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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

Barbara Barbara

Barbara Barbara, Southport

351 Pequot Avenue, Southport

As its name suggests, the more the merrier. And oh, gentle reader, how to impress upon you the degree to which this store is merry. There’s so much stuff packed into shelves and piled on tables you need a field guide and a degree in archaeology to shovel your way through the morass. But get through it you must, as your reward is twofold: 1) you’ll find something fabulous, 2) you’ll have a wonderful feeling of accomplishment.

Robin’s note: She has Christmas ornaments – in May! But I bought one, so she who laughs last, etc. etc.

Who you’ll see shopping here: Women 30-65 without children.

Their specialty: Everything.

What you should buy: Unique light fixtures and vases, and my daughter loved the plastic bananas…

What you may not know but should: She has a small collection of John Derian decoupage, including a rare placemat made from antique hand-written letters.

Home + Garden     Fairfield    
Friday, November 11, 2011 • 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    

Isabelle et Vincent French Bakery

Isabelle et Vincent, Fairfield

1903 Post Road, Fairfield

Mmm… located conveniently across from Dairy Queen (kill two birds with one stone and all that), this patisserie is a welcome dose of culture to a stretch of thoroughfare crowded with podiatrists and sandwich shops named after bugs (Roly Poly). The chocolate fountain at the entrance is enchanting and an appropriate harbinger of things to come; namely luscious pastries perfectly ensconced in chocolat (that’s not a typo – that’s French) and thickly layered with cream and butter.

The bread is magnifique, with flavorful baguettes such as Bacon & Onion, Parmesan & Thyme, and Olive. Each pastry is generously portioned and the triple-layer mousse with colorful macaroons atop is simply gorgeous. Everything—from the tiniest pink macaroon to the largest baguette—is made completely from scratch in the shop.

Martha Stewart loves this place, along with most newsworthy folks in the Western Hemisphere.

Robin’s note: There are three seating zones in the bakery: a lovely dining table area, tall stools, and a small window counter (through which to watch the Dairy Queen). All are quaint, but none terribly appropriate for a toddler who had to stretch out his neck and put his chin on the table to see his pastry. Fortunately, he was fine because toddlers are too young to know that’s not a great way to eat.

Who you’ll see eating/shopping here: Mothers buying pastries for their families and friends or seated with a child.

Their specialty: Almond and chocolate croissants, Napoleons.

What you should eat: Almond croissants: we watched the cooks make them, then we had one.

What you may not know but should:
  1. They’ve won a bunch of awards in the 3 years they’ve been in Fairfield.
  2. They should take the creepy dolls out of the chocolate case.

Dining     Fairfield    
Friday, June 03, 2011 • Permalink



Counselors to American’s Small Businesses, Fairfield Chapter

It was the late ‘90s. Like most young women in the free world, I decided to start a handbag business. Because I had no clue what I was doing, the handbag venture sort of fizzled. (I did get to tour creepy manufacturing facilities in New York and Fall River, though, so that was a plus.)

In retrospect, I did two things correctly with my business: 1. Consulted a retired businessman through SCORE, who gave me very helpful advice, 2. Folded.

Given today’s economy, thousands of people are starting their own small businesses. I advise them to consult SCORE for help. (Not to be confused with Scores. Biiiig difference.)

What they do: “SCORE… was established by Congress in 1964 as a nonprofit association dedicated to entrepreneur education and formation, growth and success of small business. … SCORE volunteers use their expertise and energies to implement proven business practices in accomplishing your business objectives.” (website) Counselors offer expertise in almost every skill (IT, General Management, Marketing, PR, Strategic & Growth Planning, etc) and in almost every interest area (Photography, Retailing, Traveling, Gardening, etc.).

Who they are: “The Fairfield County Chapter has 50 volunteer professionals with a very broad mix of senior executive and small business experience. These dedicated men and women include both working and retired executives and business owners.” (website)

Click to read the rest ... "SCORE"

Give     Darien     Fairfield     Greenwich     New Canaan     Norwalk     Stamford     Weston     Westport     Wilton    
Tuesday, May 31, 2011 • Permalink

Snappy Gator

Snappy Gator, Fairfield

1438 Post Road, Fairfield

I was, understandably, wary of this store, as the name simultaneously evokes the haunting legacy of ‘80s prep-school “fashion” and its lockjaw vernacular. So I was very pleasantly surprised to discover a jewel of a store with a beautiful collection of flirty party clothes.

Robin’s note: All of these clothes make me desperate for a dazzling party, from Trina Turk frocks to Johnny Was tunics and, of course, the requisite ruffled cardigans.

Their specialty: Colorful day-to-cocktail dresses

What you should buy: Patterned and embroidered tunics.

What you may not know but should: They carry a chic line of affordable jewelry.

Fashion     Fairfield    
Friday, May 27, 2011 • Permalink

S&S Dugout

S&S Dugout, Southport

3449 Post Road, Southport

Chances are pretty good you know nothing about S&S Dugout. It doesn’t even look like a diner. It looks more like a luncheteria that old men frequent because they’ve been doing so for the past 60 years. Because, my friends, that’s exactly what it is. But they don’t go there out of habit; they go because it’s damn good.

Practically unchanged since 1950, S&S’s only homages to the 21st century are a vegan burger, an egg-white omelet, and a hand-scrawled “See us on Facebook” note taped to the cash register.

The menu is posted above the grill. For breakfast, there’s toast, bacon or sausage, home fries, and some kind of egg. For lunch, your sandwich can be hot or cold. And that’s about as much choice as you get. Which is SO REFRESHING for those of us who go to Starbucks and order “coffee.”

The staff is friendly and fast, all meals are cooked to order, and the cook never takes his eyes off the grill.

Robin’s note: They make their spicy sausage and mashed potatoes in-house, in small batches. Both are grilled before serving. Even the potatoes.

Who you’ll see eating here: Families, dads with their boys, and old friends.

Their specialty: Breakfast and sandwiches.

What you should order: Eggs over-hard with spicy sausage and mashed potatoes.

What you may not know but should:
  - The 98-year old owner, Ed Saloomy, comes in every day to help out with the dishes general upkeep.
  - They were voted “Best Diner in Fairfield County” by John Piro. Whoever he is.

Dining     Fairfield    
Friday, May 20, 2011 • Permalink

Ann Taylor Loft

Ann Taylor LOFT, Westport

1499 Post Road, Fairfield
100 Greyrock Place, Stamford
17 Main Street, Westport

Three years ago, if someone told me I could either A) shop at ATL, or B) kiss a Madagascar hissing cockroach, I might have paused a moment and thought, “Well, that particular type of cockroach doesn’t bite and is considered among the more docile of the cockroach family.” Yeah. I wasn’t a huge fan of ATL. Then something happened. ATL began morphing into something sort of J. Crew wannabe-ish. Not great, but interesting. Then Gary Muto (formerly of Gap) took over and – holy cow! It’s so much better!

Their silk dresses are chic, feminine, and wearable. The tops are fun with tasteful embellishments, in primarily cotton and silk. The styles flatter by cuts and colors, not by smashing cellulite with built-in girdles or shrouding “problems areas” in tents of poly-blend lace. Plus, the prices and clearance sales are reliably fantastic.

Robin’s note: Gary Muto took over from past-ATL president Donna Noce Colaco who left a season or two before their fashion flourished. Funny enough, she is now president of Chico’s… no additional comment.

Who you’ll see shopping here: Women of all ages and backgrounds.

Their specialty: Silk dresses and embellished t-shirts.

What you should buy: Great cardigans and dresses.

What you may not know but should: ATL operates over 500 stores around the US, so its designs have to flatter a bunch of figures and make customers think they’re thinner than they really are. As a result, sizes tend to run large. 

Fashion     Fairfield     Stamford     Westport    
Wednesday, May 04, 2011 • Permalink

Driftwood Sandwich Shop

Driftwood, Southport

325 Pequot Avenue, Southport

This sliver of a diner in the endearing intersection of streets known as “downtown Southport” offers good food, charming atmosphere, and Bloody Marys with Sunday brunch.

Robin’s note: This diner has been around for 30 years, almost as long as you’ll have to wait for breakfast service unless you’re a well-heeled regular.

Who you’ll see eating here: Very Attractive Preppy People, from large extended families, to couples, to small groups of friends.

Their specialty: Sunday brunch dishes, including a shrimp and feta omelet.

What you should order: Bacon and tomato omelet with enough bacon to coagulate the most efficient of bloodstreams.

What you may not should: Each meal is made to order: the cook whips up each individual egg for the omelets and the bacon is fried in small batches. Which explains the long wait.

Dining     Fairfield    
Thursday, April 21, 2011 • Permalink

Southport Brewing Company

Southport Brewing Company, Southport

2600 Post Road, Southport
131 Summer Street, Stamford

When I was in Paris one summer I had dinner at a Chinese restaurant. That night, I awoke to throbbing pain and thought I was dying of cardiac arrest. Then I realized it was just my chest cavity exploding as lava hot acid conflagrated my heart. I mean, pork fried rice in the land of pâté de foie gras? I have only myself to blame.

Fast forward to the other night when I ordered a glass of wine and a wrap sandwich at a brewery. What did I think when I tried to hack my way through a piece of ligneous chicken? Bad habits die hard. Thankfully, no heartburn.

My husband, however, was wolfing down a fabulous burger and brew, loving life and unaware of my inner turmoil. I’ll never make the same mistake again, I told myself. I just hope I listened.

Robin’s note: SBC is very kid-friendly, offering crayons, masks, and great choices for picky eaters.

Who you’ll see eating here: Families with young children and older couples. Childless couples and people under 35 years old are in the adjoining bar.

Their specialty: Burgers and brew.

What you should order: Black and Blue burger – blackened burger with gorgonzola.

What you may not know but should: Their 27 home-brews are made on the premises, so diners are surrounded by a working brewery.

Dining     Fairfield     Stamford    
Friday, April 01, 2011 • Permalink

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