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Entries in Latin American (24)

Sunday
Oct162016

The Corner Restaurant in Milford: A Delicious Breakfast Adventure

Photo courtesy of CTWeekender.comAs the name implies, The Corner began as a small mom and pop breakfast place -- just around the corner in Milford.  Back then, nineteen years ago to be exact, Michelle and Amer Lebel mostly catered to the neighborhood, rarely filling their homey 50 seat café.

The eggs, potatoes and toast were damn good. But the star of the show arrived with the Stuffed French Toast: split French bread, filled with fresh, sugared fruit and berries, bathed in an egg batter laced with orange zest, nutmeg and cinnamon, then deep fried to a golden brown and served under a puddle of nutty maple syrup. The luscious confection scored an immediate hit, eventually inspiring a morning menu as adventuresome, imaginative, and playful as any in Connecticut, if not the country.

Today, Michelle and Amer’s creative breakfasts have been featured on network television and celebrated in all manner of social media.

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Friday
Sep022016

First Taste: El Segundo Opens in Sono Starring The Spread's Carlos Baez

Recently the CTbites team previewed the menu at El Segundo in South Norwalk, the newest restaurant from the talented partners who created The Spread just up the block. The concept:  Eat the Street. Intersect some of the world’s tastiest street food at the corner of Washington and North Water in SONO. 

What began as a tasting quickly turned into a party ... a coming out party for Carlos Baez, Executive Chef of The Spread, one of the region’s most versatile, yet unheralded, chefs. 

The menu flaunts Baez’ extraordinary range -- a gastronomic tour de force featuring over 3 dozen dishes curated from the boulevards and back allies of 27 countries on all seven continents, including barren Antarctica. (More about that selection later)   

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Sunday
Jul172016

Mezón Tapas Bar and Restaurant in Danbury – From the Heart, From the Home

Even though it’s one of the largest cities in Connecticut, Danbury was once regarded as a restaurant wasteland. The downtown eateries catered to a family demographic who sought a reasonably priced menu that took few culinary chances.   Very mid-century. However, in the past few years, a vibrant international food scene has burgeoned on the city’s west side.   The cuisines are sophisticated, diverse, and creative, reflective of 21st Century dining.

Many credit Richard Reyes’s Mezón Tapas Bar and Restaurant with transforming Mill Plain Road into destination dining. The year was 2011.  Reyes was then a former Wall Street Executive who decided to come home to Connecticut and open a restaurant where people could dine on food prepared in the Latin tradition of his family. From the heart. From the home. Richard was all of 25 … and Mezón posed far more of a risk than even the stock market. At the time, Mill Plain Road was dotted with a string of mostly red-sauce Italian/American restaurants. “Sure, we were taking a chance,” he recently told us, “But we helped break the mold.”   

Rich invited CTbites to sample some of the Latin and Caribbean fare that has attracted Mezón’s diverse and discerning clientele from across the region. Though the Paella and the Churrasco are the most popular dishes on the menu, Reyes had other ideas for our feast.

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Sunday
Jan032016

La Esquina Opens in Stamford: Authentic Latin Cuisine Just Around The Corner

You know that little place, right around the corner? The one that serves just that dish you were craving? The one that serves food you just know comes from a parent or grandparent’s tried-and-true recipe? You know the place, your go-to joint, always reliable, where you don’t have to dress up and you don’t have to spend a fortune?  Well, “La Esquina,” literally, “the corner,” is just THAT place, serving up authentic South American yummies with home-style flare and flavors that impress.

La Esquina Latin Grill, right on “the corner” at 50 Hamilton Avenue in Stamford, is a labor of love for the young and extremely talented co-owner and head chef, Robert Monegro. Chef Robert grew up in Stamford with his Guatemalan mother and Dominican father, both chefs. He decided that after learning all he could by growing up in the kitchen of his parents’ restaurant, Flamboyant in Stamford, he would put his own mark on the culinary map of Fairfield County. And he is doing just that.

 

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Friday
Jul032015

Aarón Sánchez & Chris Batemen Unveil Seasonal Menu At Paloma, Stamford

After a bloggers’ tasting at Paloma in Stamford’s Harbor Point, CTBites sat down with Chef de Cuisine Chris Bateman to review the menu -- and his creative relationship with celebrity chef-owner Aarón Sánchez.

Bateman is a culinary prodigy. Fresh from CIA, the young chef opened Four Seasons Restaurants and Hotels around the world. So debuting Paloma last summer wasn’t his first big time rodeo. Sánchez may be its star, but Bateman runs the day-to-day show.

We wondered how much the celeb is involved in the creation of Paloma’s menu. “Very much,” Bateman replies. “We work closely. But he’s wide open to my ideas, and listens really well.”   The unshaven, still youthful chef, sporting jeans and a Yankee cap worn backwards, confides, “Aarón is the reason I’ve stayed here.  I love cooking with him.”

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Sunday
Jul202014

Chef Aarón Sánchez Gives CTbites Preview of Paloma Restaurant, Opening in Stamford July 21

I never thought “gourmet” and “Mexican” belonged in the same sentence. Until I had dinner at Zarela's, a Mexican restaurant which had just opened on Second Ave. back in 1987.  A revelation!  Zarela Martinez orchestrated textures and flavors just as artfully and lovingly as the new chefs who were redefining Manhattan’s food scene.  Zarela’s fast became the Nobu of Mexican food, one of the hottest spots in town. There,  I learned the magic of mole and the enchantment that truffles could lend to an enchilada.  

A generation later, Aarón Sánchez, the Food Channel’s charismatic Mexican rock star chef, hopes that his new Stamford restaurant Paloma (opening Monday, July 21st, in Harbor Point) will similarly introduce Connecticut to the fire and the finesse of fine Mexican and Latin American cuisines.  Revelations run in the family --  Aarón  (pronounced "AH-rone") is Zarela's son.

For all his celebrity, Sánchez feels he remains not only in his mother's debt, but also her shadow.

"I honor her because she did it first," he told us when we chatted last week, a comfortable conversation marked by his humility and respect.

"I believe family is at the center of the Mexican experience."

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Sunday
Jul062014

TIERRA Opens in Westport: Locally Sourced, Latin-American Gem

Desperately seeking authentic Latin inspired cuisine with a strong Mexican flair and some cocktails that can render you “muy feliz?”  TIERRA could be the place for you. Deep, down (way down, under SPRUCE on the Post Road) in the heart of Westport is the new TIERRA, love child of married chefs Sue Torres and Darren Carbone. Torres - previously chef in such notable jaunts as La Grenouille, The 21 Club and former owner of Suenos in lower Manhattan  -and hubby Carbone (Rosa Mexicano and Alma De Cuba in PA) have created a cozy and inviting restaurant that has Westport diners in a chile infused tizzy. Complete with outside seating for 30 (perhaps not the greatest view but who cares, it’s summer!) and indoor seating for at least 45 - including a beautiful private dining room for 16 or so, TIERRA lures you in and treats you right.

Chef Carbone is always on duty and on our first visit, showed us around his well appointed kitchen and dining room. The cast iron, homemade tortilla press - a rarity - is in plain view and sous chef Mario was busy breaking down lobster and fresh Bronzini for the evening’s freshest picks. 

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Friday
Mar142014

Restaurant Scene Explodes @ Stamford's Harbor Point

Hard to believe, but spring beckons.  It’s just a few days away. And along with hyacinths and daffodils, a number of new eateries will soon be blossoming at Stamford's Harbor Point -- just in time for those hazey lazey dayz.  (Yes Virginia, there is a Summer)  

At the spectacular 6000 square foot Glass Garden on the waterfront, Aaron Sanchez is now shooting for a Cinco de Mayo opening for his new latin themed resto.   As CTBites first reported last year, Sanchez will be working his spanish sorcery in a sexy, high end dining, cocktail and wine lounge space.  But there's a name change:  “Alegre”  has become “Poloma”

According to Jon Sabrowski, Harbor Point's Leasing Director, a bouquet of other new eateries are targeting a Memorial Day opening.   Among them is an American grill from South End Hospitality, whose pedigree includes Black Bear, Darien Social, Bobby Q's and McFadden’s. The tap house will feature a rooftop bar, offering a panoramic view of the harbor and the Sound beyond.  (Yes Virginia, there are sea breezes.)  The restaurant faces the 22 story twin towered apartment complex currently under construction  (We can report that the 242 unit complex will not be the hotel-condo once envisioned.)

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Sunday
Nov032013

Post 154 Opens in Westport in Old Post Office Building

CTbites recently attended a press dinner at Post 154 in Westport to sample numerous selections from its award winning Chef Alex Rosado's introductory menu. Overall the dishes were visually artistic in their construct and many presented delicious flavors.

All reviews of Post 154 must include a little history of the building. The 1935 cornerstone outside the entrance commemorates the site’s original purpose as the Westport Post Office, constructed under The New Deal during the Great Depression. Architect Lansing Colton Holden Jr., a World War I flying ace who was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, designed the building upon his return from battle. The building’s new ownership redesigned the spacious interior with a combination of wood paneling, flowing drapes and relics from the early 1900’s surrounding the tables. A large U-Shaped bar, with over 250 seats, occupies the entire left side and leads to an inviting patio that allows for al fresco dining in warmer weather.

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Saturday
Aug242013

Baro New World Cantina: Latin American Tapas in Fairfield

Craving some Latin American delicacies? Head over to 1229 Post Road in Fairfield and check out the brand-spankin'-new BARO' New WORLD CANTINA, the latest labor of love brought to you by the Reyes family (also owners of MEZON and 2 other restaurants in Danbury.) The wine list is mostly Spanish but the food selection - served mostly "tapas" style - comes from Brazil, Uraguay, Argentina, Mexico and the Dominican Republic where Juan and Richard Reyes and family were born. The decor is welcoming and stylish, complete with a glass-faced ceviche bar which looks onto the bustling and aroma filled kitchen. Dark wood tables and benches, some high tops and a large bar as well as birch branch wall decorations are inviting. But the food's the thing. We'll be back for a more intensive review but here are our first impressions:

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