Faces, places, treasures, and trends that caught our attention
Owner & CheF JOel Viehland, as phOtOgraphed by eVan sung

Swyft Opens with Great Fanfare

Chef Joel Viehland has opened Swyft, his new restaurant in Kent and it is worth the trip! Formerly the chef of Community table, his menu offerings are healthy and delicious, with great flavors.

Award-winning Chef Joel Viehland has finally opened the first of his two new restaurants. The second, Ore Hill, will be launched in the near future. Together, the eateries offer two unique dining experiences in one historic destination: The Swift-Bull House was built circa 1781 by Asaph Swift, grandson of an Englishman, William Swyft, who had emigrated to America (spelling variations were common among the region’s early settlers). Located at the main intersection in Kent, the building has been updated and restored. With a chic yet simple facade, the interior is warm, modern and inviting, decorated with red-hued woods and a large fireplace.

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Swyft offers lunch, dinner, and brunch in a casual tavern setting. Have their delicious wood-fired pizza and a craft beer. On the second floor, Ore Hill will feature a farm-focused tasting menu in an intimate environment.

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Viehland, who is originally from Chicago and Milwaukee, has always loved food. His two early influences were his mother, who is a very talented baker, and his first chef/mentor in high school, Robert Wagner in Milwaukee. After graduating high school, Joel attended Culinary School at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI. “After culinary school, I worked for four years in NYC under Tom Colicchio and Katy Sparks in their respective restaurants. In 2001 I moved to New Orleans, LA, and spent seven years there. I worked for Donald Link, Emeril Lagasse, Susan Spicer, and Scott Boswell. In 2007, I spent 3 months working for Rene Redzepi at Noma in Copenhagen, DK. I returned to New Orleans, and shortly thereafter began making plans to move to Washington, CT, to open Community table.”

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As we all know, Community table was a huge success and brought Joel three James Beard nominations. Joel’s experience at Community table allowed him to closely network with local farmers and clientele in the area. It also helped him to further develop his skills as a chef. Owner and Chef Joel is honing these skills to bring us another great dining establishment. The website suggests, Swyft is a modern tavern serving wood-fired, farm-driven pizzas, shareable small plates, and seasonal entrees that aim to both comfort and inspire. Working closely with nearby Rock Cobble Farm, the food at Swyft follows the flavors of the seasons. The extensive beer selection offers a variety of local brews, while the cocktail and wine lists combine familiar favorites with new discoveries. With takeout and party space available and a family-friendly Sunday prix-fixe supper, Swyft is both a touchstone and a meeting point for Northwestern Connecticut and New York.

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Also on the website, a wonderful description of their special pizzas: With its thin, crisp crust and puffy, blistered edges, our Neapolitan-style wood-fired pizza reflects years of research–and eating–around the world. The dough is prepared using natural sourdough from a 30-year-old starter. Many of the seasonally changing toppings come from nearby Rock Cobble Farm, just minutes from the restaurant, including mozzarella and burrata, which we make in-house using their milk and cream. Crisped to perfection in a Pavesi oven made in Naples, Italy, the pizza at Swyft reflects our conviction that simplicity requires the most attention to detail. It’s available for takeout.

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You can choose from Red pizzas: Margherita, Rosso, Al Diavolo, Mo’ Cheeks or White Pizzas: Rhode Island, Calabria, The Mueller, and South Kent. For lunch, there are salads, sandwiches (Cubano is a favorite), Gumbo, old-school fries with beef tallow (heavenly and thin), and sauteed greens. Desserts include citrus cake, flourless chocolate cake, panna cotta, sobretto, and fior de latte. Small plates such as grilled sardines, mussels, baby back pork ribs, and gnocchi are on the menu. Dinner entrees include grilled swordfish, wood fired chicken, pasta bolognese, a Swyft burger, and rabbit Milanese.

Some of the popular dishes at Swyft are the wood-fired roast chicken, pork ribs, and pasta bolognese. As for pizzas, the Margherita and Al Diavolo, which includes soppressata and hot honey, are customer favorites.

To understand the difference between the two restaurants, we asked co-owner and business manager Audra Viehland to explain: “Swyft is a casual, a la carte restaurant that serves lunch and dinner. We take reservations at Swyft and also allow walk-ins. Ore Hill, on the other hand, will be a fine dining concept taking reservations only. We will serve dinner as a tasting menu with optional wine pairing.” We also asked what Anne Bass’s role is in the venture: “Ms. Anne Bass is our landlord. She also owns Rock Cobble Farm, which is a farm we work closely with for many of our ingredients.” So far, the community has been supportive and enthusiastic about the menu offerings and atmosphere at Swyft.

The long bar to the side of the dining area at Swyft also provides another level to the tavern. “We offer a wide selection of organic and natural wines, and we have an ever-changing, curated draught beer list. We try to source draughts that are harder to find in the area and are still delicious. The same can be said for our spirits. We’ve also been sure to stay within a reasonable price point (although we do offer “top shelf” products as well) and have chosen wines, draughts, and created cocktails that pair well with our food menu.”

Owner & CheF JOel Viehland, as phOtOgraphed by eVan sung

We asked the owners about their hopes and plans for the future of the new restaurants: “Our most immediate plan is to open the patio at Swyft as soon as the weather allows. This will increase seating by roughly 25-30 guests. As of yesterday, we opened our first Sunday brunch/early dinner, serving from 11:30 am-6:30 pm. Our hope is to remain in Kent and establish Ore Hill & Swyft as a dual concept, supported by high quality ingredients with dining options for everyone.”

Lunch – Wednesday – Saturday, 12 – 2:30 pm
Dinner – Tuesday – Saturday, 5:30 – 10 pm
Brunch & Early Dinner – Sunday, 11:30 am – 6:30 pm
Happy Hour – Wednesday – Saturday, 4:30 – 5:30 pm

To inquire about gift cards, call or email.
To place a takeout order: 860.592.0404

Ore Hill & Swyft
3 Maple