There’s something about going out for dinner in urban, ever-changing SoNo that feels like a night on the town. The energy invites people to linger. Washington Prime (WP) plays right into that vibe with a menu loaded with small plates, plus a high-energy happy hour. Set in an industrial space in the old Ironworks building at the corner of Washington and Water streets, it’s both a New American watering hole and contemporary steakhouse. WP is a partnership of restaurateurs Rob Moss and Marco Siguenza. Moss counts Red Lulu in SoNo and Oak Longbar & Kitchen in Boston among his successes, while Siguenza helped to launch 55 Degrees in Fairfield and Scena in Darien. The team recently brought in a new executive chef, Howard McCall Jr., to head up the kitchen at WP.
Happy hour happens between 4 and 6 p.m., seven days a week. We arrived for dinner on a Thursday just as it was ending. The restaurant’s versatile seating suits every party, whether you’re out for a date night or with a group of friends. There’s a large marble-topped bar in front, bar tables with high-top seating, regular-height walnut tables, rounded booths and, in the back, a private dining room with a wall displaying hundreds of wine bottles. Sidewalk seating is available, too. We opted for the privacy of one of the booths with its cocoon-like burgundy leather seat, so we could focus on the food.
You can easily make a meal from the salads, sides and small plates, which include comfort food with creative flourishes. Deviled eggs take on a new level of indulgence at WP as they are paired with meatballs and laced with foie gras. The chef cuts to the meaty chase with an appetizer that’s strictly slab bacon, straight up with pepper and foie gras powder. What’s not to love? But our favorite starter is the octopus, tender morsels paired with duck-fat rendered baby purple and white potatoes, pickled onions and red peppers. Also, the creamless lobster bisque was particularly good, deriving intense flavor from its rich broth.
For entrées, you can’t miss with the beautifully charred ribeye, which is flavorful on its own but enhanced by a choice of sauces, ranging from classics such as horseradish or béarnaise to the intriguing maple-chili and an “unami bomb.” The salmon, a newer dish on the menu, is served on a bed of braised kale and lentils with a lemon dill sauce—probably the lightest of the mains and very tasty. WP’s massive pork chop is well complemented by a cherry demi-glace, greens and a mushroom risotto; the portion is enough for three people.
Desserts appealed to the kid in us, with options like a chocolate chip ice cream sandwich, a chocolate bombe tartufo and a caramel-tinged cheesecake. We couldn’t resist the chef’s chunky monkey special; brownies laden with bites of chocolate, bananas with a caramel crunch and layers of whipped cream. This lush concoction went down even more smoothly with a Latin-style cappuccino to cap the meal. With its clever menu, lively scene and party-like atmosphere, this new SoNo hot spot is just hitting its prime.
141 S. Washington St., South Norwalk, 203-857-1314
Mon. & Tues: 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Wed. & Thurs.: 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Fri. & Sat.: 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Sun.: 11:30 a.m to 1 a.m.