Darien Restaurant Week led us to discover a star that’s been shining in Darien since September 1, 2010: Scena Wine Bar & Restaurant. Scena is the brainchild of the same owners of Cava in New Canaan and 55° Wine Bar & Restaurant in Fairfield. When we arrived, we enjoyed Scena’s decor, which had a modern sensibility to it, similar to the food. It’s rooted in real, classic Italian dishes and kinds of flavors, but it’s more than that. The food is deeper, more complex, and is even playful…more on that when we get to the Nutella Filled Crepe.
First, we looked through the extensive wine list for a nice red to go with our meal. There are bottles to go with anybody’s budget, low to high. We stuck with a nice $38 bottle of 2006 Masi Campofiorin from Verona. It was a nice bold red, but not too overpowering, with plenty of dark fruit flavors and a hint of chocolate at the finish. The perfect match to this was the Scena Antipasti that I ordered. House-made mozzarella lay before me, covered in a wonderful tomato jam. Next to that was an eggplant caponata whose smoky taste came from some pignolas. Add in some prosciutto di parma, two slices of parmesan, and sopresetta and I was feeling good. I give my compliments to the chef for this because the cheese and meat was fresh. There’s nothing worse than getting poor quality meats and cheeses in your antipasta…I think we’ve all had that experience. Kristien enjoyed the Crispy Fried Artichoke Salad with goat cheese, arugula, and pumpkin seed pesto. The salad was a perfect blend of ingredients and textures, though the pesto stood out in a good way and brought the whole starter together.
The main dish, Seafood Pan Roast, is what I was dying for and when it arrived I took a few deep breaths. Two perfectly cooked and seasoned scallops awaited me, towering above shrimp, lobster, clams, and mussels. All of this stood atop a beautifully prepared and slightly buttery herb risotto. Chunks of tomato were strewn about through the dish with a red broth, and added a nice acidity to the dish. The portion for this was nicely sized, but I couldn’t help but want more of the risotto. One pet peeve of mine, though, is that if you’re ordering a seafood dish, you should be given a bowl to put the shells in. I did a McGyver and put the shells on my bread plate–who says a Stamfordite can’t improvise? Kristien had the Wood Fire Roasted Free Range Chicken with spicy sausage, mushrooms, spinach, cherry peppers, and a side of whipped potatoes. The skin of the chicken was crispy and flavorful, even a bit peppery. The meat remained moist and wasn’t dry at all. It was hard to tell, though, if there was sausage in the dish. We would have loved to have that flavor pushed more forward into the plate along with more of a kick from spicier cherry peppers.
As we were thinking of dessert we began to have a nice conversation with the people next to us. Claude Priolet and Karen were the kind of people you’d want to share every dinner with. Kind, polite, and well spoken, they treated Kristien to an amazingly smooth Taylor Fladgate port and me to a strong shot of Grappa di Montalcino “Banfi.” Thanks, again, to both of you!
So, with that nice warm feeling of port and grappa creeping down our bodies, a divine crepe descended from heaven to our table. First of all, you’ve got banana gelato, drizzled with caramel, and sprinkled with toasted hazelnuts. Really, that’s all you’d need, but they aren’t happy with the same old standard. Enter some delicate crepes that are filled with nutella and you’ve really got a meal ender to end all meals.
We went back with a great couple, Megan and Ron, last night (10/22/11)and we all had an amazing meal. We just had to bump up the Nom rating from 3.75 to 4.25!
We decided that we’re definitely headed back because there were more “secondo” and freshly made pasta dishes to try. We’re talking 3.75 Noms with $$$ for price. This is definitely a place that has great, reliable, quality food that is worthy of return visits.
Cost: $$$Scena Wine Bar & Restaurant Address: 1077 Post Road, Darien, CT 06820 Phone: (203) 662-3226 Fax: (203) 662-3227
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Site: http://scenawinebar.com/ Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Scena-Wine-Bar-RestaurantDarien/173433756010597 Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/scenawinebar