Tag Archives: review

A Feast of Classic Rustic Italian with Modern Flare @ Bar Sugo – Norwalk, CT

5 Mar

How’s this for a greeting while you’re waiting at the bar for your table?  A manager comes up to you, gives you a plate of prosciutto-wrapped truffle fries, then gives you the following message from the chef:  “It’s about damn time.”  Yeah, it was about damn time we got down to Bar Sugo in Norwalk and Chef/owner Pat Pascarella had the right to call it like it is!  He had invited us several times and had even invited us to the inaugural Vinsotto wine event, but the world always seemed to conspire against us going.  Yet, here we were at the cozy and rustic Bar Sugo, ready for what would be a meal of epic proportions.

We decided that we’d take it easy, sampling a few things on the menu.  Starting off, we’d go with three cicchetti (Italian for small snacks) that were $7.50 each, 3 for $20, or 5 for $30, we’d go for three mozzarellas (same pricing as the cicchetti), the meatball sampler, and we’d end up with the cavatelli that both Mark Famous and Andrew Dominick recommended when they saw our check-in.  It’s cool to have foursquare friends who love to eat!  Well, that was the plan anyway.  Yes, we got our dishes, but Chef Pat provided us with even more so we could get a full taste of what Bar Sugo was all about.  By the time we were done, we tried 24 different items on the menu (that includes the Barrel Aged Negroni and the wine).  Ugh, we think we’re still full! Ready for the most epic review ever captured on our blog?

Asparagus with duck prosciutto, and black pepper

The asparagus came two ways:  raw and pickled.  Having both on the dish was a nice idea, but we really loved the vinegary pickle vs. the bitterness of the raw.  The duck prosciutto was really great and wasn’t overpowering despite the saltiness you expect from a cured meat.

Rabbit loin with lentils, prunes, and mustard oil at Bar Sugo in Norwalk

Rabbit loin with lentils, prunes, and mustard oil

Continue reading

Harlan Social: Hype or Happening? Stamford, CT

16 Aug

Local food, hot shot Chef Stephen Lewandowski from NYC, swanky new space in the new Harbor Point area, ginormous bar, craft beers–from the day we heard about Harlan Social it seemed to have exactly what it takes to be the go-to, happening new spot in Stamford. And, it was for that exact reason that we had to pounce on opening week to check it out for ourselves and see if it was the real deal.

We always try not to let the hype of a newly anticipated restaurant give us inflated expectations, so we walked in with open minds. The experience started off wonderfully. The host & hostesses greeted us with big smiles and lead us immediately to our seats. The space overall was nice: very large, modern, comfortable and warmly decorated. There were plenty of tables, some outside, and a huge, hip looking bar. Within minutes our waitress came over and asked us what we’d like to drink. Unfortunately, from this point forward everything sort of went downhill… Continue reading

Unsuspecting spot brings approachable farm to table food to Wilton. Bistro 7 – Wilton, CT

15 Aug

Back in October of 2011 Breno Donatti followed our blog and encouraged us to try out his, and his partner Matt Criscuolo’s, Piccolo Gelato Bar & Cafe in Ridgefield. Well, turns out Breno and Matt were up to more than just slinging gelato, they were also opening up the brand new Bistro 7 in Wilton!

So when Breno invited us to come out to Bistro 7 for a special blogger preview dinner, we had to oblige! Before even getting there we were excited for the food.  With Chef Kris Grossman‘s focus on fresh ingredients from local sources, his love of organic food, and making food from scratch, could we really go wrong?

Well, we couldn’t and we didn’t.  Starting things off, we were greeted by our nervous server, Carolina.  Not nervous because OmNomCT is scary, but just because she wanted things to be great and just right.  She did a great job all night, checking in on us and making sure that we were enjoying everything.  Carolina also serves triple duty here, also tending bar and creating desserts as the pastry chef.

When our orders for drinks and food were in, we had a chance to talk with Breno and got a taste of what it was like to run a farm to table restaurant.  Starting off, Chef Grossman has to be very flexible in terms of the menu and ingredients.  Sometimes you just can’t find the right items locally or they are out of season.  Also, because they won’t freeze or store large amounts of food (potentially wasted), they could run out of ingredients much faster than other restaurants that usually fall back on frozen ingredients.  So, they solve these challenges by creating new dishes all the time and keeping the menu quite large.

Well, let’s dig in and give you some snapshots of Bistro 7: Continue reading

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

Attain taco nirvana with the help of a culinary god. Bodega Taco Bar -Fairfield, CT.

19 Jun

It’s official, Chef Michael Young is seriously a culinary god. Yep, I said it. It’s impossible for anyone to deny it when he owns a restaurant as awesome as Valencia Luncheria, was Executive Chef at Habana when it was awesome back in the SoNo days, and Ocean Drive, when it, too, was awesome. And now (of course) the recently opened Bodega Taco Bar in Fairfield.  Oh yes, Bodega Taco Bar was every bit as amazing as one would think if they’ve ever experienced Chef Michael Young’s food.

In true Chef Michael fashion, Bodega Taco Bar is no ordinary taco bar. Sure there are tacos… and they’re amazing. Sure there’s tequila… over 30 of them in fact. But there’s also a plethora of creative and unique platos (principal plates), tortas (sandwiches), antojitos (little cravings), and sides with a sexy Latin twist to keep you from getting bored with the same old Mexican standbys (not that we don’t love ’em).  In fact, the selections were so amazing we (as usual) labored over what to get for way too long. But then again, so did our dinner mates, long time Valencia fans, Dave and Jo Plain.

Well, let’s start with the ambiance. If you’ve ever been to Valencia Luncheria, you’re probably expecting that “hole in the wall” vibe at Bodega Taco Bar, but you couldn’t be more wrong. The spot is fairly small with about 4 or so 4-person tables, a handful of tallboys, and a nice sized dine-at bar. But they sure did pack a lot of coolness into that small space. Wow, I haven’t said coolness since the early 90s. Anyway, it had a very sleek and clean design with a beautiful repurposed wood bar, tables and walls, to a brushed steel bar base, to a dark metal rafter ceiling with amber-ish glass light fixtures hanging down. Really, just the perfect combination of materials to give it that sleek-finished feeling, but still feel relaxed and down-to-earth.

After a bit of a wait, which is probably going to be the norm for quite some time, we dove into the menu. No questions asked, we all agreed on some guacamole to start. The guacamole was freshly made to order with chunks of tomato, cilantro, a hint of lime and jalapeno for a nice kick. Danny and I both swore we tasted some sort of hot sauce, but our waitress didn’t think it had any. Whatever, we’re sticking to it. Either way, this guac was a great start to our meal. We also accompanied this, and the rest of our meal, with some margaritas which were tasty too!

Next up we all shared the Bodega Grilled Corn, the Blistered Brussel Sprouts, and the Yucca Fritas. S0, OMG we are going to have dreams about the Bodega Grilled Corn for months, years even. What could be so awesome about corn you ask? Oh, my friend, one bite and you’ll be in corny heaven. Err, yeah. Just picture perfectly grilled sweet corn loaded with butter, lime juice, cotija cheese and ancho chili dust for a little kick. RE-DONK-U-LOUS. Words can’t even describe. Then, next best by a very close second was the Blistered Brussel Sprouts. Cooked perfectly to give them that nice crispiness, almost caramelized with what we believe was agave syrup for just the right amount of sweetness to balance the bitterness inherent to the those yummy little sprouts! And last, but still pretty tasty were the Yucca Fritas, cut thin like potato sticks with just the right amount of oil and salt to flavor them up.

And just when you thought we were done with the appetizers (do you even know us at all?), Danny and I also shared our must-have appetizer, the Ceviche de Mariscos. We are pretty picky about our ceviche and this bad-boy did not disappoint. Not only were the shrimp and scallops incredibly fresh tasting, but they were also bathed, along with avocado, in just the perfect amount of citrus and tomato juices. And for the perfect final touch, it was served with a delicious tostone, or a twice-fried plantain that looks like a potato cake.

Onto the main course. Danny and Dave ordered the same thing, three tacos: an Americano, Argentino and Cochinita Pibil, a tender pulled pork taco with refried beans, cilantro and pickled red onion. They unanimously loved all three tacos, but the Americano was a stand out in their minds. The only crispy taco on the menu, the Americano was full of flavor with perfectly seasoned ground beef, manchego cheese and salsa rusa. The Argentino was also a terrific, juicy, flavorful combination of perfectly cooked hangar steak asada, charred onion, cilantro and salsa de chili de arbol. Then, because three tacos are never enough, Dave ordered another Americano and Danny got the Baja based on the waitresses recommendation. Danny was blown away by the Baja which was packed with panko crusted mahi mahi, fresh pico de gallo and just a nice touch of lemon aioli.

Jo ordered the Seared Scallops platos with roasted corn and fresh tomatoes, which while pretty small, she said was delicious. And I ordered the Pollo Rico tortas because it had goat cheese, and you know I have never been one to pass up anything with goat cheese. Ever. Goat cheese wasn’t the only thing awesome about this sandwich. Add a juicy chicken breast, slap on some refried beans, some deliciously caramelized fried plantains and tangy pickled red onions in between what seemed to be freshly baked, thick and hearty bread. It was an absolutely fantastic flavor combination that I will have a hard time forgetting.

So if after reading this post you’re not already en route to Bodega Taco Bar, get there pronto, and go back mucho times because there are so many amazingly creative dishes to try there from their tacos and beyond. This spot is sure to become not only a Fairfield fave, but likely a destination people travel for much like Valencia Luncheria, because that’s just how Chef Michael Young rolls.

Noms:  4.25

Cost:  $$$

Bodega Taco Bar
Address: 1700 Post Road
Fairfield, CT
Phone:  (203) 292-9590
Site: http://www.bodegatacobar.com/

Bodega Taco Bar on Urbanspoon

Hallelujah! A feast worth waiting for? Bar Rosso – Stamford, CT

15 May

Many people count down the days to, say, a vacation, or the holidays, or  a wedding, a due date, whatever. We… we countdown to restaurant openings. Yeah. So it’s no surprise that every time Bar Rosso in Stamford announced a new opening date, we were on the phone desperately trying to make reservations, only to be bummed out by another false alarm. But, hey, we know how it goes with renovations, contractors, licenses, training, and all that other craziness required to open a new place so no hard feelings. Especially no hard feelings after finally experiencing the divinity last night.

Now we only went to Bennett’s once (the restaurant that use to be in this spot), so we don’t remember exactly what it looked like, but when we walked in we were amazed at how incredibly different it looked. It is so much more open and contemporary. A much younger, hipper vibe with with a nice large bar, funky modern glass light fixtures, a beautiful stone wall, an impressive stainless steel and brick pizza oven, and subtle, clean colors.

We were 15 mins early for our reservation but the host was able to take us right to our table – a nice little two person booth and table set up. Score! Not even a minute into being seated a waiter asked us our preference on water, then no more than three minutes after that another waiter, Fedrico, was at our table asking us if we had any questions on the drink menu. The waiter seemed knowledgeable about the wine menu… impressive.  After ordering the Castello Monaci Piluna 2007 Primitivo, Federico showed up with our bottle in just another two minutes along with some fresh bread and olive oil. Yay! There’s nothing I hate more than having to wait for wine, and then having nothing to gnaw on to go with it. The wine was a nice, full bodied red, similar to a Zinfandel with the taste of dark red fruit. A solid choice to go with a variety of dishes, because after looking at the menu we knew we were going to be trying a whole lotta dishes!

So what about the menu you ask? Wait for it. Waaaaait for it. Overall, the menu was really nice! A large variety of traditional and unique Italian fare including pizzas, pasta that could be ordered in half or full portions (love that), salads, larger entrees, meat and cheese platters, and a ton of small dishes that could be mixed and matched. Oh wow, where to begin?!  After much deliberation (as alwaaaays), we went wild. First, a meat and cheese platter of some of our go-to faves: prosciutto, sopressata, coppa, peccorino (organic) and homemade mozzarella. Then onto small plates: polenta fries (based on the Foursquare recommendation), greens and cherries, and beets agrodolce (because we never say no to beets). Next up, clams and pancetta from the apps menu, cooked in a saffron and white wine, and herb broth. Aaaand last but not least (because there was also dessert) a half portion of the Bucatini pasta with braised pork, tomatoes, olives, and fava beans. Phew, ok, breath.

So remember how I was raving about how fast the service was. Um yeah, that ended after we got our wine… which is an indication that the waiter was probably good, but the kitchen was backed up. Yeah, all in, were we there for three hours. But, we’re not going to judge them on this because it was their first weekend so we have to cut them a break. Ok, back to the food…

The meat and cheese platter came out with a cheat sheet explaining everything we ordered. Cool! They did a great job sourcing the meats and cheeses because everything was fresh, tasty and flavorful. Their homemade mozzarella was semi-soft and quite tasty, though I prefer soft, juicy mozzarella. Everything also came with a delicious strawberry jam. Mmmm.

Next up, the small dishes. The beets agrodolce (meaning sour and sweet) came in a cute little mason jar. And while they were not at all sour OR sweet (weird) they were tasty. A bit too salty (you’ll notice this is a theme) but still quite good. The greens and cherries too had a nice flavor with a pretty hefty helping of garlic (I’m not complaining) and a spicy kick, which we later found out was Calabrian (Calabria represent!) chili oil. While this dish tasted nice, we couldn’t eat too much because they were drenched in too much oil. Now onto the pièce de résistance, the polenta fries. Oooey gooey bricks of buttery, fluffy polenta fried in a nice light batter with salt (again, a bit too much, but it didn’t bother us as much here). OMG, these were frickin’ good. We highly recommend them.

Already a little full, we moved onto the clams and pancetta. Hey, no rest for the wicked! A nice helping of both crispy pancetta and fresh tasting clams in what seemed to be a slightly thickened broth of white wine and a bunch of great flavors really coming through, especially the saffron and garlic. Again a bit on the salty side, but overall a nice dish.

Barely hanging in there, and already a little tipsy, we made it to the last course, the Bucatini pasta. This dish was fantastic with al dente pasta topped with a heavy helping of incredibly tender slow roasted pork that was cooked in coriander for a very unique taste. My only critique here is I would’ve liked more tomatoes, but it was very good regardless.

Ok, I know what you’re thinking. There’s noooo way we had room for dessert, right? Well, you’re right, we had absolutely no room. Buuuuut, we went for it any way. Whatever, go big or go home people! The dessert menu looked too good to resist with hot chocolate cake, honey panna cotta, like ten different gelatos that all looked fantastic, and one of our favorites, pizza frite. Oh fried dough, so simple, yet so very very delicious. This one especially as it came drenched in Nutella and chocolate ganache with a side of caramelized bananas topped with nuts. Um yeeeeah. A perfect dish, with perfectly fried dough that was oh-so ooey gooey (ok, I used that twice in one post – minus 5 points). Washed down with some Illy coffee, it was the perfect ending to our feast.

Yep, a feast that was definitely worth the wait. And once they get all the kinks worked out to speed up the service and if they lay off the salt a bit, they’ll be great! But those two issues aside, the meal was delicious and we think Bar Rosso has a long, successful life ahead!

Noms: 3.25

Cost:  $$$

Bar Rosso

Address: 24 Spring Street

Stamford, CT 06901

Phone: (203) 388-9640

Reservations recommended (also on Opentable.com)

Site: http://www.barrossoct.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001687354172

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/barrossoct

Bar Rosso on Urbanspoon

Searching for junk food heaven, ended up in junk food purgatory. Flipside Burger Bar-Fairfield

19 Feb

 

Patty Melt Burger! 10 oz to Incapacitation

Is there ever a day that goes by when you couldn’t go for a nice greasy burger or crispy, sizzle-sazzled fries?  Don’t even try lying, we all know you’re full of it.  To be alive you must love burgers, it’s in our Constitution.  You might as have a scarlet “A” embroidered on your shirt if you admit to not having burger cravings, seriously.  Yeah, then whip yourself to purge the evil desires of the flesh–beef that is.

Well, recently we found ourselves in our old haunt of Fairfield (we use to lived in Black Rock) because we claimed a killer deal from Groupon that snagged us 16 bucks worth of food for only $8 at Flipside Burger Bar.  Not too shabby! ;)  The menu was right to the point and not too big–just front and back.  There were burgers, dogs, shakes (adult and virgin), sandwiches, and salads.  Salads?  Salads!  Yeah, that should be ratified into our Constitution too.  Something about not serving salads at a burger bar.  But, I got ya–not everybody eats meat.  Hey, I was veg for 10 years, I know what it’s like. :)

Well, Kristien saw one thing on the menu and nearly burst:  Root Beer Float.  She only saves floats for special occasions and I guess this was one.  Then again, any time out at a place that serves root beer floats is a special occasion!  I went the naughty route and ordered the Chocolate Covered Nutty Banana shake.  It wasn’t overly chocolately which I was really happy with, but the banana flavor didn’t really come through.  :)  I could definitely taste the Frangelico in there, giving it that nutty taste, but like I said, the banana taste was very subtle because of the banana liquor.  Try as hard as I could, I couldn’t stir that bad boy enough to mix in all the liquor so it all pooled down at the bottom.  It was a good drink, but I just wanted more banana, especially if that’s in the  title of the shake.

Now, onto our burgers.  Kristien had the artery clogging Breakfast Burger, topped with bacon, cheddar, and a fried egg.  The meat was cooked well and the bacon and cheddar were tasty, but the egg yolk was cooked through (adding that to the Constitution, yolks must be soft and runneth over) and, the burger fell short on the spice and seasoning department.  It almost seemed that they had the ground beef in the kitchen and forgot to put all good stuff inside to make it awesome.  We both agreed that with the extra seasonings, the burgers would be great.  Instead, the toppings stood out more and were more of the stars.  On the side was some pretty good coleslaw and you can trust Kristien on that.  She’s the coleslaw conneseiur, but I despise the stuff.  I can’t even let it touch my food or I’ll flip out.  Who else is with me on that one?  And, of course, she had some fries smothered in cheese.  The fries were nice and crispy and crunched oh so nicely when you bit in, but–again–they needed seasoning or even just salt.

Then there was my burger.  I had a choice:  Sirloin at 6 oz. or a Fat Boy at 10 oz.  I thought I was hungry, but I was oh so wrong and would greatly pay the price for ordering that Patty Melt 10 ouncer!  This burger was a beast.  Just look at the picture. Seriously. Look at it.  You’ve got a burger piled on top of tomato, onion, and lettuce, sure, but there’s more.  Oh so much more.  Buns aren’t needed here.  Flipside uses grilled cheese sandwiches.  Oh. hell. yes.  The flavors going on here with this burger were ridiculous and out of control because of the sandwich au fromage grillé. I just looked that up to impress you–did it work?  But, like Kristien’s burger, my beef suffered from spice-dysfunction.

Flipside Burger Bar has lots of potential here.  They just gotta get their salt and seasoning act together, though, if they’re going to feed the masses.  We’d definitely come back here again and see if they’re worked on their recipes and what their other food is like.  So, in the meantime, we’ll keep getting our burger fix at Filling Station Company in New Canaan, CT.  They’ve perfected the burger experience and are turning 1 in March and are having lots of free giveaways including a year of free lunches!

Noms:  3
Price:  $$
Flipside Burger Bar
Address:1125 Post Road
Fairfield, CT 06824-6005
(203) 292-8233
Site:  http://www.flipsiderestaurant.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Flipside-Burger-Bar/174557600918?ref=ts&sk=wall
 

Flipside on Urbanspoon

The anticipation is killing us – Bar Rosso, Stamford

13 Nov

Update:  Bar Rosso is now open! Check out our review for the Omnomability!

Maybe we’re a little obsessed, but we’re counting down the days to the grand opening of Bar Rosso in Stamford (where Bennett’s Steakhouse use to be). In case you haven’t heard, (what, you’re all not as infatuated by food as we are?), Bar Rosso is a new Italian tapas restaurant started by the ingenious creators of Napa & Co. Not too many details have been released yet, other than a wood burning pizza oven, over 250 wines (OMG), homemade pasta, homemade limonecello, and a 50 ft. bar that’s sure to be quite the scene! Our fingers are crossed that the menu and wine selections are as creative and exciting as Napa & Co, but at a more affordable cost so we can eat there OFTEN!

You can follow the progress with us on their blog.

Bar Rosso
Address:  24 Spring Street
Stamford, CT 06901
Phone: (203) 388-8640
Site:  http://www.barrossoct.com/
 

Bar Rosso on Urbanspoon

The grocery store to end all grocery stores – Fairway Market, Stamford

7 Nov

We were a little hesitant to review Fairway Market after our first visit, simply for that fact that it was such a massive sensory overload, there was absolutely no way we absorbed everything in that first trip. Well, that, and it was so freakin’ busy I’m pretty sure I now know what cattle feel like when being herded through a gate.

That said, we agreed that like many Stamfordites, our first impression really would either make or break Fairway Market as our grocery store of choice.  So, for all intents and purposes, we’re just going to ignore that part about the massive crowds since that’s sure to die down in a week or two.

From the moment we walked in we were incredibly impressed by the ginormous fresh area, which you’re forced to walk through first. This unique layout reinforces their whole fresh, healthier positioning by keeping you out of the middle aisles from the start.  In the fresh area you can find every fruit or veggie you can imagine, from the average onion to the more exotic cactus pears and persimmons. Then over to their RIDICULOUS artisanal cheese selection (AKA my personal heaven), then to the fresh pastas, sauces, soups, salsas, salads, pickles, olives, hummus… holy crap! And the olive oil and vinegar section? We didn’t even know olive oil was produced in so many regions, but we darn well sampled them all at their sample bar, which led us to buy the most DELICIOUS bottle of syrupy sweet balsamic vinegar (just like it was in Italy) privately labeled for Fairway as super premium. YUM!

To add to the list of highlights was a full deli, meat market, fresh seafood counter, and bakery with fresh baked breads and sweet, sweet homemade goodies! Now, sure, all our area grocery stores have a mix of two to three of these, but NEVER all four done to the extent Fairway Market’s is! Anything you could need from any of these sections is available at your fingertips.

And, if you find yourself buying everything in site because you’re so hungry, you can stop by the intense cafe area for everything from pizza and paninis, to indian and chinese, to burgers, dogs and fries. Of course we had to get a little sometin’ sometin’ to tide us over, so we indulged in the balsamic chicken sandwich with roasted red peppers, olive oil, mozzarella, and broccoli rabe on their amazingly oooey gooey fresh baked bread.  DE-LISH!

Once we were done exploring the utopia that is the outer perimeter, we ventured into the inner aisles, for a satisfactory, but less impressive experience with the exception of these highlights:

– COFFEE PARADISE – barrels and barrels of deliciously aromatic coffee beans from all over the world armed with eager employees ready to help you choose, grind, and bag, as well as well-written signs to describe each beans’ characteristics.

– A ton of organic / natural choices in all categories, including personal care and home care.

– Fresh granola, nuts, candies, peanut butter, snack mixes, etc. ready for your bagging.

On the flip side, the layout of the inner aisles was confusing, with awkward placing of organic from traditional groceries, and the same types of food being spread out in two, sometimes three different aisles.  Assuming we can get past this strange layout with a view visits, we’re still left challenged with these three pitfalls:

– While all their fresh made and privately labeled food looks phenominal, none of it, not one thing, had the nutritional information on it. For a couple that tries to count calories (emphasis on tries) during the weekdays, this is a huge issue.

– Their selection of pet food and frozen food was very limited, which basically means we need to go to a second grocery store to finish our trip. How much is it to ask to have a ONE-STOP grocery store that has everything you need so you don’t need to waste your weekends grocery store hopping?

– And last, but not least, price. We thought Fairway Market was suppose to be significantly more affordable than Whole Foods, but, sadly it was marginally less expensive. Our bill came to $208, which is about $20 – $25 less than Whole Foods, and about $20 – $35 more than Stop & Shop.

After weighing out the good with the bad, we’re pretty sure Fairway Market makes the cut as our grocery store of choice… mainly because of the fantastic fresh areas and varieties. For this, we’re willing to pay somewhere in between fancy and traditional prices. We’ll be sure to update our blog once we’ve had a few trips under our carts… err, hats.

Address:  699 Canal St.
Stamford, CT 06902
Phone:  203.388.9815
Hours:  8AM-10PM
Site:  http://www.fairwaymarket.com/stamford.html

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New Italian spot offers inventive menu – Tappo, Stamford

7 Nov

Ah, to try new restaurants, in hopes that you might find the one that becomes your favorite, that jewel to place in your proverbial crown (or something like that).  Tappo, only opened a few weeks ago, and based on our friend Dave’s recommendation, we were really wishing this would be true.  When we arrived, we were struck by how nicely the dining room was decorated.  The space is small, with a limited amount of tables.  We checked in with reservations, but still had to wait, though the hostess was very friendly about it.

To start, we ordered the Insalata di Rucola con Pomodorini e Scaglie:  arugula, cherry tomatoes, and shaved grana.  The lemony/acidic hints of the dressing were cut nicely by the earthy and sharp taste of the grana cheese.  By itself this was a very good salad, but we added the softest, most delicate Prosciutto di San Daniele from their nice menu of Italian meats.  Making this combination ourselves was good and made up for a limited amount of salads to choose from.

For my main dish, I didn’t have much trouble deciding on the Guanciale pizza.  This dish really had everything that I love in the world on it:  browned fingerling potatoes, cured Italian bacon, white cheese sauce, and a sprinkle of truffle oil.  Start with a light, fluffy crust that isn’t too thick or too thin.  It reminded me of the consistency and taste of a zeppole.  All the tastes together synced so well and were amazing.  The only thing that I wished was different was varying textures because everything was soft/chewy.  The Italian bacon was in strips and few parts were crunchy.  If the chunks were smaller and crisped up a little before putting on the pizza, I think this would be a killer dish.  It was a bit hard to swallow when you were down to the last slice, so this is a dish that would be better to be shared.

Ending off the meal, I had a nice thick and strong duo shot of espresso and had two scoops of gelato:  chocolate/hazelnut and olive oil.  The scoop of chocolate/hazelnut was definitely strong and had a nice light hazelnut taste, though there was quite a strong after taste of cinnamon that I didn’t particularly enjoy.  I was left with that “gritty,” “drying” taste that cinnamon can often have.  On the other hand, the olive oil gelato was creamy, fresh, and had that nutty, fruity taste of olive oil.  It was surprisingly good and left me wanting more.

In all, this restaurant has a unique and creative view on Italian food.  The food was great, but the wine was overpriced as compared to the price of the average dish.  We ended up paying $45 for a bottle that would probably cost $15 at a wine shop, and should cost $30 for a restaurant like this.  There was only a handful of wines under $50, the lowest being $35.  The dishes were reasonably priced, though, which brings us to a rating of $$$ out of 5.  Nomability?  We’ve got to give this new Italian a very respectable 3.5 Noms out of 5.  Ciao!

 Also, check out our review on their San Danielle pizza, featured on CBS Connecticut.
 
Noms:  3.5
Cost:  $$$
 
Address:  51 Bank Street
Stamford, CT 06901
Phone:  (203) 588-9870
Site:  http://www.tapporestaurant.com
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001655225989

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