A World of Flavors, Local Flare @ Harlan Social – Stamford (Harbor Point), CT

23 May

What to look forward to:  all photos by Evan Sung

Grand Opening – Tuesday, August 7th!
– Lunch service begins Wednesday, August 8th
– Brunch service begins Sunday, August 12th

Executive Chef Stephen Lewandowski has been all across the world, and has honed his culinary skills at some of the best restaurants in NYC.  We’re talking about Executive Chef at restaurants such as Tribeca Grill and the Myriad Restaurant Group.  As the opening of Lewandowski’s new spot drew near, we began to wonder about his new gig over at Harlan Social in Harbor Point, Stamford that would be opening in mere weeks.  How was construction going, what is his philosophy on food, what would be the focus of Harlan Social, and what would Harlan Social add to Stamford?  Well, we took our questions and released them upon a very kind, enthusiastic, and passionate Chef Lewandowski.

International Local Flavor Factor

Stephen has made it clear that he’s in love with travel and food from across the world.  On the Harlan Social Site, he says that he’s been to over 30 countries.  When I asked him about his favorite cuisine, he hesitated a bit.  “I can’t pinpoint my favorite, but I did enjoy Vietnam a lot.  The history, the culture, and the different flavor profiles of the food over there are amazing.”  Another great trip he had was to Southern Bulgaria, in a small mountainous farm area.  He relaxed and ate freshly made cheese with cucumber, tomato, and just-picked basil.  “The food was so simple,” Stephen excitedly shot out, “but so great.  Simple food.  They use the environment around them to craft their meals.”

This passion for local food shines through with the menu at Harlan Social.  The menu will change based on the season, but Chef Lewandowski doesn’t want to be limited to just that.  One of the greatest joys for him is changing up the menu whenever he wants.    Another great joy?  Translating the flavors and cuisines from his travels into amazing dishes such as plays on bánh mì and a braised short rib pierogie.

Snacks and Small Plates

Getting down to more of the food, Kristien and I noticed that the menu at Harlan Social is full of snacks and small plates, though there are entrées available also.  I asked Stephen why this was and he said that he loves a variety of food and choices.  “I want to take people out of the classical, ordinary, three course meal, ” Stephen proudly stated.  “You just order, food comes out…order a bunch of things, we’ll pace it out for you.”  There’s also a nice nod to vegetarian food because his wife, Heather Rae (Harlan is her maiden name), is veg herself.   Plain and simple, Harlan Social is taking a typical restaurant experience and is cooking outside of the box.

Events, Brunch and the Cheese Station (OMG)

At Harlan Social, they’ll be pulling some fresh mozzarella three times a day at the 13 seat cheese station.  Expect an amazing variety of other cheeses, too, that you can snack on while sipping on some wine, beer, or cocktails.  As for the events, get ready for some cooking classes that will teach you techniques, special food pairings, cheese nights, roast pig nights, wine tastings, and a natural chef’s table that makes it feel like you’re in the kitchen.  Harlan Social will also have a brunch that might prove to be a game changer.  Stephen told me there would be a big emphasis on the brunch.  “The cheese bar will turn into a crepe/waffle station and there will be one set price.”  We want brunch and cheese now…when can we start?

Drink Up!

Harlan Social will be featuring local and craft brews on tap, will have a nice wine menu, and will have fun and creative cocktails.  Drink up at your table or at the 55 person bar.  Yeah, that’s so big we can’t even imagine it!   Also, when you order a draft, check out where it’s coming from:  an iron clad draft beer cooler.  Swanky!

The Look, the Feel, of…Harlan

There certainly will be no lack of space at Harlan Social.  5,000 square feet with 20 foot high ceilings.  The dining area will be divided by a massively immense wine wall that measures in at 20 feet by 24 feet wide.  That will be a sight to be behold, but so will the ladder.  Yes, you know those fun ladders that hook onto library walls that can be slid across then climbed?  Yeah, they’ll have that!  The wall will not only be beautiful, but will also break the restaurant up into two parts.  The back half can be used for private dining that is attached to an outside patio.  Al fresco dining, here we come.

Stay Tuned

When we talked, there were a bunch of ideas floating around surrounding the opening.  Stephen talked about offering up special events and soft openings for their Facebook followers.  Some of the plans include a friends and family night and some special spots that might be auctioned off on the FB page.  You can’t get these chances unless you’re following, them, though.  So, keep an eye out for the opening of Harlan Social and check back here for a date, too.

They’ll be open when the timing is just right…you can’t rush culinary perfection.

Harlan Social (by Fairway Market)

Address:  121 Towne Street

Stamford, CT 06902

Phone:  (201) 264-7959

Harlan Social on Urbanspoon

15 Responses to “A World of Flavors, Local Flare @ Harlan Social – Stamford (Harbor Point), CT”

  1. C.Lewie August 3, 2012 at 7:32 pm #

    Awesome write up…. My uncle Stephen has been talking about opening his own restaurant since I was about 5, and now I’m 14 and he’s finally getting to fulfill his dream I couldn’t be happier for him. Can’t wait to go to Connecticut to see the new place!

    Like

  2. doc tari June 3, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

    Why does his menu have small plates? He is doing it purely because everyone else is doing it and it makes more money than a traditional menu…thats why. What we did not need is the 3 rd restaurant in the area to open with the name Social in it in the past year.

    Like

    • Dan Del Ferraro June 4, 2012 at 7:31 am #

      I don’t think you actually make more money than you do with a traditional menu. Small plates actually allow you to control yourself more in terms of portions and cost than a regular restaurant. The menu is designed, though, to also offer a regular dining experience if you so choose. Oftentimes, we’ve come out of small plates restaurants spending less than we did at a regular dining restaurant. It all depends on the prices of the individual restaurant.

      It’s hard to judge his motivations why, but it really highlights his love of working in different cuisines from across the world into dishes.

      We have Darien Social…what’s the other ______ Social you’re talking about?

      Like

  3. whitemist May 26, 2012 at 7:45 am #

    i have been trying to find out the name of this chef for some time but everyone at the “HD” “forgets” – thank you – unfortunately, i am not familiar with this chef, but looks real good

    Like

    • Dan Del Ferraro May 26, 2012 at 7:48 am #

      Glad we could help, whitemist. :) His food sounds very good and we love his philosophy on food and life. :) We’re excited for the opening date. :)

      Like

  4. uhcowboys May 24, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

    Nice writeup! Cant wait to have yet another awesome spot in Stamford. So I see that you place it in your “Bitchin Beer List” category! :) Any idea how bitchin? Lots of craft beers as well? Craft Beer scene in stamford is gonna be NASTY in a few months. BarQ, Half Full Brewery, Plan B and I’m hoping Dino BBQ has a nice list too (can’t find a beer list for any of their locations on their website, tho with good BBQ usually comes good Beer)

    Like

    • Dan Del Ferraro May 24, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

      Thanks :) Yeah, we’re putting it in Bitchin’ Beer List for Chef’s love of craft beer and local brews…but especially his love of creating pairings with food and beer. :)

      Like

    • Dan Del Ferraro May 24, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

      BTW…we’ve heard that at a Dinosaur Bar-b-que you can get growlers filled. Hmmm. Wouldn’t that be awesome here? :)

      Like

      • uhcowboys May 24, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

        Thats very very cool about Dinosaur Bar-b-que. Have you two ever been to one of their locations? Really looking forward to Harland Social too. Kinda funny that Harlan Social doesn’t have an exact opening date but they have a full website and menu to make us drool…whata teaseee

        Like

        • Dan Del Ferraro May 24, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

          We’ve been to the Syracuse spot. Kristien went to SU, so she knows Dino VERY well. We actually went before our wedding and I got my first taste. What I remember…awesome. :)

          As for Harlan Social, they are teases. A bigger tease? Probably the menu up there will be different because he likes to change things up, especially with the season. :)

          Like

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