Tag Archives: Colin Ambrose

Breakfast from the farm to our hungry bellies at Estia’s American in Darien, CT

3 May

The local farms and shops that Estia’s American works with

A few weeks ago we told you about Colin Ambrose and Carissa Waechter starting up Estia’s American in Darien, an offshoot of Estia’s Little Kitchen in Sag Harbor, NY.  One of the best parts about Estia’s American is their focus on fresh, local food from farms.  You notice this almost immediately when you walk in and see a chalkboard listing where they get some of their food.  Expect this to change with the season and especially as they make more connections with local farms, butchers, and shops. Very exciting!

We came during lunch time, but we had that “we need breakfast food badly” kind of feeling going on.  The kitchen staff was able to work with us, so we could to satisfy our bellies with breakfast.  Coming in, Kristien already knew what she wanted:  The Red Flannel Hash.  I struggled with my choice because everything looked so good, especially on the lunch menu.  I decided, though, to stick with Robbie’s Gringo Hash.

The Drinks

We had two coffees that our waitress filled up whenever we were close to empty.  Don’t you love that?  I don’t think our coffee was ever empty.  That’s how breakfast should be!   Kristien also ordered a nice raspberry and mango cup of wake-you-up-fresh-goodness from the juice bar.  They have daily specials in addition to the standard choices and you can even make your own combos.

The Food

Red Flannel Hash with two beautifully poached eggs

Well, onto the food.  Kristien had been salivating over the Red Flannel Hash ever since we found out about Estia’s American.  It all goes back to a similar dish that changed her world in a little bistro up in the Berkshires.  The dish served here has chorizo, potatoes, sweet potatoes, peppers, onions, corn, and two poached eggs.  Carissa and Colin recommend having your egg poached and you’ll be so glad you followed their advice.  The eggs were cooked perfectly and just oozed out all over the hash.  Ahh, don’t you just love to dip into the yolk?  As for the hash itself, there was lots going on, but it all worked well. Kristien said that perhaps she could’ve done without the sweet potatoes because it took away from the savoriness of the dish, but overall she really liked it. If you’re feeling a bit daring or want to try new combos of tastes, try the Mojo and Rosito sauces with your meal.  The Rosito is a red sauce made with Guajillo pepper and onion and is a bit spicy.  The Mojo is a green sauce with mint, parsley, garlic, jalapeno, and lime juice.  It was bright, yummy, and seemed to have more of a kick than The Rosito.

Robbie’s Gringo Hash with poached eggs and nice chunks of queso fresco

I had a similar hash, though mine had more of a Mexican twist.  Robbie’s Gringo Hash has red beans, rice, spicy chorizo, eggs, two eggs, avocado, and flour tortillas.  Again, I went with the chefs and got my poached eggs.  You can really see and taste the difference between store bought and local eggs.  The eggs at Estia’s American seem brighter and more flavorful.  The star of this dish, to me, was the chorizo.  It was cooked nicely, getting the crispy skin on the outside.  There was a nice gentle heat to it, too.  Take advantage of the tortillas that come with this dish and make up your own little burritos.  Overall, a good dish, but I would have liked a bit more spice and flavor to really make this dish knock it out of the park.

The awesome lemon banana beignet with candied lemon halo

After all of this, we were treated to an awesome dessert of a lemon banana beignet.  The beignet itself was crispy on the outside, while still doughy on the inside.  Oh, but where was the inside?  Carissa had hollowed it out and pumped in an amazing spiced banana puree.  My favorite part of the dessert was actually the candied lemon.  It was so sweet, so bright, and just broke away into bits when I chomped down.  I had no problem eating my slice and the rest of Kristien’s, rind and all.  Really, an awesome way to end the meal.

Overall Thoughts

Although we went for breakfast, we’ll have to return for lunch, and then return for dinner when they begin service sometime around May.  The food was fresh, prepared well, and our waitress worked hard to make sure we had a great breakfast.  We even had a chance to meet the man himself, Colin.  He was very nice and thankful for us coming out.  In fact, he was talking to everybody in the restaurant.  We love the theme of Estia’s American, we love the fun play on Mexican food, and we love the use of local ingredients.  Now you can check out Estia’s American for dinner, too!  Two green thumbs up!

Estia’s American

Noms: We’re going to hold off on giving Estia’s a rating until we try dinner, but so far, we’re thinking maybe 3.75-ish.

Cost: $$$

Address:  1020 Post Road (in the back lot by 1020 Post)

Darien, CT

Phone: (203) 202-7051

Site

Estia's American on Urbanspoon

Acclaimed chefs bring local food to Darien with Estia’s American restaurant

27 Mar

Update:  Estia’s is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Check out our review.

Chef Colin Ambrose was a locavore before people even had created that word.  His café, Estia’s Little Kitchen in Sag Harbor (Long Island), features Ambrose’s own fruits and veggies from his restaurant garden and whatever other goodies he can get his hands on from local farmers.  Now, I’m a Long Island boy, born and raised, so you’d be surprised how beautiful it is when you go further east.  Farms, vineyards, dairies…it’s amazing out there, almost like another world. Kristien LOVES it out there!

Estia’s American, soon to be open in Darien…

So, why do you need to know about Chef Colin Ambrose?  He has chosen Darien as the place to launch a new version of his Long Island hit that will be called Estia’s American.  You’ll find Estia’s American in the Brick Walk section of Darien.  Here, you can expect Colin to continue his love of using sustainable foods and local foods whenever possible.  Along with Colin, you’ll find Carissa Waechter, a culinary arts graduate from The Art Institute of NYC.  She has worked with some of the best in the industry, too.  She was head pastry chef at David Burke, Beacon NYC, and Donatella Restaurant.  She also worked with Chef Daniel Boulud (Top Zagat Rated Daniel), but took things in a new direction after that.  She went out east into Amagansett on Long Island (that’s near The Hamptons) to operate the Amagansett Farmers’ Market.  Around that time she co-founded the Amagansett Food Institute and began to make her own baked goods named Carissa’s Breads, made with local ingredients and wheat that she milled herself.  Milled herself.  That’s devotion (and perfection), people.

Breakfast

That devotion and love that went into Carissa’s baked goodies, will definitely flow over into the food here.  While they are sticking with some of the favorites from Estia’s on Long Island, they are also tossing in new flavors for some excitement.  This will be the kind of spot where you can get a cup ‘o joe, take your pick of goodness from the juice bar, and get a great breakfast that leaves you happy and content.  Don’t you love that feeling after a good breakfast?  Ah, it’s like the whole day is bright with promise.  While Kristien is excited about the Forest omelet with Portobello mushroom and goat cheese, I’m pining over the Cajun omelet that has andouille, tomato, onions, and peppers.  They will also have pancakes, french toast, breakfast platters, breakfast bowls, house made granola, and too many more options to even write about here.  Give the breakfast menu a gander?

Lunch

Here are some of the stand outs to us from the menu that we will gladly try:

Red Flannel Hash:  Chorizo, Potato, Peppers, Onions & Two Eggs (One of Kristien’s favorites)

Over Under Frittata: Arugula, Bacon, Mozzarella & Sweet Potato

 Lance’s Trance: Grilled Chicken, Avocado, Roasted Corn & Jack Cheese on Whole Grain Toast
Local Egg “Albondigas” Diablo:  Chorizo, Arugula & Carrots

It looks like lots of what you can get at breakfast will be available for lunch, too, so that’s pretty nice.

Dinner

Things change up a lot after 5, though.  The quaint Estia’s American turns into a smooth and comfy restaurant complete with big boy drinks.  There will be lots of American beer, liquor, and wine…and we’re also excited about the cocktails that the chefs will mix in.  Here’s some of the food that we’re dying to try:

Local, Free Range Pork Tamale with Chili Sauce & Sweet Corn

Turtle Rolls:  Flour Tortilla with Black Bean Puree, Avocado & Napa Cabbage

Roasted Beets with Grilled Goat Cheese & Fresh Greens

Hanger Steak Azteca* with Guajillo Potatoes & Spinach

Oh…and can you say Paella?  Andouille, chicken, shrimp, local fresh, and Little Neck clams.  So need and want.

So when can you start indulging in all this yumminess?

Estia’s American is now open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Address:  1020 Post Road, Brick Walkway

                   Darien, CT

Phone:  (203) 202-7051

Site:        www.estiasamerican.com

Estia's American on Urbanspoon

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