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Wassup with Jesup Hall? A Review of Westport’s Newest Restaurant from Bill Taibe

28 Mar

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We know, we know, it’s been a while since our last review, but while we’ve been focusing on cutting back the cals and subsequent lbs, an amazing new restaurant opened up that we HAD to get back in the game for, and STAT. That restaurant is Jesup Hall in Westport, and the reason it was a must-review is because of three words: Chef Fu&$ing Bill Taibe. Ok, that’s four words, but the colorful adjective was necessary for such an iconic and amazing chef in these here parts.

So, way back in October 2015 when we talked to him at The Whelk during a special oysters, sherry, and pork dinner, he was excited about the idea of expansion after the closing of leFarm. And with noted Chef Dan Sabia who comes from Campagna (in Bedford) and Bedford Post Inn on board, his hopes of starting something new took flight in Jesup Hall,  located at the old town hall where you can also find Rothbard Ale + Larder off to the side.  Continue reading

Tablao Brings Spain Back to SoNo in a Big Way – Review

18 Oct

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Big, bold flavors perfectly executed. Fun and lively vibes. That’s what we took away from a recent visit to Tablao, a new Spanish-Mediterranean tapas and wine bar that opened at 86 Washington Street in SoNo back in May. In fact, we enjoyed it so much we can’t wait to go back to this hotspot again. What made it such a nice experience, exactly? Well, you’ll just need to read our review to find out. 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

OmNoming our way through 12 Dishes + 6 Drinks @ Mill Street Bar + Table in Greenwich (Review)

6 Oct

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We’ve been to plenty of restaurants before they open, but few of them seem to haunt us like Mill Street Bar + Table has. We somehow knew, from the moment we entered to talk about drinks before they opened, that this place would be trouble for us . . . especially since it’s 3 minutes from our house. Our blogger-senses were tingling so we finally headed down on an early Saturday night a couple weeks after opening to finally dig in. And boy, did we dig in, consuming over 12 dishes and 6 different drinks . . . shared with another couple of course. Even WE can’t eat THAT much food. Continue reading

Why Kawa Ni Is the (Sake) Bomb – Westport, CT

5 Oct

When you’re asked where you want to go out to dinner for your birthday, how do you pick? Do you go for that fancy schmancy place you’ve been waiting for a special occasion to go to, or your favorite spot you know is going to be amazing, or the hot new restaurant you’ve been dying to try? It’s a tough call…I mean, you only get that choice once a year.

Well, when Danny’s birthday came around he didn’t even need to think twice (or once really) as he blurted out Kawa Ni within seconds of asking. See, years ago (before the blog) we spent his birthday at Chef Bill Taibe’s restaurant, LeFarm, and had an astounding meal that featured bacon in every dish. Danny knew going with Bill again along with his brother Jeff would be a sure bet at their new Izakaya pub with Pan-Asian influences. And (spoiler alert) it SOOOOO was!

Jeff Marron runs the bar at Kawa Ni Westport Kawa Ni is located in a somewhat unsuspecting spot, tucked away in the corner of Bridge Square in Westport. It’s small but lively when you walk in, with the bar at the back left and a decent amount of seats throughout for such a cozy spot. The decor is tasteful…not that stereotypically tacky and kitchsy Japanese decor you might expect, but it definitely says modern Japanese food is served here. One random but awesome thing about the restaurant itself to mention in the blog post? Yeah, the bathrooms have the mega-toilet 3,000 or something like that with seat warmers, a bidet, dryer and more buttons that we were too scared to press. As we got comfy in our seats, we occasionally heard the bang of the gong and Bartender and Beverage Director, Jeff Marron, enthusiastically shout out something in Japanese. But more on that in a minute…

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Let us count the ways we love thee, Bodega Taco Bar – Darien, CT

4 Dec

Dan says the scorpion doesn't taste like chicken at all...
Dan says the scorpion doesn’t taste like chicken at all…how exactly did he find this here at a taco bar?

 

Let’s be honest. It’s rare to find a restaurant that expands into multiple locations and still manages to amaze at all of them. Could Chef Michael Young and Chef Luis Chavez keep making the amazing food that we first bragged about devouring at Bodega Taco Bar in Fairfied, and now Bodgea Taco Bar in Darien? Would they be able to keep the Mexican beach food kicking, full of bold flavors, and bring it?  In short, hell freaking yes…and here are the reasons why based on a recent press dinner that we attended:

Uno: Drinks

We had our fair share of drinks, trying almost every cocktail on the menu.  One of the most refreshing drinks is the Figure 8, a cocktail made with Cabo Wabo anejo, rosemary, fig preserves, ginger, and O.J. This is a summer drink if we ever seen one!  It was excellently balanced with the right amount of liquor and just the right taste of rosemary.  Another drink we loved is the Bodega Girl, mixed with Corralejo reposado, strawberry-cilantro mash, and lemon juice.  This was oh so berry-licious and the cilantro added a nice fresh bite too.  Kristien could’ve had 10 of them!  And Dan’s favorite was the spicy as hell Tomalito!  Lastly, Kristien ordered the Bodega Surprise that included a scorpion from the bottom of the reposado.  While most of us at the table were afraid of the scorpion, Dan placed it on his tongue long enough for a pic and even took a nibble.  Doesn’t taste like much, actually.

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Bodega Brings Dia de Los Muertos to Darien and Fairfield

11 Oct

 

Dia de los Muertos…Day of the Dead.

Traditionally, it’s celebrated November 1 and 2 in Mexico, but this national holiday is actually celebrated all across the world.   During Dia de Los Muertos, family and friends gather to remember and pray for those who have been lost.  People who participate often will paint their faces and dress in costumes, take part in parades, and may visit cemeteries.  Some of the traditions of this holiday include creating altars for the deceased that include sugar skulls and some of their favorite food and drinks.

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The Whelk in Westport Tops GQ Magazine’s 50 Best Dishes of 2013 List

24 Jul

Yeah, you heard that right…The Whelk of Westport is at the top of the culinary heap with the recent publication of Alan Richman’s “The 50 Best Things to Eat and Drink Right Now”  and his 10 Trophy Dishes of 2013 in GQ.  As you scroll (or flip) through, you’ll see some amazing dishes, 50 of them to be exact.  So, for The Whelk to be singled out and to earn that top spot is no easy feat.  Congratulations!  The dish that wowed Alan Richman?  A seemingly simple dish, yet complex at the same time:  Green-Goddess Deviled Eggs.  Richman notes that he had deviled eggs all across the country, but The Whelk definitely made the best.  Here is what he has to say:

“This has been the breakout year for deviled eggs, forgotten except in southern and midwestern kitchens. I ate them across the country, but none came close to this complex and captivating variation: yolks mashed and mixed with a homemade green-goddess dressing (creamy, tangy, and once as beloved as ranch), then stuffed into egg-white halves. The dish gets better. The eggs are topped with two elements similar in texture but opposite in character—crunchy, sweet pickled onions and crunchy, sweet baconlike guanciale. Or you can have your deviled eggs with fried oysters on top. Both are right.”

To see the full list, check out “The 50 Best Things to Eat and Drink Right Now” via GQ and for more information on The Whelk, check out our review.

The Whelk
Noms: 4.25 
Cost: $$$
Address: 575 Riverside Avenue
                  Westport, CT 06880
Phone: (203) 557-0902
Site:  http://thewhelkwestport.com
E-mail:   info@thewhelkwestport.com
 

Celebrate Brasitas’ 15th Anniversary w/ a 5 Course Wine Dinner

19 Jul

If Brasitas in Stamford was a girl, she’d be celebrating her Quinceañera this year.  That’s fifteen years of yummy goodness at the Stamford location.  Let’s just say it, plain and simple:  Brasitas is an awesome place.  Thinking back to years of going there, we’ve never had a bad meal.  We’ve always come out full, satisfied, and—best of all—happy.  And, one of our best meals was back in August 2011 when we went for a paired wine dinner.  While they do have these and other similar events pretty often, a 15 year anniversary only comes around once.  So you best believe they’ll be hitting it hard with some amazing food on July 24, starting at 7 pm.

Dining will cost $60 per person, but with the five courses and a different Joseph Carr wine paired with each course, it’s actually quite a deal.  Here’s the preview of the menu:

Ensalada Catalana
Baby Spinach, Valdeon Cheese, Golden Raisins,
Pinenuts, Caramelized Quince and Sherry Vinaigrette

Pulpo a la Portuguesa
Roasted Portuguese Octopus, Baccala & Potato Cream,
Charred Scallions, Chorizo, Mojo Verde

Chicarrón
Pork Belly Brined in Smoked Paprika, Cauliflower-Manchego Foam,
Crispy Cauliflower, Chanterelle Mushroom, Solera Vinegar, Pickled Cherries

Pajespo con Romesco
Monkfish, Jamón Serrano,
Summer Pea Casserole, Romesco Sauce, Pisto and Clam Broth

Torta de Aceite
Olive Oil and Rosemary Cake,
Grapefruit Sorbet, Cosecha Miel Marinated Grapes

Which course are you most excited about?  What are some of your favorite dishes to get at Brasitas?

Brasitas

Noms: 4.25
Cost:  $$$
Address:  954 East Main Street
                  Stamford, CT 06902
Phone:  (203) 354.7329
Site: http://www.brasitas.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/BRASITASRESTAURANT

Colony Grill Featured on New Cooking Channel Show Pizza Cuz

3 May
Want some stingers and hot oil with that pie?

Want some stingers and hot oil with that pie?

A while back we wrote about a special TV filming at the cult legend pizza of Connecticut:  Colony Grill.  At the time, all we knew that it was for a new show on a major network.  Well, we’ve got the scoop for ya:  Colony Grill of Stamford will be featured on a brand new Cooking Channel show called Pizza Cuz.  The series premiere is May 6 and the Colony Grill episode will air Monday, May 13 at 9 pm on Cooking Channel.  We’ll have more information about the show and the episode shortly, but in the meantime, check out the episode description:

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