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ARTISAN … CULINARY CREATIVITY COLLIDES WITH EXQUISITE DESIGN

Serving Up Divine Food with an Uber Chic Vibe

Whether you’re looking for an elegant dining atmosphere, a cozy tavern feeling, or a gorgeous outdoor patio experience, complete with a highly coveted world-class menu, you can find it all in one place at Southport’s legendary neighborhood spot, Artisan. 

Drawing its name from the bevy of talented artists involved in its inception, the vibe at Artisan is that of astonishing beauty. Whether it’s the rare pewter bar top from France, or the ironwork at the bar and in Copper Room (their private dining room) made by a local Brooklyn ironworker, or the Scandinavian fireplace built by a Norwegian builder flown in for that purpose, Artisan celebrates global craftsmanship at its finest. And we haven’t even gotten to the food yet.

Artisan is part of Greenwich Hospitality Group, founded by Charles Mallory. Mallory and Executive Chef-Partner, Frederic Kieffer, combined their experience and expertise over a decade ago to create a unique and innovative casual/fine dining restaurant. The New England-inspired American farm-to-table cuisine abundantly evolves with the seasons.  As a Chef managed establishment, Artisan Restaurant truly offers a one-of-a-kind experience. The gorgeous dining room conveys the charm of a countryside living room paired with a bar/lounge designed to capture the energy of a tavern. The outdoor patio is a rustic chic haven tucked away in a magical courtyard.

Chef Frederic Keiffer came to Fairfield County via Paris and New York City. Having grown up in the countryside west of Paris, Kieffer spent his summers working in local restaurants where he discovered a true passion. He studied cooking for six years — apprenticing all over the Paris restaurant scene and graduating from L’École Supérieure de Cuisine Française (ESCF-Ferrandi). His career began in the kitchen of Tentation Caterers, running the culinary arm of The Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. After working at New York City’s Water’s Edge and Man Ray Restaurant, he had the opportunity to open l’escale at the Delamar Greenwich Harbor Hotel. In 2011, Chef Kieffer became Executive Chef and Partner of Artisan. 

We were thrilled to sit down with Chef Kieffer for an enlightening culinary conversation.

How would you describe Artisan to someone who’s never been?

It is a little bit of a hidden gem tucked away from the Fairfield downtown with beautiful outdoor dining for spring/summer days and warm and cozy indoor dining for the fall/winter months. 

When did Artisan first open and how have things evolved since the very beginning? 

We have been open since 2011 and have had a very organic growth. Since we are located at the Delamar Hotel, rather than downtown with street and foot traffic, we really had to rely on word of mouth and the community at large to grow.   

Since Artisan began over a decade ago, what’s changed on the business front? 

We have noticed that our clientele has changed over the years, especially lately. Some of our initial guests have relocated, but we have also seen an influx of new guests, especially since the pandemic began. Overall, this is a good thing. It also means that it is like a new opening, so we have the opportunity to once again gain the trust and loyalty of these new guests.

How would you describe yourself as a chef?

Passionate, I love what I do and would not change it for anything in this world. There are so many facets to being a chef. We affect not only our guests with our food, but also our coworkers with inspiration, and the multitude of people that work to harvest/make the product that we use daily. 

Which famous chef do you admire most and why?

There are a few, but the ones I like are rarely in the everyday news, they spend their time working on their craft and/or helping the industry.

When it comes to seasonal menu planning, what inspires you?

Everything that is available or grows at that precise moment.

How important is sustainability in the overall mission of The Artisan?

Sustainability is one of the most important responsibilities of a modern Chef, other than inspiring the next generation of Chefs. We cannot be perfect, but we try our best in every decision that we make to have the least negative impact on our world.

What role does The Artisan play in supporting the local community?

It is always an ongoing process. We have established relationships with local farmers and butchers including Custom Meats, the Fairfield Cheese Company, and also fish companies that work directly with local fishermen. 

Is the vibe of The Artisan formal fine dining or more neighborhood casual? 

There is nothing formal about Artisan, it is definitely a neighborhood place where good vibes, attentive service, and well-executed, unpretentious meals are served. 

If you weren’t the chef and you came in for dinner, which room would you sit in and what would you order?

Definitely outdoors on the patio or in the tavern. The menu changes frequently so not everything is available year-round, but I think I would go for the clam chowder, the venison carpaccio (seasonal) the chicken liver mousse, the pig croquettes (fall) the gazpacho, and the halibut cheeks. 

Most popular dish on the menu?

Clam Chowder

Maryland or Florida Crab Cake

Fried Pickles

Cioppino

Lobster Fra Diavolo

Hanger Steak

Caramel Cheesecake

If the world ended tomorrow, what would be your last meal?

The world won’t end tomorrow, so I keep on cooking. 

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