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Bars + Baristas

Las Vetas Lounge

Las Vetas, Fairfield

29 Unquowa Road, Fairfield

The hodge-podgiest coffee shop I’ve ever graced with my presence, this café boasts an enormous selection of teas and coffee drinks (Flava-Mave, Shizzler’s Toffee Chocolate Shake), retro candy (candy bracelets, Bit O’Honey), single-serve bowls of sugared cereals, wall o’ bagged chips, some baked goods, sandwiches, garage-sale seating …you get the idea. Coffee’s okay but – let’s be honest – completely beside the point.

Robin’s note: Good news is, the environment itself is so loud no one notices when your children act like non-domesticated wildebeest.

Who you’ll see eating here: Fairfield U students, moms with young kids, and a random sprinkling of 50 year-old men.

Their specialty: Coffee drinks.

What you should order: One of their crazy coffee drinks, bag of fritos, handful of mini chocolate bars, and some sort of hard taffy lollipop that’ll keep the kids busy while you enjoy your lunch.

What you may not know buy should: They don’t have a liquor license, but bring in a bottle of wine and they’ll serve it for a nominal corkage fee.
http://www.lasvetaslounge.com

Bars + Baristas     Fairfield    
Saturday, April 05, 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

Margarita Man

Margarita Man, Fairfield

Margarita Man
Mike Beetem, 860-790-1234

Every year my husband and I celebrate Mexican Independence Day with a large party. Being American, we change their day of freedom to whatever happens to work best for us, typically a Saturday night. So “Cinquo de Mayo” cheekily becomes “Secondo de Mayo” or “Octavo de Mayo” or whenever (and however we feel like translating it.) We think this is cool but it will probably be one of those dorky things that haunt our children far into their adult lives.

So when the stress of planning a party and knowing you’ll someday destroy your children’s social development starts becoming less fun than what you envisioned, it’s time to call… Margarita Man!

Margarita Man, aka Mike Beetem, saved my party and made me so happy I forgot about the other stuff that was bothering me. I simply told him when and where and he delivered a beautiful machine – all gussied up in a grass skirt and silk flowers – the afternoon of my party. He supplied the delicious mix, I supplied the tequila and the triple sec. After giving us a quick tutorial (1. Pour it in, 2. Flip the switch) he told us he’d pick up the machine the next day (which he did, precisely when he said he would).

And the party? WOW. Nothing says “Viva la Independence!” like one too many Margarita Man margaritas!

Click to read the rest ... "Margarita Man"

Bars + Baristas     Entertainment     Darien     Fairfield     Greenwich     New Canaan     Norwalk     Stamford     Weston     Westport     Wilton    
Monday, February 10, 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

Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant

18 West Putnam Avenue, Greenwich
222 Summer Street, Stamford
4180 Black Rock Turnpike, Fairfield
63.65 North Main Street, South Norwalk

Well, that was skeevy.

Before I dive into details, two things:

  1.  Barcelona is a delicious and delightful wine bar/tapas joint with a fun, noisy vibe.
  2. After reading this write-up, the new (and very kind) general manager of Barcelona SoNo, who was not aware of a certain employee’s behavior, contacted me to apologize. He was very concerned and expressed intolerance of such behavior. As of this writing, I’m confident that certain Barcelona employees will never hit on a patron—or, perhaps, anyone—again.

Robin’s note: One of the managers hit on me. Not in a flattering or coy way, but in a “God, it’s getting late and I haven’t picked up a chick yet” way. So here’s the story: I and 5 of my girlfriends go for drinks at Barcelona SoNo. We meet at 9:00 and there are several tables of women having birthday parties, drinks, whatever. When I ask a manager for the location of the restroom, he holds out his arm to escort me to a set of two doors in a narrow corridor across from the large glass wine refrigerator. I half-heartedly take his arm, then slide my arm back because it’s so queer.

An hour later I’m up again to use the facilities (I drink a lot of water when I tipple) and find both bathroom doors locked.

Click to read the rest ... "Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant"

Dining     Bars + Baristas     Fairfield     Greenwich     Norwalk     Stamford    
Friday, November 11, 2011 • Permalink

The Black Duck Bar

The Black Duck

605 Riverside Avenue, Westport

All hail our brave little eatery/watering hole featured on “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”. It caused a sensation, and rightly so. However, it’s better at night when the conviviality and darkness obfuscates its imminent slide into the Saugatuck River.

Who’ll you’ll see drinking here: Used to be the local cognoscenti and fishermen. It still is, actually.

Their specialty: Beer so cold it could remove a wart.

What you should order: Fresh lime margarita (beg for it) and request the good tequila.

What you may not know but should:
  1. When it snows, the Duck reduces drink prices.
  2. Consider patronizing the Duck on karaoke night if you enjoy crooning with people who wear: 1. ripped denim devoid of irony, 2. tight clothes, 3. cigarette company apparel.

http://www.niteimage.com/clubs/BlackDuck/BlackDuckCafe.htm

Bars + Baristas     Westport    
Wednesday, September 14, 2011 • Permalink

Doc’s Café

Doc's Cafe, Westport

570 Riverside Avenue, Westport

Chummy, eclectic coffee shop catering to early morning commuters and people who need an impromptu meeting space.

Robin’s note: Tribal masks adorn the walls. Not sure why except, maybe, to scare off sensitive children.

Who you’ll see eating here: Art-Smart moms, local politicians, cycling clubs, and die-hard fans.

Their specialty: Coffee & various egg sandwiches.

What you should order: Coffee & huge, homemade biscotti.

What you may not know but should: Rumors of a teardown have been flying for over a year. Word is: condos. They’re bound to be popular with trolls and others who might enjoy living beneath the I-95 overpass.

Bars + Baristas     Westport    
Tuesday, June 21, 2011 • Permalink

Caffeine

Caffeine, Norwalk

133 Washington Street, Norwalk

A kick-back coffee shop/tea house with intimate seating “zones” (Moroccan zone, rickety outdoor furniture zone, grandma’s sofa zone, etc.) and a fabulous cake selection.

Robin’s note: Their coffee cup sizes are “Pepped,” “Buzzed,” and “Wired.” That pretty much makes me love this place. That, and the chocolate cherry biscotti.

Who you’ll see drinking here: SoNo shoppers, art gallery owners, and people who listen to open mic poetry.

Their specialty: Select teas and local pastries.

What you should order: A good, reliable cup of coffee and Junior’s cheesecake.

What you may not know buy should: Coffee refills cost $1.

Dining     Bars + Baristas     Norwalk    
Friday, June 10, 2011 • Permalink

Acqua Bar

Acqua Bar, Wesport

43 Main Street

Acqua has a tiny bistro/bar “overlooking” the Saugatuck River. While the bar itself is airy and elegant, it mostly “overlooks” a parking lot which, in turn, “overlooks” the river itself.

No matter, though. One rarely patronizes a bar to watch a river flow. And after a few of their signature cocktails, the only thing flowing will be your insightful and witty dialogue with whoever will listen.

Robin’s note: My husband and I indulged in the Acqua Toscano and the Acqua Cocktail: each a blend of various flavored liqueurs and sweet mixes. Reflecting upon the ingredients, my husband inquired of no one in particular, “Are these going to be nasty?” Fortunately, they weren’t. In point of fact, they were damn good.

Who you’ll see drinking here: Diners, mostly. PDA couples late night.

Their specialty: Signature cocktails.

What you should order: Great wine list, too.

What you may not know but should: Can’t beat the parking.

http://www.acquaofwestport.com

Bars + Baristas     Westport    
Thursday, April 07, 2011 • Permalink

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