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A win win WIN at Judy’s Bar + Kitchen, Stamford (Review)

9 Oct

A while back, our friend Terri Smith, who curates Franklin Street Works in Stamford, reached out for help in creating a fun experience for their annual fundraiser event: the opportunity to review a restaurant with yours truly. We were completely on board (hey, anything for a great local charity), but wanted to pick the perfect restaurant for the experience. We immediately thought of Judy’s Bar + Kitchen, and being the good soul she is, Chef Judith Roll (also of Tabouli Grill) was totally on board! Skip ahead to the fundraiser event, and wouldn’t you know, our friends John and Lori Beth won! That’s the first and second “win” of our win, win, WIN. So, for our first (admittedly overdue) review back, we’re sharing not just our own thoughts, but also what our friends thought about this Stamford hotspot.

First of all, let’s just say how excited we were to be at Judy’s, having been major fans of Chef Roll since we lived in Stamford the first time around ’07-’13 and ordered Tabouli Grill on the regular. And while the Judy’s Bar & Kitchen concept is VERY different, with down home BBQ and comfort food and killer cocktails, we just knew we were going to be in for a treat! (That’s the third WIN, for those of you keeping track with the title.) Continue reading

Teff Stamford: A Hands-on Review of Ethiopian and Eritrean Cuisine

14 Mar

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Have you ever gone to another country, sat down at a nice restaurant, then realize you have no idea what the hell is on the menu because it’s not in English? And at this point you’re all excited because this is what you wanted, a legit cultural experience (no English menus with pictures for you, no way), but at the same time you’re terrified you might order the fried beetles or something like that? Yeah, that’s how we felt when we sat down to eat with our friends Kirk and Nicole at Teff, an Ethiopian and Eritrean restaurant that recently opened in Stamford.

Sure, we’ve tried a lot of different foods in our day, but we had never had Ethiopian before, so we weren’t entirely sure what to expect. What we did know from a little pre-research is that instead of utensils, you rip off bits of special injera (crepe-like, spongy, and gluten-free made from the teff grain) and use them to scoop up your food. Aside from that, we really knew nothing, and that kind of excited us.

Immediately, we were put at ease by our waiter who took us through the menu and answered all of our questions. Speaking of the menu, it’s very interesting and so unlike any other type of restaurant. There are just two injera-based appetizers on the menu, the rest are portions of meat, veggies, stews, and sautees that come in platters on top of the injera. Most of the dishes are cooking for hours before you even get there at a pre-determined spice level, but if you order a “Tibs” dish, which are made to order, you get the option of mild, medium, or spicy (which actually isn’t too spicy at all). And, even with less options than we’re used to at other restaurants, there is sure to be something that appeals to you, even if you’re gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, or vegan.

Dan went with the Siga Altecha and the Dorho Wat for his meat entrees, and the Shiro, Dinich, and Ful as his three sides for ordering the meat tasting. What are those, you might ask? Read on Omnomivores, read on . . .

Siga Altecha: tender pieces of beef simmered in a mild sauce of Ethiopian curry powder, clarified spiced butter seasoned with garlic, rosemary, ginger and jalapenos (mild)

The steak was amazingly fragrant and had a nice undertone of butter and spices. There was a mild heat going on here, too, which made the meat even better. Some of the pieces were a bit closer to well-done rather than rare (most other cultures cook their meat more than us bloody steak loving Americans), but overall a great choice.

Dorho Wat: tender pieces of chicken leg and thigh slow-simmered in a spicy sauce seasoned with spices and herbs.

This is where it was at! Man, that chicken just fell right off the bone with a simple tug of the fork. And, in terms of flavor, awesome. It was rich, decadent, and had a nice spice level to it.

Shiro: pureed split peas cooked with red onions and garlic (mild.)

So silky smooth. Great by itself with some injera, or it was also nice to add with some of the steak or chicken. Cross pollination all the way.

Dinich: potatoes and cabbage simmered in a spicy sauce seasoned with spices and herbs (medium.)

Probably Dan’s least favorite. It was good, but needed some more flavor and salt. Still, it was good to mix it up with the other dishes.

Ful: fava beans slow-simmered with garlic and cumin topped with a colorful medley of red onions, tomatoes, and jalapenos, tossed with olive oil.

This was a great choice and had a burst of flavors like tangy, spicy, starchy, and acidic.

Kristien ordered the Bey’geh Tibs (spicy) and picked the Ingudai Tibs (medium) and Kik Aletcha as her two vegan sides.

Bey’geh Tibs: cubed lamb marinated and sauteed with berbere, clarified spiced butter, onions, garlic, jalapeños, fresh tomato, herbs and spiced 

The lamb was nice and tender as it should be and the sauce was well-balanced with acidity from the tomato, a kick from the jalapeño, and a richness from the butter. And it had just the right amount of spices to give the dish a unique and distinct taste, without overpowering. Very delicious.

Ingudai Tibs: portobello mushrooms marinated and sautéed with red onions, garlic, jalapeño pepper, fresh tomato, herbs and spices 

This was a great complement to the lamb, bringing a nice earthiness that was, again, rounded out with the tomatoes and jalapeños. Here, too, the spices were perfectly done.

Kik Aletcha: yellow split peas simmered in a mild and flavorful onion and herb sauce

This ended up serving as a great sort of condiment (like the consistency of hummus) to bring the two other parts of this dish together. With every piece of injeri, Kristien would grab a bit of this mild, rich, and creamy dish and then add the meat and veggies on top. It worked REALLY well.

Final Thoughts

Eating at Teff was a fun, interactive, and nomworthy experience that we definitely recommend. The food was excellent, the service was fantastic, prices were affordable ($120 for four people!) and the free BYOB experience can’t be beat. But, you best bring in all your bottles soon if that’s your style because they’ll soon have craft cocktails, world wines, and African beer starting on 3/30. Even still, BYOB will continue, but there will be a corkage fee of $25. All in, we are super excited to go back to try more dishes. You should most definitely dig on in, too!

Teff

Noms: 4.25

Cost: $$-$$$

Hours:  5-10, Wednesday-Sunday

Delivery and pick-up available

Address: 113 West Main Street

                  Stamford, CT 06902

Phone: (203) 998-7474

Craft Beer vs. Pub Grub @ The Crafty Monk – Black Rock (Review)

16 Nov

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After checking out the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and Utica Comets game with our friends John and Jenn (we won’t tell you who we were rooting for), we left with a thirst and hunger. We had lots of ideas in our heads with so many restaurants right in the Black Rock area, but since we felt like getting a few good brews, we decided to hit up The Crafty Monk. It’s located where The Field used to be. When we lived in Black Rock, we were regulars there . . . well, before it turned into a night club and a party scene. But, the original owners are back and turned it into a beer-filled gastropub.

Firefly Hollow Cone Flakes DIPASpeaking of beer, there was a nice variety of styles, a solid focus on CT beer, and just good craft beer in general with 40 on tap and 30 in bottles or cans. Dan was hoping to get a taste of Firefly Hollow’s Train’s Best ESB that had just won 1st place in the International Beer Competition, but they were out . . . but our waiter (who happened to be Kristien’s former client) came to the rescue by telling us that their Cone Flakes DIPA was on tap. Score!

Fried pickles at The Crafty Monk in Black Rock, CTOkay, onto the food. What you see is what you get: it’s offical pub grub with a variety of apps and entrees. We decided to do a little of both to get a taste of what the food was all about. Up first were the fried pickles. The breading wasn’t too thick and had some nice herby notes to it, while the pickles were nice and juicy with each bite. But, they don’t expect you to eat ’em just like that, nope: you get three housemade sauces. There was a Wasabi which was our favorite with a nice spicy kick, there was the Black Pepper which was light and refreshing, and the Chipotle that was smoky with a nice little kick. They also have Cajun, Curry, and Pesto if you dig that style. 

Buffalo Garlic wings at The Crafty Monk in Black Rock, CTUp next were the wings, which come in buffalo, bbq, garlic parmesan, and orange chili-glazed flavors. We weren’t really sure what to get, but our server suggested we try this new combo that people have been asking for: buffalo garlic. Both flavors worked very nicely together, with neither taking over too much but blending in well. The skin was a bit crispy, but we would have liked more crunch. The meat, though, was plenty juicy which we think is just as important as that crispy skin.

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich at The Crafty Monk in Black Rock, CTThen our sandwiches hit the table after a few more brewskis. John had the Pulled Pork with an artisanal baguette which he liked, but it wasn’t anything that amazed him . . . just your typical kinda pulled pork sandwich. Dan had the Merry Monk Burger which he ordered medium rare, but it came out a medium well. But, even still, it was pretty juicy with a nice, rich and fresh flavor. The chipotle aioli added a nice smokiness and the egg added a fatty savoriness to it. With those burgers came some, of course, house cut fries. They were plenty crispy, but needed a little more salt to really bring out the flavor more.

Turkey burger at The Crafty Monk in Black Rock, CTKristien ordered the turkey burger which came out super juicy. The jalapenos that you get to load on to your own delight (or demise) were spicy and added a nice contrast. But, we either didn’t taste the cranberry or they forgot it. Maybe because of this or something else, we felt like the turkey burger needed something else. So, Kristien and Jenn added some of the Black Pepper aioli from before and that definitely helped.

The Merry Monk Burgerat The Crafty Monk in Black Rock, CTFrom all our brews and snacks at the game, we were stuffed and ended there. But, we felt like we had a good handle on The Crafty Monk. It’s a solid spot to go if you want to sit at their massive bar, order some nice craft beer, and watch a game on TV. In terms of food, there were definitely some inconsistencies in almost all that we had. We’d say if you go here with expectations of the standard pub grub experience you’ll be fine, but the beer definitely wins out here.

The Crafty Monk

Noms: 3.25

Cost: $$-$$$

Address: 3001 Fairfield Avenue

                Bridgeport, CT

The Beer Garden @ Shippan Landing Opening Food Truck Schedule and Memorial Day Party Info

21 May

You’ve all been good boys and girls (well, most of you), so we’ve got some great news to share with you: today marks the seasonal opening of The Beer Garden at Shippan Landing. If you remember, The Beer Garden opened two years ago where Paloma is now and changed venues last year to its current spot at 290 Harbor Drive. When we visited last year, things were more chill, more open, and felt like a little getaway.

Well, they’re back and back with a vengeance: they’ll be open Wednesday-Thursday from 4-11 and Friday-Saturday from 3-12. You can also expect to see more craft and local brews on tap and in cans including Half Full, Broad Brook, and Captain Lawrence. They will also have plenty of games like cornhole, a hugeass Jenga set, a new favorite called Kan Jam, and even beer pong.  They have lots of events, specials, and deals that are planned this summer, so make sure that you keep up with us and with them on FB and on their Instagram page.

Now, although they are still finalizing their food truck schedule for the entire summer, we’ve got the deets on Thursday-Sunday’s trucks and the Memorial Day Party on Sunday:

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CT Food News, Vol. 33: Cheesetopia, Tastings, BYOB, Contests, Props, #CTbeer + More

26 Mar

Here we are with the first full week of spring, so you better get yourself in gear, get out there and conquer the world. We’ve got a ton of dinners, events, deals, contests, national recognition props, and beer news to getcha going.

p.s. Don’t look at Saturday’s forecast.


Events

3/26-4/5 Neighbor to Neighbor is hosting a PB&J Food Drive, arguably one of the coolest things ever. Brings jars of peanut butter to Diamond Hill U.M. Church in Cos Cob and bring jars of jams and jellies to Little Pub Greenwich.

3/27 Harry’s in Fairfield is hosting a Left Hand Brewing beer tasting from 4-7. They’ll be sampling their Milk Stout, Black Jack Porter, and Milk Stout Nitro.

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A Prime brunch on a dime @ Washington Prime

15 Mar

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When we heard a brunch buffet was coming to SoNo we had our doubts. When we hear the word buffet we get an immediate scowl on our faces. I mean let’s face it, there are plenty ‘o crappy buffets out there, packed full of stale, processed, fatty, fried, foods that are luke warm at best. On the flip side, we love us some brunch . . . except for the price tag that often comes along with it. So we figured, if the brunch buffet was actually going to be any good, well, then we assumed it was going to cost a stupid amount of money. Here’s the thing though (spoiler alert), the brunch at Washington Prime was actually delish AND, at just $29.95 a person, yep you read that right, it’s frickin’ dirt cheap. Especially when you see what that gets you. Let’s do this . . .

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Rizzuto’s in Bethel Celebrates 10 Years w/ Prix Fixe Deals from 1/25-2/21

16 Jan

Rizzuto's Bethel 10 Year Anniversary

In December of 2004, Bill Rizzuto started Rizzuto’s in Bethel. The menu featured good, classic Italian dishes paired with brick oven pies fresh out of the oven. As the success for the Bethel restaurant grew, Bill expanded Rizzuto’s into West Hartford, Westport, and Stamford. With expansion also came evolution, as they began to focus more on small plates, drink selection, and new concepts like recently adding more of a sports vibe to their Stamford spot.

To celebrate their continued success, Bill and everybody at Rizzuto’s Bethel will be offering up deals from 1/25-2/21 (not including Valentine’s Day). Lunch will cost you just $10 ($1 for every year) and dinner will set you back only $20.04 (2004, get it?)

Rizzuto’s Bethel is located at 6 Stony Hill Road.

Pickle Box Sandwich Co. Launches in Greenwich; Deals Galore

15 Jan
Great news for the breakfast and lunch crowd in and around Greenwich: Leafline Salad, located at 41 Greenwich Avenue, has expanded their reach. Known for their awesome salads (their own creations or you can make your own), soups, and snacks, Leafline is offering more to customers through Pickle Box Sandwich Co., located right inside of their Greenwich Avenue location.
 
Like Leafline, you can order pick up, delivery via Seamless.com, or can eat in. Some of the options that we can’t wait to try are Chips & Dip, salads and sides, Chef Crafted Sandwich Boxed Lunches, Craft Your Own Sandwich Boxed Lunches, and Sweet/Savory Snacks. In terms of choices, the Boxed Lunches seem to stand out to us the most because they include a complete meal from $8.99-$10.99. We’re excited to try the Meat and Potatoes that comes with Roast Beef, Provolone, sea salt potato chips, onion and horseradish mayo, all served on sourdough. But, just as exciting is the Saddled Reuben that features roast turkey, Swiss, horseradish coleslaw, BBQ chips, and pickled Russian dressing on marble rye. Also of note is that there are plenty of vegetarian and even vegan options, too.

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The NEW Georgetown Saloon: same chill vibe, now w/ awesome menu to match! – Redding, CT

14 Jan

The OLD Georgetown Saloon was known for that no frills, down and dirty, neighborhood dive bar vibe that locals can’t get enough of. The NEW Georgetown Saloon still is that, but this time around new owner, Chris Forland, and new chef, John Brennan (formerly Executive Chef of Plan B Burger Bar) kicked it up about a million notches with kickass, modern comfort food and creative cocktails that fit the vibe perfectly. So in honor of that super chill vibe, let’s just get down and dirty with the experience, food, and cocktails.

The Experience

From what our friends tell us, the restaurant itself still has a lot of the same decor elements it had back in the day, but Chef Brennan himself amped it up by picking out some new, fun, modern additions (like graffiti), perfecting that neighborhood, roadhouse vibe that makes you want to hang there all night. There’s still a great stage for fun entertainment (we were there for Open Mic Night on Thursday) and TVs for the sports lovers. In fact, once the word gets out about all the new awesomeness Georgetown Saloon has to offer, we can see this place getting PACKED with fun entertainment every night.

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(Om + Nom) x (Brick + Wood) = ♥ in Fairfield, CT

12 Jan

Brick Wood Pizza Oven EatOmNomCT

Look, there are tons of Italian restaurants in CT, especially in Fairfield County. Some of ’em you can love, some you can just like, and some you can say aren’t even as good as Olive Garden (and that’s saying something). Well, after our press dinner we think Brick + Wood, the newest Italian spot to open in Fairfield in November 2014, is one you can love. We’re gonna break down the reasons why . . .

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