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Dining

Bar Taco

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222 Summer Street, Stamford
20 Wilton Road, Westport

I’m reading Memoirs of a Sociopath and am convinced that everyone is a sociopath. At least the charming ones among you are sociopaths. So if you’re planning to manipulate me in cruel and sadistic ways, I have one thing to say to you: please don’t. I’m far too easy a target (to which my kids will happily attest.)

Who you should manipulate are the folks who decided we can no longer loiter with our margarita by the waterfront at Bar Taco in Westport. You see, our thrills are simple: we like to sip excellent cocktails while watching cars clear out of the parking lot across the river. So why destroy them? Either competing bars are envious of this recreation, or too many ducks are suffering blows to the head from falling glasses.

But aside from the occasional disgruntled duck, Bar Taco remains the suburbanite’s answer to nightlife. It’s crowded, scene-y, energetic, and kid-friendly. It’s also a restaurant, but most people don’t get too worked up about that. Me, I’m not crazy about most of the fare. But some people enjoy it. Take that however you’d like.

Robin’s note: During one of my many ventures to Bar Taco, the hostess spotted parents with a young girl waiting for a table. The little girl was dying of boredom and starvation, so the hostess ran over and gave her a coloring book, crayons, and chips. Nice touch, Bar Taco hostess.

Click to read the rest ... "Bar Taco"

Dining     Bars + Baristas     Stamford     Westport    
Wednesday, September 17, 2014 • Permalink

The Gray Goose Cafe

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246 Old Post Road, Southport

I was in France three weeks ago and noticed a number of women eating alone in cafes. Here, I see men eating alone at restaurant bars. Now, I don’t mention this to advertise I spent a week cavorting around Paris but to point out a potentially interesting socio-cultural phenomenon. And I write “potentially” because I don’t know if it’s interesting. I may never know. What I DO know is that it’s summer break, my brain is melting like a dropped popsicle on hot slate and I have renewed love and respect for teachers and compulsory education.

Anyway, I made this dubiously intriguing note on Tuesday night, when my girlfriends treated me to a birthday dinner at The Gray Goose Cafe. I darted from my home and screaming children the nanosecond my husband touched down on the driveway, allowing me a solid 20 minutes to observe the eating habits of lone males before my friends appeared.

One other observation: women order dessert. Men don’t.

As you may have now inferred, I needed a night out with my chicks. And Gray Goose, friends, does not disappoint. Granted, a Tuesday night doesn’t attract the most enticing of crowds (unless you’re over 60) but it hardly matters. If you’re not staring at the bartender with bright white hair (Let if flow, Elsa!) or musing over the eating habits of strange men, the fabulous cocktails and amazing menu will siphon any remaining thought power.

Not surprisingly, Gray Goose is brought to us by the same geniae behind Little Barn, Spotted Horse, and that ilk. Think cozy yet elegant barn-like atmosphere with hopping bar and minimal parking. The service is inconsistent - sometimes great, sometimes lousy, so manage your expectations.

Robin’s note: No appetizer or entree is over $25. And, yes, we had dessert (surprise birthday cake!)

Who you’ll see eating here: Older groups of men and women during the week. Couples and small groups of men and women age 35+ on Thursday-Sunday.

Their specialty: Lobster macaroni, Maine Lobster club, Ahi Tuna tacos.

What you should order: Lobster macaroni, Miso salmon with coconut rice

What you may not know but should:
  - There’s a “no reservation” policy so your downtime options are limited: drink or step outside and watch traffic. Thus the bar tends to be crowded and loud on weekends.
  - Thursday night is Ladies night! 1/2 price house wine and martinis, including those fruity little numbers we love
  - Live music on the tiiiiiny patio ever Sunday at 5:30 and Friday from 10 PM - close

Dining     Bars + Baristas     Fairfield    
Thursday, July 10, 2014 • Permalink

Match

Match, Norwalk

98 Washington Street

I don’t shower in the mornings. With 3 children awake and ready for action at 5:45 AM, I hit the ground running and, unless I’m going to be in close proximity to celebrities and movie producers, don’t shower until evening.

So it was last Saturday. The day was exhausting and moments before our sitter arrived I was weighing the pros and cons of bathing before date night. Bathing won, as looking like a slob does precious little for one’s sex appeal.

We decided to paint SoNo red and, after a watery cocktail at a hip bar, decided to cut our losses and eat at Match.

Ah, Match. The bartenders’ smiling faces, the exceptional (potent) cocktails, and the excellent New American cuisine. Every time we go there we wonder why we don’t go more often. Then we remember we have 3 kids who wake up before dawn. And we marvel at how we manage to get out at all.

Who you’ll see eating here: Couples mostly, ages 30-60 years old. Some groups of girlfriends ages 35-50.

Their specialty: Appetizers and anything wood-oven roasted.

What you should eat: “Carpgetbaggers” –fried Blue Point oysters and bunch of other stuff. Mmm…

What you may not know but should:
  - They’ve won every award from every local and food magazine in the country, from “Best Appetizers” to “Best Overall Restaurant.”
  - Maybe it’s the name, but Match tends to attract a lot of cougars and those who prey upon them.
http://www.matchsono.com

Dining     Bars + Baristas     Norwalk    
Tuesday, July 01, 2014 • Permalink

Splash

Splash, Westport

260 Compo Road South, Westport

This asian-fusion restaurant is Longshore’s crown jewel. It’s perfect for moms who’d rather drink chardonnay than sit on hot concrete while the 13-year old lifeguards lecture them (again) on the importance of keeping an eye on their wet, nomadic offspring. 

Robin’s note: The best lunch spot in Westport if you’re not with your kids.

Who you’ll see eating here: Groups of moms talking loudly and 35-50 year old couples.

Their specialty: Raw bar.

What you should order: Calamari salad – big enough to share.

What you may not know but should:
  1. They’ve won a bunch of awards.
  2. Bottles of wine are 50% off every Friday night during the holidays and winter season. (October – April)

Dining     Westport    
Monday, June 09, 2014 • Permalink

Java Coffee & Café

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44 Church Lane, Westport

I have observed, with a certain dark interest, the rise and fall of several eateries on this random bit of real estate, tucked around the corner from the Y and a touch inconvenient for Main St. consumers. Then, like a knight in shining armor, Java struck its sword into this plot of commercial property and out popped a great cafe.

Java - based in Idaho - is hip, colorful, and boasts excellent coffee. The service is prompt and friendly and they even keep a large dispenser of ice water and lemons by the door so you don’t have to lighten your wallet for bottled water. Awwww.

Holy cow, it’s healthy. The salads are rife with kale, quinoa abounds, and fresh salad accompanies almost everything. For cross-fitters and über-moms, there’s Paleo banana bread. For the rest of us, there are organic sweets and baked snacks. Soon it’ll have a wine, beer & limited liquor license.

It has an outdoor patio for eating al fresco, overlooking the lovely grounds of Christ & Holy Trinity. So the health benefits of your meal won’t be offset by the inhalation of traffic toxins.

Robin’s note: During one of my three visits in four days, I sat on the patio with friends. We happily agreed that hanging out there felt “just like being on Friends!” Which both dates us and divulges our communal belief that sitcoms are real and present a life to which we all aspire. So… there’s that.

Click to read the rest ... "Java Coffee & Café"

Dining     Bars + Baristas     Westport    
Friday, May 02, 2014 • Permalink

Graze

Graze

http://www.grazedelivered.com

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Graze(Click to enlarge)

So this goat farmer walks into my house…

That could be the beginning of a great joke or a bad porn flick. But it’s neither. It’s actually true. He comes to my home on Monday mornings and delivers fresh milk, eggs, chef-prepared meals, and other organic treats directly from artisanal farms in Vermont. And the price? No more than what you’d pay at Whole Foods.

Graze, the brainchild of Christy Colasurdo, a Westport mom and former New York magazine editor along with husband, Doug, and Vermont friends Julianna and Steve (a former CFO of Heineken Americas. Yes, male readers: beer) allows Fairfield County-ers to enjoy delicious farm-to-table foods to which they would otherwise have little or no access (farmers aren’t necessarily great marketers and, to be fair, vice-versa).

Chef Neil whips up a weekly menu of prepared foods, including a soup, adult dinner, kids dinner, grain salad, vegetarian alternative, tea bread, cheese, and much more. His meals and soups are beautifully prepared from local ingredients (Misty Knoll chicken, grass-fed angus beef, freshly picked vegetables) and are surprisingly, and refreshingly, well-seasoned (whoever decided that organic meals must be low-sodium should be locked into a room of hungry pre-schoolers. And their moms.)

Christy tells me, “We have taken great pains to make sure every ingredient we use and every product we sell is not only delicious and nutritious and wholesome, but also sustainably and humanely produced. (We) work with small farmers who know and love their animals and treat them with respect.

Click to read the rest ... "Graze"

Dining     Darien     Fairfield     Greenwich     New Canaan     Norwalk     Stamford     Weston     Westport    
Wednesday, April 09, 2014 • Permalink

The Little Barn

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1050 Post Road East, Westport

Opened by Kevin McHugh, co-owner of Spotted Horse and Grey Goose, I imagine the conversation he had with his Little Barn partner, Scott Beck, went something like:

McHugh: “I’ve had heaps of success naming eateries after farm animals.”

Beck: “But the only ones left are Pig, Cow… maybe a Housecat, a Rat.”

McHugh: “Right. Which one makes you hungriest?”

Beck: “Not… none.”

McHugh: “Hmm…”

Thus, The Little Barn was born.

The Barn, made from reclaimed almost everything, has a collection of perfectly worn license plates and a neon “Liquor Store” sign. These touches evoke a cozy “Aw, shucks” roadhouse environment, belied by the high-end bar with a parade of designer cocktails and wonderful gastro-pub fares. Which, of course, is irresistible to those of us who enjoy fraternizing redneck-style without actually involving rednecks.

The basic kids (“Half Pints”) menu appeals to, like, kids.

Robin’s note: The cocktails, concocted from fresh juice and top tier liquors are good, if inconsistent. The margaritas are sweet. Very sweet. I kept looking over my shoulder, expecting to be attacked by a flock of hummingbirds.

Their Specialty: Chicken Pot Pie

What You Should Eat: Excellent burgers and kale salad, Fish ‘n’ Chips, and pulled pork.

What You May Not Know But Should:
  - The chefs are flexible and happy to monkey around with your entrée. So if you want chowder on your chicken wings or bacon on your baby backs, just ask.
  - No entrée is over $20
  - The location used to Dairy Queen, then a lousy diner, then Swanky Franks. Some people remain wistful about these restaurants.
  - Beck and McHugh are proud Staples grads.
  - No reservations accepted.

Dining     Bars + Baristas     Westport    
Thursday, March 13, 2014 • Permalink

Spotted Horse Tavern

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26 Church Lane, Westport

Spotted Horse Tavern - with a lively bar, delicious food, and consistent service - has won over the hearts of foodies and divorcées alike. Painstakingly re-constructed from a dilapidated (“historic”) home, the tavern-chic interior compliments the upscale American comfort food and moderate prices. There’s no kiddie menu, but the entrees are palatable for picky nippers and the generous pours from the bar help increase tolerance levels among adults dining with them.

So come for the cozy meals and big cocktails, then migrate to the bar to watch men dust off their pick-up lines for women in short skirts.

Robin’s note: It’s not, technically, a cougar bar: older women are not trawling for wide-eyed innocents here. Our experiences indicate it’s more of a manther bar, even though I cringe at perpetuating the term “manther.” (Pumale? Catamant?) But an occasional lonely-heart one-liner doesn’t detract from the fun.

Their specialty: Lobster & Avocado BLT, Maine mussels, “Under a Brick” Grilled Half Chicken

What you should eat: Lobster BLT, Atlantic Salmon

What you may not know but should:
  - Parking is a teensy problem, but drivers who illegally park in the neighboring pre-school lot seem to have created an unsustainable solution
  - The Spotted Horse is owned by the same people who own The Grey Goose in Southport and The Little Goose in Fairfield
  - Food is organic and locally-sourced
  - Live music on Thursday nights

Dining     Bars + Baristas     Westport    
Thursday, March 06, 2014 • Permalink

Post 154

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154 Post Road, Westport


As recently as two years ago, I stood in line in the Post 154 building* in late December with three heavy boxes, two whining kids, and a migraine in a pear tree. So sipping a cosmo in roughly the same area is oddly satisfying, like yelling in a library after-hours or muttering inaudible threats to DMV workers.

While the space is lovely and conveniently located, the Latino-Italian-Portuguese fusion fare – many small plates and large plates - is inconsistent. Some love it, some don’t. But the bar is large, the atmosphere is inviting, and the mood is festive.

* Westport’s old post office.

Robin’s note: The drinks, like the lines at the post office, vary with each order.

Who you’ll see eating here: Families with tween kids, couples 35-65 years old, groups of women and men.

Their specialty: Golden Corn Bisque, Duck Confit Taquitos, Portuguese Octopus

What you should order: Heirloom Tomato Salad

What you may not know but should:
  -  Happy hour lasts from 3:00-6:00 M-F, with drink and appetizer specials.
  -  On Friday nights their house band “Swirl” does just that.
  -  The outdoor terrace, cold and creepily deserted in the winter, is lovely in the summer.

Dining     Bars + Baristas     Westport    
Wednesday, January 22, 2014 • Permalink

Have Kids, Will Eat

Eating at Bertucci's

Dining Out with Kids

Last Thursday my husband was forced to enjoy cocktails and a swishy dinner in NYC with fellow workfolk. Again. Normally he declines the dinner invitation so he can have a late dinner with his wife. Which would be so sweet if it weren’t for the fact that his wife has to make and clean up after said late dinner. So… yeah. Fun.

But this night he accepted the dinner invitation, creating a free evening for me and my three angelic offspring.

As luck would have it, all three were wearing outfits that neither embarrassed nor confused me. So I dolled myself up a bit in preparation of a nice meal at a kid-friendly restaurant like Rizutto’s or Bertucci’s.

Now, if you don’t currently have kids I should explain: dirty and snot-smeared is the new black, and taking children to dinner is the new nightclubbing. When you have kids, your old life doesn’t “change” so much as it ceases to exist. Kids become your life, and you learn to appreciate small things such as sitting on a dry toilet seat or having someone else wash your dishes.

Anyhoo, back to dinner with the kids. We settled into a booth and placed our order without incident. We all had reasonably tasteful outfits, adequate table manners, and the kids weren’t screaming fart jokes. And–-I swear I’m not lying—my oldest son shared something about his day at school!

The older couple next to us complimented me on my well-behaved children, which made me smug and generously sympathetic of parents with less tame charges.

Click to read the rest ... "Have Kids, Will Eat"

Dining     Kids in Tow     Westport    
Monday, November 28, 2011 • Permalink

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