread is delivered by Hyannis-based Pain D'Avignon.
"Take a full bar," Sudofsky explained, "and drop it into Panera Bread."
The couple hopes the Walrus & Captain will add to the town's increasing culinary options. "We're not trying to go head to head with any of our neighbors," Sudofsky said.
Current entree offerings include braised short rib with Brandi's homemade port wine sauce, rosemary chicken, a NY strip with the chef's specialty herbed butter, a cod dish and a caprese dish.
Appetizers include homemade clam chowder, seasoned (and not) shoestring French fries, and quinoa cakes. Options for the health-conscious include increasingly popular açai berry bowls, cold-pressed fruit juice, smoothies (sans corn syrup), and salads.
The family connection doesn't stop with the Brandis in the kitchen. Four of the Sudofskys' five children work at the restaurant (the youngest is 12, but ready to join).
The early feedback for the Ropewalk's new anchor tenant has been promising.
"So many people have up come to us and thanked us," said Kate Sudofsky.
The Walrus & Captain is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. In addition to bar and table seating, the restaurant features outdoor patio seating. The Ropewalk is located at 33 County Road, Mattapoisett. For more information, visit the Walrus & Captain on Facebook.