Restaurant Review: Capers Restaurant Hits All the Right Notes

By Rosemarie T. Anner

  I must have passed the Capers restaurant a few dozen times at the junction where Greenwich skids into Port Chester, around the bend from Carvel, hugging Pasquale Restaurant on my right. It looked so humble opposite the behemoth Rye Ridge Tile, like a small box store with what
looked like a sun room tacked on the side overlooking a parking lot. Not quite the aesthetic, I thought, that draws in patrons.

So when I was invited to meet friends for lunch there one sunny day, I was a reluctant tagalong. I remembered the place when it was Mirage with walls best described as California Surfer decorated (I use the word lightly) with the owner’s collection of odds and ends. Mirage had a long bar where my grown children loved to sit and chat up the bartender as they nibbled their way through the entire menu until well past midnight.

Well, the long bar now sits in a pseudo-solarium that offers a view of Minis sitting alongside BMWs. The nondescript entry leads into a main dining room that might have slipped into the simple austerity of a cafe at a railroad depot. Sure, there’s a lot of wood, from floors to tables and chairs. But the tables have simple, handsome place mats, the salt and pepper shakers are
impressive, the wooden chair backs boast a graceful X design and the chairs are comfortable and roomy. The rotating gallery of art works that circumnavigate the walls elevate the ambiance considerably as does the greeting at the door by the very friendly staff.

And then there’s the river. Capers huddles so close to the Byram River on the window side that if the river ever swelled to flood height, the restaurant would float out to the middle of the current and you would need a gangplank to reach it. If you’re lucky enough to snare a window-side table in the early evening before winter darkness grips the area, you are in for a treat with a view you won’t want to miss.

On a warm fall day, when the river looked serene and riverbank grasses swayed in the mid-day sun, four of us each ordered a full dinner.

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We didn’t know we were that hungry until we read the menu. Then one evening, as we sipped a lovely lemony-mineral Sancerre and noshed on hummus brightened with paprika and really good bread brought up daily from Kneaded Bread down the road, an egret fiddled about on the wet grass on the opposite shore. When the velvetycream of cauliflower soup was served, warm not hot so I could taste the subtle seasoning as well as the vegetable, a school of woodland ducks paddled quickly upstream in perfect boot-camp formation and the egret had scooted up to a high tree limb bowing gracefully over the river.

While the waiter presented us with an assertively spiced Za’atar Crusted Halibut and a breaded veal cutlet so big under its simple mozzarella-enhanced arugula salad that you couldn’t see the plate (ditto the chicken paillard, albeit a breaded chicken breast pounded thin to a fare-thee-well), Canada geese chased the ducks while the egret spread its wings wide and gracefully flew upstream as if to say, can you top this?

Capers can. Now two years old, Capers has become a favorite haunt for the dining cognoscenti. One recent Saturday night every table was taken in the main dining room as well in the window-wrapped “patio”where the old bar is the feature furnishing. And no wonder. The food is billed as Mediterranean but the kitchen meanders here and there to other countries and other continents other than those that skirt the Mediterranean Sea.

So if you don’t feel like having the Italian favorite Chicken Allo Scarpareillo (which I must admit I have never had it cooked with broccoli, but who am I to quibble when this version is so tasty with its sting of cherry peppers), or the Veal Milanese with arugula, tomatoes and mini mozzarella, you can skip across the map and order tuna cuddled with a wasabi cream cheese spread on flatbread or stay on American shores with a poached lobster salad with an outrageous number of calories with its yummy bacon, blue cheese, avocado and egg embellishments. So-o-o good.

A special another night had juicy prawns coddled in a bed of richly buttered mashed potatoes. What’s the point of dining out if you must count calories!

Capers aims to please all its clientele so the vegan will find vegetarian pasta on the menu. How nice to also see grains on the menu—farro, quinoa, falafel, tabbouleh—and roasted carrot or grilled cauliflower that strut a culinary comeuppance to hangar steak and grilled pork chop. Astonishingly there’s also an interloper: foie gras dumpling with French Perigord black truffle reduction just in case you thought the chef didn’t know haute cuisine.

There’s a surprisingly good wine list so that an oneophile would be pleasantly surprised at the selections. Capers is all about comfort: good food, pleasant surroundings, super friendly staff and sensible prices.

Capers is located at  531 North Main Street in Port Chester, NY 10573 Tel. 914-481-8833