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So good, it’s a sin. South End Uncorked (Review)

7 Jan
South End New Canaan OmNomCT_3779

A typical night at South End Uncorked with a full house . . .

Forgive us readers, for we have sinned. It has been far too long since our last visit to South End Uncorked over the summer when we tried their cocktails and we must confess, we were complete idiots to wait this long. Why? Because (spoiler alert) it’s amazing! Not that we had any doubt since we’ve experienced the magic of Chef (and owner) Nick Martschenko and Director of Operations and mixologist extraordinaire Michelle Mauro at their other New Canaan restaurant, South End.  Continue reading

Come with a Bear-like Appetite to Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ – Hartford, CT

3 Feb

Near the end of an epic Saturday with our buddies Alicia and Renato, we stopped by the newly opened Bear’s Smokehouse in Hartford. Perhaps by some divine work of Bacchus, god of gluttony, we saw a parking spot right outside the restaurant and snagged it. You know, we figured the closer the better, so we could roll ourselves out the car after we devoured ribs, pulled pork, Paw Paw’s poutine, and a ton of sides.

The cool thing here about Bear’s Smokehouse is they serve up super high-end tasting BBQ in a super low-key atmosphere—cafeteria style, in fact. You just line up, think about all the food that you can handle, order, then bring it back to a table either downstairs, upstairs, or in the summer out on the rooftop BBQ garden owner and Pit Master Jamie “The Bear” McDonald plans to open. Yeah, the same Bear who won the 21st Wing Bowl by annihilating 287 wings in just 30 minutes. To find out more about his competitive eating gastronomic victories, check out his site. And, if you feel daring, you could challenge him to an eating contest on the spot or even try to down the Bearwich for a shot at $500

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In Bloom: A Review of Chef Pasternack’s Spring Menu @ Bailey’s Backyard in Ridgefield

13 May
The back room at Bailey's Backyard also opens up to the outside for warmer weather...

The back room at Bailey’s Backyard also opens up to the outside for warmer weather…

It’s been a year since Sal Bagliavio and Executive Chef Forrest Pasternack worked together tirelessly to give Bailey’s Backyard a new vibe, a new focus on local food, and a new soul.  When we went for a pre-opening dinner back in April 2013, we were excited to see what Chef Pasternack was up to since he left Morello Bistro in Greenwich, where we first met him.  Our experience was amazing and we came back lots of times alone and with friends and family.  We came with our buddies Renato and Alicia, Jay and Ali, and even Kristien’s parents…closing the place down each time.  We even sent friends and colleagues, like Ashley and Rudy, Kristien’s hairdresser Ashley, Fran, Kelley & Mike, and many more… all who reported back with RAVE reviews. So, we couldn’t say no when we were invited back for a special writer’s dinner to introduce us to the spring drink and food menu, using local, in season ingredients.

Lucky us got the chance to literally taste almost the entire menu, and lucky you, we’re going to share all the juicy details!  Let’s take each dish in order of menu headings. Here we go…

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Red Means Go @ Rouge Brasserie + Oyster Bar in Greenwich, CT

10 Dec
Yeah, where we dined, NBD...

The stunning side room where we dined…

What major things have you accomplished in 12 days? Maybe you were able to bake up your holiday cookies, redecorate a room to your house, or reorganize your closets. Oorrrr, how about opening and redesigning an entire new restaurant? That’s exactly what Rouge Brasserie & Oyster Bar, transforming the space that was Lolita into a brand new swanky hotspot. Fabiana, the designer for cb5 Restaurant Group, made use of some of the design elements of Lolita, while adding her own touches as well as the ideas of Jodi Pennette. Everybody pitched in, including General Manager Diego who hand painted the beautifully ornate mirrors in the back room.

The very talented Josh Moulton

The very talented Josh Moulton

Rouge is sexy, lush, and oozes that certain je ne sais quoi of a French brasserie. The bar is quaint and intimate, while off to the side you have an elevated dining area, a large room with comfortable dining areas, and a large, stunning communal table. We were there as guests for a press dinner and you best believe we were ready to eat. With Executive Chef Josh Moulton (of Union Square Cafe, Gabriele’s, Tavern on the Green, Gramercy Tavern, a CIA grad, and a sommelier at age 24), we were excited to see what was in store.

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Bailey’s Backyard Hosts Local Farmers for Ultimate Farm-to-table Dinner

28 Oct

It’s always a strange moment.  

Invariably, people will ask us what our favorite restaurants are when we meet them or when they discover we have a food blog.  Although we spend countless hours writing about some of the best places in Connecticut and trying new places, our minds always seem to draw a blank.  But, then, we remember some of the best meals that we’ve had.  And, one of those places that we always mention to people is a quaint little restaurant in Ridgefield called Bailey’s Backyard.  We’ve been there three times already and plan to come back three hundred more times.  

Bryan Walsh is not only the mixologist, but is also in charge of the drink program at Bailey's

Bryan Walsh is not only the mixologist, but is also in charge of the drink program at Bailey’s

You might remember back in March we interviewed Executive Chef Forrest Pasternack (formerly of Morello Bistro in Greenwich) and we saw how deeply devoted he and Sal Bagliavio (the owner of Bailey’s) are to the farm-to-table principle.  Yes, we know that word gets thrown around and is quite overused.  But, at Bailey’s Backyard it’s a literal interpretation.  Forrest and staff hit up the local markets and visit nearby farms to build their menu on a daily basis.  

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Station Eats Gives Back w/ Their Dog of the Month

6 May

Hot Dog of the Month Taco Dog Station Eats Stamford

Cinco de Mayo doesn’t have to end, especially not at Station Eats.  Starting today until the middle of June, they’ll be featuring their Taco Dog as the Dog of the Month.  Pick your dog (grass fed beef, chicken, or veggie), then they’ll add on tomato salsa, lettuce, shredded cheddar, sour cream, and wrap it up in a warm flour tortilla.  If that’s not spicy enough for ya, just remember that the good guys at Station Eats will be donating 10% of their profits for Taco Dogs to two great causes:  Camp Promise East (giving summer camp experiences to people with muscular dystrophy and ALSTDI (fighting to find a cure for Lou Gehrig’s Disease).  You can get the Taco Dog at either the New Canaan or Stamford locations, btw.

If you’d like a burger and shake to complement that doggie, then check out these specials starting today:  The Steak House Burger and their Coconut Shake.  The Steak House Burger (we’d had it before, it’s excellent) has cheese, Station Steak Sauce, shaved onions, and tomato.  So, make sure to come by a few times and get your Taco Dog!  Also, why not invite your friends, have family reunions at Station Eats, have your next birthday party, too!  A Taco Dog for everybody!

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Elevated, True Farm to Table at Bailey’s Backyard in Ridgefield, CT: Restaurant Review

2 May
Some of the veggies that Forrest has pickled for sale

Some of the veggies that Forrest has pickled for sale

When we talked with Forrest Pasternack (former Executive Chef of Morello Bistro in Greenwich) a few weeks ago, we couldn’t help but get excited about what he and owner Sal Bagliavio had planned for the reopening of Bailey’s Backyard.  A farm-to-table restaurant that would live up to its name, built from the ground, the farm, and garden up.  A restaurant where the chef actually visits local farms and buys food from them.  A full and complete embrace of what farm to table means.  And, after visiting Bailey’s Backyard a few days before opening and being treated to a special preview menu, we know our excitement was well warranted.

The Menu

The menu is pretty easy to handle, fitting on just one (large) page.  In terms of what to order, it’s divided up into a few sections:  snacks, sides, greens, starts, mains, and desserts.  Of special note is that this is a great restaurant if you’re looking for fresh vegetarian options.  You can order whatever you’d like, or have a 3 course meal (starter, main, and dessert) for $27 ($39 with wine pairing) or a 4 course meal (greens, seafood starter, main, and dessert) for $38 ($50 with wine pairing).  In addition, you can even have the special Chef’s Tasting which is a seven course tasting menu for a very reasonable $65 or $95 with wine pairings.  No tasting menu will ever be exactly the same because it’s built daily based on what’s fresh and from the farms.

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The Fez in Stamford Hosts 6 Course Starry Night Winery Dinner

15 Feb

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When people meet us out at events or parties, they tend to shoot right to the important question:  what’s your favorite restaurant?  That’s a really tough one to answer, especially because there are so many different kinds, price ranges, cuisines, and such…but, invariably, The Fez in Stamford is always a part of our conversation.  We’ve never had a bad meal there and people that we’ve sent on over have come back happy, satisfied, and ready for more.

If you’ve never been, we have a perfect opportunity to cozy up with this Moroccan/Mediterranean stalwart on 2/19 at 6:45:  a Starry Night Winery.  For just $69, you’ll get six glasses of wine from Starry Night Winery in California paired with some of The Fez’s favorite treats:

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Valencia in Norwalk’s Gotcha Covered for Turkey Day!

15 Nov

Click for larger version

Valencia Luncheria in Norwalk is the place to be.  Even with their larger digs, the place is still brimming with hungry people who are dying for some killer food.  People will still wait (and don’t mind waiting) for their shot at getting some amazing arepas, empanadas, killer breakfasts, main dishes, specials of the day, and fresh ceviche.  If you want proof, come in during lunch time!  If you can’t get enough of Valencia, don’t fret.  Chef Michael Young and all the good people at this Norwalk go-to joint have you covered with a special Thanksgiving catering menu.  Let’s be honest:  sometimes it’s not always so easy to make a meal, especially after so many of us are recovering after Hurricane Sandy.  Plus, we bet there are some of you out there who just don’t want to cook.  Don’t worry…we won’t single you out. ;)

So, look over this menu and think about your strategy.  Do you want to order your turkey dressed and ready to cook or with the stuffing already inside?  What kinds of soup, salads, sides, gravies, and desserts do you want with your meal?  You can mix and match to your heart’s content, helping you put together an awesome holiday meal.  The best option is the Thanksgiving Package for 12 people at $275.  You get a turkey that’s dressed, stuffed and ready to cook, a soup, any four sides, Jack Daniels gravy, and even some yummy pumpkin flan.  Don’t sweat it if you have extra guests because they’ll charge only $25 per person extra.  Do the math on this deal and you’ll see it’s actually a great price; it’s especially worth the cost when you consider the time it’ll save you.  Maybe you can use that time to talk with family, drink some vino, and just relax?  You know you deserve it.

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Station Eats Fights Diabetes with their Ashley Burger in September! New Canaan + Stamford

29 Aug

If you’ve been to Station Eats in Stamford or New Canaan, you know how awesome their burger and shakes of the month are.  Heck, we’ve reviewed a whole bunch of them:  Tres Leches Shake/Cinco de Mayo BurgerCaramel Sea Salt Shake/Bacon Bleu Cheese Burger, Cap’n Crunch Shake/Guinness Chocolate Shake/Buffalo Wing Burger.  The great thing?  You never know what to expect from the great culinary minds that run both joints.

Well, expect something amazing this September at both Station Eats locations.  They’ll be serving up The Ashley Burger as their Burger of the Month.  That’s a veggie burger, lettuce, tomato, guacamole, and black bean corn salsa in between a bun.  Now, the veggie burgers here are legendary.  A couple of years ago we had their older version of the veggie burger and it was great, and we know they’ve made improvements.  People swear by this burger, but we think they’ve taken up a few notches with Ashley’s awesome recipe. Continue reading

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