Tag Archives: Stephen Lewandowski

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

A World of Flavors, Local Flare @ Harlan Social – Stamford (Harbor Point), CT

23 May

What to look forward to:  all photos by Evan Sung

Grand Opening – Tuesday, August 7th!
– Lunch service begins Wednesday, August 8th
– Brunch service begins Sunday, August 12th

Executive Chef Stephen Lewandowski has been all across the world, and has honed his culinary skills at some of the best restaurants in NYC.  We’re talking about Executive Chef at restaurants such as Tribeca Grill and the Myriad Restaurant Group.  As the opening of Lewandowski’s new spot drew near, we began to wonder about his new gig over at Harlan Social in Harbor Point, Stamford that would be opening in mere weeks.  How was construction going, what is his philosophy on food, what would be the focus of Harlan Social, and what would Harlan Social add to Stamford?  Well, we took our questions and released them upon a very kind, enthusiastic, and passionate Chef Lewandowski.

International Local Flavor Factor

Stephen has made it clear that he’s in love with travel and food from across the world.  On the Harlan Social Site, he says that he’s been to over 30 countries.  When I asked him about his favorite cuisine, he hesitated a bit.  “I can’t pinpoint my favorite, but I did enjoy Vietnam a lot.  The history, the culture, and the different flavor profiles of the food over there are amazing.”  Another great trip he had was to Southern Bulgaria, in a small mountainous farm area.  He relaxed and ate freshly made cheese with cucumber, tomato, and just-picked basil.  “The food was so simple,” Stephen excitedly shot out, “but so great.  Simple food.  They use the environment around them to craft their meals.”

This passion for local food shines through with the menu at Harlan Social.  The menu will change based on the season, but Chef Lewandowski doesn’t want to be limited to just that.  One of the greatest joys for him is changing up the menu whenever he wants.    Another great joy?  Translating the flavors and cuisines from his travels into amazing dishes such as plays on bánh mì and a braised short rib pierogie.

Snacks and Small Plates

Getting down to more of the food, Kristien and I noticed that the menu at Harlan Social is full of snacks and small plates, though there are entrées available also.  I asked Stephen why this was and he said that he loves a variety of food and choices.  “I want to take people out of the classical, ordinary, three course meal, ” Stephen proudly stated.  “You just order, food comes out…order a bunch of things, we’ll pace it out for you.”  There’s also a nice nod to vegetarian food because his wife, Heather Rae (Harlan is her maiden name), is veg herself.   Plain and simple, Harlan Social is taking a typical restaurant experience and is cooking outside of the box.

Events, Brunch and the Cheese Station (OMG)

At Harlan Social, they’ll be pulling some fresh mozzarella three times a day at the 13 seat cheese station.  Expect an amazing variety of other cheeses, too, that you can snack on while sipping on some wine, beer, or cocktails.  As for the events, get ready for some cooking classes that will teach you techniques, special food pairings, cheese nights, roast pig nights, wine tastings, and a natural chef’s table that makes it feel like you’re in the kitchen.  Harlan Social will also have a brunch that might prove to be a game changer.  Stephen told me there would be a big emphasis on the brunch.  “The cheese bar will turn into a crepe/waffle station and there will be one set price.”  We want brunch and cheese now…when can we start?

Drink Up!

Harlan Social will be featuring local and craft brews on tap, will have a nice wine menu, and will have fun and creative cocktails.  Drink up at your table or at the 55 person bar.  Yeah, that’s so big we can’t even imagine it!   Also, when you order a draft, check out where it’s coming from:  an iron clad draft beer cooler.  Swanky!

The Look, the Feel, of…Harlan

There certainly will be no lack of space at Harlan Social.  5,000 square feet with 20 foot high ceilings.  The dining area will be divided by a massively immense wine wall that measures in at 20 feet by 24 feet wide.  That will be a sight to be behold, but so will the ladder.  Yes, you know those fun ladders that hook onto library walls that can be slid across then climbed?  Yeah, they’ll have that!  The wall will not only be beautiful, but will also break the restaurant up into two parts.  The back half can be used for private dining that is attached to an outside patio.  Al fresco dining, here we come.

Stay Tuned

When we talked, there were a bunch of ideas floating around surrounding the opening.  Stephen talked about offering up special events and soft openings for their Facebook followers.  Some of the plans include a friends and family night and some special spots that might be auctioned off on the FB page.  You can’t get these chances unless you’re following, them, though.  So, keep an eye out for the opening of Harlan Social and check back here for a date, too.

They’ll be open when the timing is just right…you can’t rush culinary perfection.

Harlan Social (by Fairway Market)

Address:  121 Towne Street

Stamford, CT 06902

Phone:  (201) 264-7959

Harlan Social on Urbanspoon

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