Art on the Plate: The West End

Cape Cod Life  /  August 2020 /

Writer: Elizabeth Shaw / Photographer: Elizabeth Shaw 

Owners: Jen Villa & Blane Toedt • Chef: Joseph Ellia

Scallop Crudo: thinly sliced Cape scallops and shaved radishes, with a red chili mignette and citrus infused oil, garnished with edible flowers and micro-greens.

Just off Main Street Hyannis sits a time capsule. Guests can enjoy their cocktails and reminisce a bygone era of speakeasies, flappers and jazz. The dark wood running throughout the restaurant, vintage furniture, and the artwork transport guests back in time. The West End, opened in 2017 by Jen Villa, has created a name for itself among foodies on the Cape, not just for its striking interior, but for its elevated comfort food. 

Go behind the scenes at The West End!

For everyone involved, The West End is about creating memories. “It’s all about the details that make people feel special. We talk about that all the time before a shift. People aren’t just coming for dinner. We don’t know where they came from or where they’re going, but we have an opportunity to create something really special for them to remember, and hopefully make an impact on them,” Villa says of their goals at The West End. And, a place to make memories it is. Guests are greeted by a dark, warm wood entryway before stepping back in time to the 1920s. The wood is prevalent throughout the building, but décor and furniture give distinct vibes to each room. To the right, the bar and lounge embrace the dark wood with bright metal accents and a mix of worn leather high-back chairs and cool gray seats. Art deco wallpaper and era inspired artwork adorn the walls, while vintage lighting fixtures provide the ambiance. Beside the bar sits a mirror with frosted letters stating “Two Parts Local. One Part Social. Dash of vintage.” 

Buttermilk Fried Chicken: buttermilk soaked chicken thigh, lightly breaded and deep fried, placed on top of a bed of garlic and thyme mashed potatoes and green beans and topped with homemade gravy.

“We fell madly in love with this building, this historic, iconic building. We knew we wanted to create something really special in this place. The building is about 100-years-old, so I was incredibly inspired by the history. It had been a very well known restaurant for about 50 years; it was around when I, and many others on the Cape, were growing up, and many people know the history of this place. I wanted to use the old wood that was here, but bring a modern element to it so that it’s modern meets vintage,” Villa says of transforming the building into its glory today. Co-owner Blane Toedt echoes her statements, adding, “The décor is definitely different than most places here on the Cape, so that’s a big reason people come to visit. They want to see what we’re about. It’s an elevated atmosphere, but I find that people appreciate value here. But, we’re not overly upscale, so it’s a nice place for people to come in, feel like they’re at a city type restaurant, and get a wonderful dish, great service and a good value.”

In the kitchen, Chef Joseph Ellia prepares the dishes that keep people coming back for more. “I think the food kind of matches the experience, and the décor and the ambiance, where it’s comfortable, but elevated, something that’s different but not trying too hard,” says Villa of the menu. For Ellia, it’s just about making food people will love. “I want people to leave the West End full, satisfied and walking away with a great memory here. They know they can come here anytime and get an amazing meal and experience,” he says. While serving dishes like fried chicken, truffle tots and cheesecake may seem contradictory to the ambiance of The West End, the philosophy of everyone involved is really about providing an experience, the most important aspect of which is delicious food. “Dishes like the fried chicken are simple and comforting and it lets people know they can come here and get a dish like that, which is very casual. It’s just done with a little flare. You can still get your filets and high end dishes, but there are also comfort dishes available. One of my philosophies is, ‘Cook good food, it’s not rocket science.’ It’s comfort food done well, dressed up, and a great dish people really enjoy.”

Truffle Tots: Yukon gold potatoes, spices and herbs, shaped and fried, sprinkled with parmesan cheese and truffle oil.

Staples at The West End include the classic Buttermilk Fried Chicken, which is a buttermilk soaked chicken thigh that’s lightly breaded and deep fried, placed on top of a bed of garlic and thyme mashed potatoes and green beans and topped with homemade gravy. The menu includes appetizers for every palate, like the light and refreshing Scallop Crudo, a plate of thinly sliced Cape scallops and shaved radishes from the garden with a red chili mignette and citrus infused oil, garnished with edible flowers and micro-greens, also picked fresh from the garden. If you’re looking for a fan favorite, look no further than the Truffle Tots. Yukon gold potatoes, spices and herbs work together to create the beautifully soft and crispy fried bites, which are then sprinkled with parmesan cheese and truffle oil to create a dish that begs to be enjoyed time and time again. Those looking for more can indulge after their main course with the Orange Spiced Cranberry Cheesecake, created by pastry chef Matt Woods. A sweep of spiced cranberry jam forms the base for a pistachio crumb crust and soft, creamy orange infused cheesecake. Adorned with whipped cream and an edible flower, this cheesecake looks as beautiful as it tastes.

Orange Spiced Cranberry Cheesecake: spiced cranberry jam on the plate, topped by a pistachio crumb crust and orange infused cheesecake, finished with whipped cream and an edible flower.

Toedt says, “From the get go, the food’s always been made from scratch. It’s always been a kitchen that is doing 90 percent prep and 10 percent execution. There’s a lot of work that goes into that type of food.” The care and consideration that goes into every dish is evident not just in the taste and quality, but in the attention to detail that goes into the plating. The same can be said for The West End as a whole. Villa enthuses, “We wanted to create a place for the community to gather, to come and feel safe and invited. And now, more than ever, the Cape is such a tight knit community, and we’re committed to creating something special and uniting one another. We want to provide a place that feels fun, a place where everyone can gather together over beautiful food and drinks.”

For more Art on the Plate, click here!

Elizabeth Shaw

Elizabeth Shaw is a former assistant editor, photographer & videographer for Cape Cod Life Publications. Born and raised in Massachusetts, Elizabeth spent many summers on the Cape, before she and her family moved down full time in 2016. She graduated from the University of Rhode Island as a double major in Writing & Rhetoric and Film Media, and started at Cape Cod Life the following fall. In her free time, she takes as many pictures of her dog, Watson, as possible, in between beach trips.