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Jake’s Wayback Burgers Goes to the Way Back of Our List – Stamford, CT

27 Mar

They split their wieners here!

Let’s just get down to business, no messing around. I mean burgers are serious business, no? Jake’s Wayback Burgers opened up on Monday at their newest location, 324 Hope Street in Stamford. So, after taking a nice walk on Thursday, we figured we had earned a nice meal, so we hit up Jake’s. What? An hour walk doesn’t burn 1,000 calories? Psh, whatever.

Kristien wants crayons, but her excellent shading works, too. That art degree sure did pay off! ;)

Parking is a little tight here, but there is also some street parking if you can’t deal. But then again, it was pretty packed  from people wanting to try out the new spot in town and will likely not be as jammed in a few weeks.

When we walked in we thought the decor had a fun 50s vibe, back when burger joints were hip places to hang. Hungry and about to faint, we drooled over the menu:  hand-made burgers, hand-dipped milkshakes, hot dogs, chicken, sides, sandwiches, and salads.  We ordered a Junior Burger, Junior Cheeseburger, Chili Dog, Onion Rings, French Fries, Chocolate Banana Shake, and a Chocolate Strawberry Shake.  Here’s what we thought:


My Junior Burger, surrounded with a host of onion rings

You can just say “Everything,” and you’ll be given ketchup, mustard, pickles, raw onions, lettuce, and tomato on your burger.  Some other free extras are mayonnaise, grilled onions, jalapeños, relish, and sweet peppers.  Bacon, mushroom, and chili are 70 cents more each…not bad.  My burger was ordered with everything except the mustard with relish and jalapeño, too.  Kristien had hers the typical way:  everything, no mustard, add mayo, extra pickles. The bun wasn’t too thick at all which was good, but the patty was super thin, mushy and dry…reminiscent of McDonald’s. The burgers seemed to almost be fried because of the way the patty looked and how greasy it was, though we were told by the owner that they were grilled.  The toppings helped to make the flavor decent enough to eat, but the patty by itself was just blah.

Onion Rings and Fries

The onion rings had way more breading than we like, but were crispy and large.  The fries had some skin on them and were a little crispy but not ideal, plus they were luke-warm when they got to us which was disappointing.  The fries were better than Fives Guys‘, though.

Chili Dog

The chili had lots of flavor and spice.  They served the wiener split, and piled the divide with jalapeños.  It was a decent hot dog, but we prefer the hot dogs at Station Eats and even Dairy Inn. And don’t get us started on how much we love Super Duper Weenie!


Decent thickness for the Chocolate-Banana milkshake...yeah.

Kristien had the Chocolate Strawberry Milkshake, which had a very strong strawberry flavor.  It was served at a medium thickness, a bit thinner than mine.  My shake was Chocolate Banana and it had a very subtle banana flavor.  The thickness was right on and wasn’t too hard to drink.  I liked this shake, but Kristien prefers it thicker though she did like the flavor.

Overall Thoughts

Although Jake’s can be found all over the Northeast and is expanding month after month, we feel they could be skipped over in favor of other burger spots.  If you want a slightly better burger than McDonald’s or another fast food option, this is a good spot.  You can eat here, take your order home, you can call your order ahead, or even order online.  But, if you want a great burger, check out Station Eats in New Canaan and Stamford, Beach Burger in Norwalk, and Plan B Burger Bar later this year instead.

Jake’s Wayback Burgers

Noms: 2.75

Cost: $$

Address: 324 Hope Street

Stamford, CT

Phone: (203) 961-8700

Fax:  (203) 961-9722


Jakes Wayback Hamburger on Urbanspoon

Bartaco: They got half their name right and it’s not the taco part. – Stamford, CT + Port Chester, NY

5 Nov

Tacos at the Port Chester location...better than Stamford's?

Most people in Connecticut have been through the doors of a Barcelona restaurant, have sipped on sangria, and have fallen in love with their tapas.  So, when the same owners expanded with Bartaco in Port Chester, we were psyched but also wondered if they’d be able to keep the quality up while expanding so much.  Just months before we were disappointed with Barcelona Stamford as compared to the others – seemed like the sangria was weaker and the food just wasn’t up to par with their other spots.

Bartaco in Port Chester, NY

So, we decided to travel out to Port Chester and see what all the buzz was about.    It was a beautiful summer day so of course we sat outside in their really nice patio area.  In fact, the decor overall was really nice and cozy…when it’s not jammed to the walls with people, that is. Yeah, this place is always busy, so just be ready to do some waiting.  When we sat down we were given the DL on how things work.  Mark off what you want on the menu card, put it up on the metal arm, or if you have a question or need help, put up the dragonfly logo of Bartaco. Cool concept!

Not Tacos

We started with some guac that was not too bad, but maybe oversimplified with very little more than just some avocado, salt and a teeny squirt of lime. We also ordered a spicy cucumber salad that definitely had a kick, but didn’t have much else going on with it.  Again, boring and oversimplified. The cactus dish was fun, spicy, had a vinegary kick, and was just sweet enough to add a nice complexity to this dish. And lastly the grilled corn with lime and cotija cheese was nice in theory but the corn was mushy. Definitely not nearly as good as the same dish at Bodega in Fairfield.


For our meals we went crazy with a mix of Baja fish, pork al pastor, tamarind beef, and spicy chorizo tacos.  The Baja fish had a nice crispness to it but was pretty bland and devoid of a real kick or flavor.  The pork al pastor was good with a nice amount of spice in it, but we’ve both had WAAAAY better al pastor tacos before, I mean WAAAAY better.  The tamarind beef taco, also had good flavor, but nothing mind blowing.  I ended with the spicy chorizo taco which had chorizo all crumbled up, kicked up with some nice bold smoky flavor. This was definitely my favorite.

Overall, we thought the food was decent, but not great or amazing as the buzz made it seem.  We both agreed that the tacos at Casa Villa blew these out of the water and were not as good as Tacos Mexico in Norwalk.

Bartaco in Stamford, CT

We waited to review Bartaco here to coincide with the September opening of its new spot in Stamford. We waited for about half an hour because the place was packed just like the Port Chester one.  We got our seats and saw they had the same kind of vibe going on in here, even with the little metal stands to place your menu orders on.  Now we like a rockin’ musical ambiance as much as the next 30 something couple, but DAMN is it incredibly loud in there! Seriously don’t plan to hear what the hell your friends say, or your waiter even.  Just pretend and nod your head, they’ll never know.

Not Tacos

We got the guacamole that was just like it was in Port Chester.  We do like the crispy tortillas that come with the guac though. They’re nice and crispy and salty.  We also had the snapper ceviche that also came with lots of cilantro, fresh snapper, peppers, and just the right amount of spicy kick.  It was pretty good overall. I saw a Foursquare tip about how awesome the blood orange margarita was, so I decided to go with that.  It came out waaaaaay too strong with an overpowering liquor taste.  I asked the waitress to add more mix to it and that helped a tiny bit, though it was just way too strong to be enjoyable.


Porkslap Ale (it's boss) with tacos at the Stamford locale

We wanted to see if our original conclusion was correct, that Bartaco tacos were just okay.  Well, we had our answer by the end of our meal.  I had red snapper a la plancha.  The fish and flavors were bland.  Unfortunately, the only thing that stood out and gave flavor were the vegetables.  Yeah, bummer.  I loved the spicy chorizo last time and decided to get more of it this time.  Well, this time it was tough and overcooked.  The flavor was still there, but I was left disappointed once again.  Sadly, this wasn’t the worst of the night.  I decided to try the lamb barbacoa taco.  The flavor combos with the lamb just didn’t work and seemed awkward and not appealing.  There were chunks of lamb fat throughout the taco, but the killer was the chunk of fat that had lamb bone attached to it.  Quality control?  Meh. Kristien agreed, this might have been the worst taco we’ve ever eaten, and she loves lamb.  Worst lamb dish that I’ve ever had, hands down.


We are churros addicts and were excited at the prospect of some bad boys that came with chocolate sauce.  We were especially excited because only the day before we met our friends Darryl, Melissa, Renato, and Alicia at Barcelona in Norwalk and shared amazing churros.  They came out looking very good, but they were raw in the middle.  We were just going to leave and not bother, but we really wanted churros, so we asked for another batch.  The churros came out but, once again, they were raw on the inside.  We paid and left.

Overall Thoughts

There are so many FANTASTIC taco places in Stamford, Norwalk, and all over Fairfield County, but unfortunately, Bartaco isn’t one of them. It’s not even close. If you care more about the vibe and the cool factor, then you should come to Bartaco.  But, if you want the authentic Mexican experience and want to pay helluva less try these options that are nearby:

Casa Villa, Stamford

Tacos Guadalajara, Stamford

Los Molcajetes, Norwalk

El Charrito, Stamford

Bodega Taco Bar, Fairfield

Noms: 2.75
Cost:  $$$
Bartaco                                                                                        Bartaco
222 Summer Street (next to Barcelona)                              1 Willett Avenue
Stamford, CT 06901                                                                Port Chester, NY 10573
Phone:  (203) 323-TACO                                                       (914) 937-TACO

Bartaco on Urbanspoon

Rowayton’s Seafood Fish Market: Shuckin’ Fresh, Not So Shuckin’ Sure. Rowayton, CT

2 Oct

If you’ve been to Rowayton Seafood Restaurant, or just “The Restaurant” as their website says, you’ve probably had lobster, clams, and the freshest seafood.  We ate there years ago when I wanted to treat Kristien to a fine seafood dinner.  The food was very good and they were quite accommodating, even taking the lobster out of the shell for Kristien (yeah she hadn’t hit pro-status yet).  We were in the area because I’m a dummy.  I swore there was a festival going on, but it was actually the day before.  Doh.  So, why not stop in for a quick bite?  Have your car valet parked or find a spot on a side street.

For the people who want just a quick, easy bite, they’ve got your covered.  To the side of the restaurant, right on the water is Rowayton Seafood Fish Market.  You can order fresh fish and seafood here, and even order some food to eat outside on the benches.  We ordered, got our utensils and condiments, then sat back and enjoyed the summer day.  Unfortunately, though, you aren’t allowed to have a drink out there anymore. Bummer. After a while, the cashier who helped us before came by with our food.  We were excited because we remembered how awesome the food was in their restaurant just a few feet away.  Well, sometimes things change.

First off, Kristien had some oysters.  Yeah, those rocked.  She loved them, nice and fresh, full of flavor.  They were served with a cocktail sauce, but nothing else fancy.  Plain and simple, but I know Kristien was expecting some mignonette sauce.

My lunch was fish and chips.  Hell yes, right?  Um, no.  The breading on the fish was soggy and not crispy at all.  I had the feeling like it had been breaded a while ago and was just waiting there to be fried up.  After being fried, it didn’t get enough golden color at all.  The taste was pretty bland, too.  Later I checked Foursquare checkins and saw that people said Fish and Chips are bad here, don’t get them.  Tip, people:  always check Foursquare checkins before you eat somewhere.  You get the good and bad.  The fries were okay, but could have been much crisper.

Kristien’s lobster roll seemed like it would be amazing because it was of the hot variety.  Yeah, the only kind that I’ll eat because of my mayo disgust.  The roll itself was ok, the lobster was fresh and there was lots of it, but there was a minimal amount of butter…actually, didn’t seem like any at all.  If you’re a lobster purist, then this is good for you.  You simply get the flavor of the lobster and not much else.  For those looking for a more complex flavor to come from the butter, look elsewhere.

Overall, we were kind of disappointed with our trip to the Rowayton Seafood Fish Market, especially because their next door restaurant continually wins “Best of Seafood” awards.  We’ll give them best of fresh, but not sure we can go much further than that.  I’m glad to see we’re not alone, because there are many other “meh” reviews of the food around the net.  Maybe you need to stick to just Rowayton Seafood and ditch their “shack” to get some good food?

Rowayton Seafood Fish Market

Noms: 2.75

Cost: $$$

Address:  89 Rowayton Avenue

Rowayton, CT 06853


Rowayton Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sort of a Flubba’ @ Pat’s Hubba Hubba – Stamford, CT

24 Jul

Hot summer days just seem to beg for hot dogs and hamburgers, ya know?  We’d been dying for some burgers and dogs all Sunday and were excited to try Pat’s Hubba Hubba on Cove Road in Stamford.  Years ago, when we lived in Rye Brook, we journeyed to the original Pat’s in Port Chester, NY.  It’s a total dive, and probably the best illustration of what a dive is if you ever needed one.  Dollars line the wall and there is simply just a burger/dog bar in a tiny little restaurant.

So, back to our meal in the Stamford spot.  You pull up and see lots of outdoor seating with a retro drive-in kinda decor.  The menu inside is quite overwhelming:  burgers, dogs, chili, wedges, and–strangely–quesadillas and Mexican favorites. So here’s what we decided on:

Pat’s Famous Steak Pizzaiola:  I figured, hey, if it’s so famous, I have to try it because I freakin’ love pizzaiola.  My mom makes a killer version that she cooks all day long.  Yeah, damn good.  Pat’s was just okay, though.  The sauce was nice and zesty and the melted provolone added a nice sharpness to the dish, but it couldn’t help the overcooked steak.  The steak was similar to the meat you’d find in Steak ‘Ums, but was just a little too tough.  Unfortunately, their hot dogs were the same.

Texas Dog:  If ya ain’t up to speed with hot dog terminology, that’s a wiener with chili and onions.  Let’s start with the chili.  It has a nice meaty taste, it isn’t too thick, and–best of all–it’s spicy.  Not your lame spicy that most restaurants try to pull off.  It’s a make you sweat spicy.  You can buy the chili by itself here to go, if you’d like.  The chili, sadly, was the best part of the Texas Dog.  The poor wiener was grilled too much, almost to the point of burnt (both of ours, wasn’t a fluke) and was very dry.

Onion Rings:  Along with the chili, this was another great part of our meal.  The rings were crispy and gave a nice crunch when you bit in.  Even better?  When you bite in, the slice of onion doesn’t get torn out of the whole ring.  Don’t you hate that?  We hate that.

French Fries:  They were a bit crispy, but not enough to make these fries excellent and stand out from other burger joints.  With a little more time in the deep frier, these would be better.

Overall, we hate to say it, but we probably won’t come back to Pat’s Hubba Hubba.  It might have just been a bad night on the grill, but when we think of all the good burger and dog joints nearby:  BSF, Filling Station, Shake Shack, Beach Burger (our CBS review is coming in September), and Benny’s Fast Break, we just can’t seem to justify it.

Pat’s Hubba Hubba

Noms: 2.75

Cost: $$

Address: 820 Cove Road
Stamford, CT 06902
Phone:  (203) 325-9928

Pat's Hubba Hubba on Urbanspoon

Oo La La on the Ambiance, Meh Breakfast. Cafe Oo La La- Stamford, CT

11 Jun

Last week when I was on a *minor* shopping spree for home decor, I happened past Cafe Oo La La in the Ridgeway Shopping Center on Summer Street. A cute little cafe with glass doors that open up to the sidewalk. Cafe tables and chairs spread about. A beautiful, long case with salads, sandwiches, baked goods, and yummy looking gelato on display. Modern, but quaint decor. A nice menu written on chalkboards for that authentic touch. The perfect setting for a lazy weekend breakfast or a nice little lunch date with friends, coworkers or your significant other.

After seeing how adorable the place was and reading some positive reviews online, we were really excited to go there Saturday morning for breakfast and to catch up on weeks of blog posts with their free WiFi! (bad bloggers, bad.) We found a table next to the holy grail, an outlet! For a cafe with free WiFi, they certainly are cheap on the outlets with only one. But, it’s not about that after all, right?

I walked up to the counter to browse the menu and placed my order. I asked the young woman behind the counter what came with the omelettes, to which she replied bread. I asked if you can order a side of potatoes, which I had to repeat 3 times because she didn’t understand English well. Finally a young man came by and answered my question. Yes, it does come with potatoes. I then asked her what comes with the eggs any style. Nothing she says. I said nothing? Nope. Can I get it with potatoes? No. Ok, what can I get it with? Nothing. Ummm ok. Her male colleague comes back and informs me I can get them with anything I would like. So, I suppose they don’t train their employees very well and that is a huge pet peeve of mine. Luckily, however, when they brought our plates out the order was correct so they earned some points back.

The meal looked very good. I ordered the Greek omelette with multi-grain toast, Danny had his favorite, the farmer’s omelette also with multi-grain toast and we shared some bacon. The highlight of the meal was the bacon. It was nice and crispy, cooked just how we like it. The highlights pretty much end there. The multi-grain toast was tough and definitely not fresh baked. Plus, they gave us ice cold butter that was solid, I know that’s such a silly thing but it’s another little pet peeve. When you give butter for bread, it needs to be softened. The potatoes were cooked well, but boring and bland. It was like they took frozen hash browns, threw them on a skillet, pressed them down with a turner and slapped them on a plate. The coffee was very weak and watery, blah! I couldn’t even finish it. And lastly, but not leastly (leastly? yeah, whatever), we have the omelettes. The ingredients did seem fresh, which is great, but the eggs weren’t fluffy and it was just very bland. The eggs almost tasted microwaved, though I’m sure they weren’t.

Overall, the meal wasn’t awful or disgusting by any means, but in the words of beloved hipsters, it was pretty “meh.” We are definitely willing to give it another shot for lunch because we have heard good things and because the ambiance is quite nice, but we wouldn’t got back for breakfast for sure.

Noms: 2.75 (but we’ll reevaluate when we go back for lunch)

Cost: $$

Cafe Oo La La 
Adress: 2325 Summer Street
Stamford, CT 06905-4525
Phone: (203) 353-3300 

Cafe Oolala on Urbanspoon

Mi Not Sure Oh: Inconsistent Guatemalan and Peruvian Spot. Mi Ranchito-Stamford, CT

15 May

Bandeja Chapina, Por Favor...Minus the Overcooking

Well, it was Cinco de Mayo so what better way to celebrate a victory of the Mexican army than eat Guatemalan and Peruvian food? Um, yeeeeah, we always like to push the boundaries and challenge expectations, right? We got this said food from Mi Ranchito on Hope Street in Stamford. It’s across the street from Roly Poly  in a teeny, tiny little spot with a bright blue banner.

We’ve eaten here a few times and were always happy with the food here for the price. We always try to look for Latino restaurants that are tiny little holes in the wall because we’ve found them to be the most authentic and delicious (not to mention dirt cheap). So, how did the pesos fall this time?  I ordered my usual, the Bandeja Chapina.  You get a sizzling thin strip of carne asada, cooked in flavorful and lively spices.  Also, hiding under it, you get adobada, another thin strip of meat, though this time it’s pork.  The spices in the pork also bounce around in your mouth and are full of flavor.  My favorite part of the dish is when the drippings from the beef trickle down and coat the pork.  Oh hell yes.  But this time, that dish was just okay because the meat was way overcooked.  The flavors were still there, but the meat was tough.  The sides that come with it were solid, though, and up to their usual quality.  Black beans, covered in queso fresco (try it on a Filling Station burger?) with rice, and some crispy yet fluffy tortilla chips to do a little digging with.  They also give you a salad and some tortillas so you can wrap up your own concoctions.  I paired it with my New England Brewing Co.  Sea Hag IPA.  Nice lil’ combo if you ask me.

Sea Hag IPA from New England Brewing Company

Kristien had the chile-wait for it-rellenos.  Yeah, I know, big surprise.  She said they were just ok.  She remembered it being better last time.  Whereas some Mexican or Latino spots go overboard with the cheese inside of the rellenos, Mi Ranchito had more of a beef and stuffing-like filling.  It was an interesting twist, but not great, and came with the same sides as my meal.

We were dying to have a special item on their menu:  plantains stuffed with black beans.  Unfortunately, we had their first version of the menu and it’s no longer on there.  I asked what else was unique to try and the server on the phone said the fried tacos.  Hey, we’re game, so we got those.  They were basically tortillas, stuffed with cheese and beef, wrapped up, then fried.  Very crispy, kind of boring but not bad.  Did we mention they smothered the hell out of them with guac?  For us, that’s a good thing. I did like the flavors in the fried tacos though, especially the contrast with the doughy, crispy, savory, and sweet.

Mommy, you almost done with those chile rellenos?

The bottom line is that this is a decent, cheap, inexpensive place to grab a quick authentic Guatemalan and Peruvian bite, get delivery, or just casually eat in.  For the most part, their food is solid, though we hope that we just had their food on an off day and it’s not a trend.  In Port Chester (where we use to live by), great Peruvian spots are a peso a dozen, but in Stamford it’s more of a rare commodity.

If we had judged Mi Ranchito just based on our Cinco de Mayo experience, we’d have given it 2 Noms and wouldn’t have come back.  But, if we judged it also based on our past experiences we might give it another try.  We don’t know.  Try for yourself and be ready to be content or to be disappointed–there seems to be no consistency.

Noms: 2.75

Cost:  $

Mi Ranchito:  Eat in, take out, or cash only delivery

Address: 262 Hope Street

Stamford, CT 06906

Phone: (203) 353-9252


Mi Ranchito on Urbanspoon

The menu’s promising, but the food ain’t so rosy. Rouge Winebar, Norwalk (SoNo)

15 Dec

I think that the title says it all, but I feel that I have to defend myself here.  First of all, Rouge Winebar is a quiet and comfy place with beautiful brick walls and striking wooden floors.   They really set the tone when you enter as you see a lovely rack of wine bottles, inviting you in.  The bar is also impressive, especially the rouge light setting a halo around the liquor.  The menu, also, really impressed us.  Their philosophy is small plates and, look, we’re all for that.  It was really difficult to center in on just a few dishes, but we picked a select few that would awaken our tastebuds.

To start the party, we invited over a 2006 Marietta Zinfandel that was aged in French oak.  Quite a classy gal with a nice finish.  It’s no party with just one guest, so I asked the Greek Salad to join our table  He was smothered in a vinaigrette, and had some kalmata olives, cucumbers, red onion, peppers, and a dash of oregano.    The salad was good and certainly lived up to expectations.  Enough with the cheesy talk, let’s just get down to business.  We also ordered the Potato and Chorizo Croquette, covered in a garlic aioli.  Kristien wasn’t a fan, but I thought it was pretty good.  My main problem with the dish and many of the others here at Rouge is the lack of seasoning-or in some cases like the beef carpaccio, too much.  The croquettes could have definitely benefited from a bit more spice and kick.

The dish that I was most looking forward to was the Coffee Dusted NY Strip Steak that was draped over manchego mashed potatoes.  Top the steak with some demi glaze and put some sweet and sour onions on the side and you’ve got the golden ticket, right?  Well, sorta.  The steak was cooked perfectly at medium rare and had really beautiful grill marks.  What this dish gained in presentation it lost in taste.  The onions and mashed potatoes seemed to have more spice and flavor than the steak itself which disappointed me quite a bit.  It was still a good dish, but it wasn’t an amazing dish that you beg your dining partner to taste.

Finally, Kristien is a lobster risotto fiend, so when she saw that on the menu, she knew what she had to do.  Again, when it arrived, we were excited and we began to drool at the presentation.  The herbs, sauce, and parmagiano all combined to add a wonderful taste to this dish, but it couldn’t make the overcooked rice taste better.  I was having intense flashbacks to Gordon Ramsay yelling at budding chefs  on Hell’s Kitchen and blasting out, “You overcooked the risotto,” only I had no food or things to throw around.  

If you compared Rouge Winebar with Scena Wine Bar & Restaurant, I don’t think you’d really need to think twice.  Scena was just as nice on the inside, was around the same price, but the food was much better.  Plus, to boot, they are pretty close by each other, Scena being in Darien.  You can certainly have an okay meal at Rouge Winebar, but at that price you probably want an awesome or excellent one.

Noms:  2.75

Cost:  $$$

Rouge Winebar
Address:  88 Washington Street
Norwalk, CT 06854-3077
Phone:  (203) 354-4781

Rouge Winebar on Urbanspoon

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