Here’s Tierra’s version of the margarita…excellent.
Make sure to add the egg…it’s sooo necessary!
Beautifully prepared and contrasted
Make sure to ask what the season ceviche is when you’re ordering.
Abstract art never looked so damn good
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.
Huge desserts here at Barrique…
Just one of 5 different mussel varieties up for munching
Is it weird to order tentacles?
This is one dish not to skirt around…
Bread, goat cheese, prosciutto…can ya really go wrong?
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.
Roasted Tomato Soup
Red Eye Revival made with Whistle Pig
Grilled Local Calamari
Crusted Nantucket Fluke
Rabbit Ragu at Artisan
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.
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.
Escape Route (L) and Road to Manhattan Cocktails
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.
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:
The Char: bourbon, muddled blackberries, fresh lemon juice, and simple syrup served on the rocks.
A section of the dining room at Char
Seared large scallops with corn and mushrooms
Grilled asparagus with bacon candy and Honey Kiss melon
Lamb bolognese with bucatini
Maple braised all natural pork belly
The grilled octopus with garlic confit and fingerling potatoes
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.
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.
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.