Artisan Restaurant Melds Swedish Design with New England Sensibilities
Though much of Connecticut’s Gold Coast has been influenced by mid-century Scandinavian design—it was home to famed Danish designer Jens Risom—the Capital Region has taken its cue from more historical styles. Case in point: the Gustavian-inspired restaurant Artisan in West Hartford.
Opened in the fall of 2017 inside the new Delamar Hotel, the restaurant is the brainchild of restaurateur Rick Wahlstedt, who, after the success of Artisan’s first location in Southport, has transported the eighteenth-century farmhouse aesthetic of his native Sweden to this tony New England town. Without being overly anachronistic, the design balances the historic with the contemporary—weaving together such elements as a Gustavian-style dining table and chairs with Montreal-based studio Lumid’s custom copper-string chandeliers in the private dining space. Down the hall, in the main dining area, a nearly floor-to-ceiling mural of leafy figs hand-painted by Stockholm-based artist Jonas Wickman adds a burst of color to the room’s otherwise quiet palette and pine-plank floors. Wickman’s equally impressive magnolia mural graces the walls of the Southport location.
Adjoining the dining room, a more rustic tavern also benefits from Wickman’s painterly touch, with a mural of colossal, blooming tobacco fields—a reference to northeast Connecticut’s agricultural past. A French pewter bar top by L'étainier Tourangeau of Montbazon, France, anchors the room, and offers a nice counterpoint to the hand-laid bricks (9,000, to be exact), arranged in a herringbone pattern on the floor. If you can’t nab a seat at the bar, then find a spot on one of the Gripsholm-style sofas next to the farmhouse tile fireplace, designed by Gabriel Keramik of Timmernabben, Sweden—particularly coveted real estate on a cold, wintery evening. On warmer days, in summer or fall, guests can dine in the sprawling garden or under the pergola, with a view of Artisan’s own garden, from which it sources much of the produce in its dishes.
The menu from Chef Frederic Kieffer is as artfully curated as the restaurant’s interior, with locally and seasonally inspired New England dishes organized into four sections: “The Garden,” “The Mill,” “The Sea,” and “The Land.” Highlights include the lobster tagliatelle and the Rohan duck breast with a parsnip puree, as well as an exhaustive wine menu.
The Artisan is not only a good excuse to have a night out but also to indulge in a weekend away at the Delamar. The new boutique hotel is LEED Gold certified, and in addition to the restaurant and bar, boasts a luxurious spa, offering an array of treatments. One of the more compelling features is the hotel’s partnership with the New Britain Museum of American Art, which brings the nearby institution’s fine art collections right to guests with rotating exhibitions, such as the inaugural show, East & West Coast Cool: American Art, 1960s, which included works by Robert Indiana, Andy Warhol, and Ed Ruscha. A more recent exhibition displayed a selection of photography by actor-director Dennis Hopper.