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Entries in Lunch (237)


HAPA Food Truck's Ahi Burger is a Killer Sandwich

When one of the best, young, rising stars in the area stops you as you walk by his food truck and says, “I really want you to try this sandwich,” you take notice. And when that sandwich raises the bar for food being served from food trucks, it deserves special mention. The rising star is Chris Gonzales, the truck is HAPA, and the sandwich is the Ahi Burger. This is one of the best sandwiches I have eaten in quite some time.

The HAPA food truck has been one of my favorites since it opened. The tacos, the burger, the fries, the Brussels sprouts are all out of this world. I never imagined I would write these accolades about a “tuna burger.” HAPA’s combination starts with wild caught yellowfin, furikake crust, edamame, edamame puree, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato and spicy mayo on HAPA’s Ube bun.

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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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The Halal Guys Opens in New Haven on The Green 

The iconic New York City food cart turned brick-and-mortar restaurant is open for business at 906 Chapel Street, New Haven

The Halal Guys, which originally started as a hot dog cart in 1990, gained worldwide recognition for its twist on traditional Middle Eastern cuisine.  Known for its secret white sauce and lip-tingling, explosive hot sauce, The Halal Guys has become a staple of New York City street fare.  Those with big appetites can plan on hearty portions of chicken and gyro over rice with salad, consistent with those served in New York City.  All ingredients are delivered and prepared fresh daily.  In addition to the world-famous platters, the New Haven location will be dishing up sandwiches, hummus, fries, and, for desert, baklava.

Drawing from the success of the original, the founders of The Halal Guys decided to open “brick and mortar” restaurants around the nation.  The Chapel Street restaurant is the first in Connecticut.  At least one other is in the preliminary planning stage for an undetermined location in the Stamford area.

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Chef Arik Bensimon Returns at Cafe 47 in Greenwich

Many of us felt a sense of loss when Le Farm closed and Chef Arik Bensimon decided to pursue his other passion and create beautiful wood bowls. His brilliance in the kitchen, combining ingredients and textures as only great chefs can do, would be missed. Quietly and with no fanfare, Chef Arik has re-entered the Fairfield County food scene, at a small café in The Perfect Provenance in Greenwich, where his latest venture again proves his culinary talents in an environment dedicated to luxury and charity. When we spoke to him after the meal we asked him about this intimate space versus some of the larger restaurants he has worked in. He stated that he wanted this size, a place to serve the foods from his past.

The Perfect Provenance is the brainchild of Greenwich resident Lisa Lori, whose personal mission is to ensure every child can smile. All three of her sons were born with a rare condition, one of the prevented them from smiling. Numerous surgeries eventually corrected each and now Lori’s Three Little Bears project donates a percentage of the proceeds from T-shirts and bags to Operation Smile. These products are featured throughout the Perfect Provenance and have raised over $1 million to Operation Smile. The store is a perfect place for luxurious products and cuisine.

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Hidden Gem: Ki Delicia Brazilian Bakery / Deli in Bridgeport Is All Delicious

Beginning her journey as a chef in Switzerland, Ki Delicia’s owner Fernanda Ferreira had the drive and determination to turn her dreams into a reality by coming to America with nothing but a suitcase and two sets of clothes. Fast forward to 2016, and her customer base has grown exponentially with people traveling from all parts of Connecticut just to get a taste of her incredible edibles. Upon visiting this hidden gem, I witnessed customers lining up around the block in their cars just to get their breakfast essentials. As a family run business both her son and her daughter, Clara Gaspar, help out with the intention of helping Ki Delicia thrive. “I think it’s still a hidden gem to many,” says Clara Gaspar daughter of owner Fernanda Ferrara.

When walking into Ki Delicia Bakery and Deli, you are drawn in by the welcoming aroma of Brazilian delights. Travel a few steps more into the building and it feels like home. Almost immediately, I was greeted by Ferreira and her staff who welcomed me into the establishment with a warm and welcoming presence like a mother who invites guests into her humble abode. 

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Sarah’s on Main in Portland CT: the “Cheers” of Breakfast

On the corner Main and Commerce in Portland is a cozy place that’s the “Cheers” of breakfast, Sarah's On Main—“where everybody knows your name and you’re always glad you came.” If you’re from either side of the river, don’t be surprised if you bump into old friends—or make new ones. I do both each time I go. Whether you find a spot at the counter or grab a table, there’s fresh and local deliciousness with a spin of creativity, courtesy of Sarah Weeden.

What began as a quest for waffles grew into a steady habit of breakfast—and occasional lunch—at my newest home away from home.

Day one, I realized I’d stumbled into a little gem when I tried the BLT Bennie. Served on toasted brioche, it’s sheer perfection of a Benedict, drizzled with Hollandaise. The hash of the day was summer squash and zucchini, which I requested instead of home fries. Thumbs up all the way around.

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A Taste of Boothbay Lobster Company In Stamford's Harbor Point

As we first reported last year, Boothbay Lobster Company wanted to bring the “wicked fresh" Maine seafood shack experience down the coast to Harbor Point in Stamford. Fade out. Fade in. The evocative new restaurant has just opened. At a recent tasting for the media, CTBites had a chance to discover what has been gained and lost in translation.

For starters, we were curious about the Down East take on Connecticut’s indigenous warm, buttered lobster roll. Before crafting their version, co-owners David Galin and Willie Craig examined and tasted our local renditions. They sampled bread, garnishes, butter portions, even weighed the meat in every roll. At Fairway Market, Galin unexpectedly found a commercial potato bun (Martin’s) that enjoyed great taste and structure. However, it was side loaded, not top cut, like most Connecticut lobster rolls. “I know it’s not totally traditional,” Galin explained, “but a potato roll seemed perfect. In Maine, we love our spuds.”  

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TerraSole, A Small Italian Eatery in The Heart Of Ridgefield 

Unless you’re a resident of Ridgefield you might not be familiar with TerraSole, a small Italian eatery in the heart of Ridgefield. But I feel it is my job to extol the virtues of this sleepy little gem that has been part of the town’s landscape since 2007, and is poised to enter its second decade with quiet confidence. I was invited to join a group of writers and editors to visit TerraSole and nearly declined. Am I ever glad I went!

When the weather is nice, diners can now sit outside in the newly completed terrace. The pale blue interior is simple yet charming. It is the food that takes center stage and rightly steals the show. While locals are avid fans, non-locals should take note. This charming yet understated destination is well worth the drive.

Owner Pietro Polini, who hails from Puglia and moved to the states in 1999, infuses the region’s flavors into his dishes.


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Sneak Peek at Boothbay Lobster Company in Stamford, Something Wicked Fresh This Way Comes

Every start-up dream begins with two words:  what if?

Once upon a time, David Galin and his buddy George Craig fantasized opening their own unique restaurant. But they were young and fate was very fickle. So each forged a highly successful non-culinary career -- in academics (David) and finance (George).  A generation later, the two pals found themselves fishing up in Maine; and on a sudden whim, once-upon-a-time magically became now.

What if they brought the seaside Maine Lobster Shack experience -- and all its Wharf to Table freshness -- to Fairfield County?  

Voila: The Boothbay Lobster Company, a unique concept restaurant at Harbor Point in Stamford, which opens for real next week.  Galin and Willie Craig  (George’s son, a partner in Boothbay, and himself fresh out of college) offered CTBites an exclusive sneak peek at a dream come true.  

“’Wicked Fresh’ is our pledge,” Willie told us.   Pulled fresh from clean, cold Maine waters, the seafood will be rushed by BLC’s refrigerated vehicle down the coast to Stamford.   “We don’t believe in tanking our lobster,” David added, explaining that holding crustaceans in tanks causes the meat to deteriorate, affecting its fresh texture and taste.   “This is why we source from day boats rather than commercial vessels,” he said.  That way he can guarantee that his lobsters haven’t been stressed for a time in the ship’s hold.

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Solid Choices at Tavern 489 in Glenbrook, Stamford

The newest addition to the Glenbrook neighborhood is Tavern 489, located at 489 Glenbrook Road, sharing the building with the newly relocated and reopened Tawa Restaurant (reviewed here). The building has a long history in the neighborhood, it originally housed the Moosehead Bar decades ago (thank you “Hey Stamford”).

The brainchild of owners Eric Monte and Partner/Executive Chef Regis Saget, Tavern 489 offers an eclectic menu, paired with various beer and wine selections in a rustic environment. The fully redesigned interior emphasizes wood and stone to create an setting reminiscent of an Adirondack mountain lodge, complete with exposed M-Trusses, a canoe dangling from the ceiling, a full front-to-back 18-seat wooden bar, additional wooden high-top tables plus a large wooden “picnic” table, all drawing focus to the imposing floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace in the rear. The walls are adorned with photos of Ernest Hemingway who, in addition to winning the Nobel Prize in Literature, was, according to Monte, the ultimate outdoorsman, a true man’s man, and his photos fit the rustic, outdoorsy feel that he was striving to achieve. 

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