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Bars + Baristas

The Loft

The Loft, Norwalk

97 Washington Street, South Norwalk

A fabulous, spacious bar smack-dab in the middle of SoNo, where you can sip tiny martinis while watching derelicts beg for cigarettes.

Robin’s note: My peach bellini martini made me nostalgic for frat party Fuzzy Navels and, you know, all that comes with that.

Who you’ll see drinking here: 20-40 year olds who party in Norwalk and 35+ couples waiting for a table at a nearby restaurant.

Their specialty: Chocolate martini with Godiva liqueur and a chocolate kiss.

What you should order: Stick to the basics, because your other options include “Pumpkin” and “Pineapple Upside Down Cake.”

What you may not know but should:
  1. Their chocolate martini was voted best in the U.S.
  2. Their “champagne floater” is Freixenet. So don’t say I didn’t warn you.
http://www.theloftsono.com

Bars + Baristas     Norwalk    
Thursday, January 13, 2011 • Permalink

The Red Barn

292 Wilton Road, Westport

Truth is, I’m on the fence about this one. But, reasonably, bars are few and far between along the Merrit. So anything above a beer in a parking lot deserves a plug. Plus, this is the only one with a wagon wheel chandelier.

Robin’s note: For a $10 Cosmo as big as your head, look no further. Sure, the waiter admits it’s occasionally sent back, but what a value!

Who’ll you’ll see drinking here: Typically, people who are also eating. But they’ll make an exception on a slow night.

Their specialty: Affordable wine from a large distributor.

What you should order: Brand name liquor.

What you may not know but should: The bartender’s specialty is an espresso martini. Which sounds like a good way to ruin a perfectly good shot of vodka. But some people dig the crazy buzz. The same people, evidently, who like wagon wheels.

http://www.redbarnrestaurant.com

Bars + Baristas     Westport    
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 • Permalink

The Pine Social

The Pine Social, New Canaan

36 Pine Street, New Canaan
Bar/Lounge Review Only

Door opens: Enter, sit, [bartender approaches] order, sip. All of this in one seamless, fluid motion, and by the time my husband enters (fielding a call from friends who can’t find the restaurant) I’m happily enjoying a Chardonnay and trying to edge in on my neighbor’s conversation.

That alone would win me over, but wait: there’s more: The Pine is New Canaan’s latest farm-to-table hot spot, bustling with patrons and a chatty, fun vibe. Sure, it’s located a block or two off the main drag and, yeah, on a cold night the trek seems a bit Elie Wiesel-ish, but that’s only because Fairfield County residents are spoiled by centralized downtown areas. Or maybe it’s just me. Whatever. 

Robin’s note: My husband is the only patron who’s ever ordered “very good sipping rum” there. They did not have rum that qualifies. So if you go for the sole purpose of sipping rum, prepare to be disappointed.

Who you’ll see drinking here: Right now, every New Canaan resident dying for a new place to reconnoiter. Mostly couples ages 40-7 and girlfriends out on the town.

Their specialty: Wine-by-the-glass from their list of 15 international wines.

What you should drink: Wine or a stand-by cocktail: right now there are no house specials.

What you may not know but should: Around 8:00 a man with a guitar shows up to quietly entertain the loungers and nearby diners.
http://www.pinesocial.com

Bars + Baristas     New Canaan    
Wednesday, October 27, 2010 • Permalink

Red Lulu Cocina and Tequila Bar

Red Lulu, Norwalk

128 Washington Street
(Bar review)

It’s SoHo in SoNo: cacophonous, fun, sexy, red, and packed with well-dressed people and over 150 premium tequilas. So what if the crowd is pulling 40 instead of pushing 30 and the speakers are pumping some sort of loud yoga music? You are in Norwalk, folks. And after 5 or 6 weak margaritas, your friends will be pulling you off the cocktail tables and, most important, grateful they’re not driving you 1 ½ hours home.

Robin’s note: The margaritas – though cleverly named – are weak. Yes, they’re made with fresh juice, but a cocktail’s not going to make you healthy no matter how many “fresh” drinks you throw back, so stiffen up that bad boy and drown it in preservatives if necessary.  It’s a new lounge with (by all appearances) rooky bartenders, so I’m sure a little experience (and well-placed editorial) will promptly rectify the situation.

Who you’ll see drinking here: Residents of surrounding towns ages 30-55. Many are waiting hours for a table at the Cocina.

Their specialty: Tequila shots.

What you should order: Try something other than Patron.

What you may not know but should: If you drink long enough (until midnight) on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday you’ll see the dining floor transform into a sort of a thing that RL hesitates to call a nightclub per se. But you can shake your wild thang and max out your credit card until 2 AM.

http://www.redlulu.com

Bars + Baristas     Norwalk    
Tuesday, October 05, 2010 • Permalink

Splash

Splash, Westport

260 Compo Road South, Westport

Can you truly say you’ve been to Westport if you’ve never been to Splash at Longshore? Yes. But why would you want to? There are scary few decent bars (enterprising dipsomaniacs, please take note) in the area and Splash is home to one of the best.

Robin’s note: Expect crowds on weekends.

Who you’ll see drinking here: Westport residents, their friends and family.

Their specialty: The Splash Mojito with acai blueberry vodka, lime, mint leaves, and plenty of blueberries. 

What you should order: Wines by the glass. The General Manager, an oenophile, serves excellent, affordable wines. At last count, there were seven whites, three sparklings, and five reds available.

What you may not know but should: The Patio Bar is great for swingers and divorcees, but an awkward place for young families.

Bars + Baristas     Westport    
Monday, September 13, 2010 • Permalink

Tavern on Main Bar

Tavern on Main, Westport CT

146 Main Street, Westport

One of the few—and only—bars in Westport is the Lounge, or “Tap Room” in this restaurant. It’s cozy, historical, and let’s face it: your options are limited.

Robin’s note: A must-visit when bar-hopping with girlfriends—the bartenders aren’t as old as their environs.

Who you’ll see drinking here: Mom and Dad, Mom and Dad’s Mom and Dad, and whomever stumbles in after 10.

Their specialty: Blueberry-Pomegranate martini (or, as one witty bartender brazenly proffered, the “Cougar Martini”).

What you should order: My girlfriends dig their tequonics.

What you don’t know but should: The menu of specialty drinks and martinis changes seasonally.

Bars + Baristas     Westport    
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 • Permalink

The Cedar Brook Café

The Cedar Brook Cafe, Westport

919 Post Road Esat, Westport

My girlfriends and I decided to patronize this bar upon hearing of its imminent closing. We knew it was a gay bar and somehow had convinced ourselves it was rife with attractive, toned men who love to dance with straight married women. Oh, the degree to which we were wrong.

The 7 of us entered fresh off a wine-soaked meal and boogied past the near-empty bar to the dance floor. We busted several moves while the disco lights flashed off the mirrored paneling. A respectably large crowd gyrated and flailed about with us in the small room, waving their arms and trying to dance like Justin Timberlake. Then I realized we were just seeing our reflection in the paneling…

We did have company: 12 or so young Hispanic men and women draped over chairs and each other, limp with boredom.

The Brook was established in 1939 as Cedar Brook Inn, accepting gay customers at a time when homosexuality was outlawed. The owners sold the Inn in 1973 to Paul Kish who changed it to the bar currently known as The Cedar Brook Café. It was once celebrated as the largest gay bar in the U.S. with the highest liquor sales (the merits of the latter are debatable and, I imagine, not mutually exclusive from the former, especially in the ‘70s.) Recently it has become a haven for blacks and Hispanics.

Due to decreased traffic and high rent, current owner Clem Bellairs had to end the party on June 26, 2010. According to Westportnow.com, “’Westport is turning into every other town,’ [Bellairs] says about a more staid, suburban lifestyle that has supplanted the dance club scene that burgeoned in the 1980s.” Which kind of makes me feel… directly responsible.

Of special and sentimental note, the strip club across the street, Krazy Vin’s, changed into a Starbucks. I wonder if they changed the bathrooms, too.

 

Bars + Baristas     Westport    
Tuesday, June 29, 2010 • Permalink

Rosie’s

Rosie's, New Canaan

27 Elm Street, New Canaan

As its names suggest, Rosie’s is a small-town Mom and Pop eatery. Granted, the “small town” is one of the wealthiest towns in the US and “Mom” is a professional New York City chef. And it shows.

Robin’s note: Unlike most charming area bistros, Rosie’s is actually open and ready for service at opening time. Also, they serve tea in blue and white china cups, which is so totally British and way cool.

Who you’ll see eating here: Young families and hungry shoppers.

Their specialty: Carrot cake with mile-high frosting.

What you should order: Never say no to mile-high frosting. Also the avocado/ham breakfast burrito.

What you may not know but should:
  1. They’re closed on Monday.
  2. Rosie’s is attached to a delightful little bookstore with an impressive selection.
http://www.rosienewcanaan.com

Dining     Bars + Baristas     New Canaan    
Monday, March 22, 2010 • Permalink

Solaia

363 Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich

This chic subterranean “wine cellar” enoteca devotes itself to indulging imbibers of the bubbly.

Robin’s note: I was thrilled to note an extensive list of by-the-glass champagnes, including vintage champagnes for $30 each. But don’t be surprised if your waiter is as bubbleheaded as your wine.

Who you’ll see eating here: 30+ year olds, mostly couples dressed up for a night out.

Their specialty: Quail with seasonal preparation, homemade pastas.

What you should order: Fried artichokes.

What you may not know but should:
  1. Diners receive a complimentary flute of champagne upon arrival.
  2. They’ve won several “Best of the Gold Coast” honors.

Dining     Bars + Baristas     Greenwich    
Tuesday, March 16, 2010 • Permalink

Rizzuto’s

Rizzuto's, Westport

540 Riverside Avenue, Westport

A spacious, comfortable wood-fired pizza & pasta spot, Rizzuto’s is a welcome alternative to Bertucci’s for the ever-popular Weekend Family Dining Out Night in Westport (WFDONW). Primarily because the din drowns out the shrieking that often accompanies tiny people.

Robin’s note: The large bar area is yet another alternative for those wishing to patronize Rizzuto’s without participating in WFDONW.

Who you’ll see eating here: Families.

Their specialty: Wood-fired pizza and seafood.

What you should eat: Pizzas with a unique list of toppings, from pesto cream sauce and smoked pancetta to caramelized onions and clams… but stick to the basics.

What you may not know but should:
  1. It’s a chain, but a good one, with a raw bar and artisan bread.
  2. Kids love the Worms & Dirt.
http://www.rizzutos.com

Dining     Bars + Baristas     Westport    
Thursday, February 18, 2010 • Permalink

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