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Kickin’ It (Latin) Root Down at Tierra in Westport: CT Restaurant Review

8 Jul

When we hear about new restaurants, we get excited. When we hear about new Latin restaurants, like Tierra in Old Town Hall in Westport, we get really excited. Tierra (which opened in mid-June) is a bit hard to find at first, located to the right side of Spruce at 90 Post Road, close by Urban Outfitters, and by the parking lot off of Jesup Road.

Like good ‘ole Americans, we went there with our friend Christine on the Fourth of July (woo hoo South ‘Murica). Looking around, the bar to the left was warm, classic, and comfy with a huge loungy couch behind it. In the back there’s a private room with a nice wine rack wall and a fancy, shimmering chandelier. The main dining room features the same kind of vibe with a few tables and a side area with a view of the open kitchen.

Speaking of the kitchen, a husband and wife team run the kitchen and own it along with Chad Whited (and Laura Luce) who was there that night to help out. We first met CIA grad Chef Sue Torres, who is half Italian and Puerto Rican. She’s had an amazing amount of experience with Nuevo Mexicano fare including working at her own Suenos, Arizona 206, Rocking Horse Cafe, and Hell’s Kitchen.  We met her during our dinner as she went around from table to table to see how everyone was enjoying the food. Next was chef Darren Carbone, who comes from Columbia with an Italian-American upbringing. His impressive resume includes a CIA degree like his wife, and heading the kitchens at Super Linda, Rosa Mexicano, La Verdad, El Vez, and Alma de Cuba.  Ok, ok, you’re probably getting anxious to know about the food, so vamos, vamos.

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Cooking up a steamy French Italian romance: Barrique – Stamford

23 Jun

As long as we’ve been in Stamford, Chez Jean-Pierre was an instution on Bedford Street.  There was rarely a day when the bistro wasn’t packed and never a beautiful day the front doors weren’t open to let the fresh air in.  A collective sigh rose up, though, when Chez Jean Pierre closed last year.  But then, like a beacon of hope, soon after, there was a sign up: Coming soon, Barrique Bistro & Wine Bar. When we inquired (like good food bloggers do) we found out that the brand new part French, part Italian spot was being opened by owner and Executive Chef Louis Barresi who also has Doppio Greenwich, Huntington, and West Village.

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Crafting Modern American Dining at Artisan in Southport, CT

6 May

People throw around big words all the time, so much so that they begin to lose their meaning. Foodie, farm to table, organic, handmade, and artisan (to name a few). It’s not that we hate these words or what they stand for, but take artisan for example…brands like Lays hijacked the word and weakened the cache it carries with machine-created artisi-ficial products. With that being said, there’s a restaurant set away in the Delamar Hotel called Artisan that actually lives up to its name.

In style, it’s sleek, modern, and comfortable, while the food is American at heart, though it is inspired and influenced by a classically trained French chef, Frederic Kieffer. Along with working at various restaurants in Paris, he has also worked at Windows on the World, C’est si Bon, Gaia, and l’escale, Artisan’s sister restaurant. And, you can add another feather to his cap:  gardener.  That’s because he manages, grows, and helps to pick herbs in the Artisan patio garden.  Rosemary, Genovese Basil, Sweet Thai Basil, chives, lemongrass, parsley, Italian Parsley, and other herbs are all at Chef Kieffer‘s disposal throughout the summer and fall.  And, because there isn’t an infinite amount of space at Artisan and the Delmar, they get a big portion of local produce from Gilberties Farm in Westport, even planting some of their own veggies and herbs there.  Now that is artisan:  cultivating and creating beautifully finished products by hand.

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Merci Beaucoup: Marc Penvenne of Méli-Mélo Relaunches Versailles in Greenwich

6 Mar

Versailles_Logo_BEP_rgb1

Now that we’ve been around Greenwich for over a year, we can just scrape ourselves out of bed on a lazy Sunday and head over to one of our favorite breakfast spots, Méli-Mélo.  Despite the annoyance of finding a spot and the sometimes long lines, it’s all worth it at the end when you’re devouring some killer crepes.  If you’ve been to this Greenwich Ave. mainstay and hotspot, chances are that you’ve seen and talked with owner Marc Penvenne.  He’s always making the rounds, helping seat people, and making sure that everything runs smoothly.

Well, he’s been a bit busier as of late.  That’s because he has brought Versailles back to life, breathing new life to the closed (Easter, 2013) landmark restaurant that’s been around since 1980.  It’s kind of ironic, huh?  Marc came to Greenwich from France and began as a manager at Versailles, left to open Méli-Mélo (right across the street), and now owns Versailles.  Quite the full circle.

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Primarily Underwhelmed @ Primary Food + Drink by Graham Elliot – Greenwich, CT

30 Jan
Escape Route (L) and Road to Manhattan Cocktails

Escape Route (L) and Road to Manhattan Cocktails

Update:  CT News has just reported that Primary Food & Drink is now permanently closed.  There was no reason given why.  

Our fascination with new and shiny things starts at a young age.  Like Ralphie going for the elusive Red Ryder BB Gun, or when we were kids we had to have that new, cool thing like the Easy Bake Oven or an RC Monster Truck.  Well, some things never change:  we still can’t help ourselves…but now, instead of toys, it’s new, fancy restaurants.

This time around, the new, fancy restaurant was Primary Food & Drink by Chef Graham Elliot, owner of Graham Elliot Bistro and  the now-closed Graham Elliot in Chicago, and judge on MasterChef.  As we shared with you back in December, Elliot took over Thataway Cafe in Greenwich and gave the culinary reins to his long time Director of Operations, Executive Chef Merlin Verrier.  Needless to say, we loved the idea behind Primary:  creative culinary spins on classic American dishes.

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Leafline Salad Co. in Greenwich Offering Free Lunch to Kick off a Healthy 2014

7 Jan

Leafline Salad Co. Logo

Leafline Salad Company, now opened for six months in Downtown Greenwich, wants you to have a healthy start to 2014. On 1/15, they’ll be offering up their chef inspired or seasonal salads, wraps, and quinoa bowls for free from 12-3 pm.  Just stop by and let them know about this offer…and you could tell them you heard about it from us, too. We’d love ya.  Limit one per customer, don’t be greedy now. ;)

Now, a little about Leafline Salad Co.…it’s owned by Robert Kessner who set up shop in downtown Greenwich because he was frustrated in finding options to eat that would fit his new dietary needs.  And, what resulted was a menu of salads, wraps, quinoa bowls, soups, juices, and snacks that were not only good for ya, but also provided for people living gluten-free, dairy free, and even vegan lives.  Robert and crew make all their salads right at the restaurant and also do the same with their dressings.  Plus, they keep their ingredients natural, wholesome, and as local as possible.  

So, you’re probably wondering what you’ll order…well, here are some of the standout housemade options (these can be salads, wraps, or quinoa bowls):

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Got Spoon? Nomworthy List of ChowdaFest 2014 Finalists Named

3 Dec

ChowdaFest 2014

ChowdaQuest, the quest for the fest, was a huge success this year and it placed some amazing restaurants into the 2014 ChowdaFest competition through your votes.  Going down on SOUPer Bowl Sunday, 2/2, from 11 am to 3 pm, ChowdaFest VI promises to be even more awesomerest than last year!  Tickets will be just $10 and benefits The Connecticut Food Bank!  We’ll have more details to share with you shortly, but in addition to everything that makes Chowdafest great like sampling chowders and voting for your favorites, there are tons of new things that you’ll love!  And, speaking of liquid goodness, check out the winning competitors for ChowdaFest 2014 to be held at Webster Bank Arena:

New England Clam Chowder:

Bernard’s (Ridgefield) – first year

Donovan’s (Norwalk) – defending champion

Go Fish (Mystic) – first year

Guvnor’s Brewery (Norwalk) – first year

Mansion Clam House (Westport) – 2 time champ

Old Post Tavern (Fairfield)

Rory’s (Darien)

Wood’n Tap (Orange and various locations) – first year

Traditional Chowder (Manhattan/RI only):

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Char-ming New Hot Spot Opens in Greenwich – Char, Greenwich

16 Jul

Char.  That word evokes beautiful nights outside grilling, steaks perfectly done, smoky cross marks on chicken, and that woodsy flavor.  The char on food takes us back to simpler times. And, as you enter Char, opened just July 2, you get that kind of vibe.  100 year old reclaimed wood from top to bottom adds rustic charm and Long Island brass chandeliers add a contrasting glamorous charm.  And this all comes from the Rugova family who also owns Dolphin and Cafe Hudson in Yonkers.  If you enter from the road, there’s a nice bar with a great lounge area if you’d just like to soak up some cocktails…more on that later.  Or, if you enter from the parking lot, you’ll enter the host station of the dining room.

The Char:  bourbon, muddled blackberries, fresh lemon juice, and simple syrup served on the rocks.

The Char: bourbon, muddled blackberries, fresh lemon juice, and simple syrup served on the rocks.

We took a nice booth in the nearly 240 seat restaurant and were greeted by our server.  He knew the menu extremely well and even had suggestions for us, so it was obvious to us that the staff had great training.  And, finally after months of wondering what the menu would be like, it was set before us: hand crafted cocktails, small plates, salads, and entrees in a Modern American and Mediterranean influenced style.  There were at least twenty items that we wanted to order, but there was only so much room in our bellies, so we thought it over with some drinks.

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Ocean freshness along the Norwalk River-Mediterraneo @ Hotel Zero Degrees, Norwalk

23 May

We were in an interesting position when we were asked if we’d like to attend a Fairfield County Food Writers’ Dinner at the new Mediterraneo in Hotel Zero Degrees on the Rt 7 connector in Norwalk. See, we’ve been to every single restaurant in the Z Hospitality Group (Terra, Sole, Aurora, Acqua) and recently even wrote up Mediterraneo in Greenwich, so, we weren’t sure if there would be a lot of the same stuff at this new spot. Luckily, though, Executive Chef Albert DeAngelis and Chef de Cuisine Ethan Morse were feeling creative and were offering up many different options on this menu. Before we sat down to eat, we got a tour of the newly opened Hotel Zero Degrees. What we love about it is it’s modern, slick and trendy, but it won’t break the bank. We especially loved the big, open spaces with plenty of room to move around and relax. Our little tour ended in the big, expansive dining room, overlooking the Norwalk River and a rushing waterfall (who knew there was a waterfall in the Norwalk River?). The windows open out into a V and you get that beautiful cool breeze that makes dining so nice and relaxing. Ok, so the food. There was definitely an ambitious menu set before us with 10 courses and paired wines for 9 of them. Yes, we know, it’s a tough life that we lead. So, let’s go through a heavily seafood-focused dinner…hey, we ain’t complaining.

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Get a Taste of Westport’s Best Bites and Drinks: 2013

24 Apr

It’s time again for Taste of Westport (we covered this event last year, too).  What’s great about this event is that you get to taste some of the best food that Westport has to offer and you do good at the same time.  Taste of Westport will be on May 2 from 6-9 pm at the Westport Inn and will cost $75 prepaid or $80 at the door.  You can get your tickets easily by going to the purchasing page or calling (203) 226-7895 x144.  Proceeds are being donated to Clasp Homes of Westport and even more will go to Clasp through silent auctions.  Here’s a little bit about Clasp, from their website:  “Our mission is to provide homes and opportunities for people with autism and other developmental disabilities.  We offer high quality personalized services that enhance each person’s independence, dignity, and continued growth.  As a non-profit community organization we are dedicated to increasing public understanding of the people we serve and their ability to be contributing members of the community.”  

Now back to the food…but, we’re not talking about just great restaurants.  Michele’s Pies, the award-winning and Bobby Flay-throwdown-winners, will be on hand.  Plus, there will be lots to drink like Beaver Beer, local Onyx Moonshine, and even more provided by Black Bear Wines & Spirits, Crystal Rock, and Green Farms Spirits.  Here is all the info.

Restaurants

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