Have you heard the rumor? It’s true. The Westport Yacht Club is open! What a thrill to experience this local summertime institution back in full swing.
A couple of tasty weeks into the summer 2018 season I can confidently say that Emily, Scott, and their enthusiastic team are off to an outstanding start.
After a one-season hiatus (Bernard and Rosemary Perillat retired and closed Le Bistro du Lac in the autumn of 2016.) this spectacular lakeside dining venue is open once more. Welcome back, Westport Yacht Club. We missed you.
Westport Yacht Club Backstory
It personally pleases me for so many reasons to celebrate this new chapter at the Westport Yacht Club (WYC), not the least of which is that I’ve known Scott Brankman and Emily Farnsworth-Brankman for decades. I’m 100% confident that this dynamic duo will transform the Westport Yacht Club into one of the hottest dining destinations on Lake Champlain.
Yes, I’m biased. But mark my words, and soon enough I’m confident you’ll agree with me.
It seems like yesterday that we were all teenagers and twenty-somethings living and working what we imagined were the best summers of our lives. (Who knew that summer would just continue to get better and better and better each year?!?!) I personally recollect working as a lunch and brunch waiter for Drew and Linda Sabella, the now retired chef/owners of Anthony’s Restaurant & Bistro in Plattsburgh, in the mid/late 1980s when they were running the WYC. Ah, nostalgia…
Scott and Emily have similar memories.
We’re so happy to be back in Westport and so grateful for the amazing opportunity of running the Yacht Club… Both of us worked in this building (Scott with Anthony’s and I with Le Bistro) when we were in our early 20’s. And, we’ve worked in many other restaurants in Westport including the Inn on the Library Lawn, Westport Hotel and Westport Country Club — where we met and got married! (Source: Emily Farnsworth-Brankman)
Chef Scott and his bride have deftly if unintentionally invoked nostalgia for many of us by returning to the original name. Despite Bernard and Rosemary running the restaurant for decades as Le Bistro du Lac, many of us have never quite been able to break the habit of calling it “The Yacht Club”.
Finally we’re back in sync with reality.
But there’s more than the sweet meat of memories fueling my enthusiasm for Scott and Emily’s new and improved Yacht Club.
Westport Yacht Club Reimagined
After almost two decades serving traditional French bistro fair, the menu will evolve to reflect the bounty of local food and beverage options being produced in our community. As a chef Scott Brankman is weaving fresh local ingredients into his vision of fusion American cuisine. And the result is exceptional.
Currently WYC’s local food and beverage purveyors include:
- Rolling Hills Farm, Westport (Pork)
- Spring Brook Farm, Westport (Maple Syrup)
- Sue Sherman via Bessboro Shop, Westport (Jam used in cocktails)
- Bessboro Builders, Westport (Flowers)
- Juniper Hill Farm, Wadhams (Vegetables)
- Dogwood Bakery, Wadhams (Sourdough Bread)
- Reber Rock Farm, Essex (Chicken)
- Champlain Valley Milling, Willsboro (Flour/Grain)
- Springbrook Hollow Farm Distillery, Queensbury (House Spirits)
- Saratoga Farmers Market, Saratoga Springs (Rhubard and Vegetables)
Emily explained to me that they plan to continue expanding this list of local sources as the season progresses.
Our food menu and Signature Cocktail list will change and evolve through out the summer as different ingredients come into season. We always want to keep it fresh and interesting! (Source: Emily Farnsworth-Brankman)
Not only does this bode well for diners, but it strikes me as an incredible opportunity for local farmers, beer and wine makers, food and beverage artisans, etc. I’m thrilled to see our community working in concert at yet another local eatery.
Here’s how the new restaurateurs describe their Westport Yacht Club restaurant
The restaurant, a long-time favorite of Lake Champlain boaters, first opened as a private club and was transformed into a public restaurant in the 1980s. Emily and Scott have family ties to Westport going back several generations. They currently own and operate Braeburn Tavern in Saratoga Springs, NY. Chef Scott’s seasonal menus specialize in American cuisine, drawing influences from his experiences in kitchens from Colorado to Boston to Southern California. Emily brings over 20 years of front-of-the-house experience to developing a creative drink menu and global wine list as well as managing a loyal team whose family-like dynamic provides uplifting service. Growing up, both owners have once worked Summer jobs in the Westport Yacht Club restaurant. They are looking forward to coming home and making the space their own. (Source: www.westportyachtclubny.com)
And everyone I’ve spoken to about the newly reopened WYC shares their optimism and enthusiasm.
The menu changes daily, but here’s an example from Wednesday, June 6, 2018. (Click image to enlarge.)
And to whet your appetite further, check out three recent dishes:
Hungry? In order (as you click through the slideshow) those dishes are:
- Lobster Toast, Homemade Brioche, Sherry Butter
- Crab Spaghetti, Basil-Ramp Pesto, Lemon Bread Crumbs
- Burger, Vermont Cheddar, House Steak Sauce, Crispy Onions, Homemade Chips
Reservations, Pre-Theater, Docking, Etc.
A few final thoughts before I sign off and let you head down to dinner at The Westport Yacht Club.
Starting in July, WYC will host a “Ledge Hill Brewing Night” on Wednesday nights. Ledge Hill Brewing Company owners Mathew Brankman (Chef Scott’s brother) and Emma Gibbs will supply their freshest beer of the moment, and Scott will create an à la carte tasting menu to pair. They plan to start serving the beer and bites pairing at 5:00 PM until they run out.
Emily recommends reservations (518-962-8777) for everyone, especially on Depot Theatre nights and Ballard Park events — “the earlier the better, as everyone will most likely want to dine and depart at the same time” — but she reassured me that walk-ins are always welcome. If you decide to eat at the WYC on a whim they “will be happy to accommodate.”
Emily pointed to that they have even added some “funky, casual seating on the side deck off the bar where people can enjoy a meal or sip a cocktail.” So, if you decide to swing by without a reservation, you just might have a really good excuse to try a WYC Signature Cocktail while gazing out over one of the finest views anywhere in the North Country.
And don’t forget, boaters are welcome. The docks will be fully usable as soon as the lake finishes retreating.
Getting to The Westport Yacht Club
So your taste buds are tingling, and you’re hoping to make a reservation, right? Here’s what you need to know.
- Location: 44 Old Arsenal Rd., Westport, NY 12993
- Telephone: 518-962-8777 (call for hours/schedule)
- Website: www.westportyachtclubny.com
- Instagram: @wyclakechamplain
- Facebook: @Westport-Yacht-Club
The Westport Yacht Club welcomes diners by air, land, and sea. There’s a solid concrete pier for boats to moor and a sizable sand beach where seaplanes can come ashore. And if you’re coming by land, here’s a handy map to help you find 44 Old Arsenal Road, Westport, NY 12936.
The Westport Yacht Club Gallery
The following photographs do not honestly do justice to this singular setting, however they may tempt you enough to discover WYC for yourself. See you at the “Yacht Club”!