Tag Archives: Dan Kardos

Chef Dan Kardos of Bartaco Westport Teams up w/ Shearwater Coffee This Sunday

19 Dec

Sunday is all about coffee, chilling, and good food, so why not do all three at Bartaco in Westport? From 1-3 on 12/21, they’ll have a few treats for you. First up is Ed Freedman of Shearwater Coffee Roasters in Trumbull. He’ll be hanging out, so feel free to ask him all about the roasting process and what goes into the making of a good coffee. While you’re there, you’ll definitely want to check out what Executive Chef Dan Kardos (formerly of The Whelk, NOLA, Local Kitchen) is cooking up! That’s cuz he’ll be making up a special treat made with some Shearwater coffee.

And, since we’ve got you here, you can also check out Bartaco/Barcelona’s online shop for all kind of goodies! Act fast if you want delivery for Christmas: you’ll have to order today. Some items available are t-shirts, caps, glassware, olive oil, paella and sangria kits, their popular hot sauces, and the Barcelona cookbook. 

Chef Kardos brings New England + New Orleans together with NOLA in SoNo

9 Sep

NOLA.  While this word might conjure up images of New Orleans, Chef Dan Kardos and the owners from Southport Brewing Company had more than just New Orleans in mind when they put together the concept for NOLA Oyster Bar.  Think East Coast shoreline cuisine, and all you love about New England, mixed up with inspiration from the creole stylings of good ‘ole New Orleans. Based on this eclectic mix, it should be no surprise the menu is heavily focused on seafood, which is great because Chef Kardos happens to be straight from Fairfield County’s own seafood mecca, The Whelk.

We live on seafood in the summer, so you best believe we were excited to hit up this new restaurant with some of our favorite friends, Mike and Kelley (with two e’s, get it right). Being majorly early, like early bird special, eat with the blue-hairs early, we sat down at the bar for some pregaming.  Although they had a nice beer selection, we decided to start with some cocktails.  Kristien, Mike, and Kelley all started with Leenie’s Lemonade, a cocktail with Hangar 1 Maine blueberry vodka, fresh muddled mint, lemon, and simple sugar.  The lemon flavor hit first, but then you got nice notes of blueberry and mint.  Awesome and refreshing, not overly tart or sweet.  Dan had to be different and tried the French Quarter, made with rye whiskey, cardamaro, and old-fashioned bitters.  This has a classic kind of flavor and is a great choice if you love rye.  Because we were the first people at the bar for the day, the manager treated us to his soon-to-be-famous (by the time we write this it should already be famous) oyster shooters.  You’ll find this on the happy hour menu, but it just might show up on the regular cocktail menu soon too.  This shot is similar in flavor to a Bloody Mary with some kick and an oyster waiting for you on the bottom.  Very refreshing and a nice way to usher in our meal.

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Flawless & creative seafood dishes with a conscience. The Whelk – Westport, CT

29 Jan

We’d be willing to bet beaucoup bucks that if you asked anyone in Fairfield County that has a soft spot for local food (including us) what’s the best farm-to-table restaurant in our area, they’d tell you LeFarm in Westport without a second of hesitation.  How could they not? Chef (and owner) Bill Taibe is a culinary God. A harvester of all things amazingly fresh from local farms and conjurer of uniquely delicious dishes that will seriously blow your mind.

Can you tell we heart him just a little? It does help that he puts some form of bacon on most of his dishes, but whatever. 

So when we found out he was opening a seafood restaurant in Westport called  The Whelk, we broke out into the most ridiculous happy dance you’ve ever seen. Could it be that Chef Taibe and his Executive Chef Dan Kardos (from Harvest Supper and Napa & Co.) were going to finally fill what we saw as a giant gapping hole in Fairfield County: a flawless seafood restaurant with a conscience? After being treated to a tasting at their friends and family opening, we can safely say the answer is MOST DEFINITELY YES!

As one would come to expect from the owner of LeFarm, the interior is tastefully decorated. It’s sort of a quaint hybrid of French Country and New England maritime with fresh white walls, beautiful wooden tables, flickering candles and unique, slightly industrial, slightly nautical light fixtures. There are intimate bench seats along the wall, two large communal tables and a ginormous bar perfect for sipping Bloody Marys while sucking down some oysters. Hear that @afarsun?

Speaking of oysters, let’s get down to the food. Mmm hmm. Unlike most restaurants, The Whelk does not categorize its dishes into appetizers and entrees. Instead, dishes are simply listed, generally in order of small plates to larger plates, though everything is smaller sized in general so you can sample lots of goodies from the sea. Love that! Depending on what’s fresh off the boat or what they’re able to source from sustainable only resources, the menu will feature creative twists on some of your favorite dishes, like oysters, po’ boys, lobster rolls and poutine. We love us some POUTINE (no it’s not dirty, you’ll see what it is if you don’t know)! And yes, there is a fantastic raw bar for those of you that like your seafood au naturale.  There’s also a nice wine and beer list featuring some local gems and some fun concoctions created by our adorably bubbly waitress, Ingrid, like the T N Tea made with tequila, chamomile tea, thyme, simple syrup and fresh squeezed lemon. Danny ordered the Old Burnside Dirty Penny Ale, a toasty, full flavored black n’ tan, while I had a full-bodied 2009 Cotes-du-Rhone blanc that was a PERFECT pairing for the dishes I ordered. So let’s get to it:

If you know me at all by now, you’ll know I started with the oysters. Usually loyal to raw oysters only (most people can’t cook ’em too well), I took a chance and ordered roasted oysters. Ok, not just roasted oysters – roasted Copp Island oysters with pancetta, shallot butter and lemon. Oh all things that are heavenly, these were the BEST cooked oysters I’ve EVER had. Only oh so slightly roasted, these buttery oysters melted in your mouth while the fat and earthiness of the pancetta balanced it right out on your tongue. Wow.

For the next soiree in my mouth (tee hee) I had the smoked bluefish croquettes with an aioli drizzle, prosciutto and a fried egg. Yeah, pretty much any time something has a fried egg on it I have to order it. These croquettes were ridiculous! So incredibly delicate and moist (ugh, must think of a better word for moist). The smokiness of the bluefish was like “slap you in the face” smokiness that worked perfectly with the salty prosciutto and the rich, fattiness of the aioli and the egg yolk. Yeah this dish was true perfection.

Danny HAD to order the octopus and squid poutine. That’s french fries smothered in beef gravy and harissa (a hot chili sauce from North Africa), topped with grilled squid and octopus. This dish may sound wacky and daring to you, but it’s a sure bet! The fries are salty, thin and are somehow able to maintain their crunchiness despite being smothered in the spicy awesomeness that is the beef gravy and harissa combo–really a unique flavor you’ve probably never experienced before. And, of course, the seafood on top was cooked to perfection which is never easy with squid and octopus. Yeah, we’ll definitely order this again.

And, for his second course, Danny got the squid ink cavetelli with red shrimp and chorizo. If you know anything about Danny, you know HE has to order anything that has squid ink pasta in it. Yeah, he’s kind of obsessed for some reason. Now, we didn’t include a picture of this dish because we have to warn you, the black cavetelli looks like some sort of giant bug, but we promise they don’t taste like it. They were cooked perfectly al dente with that distinctive salty, sea fare, squid ink bite. The shrimp, also always tough to get right, were cooked very nicely and the chorizo added the necessary smoky, fatty flavor to make it all work so well together.

For dessert I was very tempted to order the blood orange panna cotta but decided to go with something completely unique and original to The Whelk: the Ewe Blue and Joe Froggers with honey. What? Yeah, I wondered what the heck it was too! It’s ewe blue cheese from Old Chatham, NY and  ginger snap cookies drizzled with local honey.  It sounds totally bizarre but it totally works. A wonderful balance of that blue cheese bite, the spiciness of a ginger snap and the sweet, sweet goodness of honey. Definitely hits all the taste buds in just the right way. And finally, Danny ordered the Whoopie Pie–a soft, fluffy chocolatey cake sandwich with fresh, creamy smooth whipped cream filling, Yeah, just look at that sexy picture. YUMMY!

In case you couldn’t tell, our experience at The Whelk sneak preview opening was wonderful. We have no doubt Chefs Taibe and Kardos will keep up that awesomeness for years to come. So, if you love seafood you must try The Whelk out as it’s sure to be one of the best seafood joints in Fairfield County. And, if you’re the type to appreciate local, regional and sustainable food, you too must come here because they’re as authentic as it gets. It’s a win, win.

Let’s be clear:  there are no reservations except for a few tables, so come expecting a bit of a wait because people love wicked good seafood.  Good things come to those who wait, though, right?

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

The Whelk on Urbanspoon

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