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Bars + Baristas

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

Espresso Neat

20 Grove Street, Darien

Tucked behind – WAY behind – the tiny shopping area that is downtown Darien exists a delightful coffee shop with some of the best coffee I’ve had since Switzerland.

Robin’s note: Try the dainty yet surprisingly tasty ham and swiss sandwich – rivaled only by Bouchon Bakery in NYC.

Who you’ll see eating here: The Beautiful People from Darien, including a very handsome man my mom spotted.

Their specialty: Personal gourmet roast slow-drip coffee.

What you should order: Personal gourmet roast slow-drip coffee with a mini cupcake. And the aforementioned sandwich.

What you probably don’t know but should: They’re not a chain, and you can order your holiday SoNo Bakery pies here!
http://www.espressoneat.com

Bars + Baristas     Darien    
Wednesday, March 09, 2011 • Permalink

Barnes & Noble Café

1076 Post Road East, Westport

I know, I know: a big chain bookstore isn’t your idea of Java Nirvana. But for roughly $1.76 you can sit for hours without getting the hairy eyeball from proprietors and bored baristas. Plus, it’s far enough from the entrance that the winter chill doesn’t icecap your coffee each time a customer enters.

Robin’s note: I’ve spent hours of my life here, tapping away at my Macbook and pawing through unpaid magazines.

Who’ll you’ll see drinking here: Shoppers, writing groups, book clubs, occasional harried moms with kids, and older men who appear daily and sit in the corner.

Their specialty: Starbuck’s coffee: but they’re not a Starbuck’s so they don’t accept their gift cards.

What you should order:  Pretty much anything you’d get at Starbuck’s.

What you may not know but should: Free internet access. And it’s a great place for spotting faded cabaret stars, celebrity ex-wives, and a Weinstein or two.
http://www.bn.com

Bars + Baristas     Westport    

Martel

Martel, Fairfield

2316 Post Road, Fairfield

Mmm…Martel. This charming, noisy bistro on a random stretch of Post Road is one of the best restaurants in Fairfield County. I’ve never had to wait long for a table despite the crowd, and it’s pretty much always crowded with hip folks and a smattering of the aged.

The food is wonderful and the wine list superb. It’s a favorite nosh spot of many residents and regulars, due to its moderate price point and excellent value. The wait staff never rushes your meal or reacts to your insightful and witty comments about the daily specials.

Robin’s note: Don’t eat in the bar area unless you want someone’s elbow in your appetizer. Space is limited, patrons are many, all are jovial, and everyone’s drinking.

Who you’ll see eating here: Elderly regulars and well-dressed couples ages 30-60, most in groups of four. Some children.

Their specialty: Braised short ribs, lobster risotto.

What you should eat: Seared scallops, truffled macaroni and cheese.

What you may not know but should: They don’t accept reservations, which is actually great for the socially disorganized.
http://www.martelrestaurant.com

Dining     Bars + Baristas     Fairfield    
Wednesday, February 16, 2011 • Permalink

V

V Bar, Westport

1460 Post Road East, Westport

When asked what she did for fun, a recent acquaintance of mine responded, “I go to the V bar on Wednesday nights for cosmos and free pizza.” 8 PM the next Wednesday found me and my new friend glued to a barstool, licking dry our near-empty martini glasses, and marveling at how three hours could fly by so quickly.

Robin’s note: They boast a selection of 21 wines by the glass, but their generous cosmo made me forget about the wine… and almost everything else.

Who drinks here: At happy hour, single people between 25-40. Later in the evening, couples 35-60 years old waiting for a table at the restaurant.

Their specialty: Wines by the glass.

What you should drink: Wednesday cosmo, baby!

What you may not know but should:
  1. They offer cosmos every night, but the hump day barkeep shakes it best.
  2. If your belly’s not at the bar, you’re not zoned for free pizza.

Bars + Baristas     Westport    
Monday, January 31, 2011 • Permalink

Balducci’s

Balducci's, Westport

1050 East Putnam Avenue, Greenwich
1385 Post Road East, Westport

Balducci’s is best known for being expensive. But did you know they have a nice café? You can settle down with a large cup of coffee and a scone, sushi, or sandwich. Actually, you can buy a dozen farm-raised littleneck clams and a pound of swiss cheese and eat it here; the cashier will ring up anything in the store you’d like with your beverage of choice.

Robin’s note: If you focus on your caffeine, you can almost imagine you’re in a quaint coffeeshop…. until some brown-suited wahoo squeezes through the tables with a cart full of groceries, holding up the coffee line for 15 minutes. Honestly—why?

Who you’ll see eating here: Local employees and women 40-60 years old meeting a friend for coffee.

Their specialty: Pre-made and made-to-order sandwiches, such as brie/ham on a baguette and mozzarella/sundried tomato.

What you should order: I love their scones.

What you may not but should: They have plenty of outdoor seating which, yes, is by Post Road, but set back far enough your snack is unscathed by flying debris and diesel fumes.
http://www.balduccis.com

Bars + Baristas     Greenwich     Westport    

SoNo Baking Company & Café

SoNo Baking Company, South Norwalk

101 South Water Street, South Norwalk

According to nutritionists, we crave carbs because they give us a high. So if carbs are the gourmand’s recreational drug of choice, then SoNo Baking Company is crack-cocaine. Seriously. If Dr. Atkins had consumed even the tiniest of muffin crumbs, he would have burned his books, planted himself next to the cooling racks and gained twenty-five pounds in 3 days.

Robin’s note: The café in SoNo is an immaculate white space with large plate glass windows through which you can watch the bakers. And by “bakers” I mean “performers”: it was riveting theatre. And it kept the kids entertained while we ate.

Who you’ll see eating here: Local yuppies (are we still using that word?) and young families.

Their specialty: Baked goods, especially bread.

What you should order: Chocolate croissant (two bars of chocolate!)

What you may not know but should:
  1. Muffins go quickly, so arrive early if you want one.
  2. Don’t order the fruit salad. It has apples and some other hard fruit.
  3. John Barricelli, the owner, is young, handsome, and will invite you into the kitchen to take a photo of your children looking through a plate glass window. No word on marital status.
http://www.sonobaking.com

Dining     Bars + Baristas     Norwalk    
Monday, January 24, 2011 • Permalink

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