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.
Chef Regis is no stranger to international cuisines nor the Fairfield County culinary scene. He spent his childhood in southwest France before receiving joint degrees from culinary school in Morlaas, France as a chef and pastry chef. Before settling in Greenwich in 2000, he worked throughout Spain, England, Andorra, Switzerland, and South Africa. He settled in Fairfield County and worked at La Colline Verte and St. Tropez in Fairfield and opened Savvy Restaurant in New Canaan, which earned an “Excellent” rating from the New York Times in 2006.
CTbites was recently invited to attend a dinner at Tavern 489 where Chef Regis prepared items from the current menu, as well as several specials that oftentimes appear. They each showed his focus on bold flavors that emphasized the inherent flavor of each ingredient, while balancing the overall presentation. (Since this was a sponsored event the photos may not reflect the regular portion size.)
My favorite of the three appetizers was the “Cold Tomato Soup.” The texture offered a little crunch from several of the ingredients, reminiscent of gazpacho. The soup accentuated a high level of sweetness from the tomatoes, plus a nice contrast from a touch of pungency from finely diced onions and a hint of vinegar. This rendition was delightfully refreshing.
I also enjoyed the “Venison Meatballs,” which were served nestled in a “bone-canoe” and served with fingerling potatoes. The meatballs were firm in texture, maintained a moist interior, and delivered a good amount of smokiness. They were coated with a thin glaze of a red wine green peppercorn sauce that created a nice balance. The fingerling potatoes were simply prepared to complement the venison with a little earthiness.
The third appetizer was the “Taunton Bay Fried Oysters.” They were coated in a seasoned corn meal, then deep fried to golden brown. They were paired with a lemon tamarind tomato curry sauce to bring a little sweetness to the dish. The crust was a little too thick, detracting a bit from the sweet oysters.
The next course was a trio of hamburgers, two were beef and the other was bison; each offered various combinations of toppings, and each was prepared exactly to medium-rare.
The Blackened Angus Burger (Top); The Bison Burger (Bottom)
My favorite was the “Seasoned Hunter Angus Burger.” A thick beef patty was topped with a layer of truffle pesto, lettuce and tomato. The patty was mild in flavor and the earthiness of the truffle pesto worked well with the meat’s beefiness. The other beef burger was the “Blackened Angus Burger,” served with lettuce, tomato, and topped with melted Bleu cheese. Similar to the pesto, the Bleu cheese elevated the mildness of the meat. The last burger was the “Bison Burger,” served with lettuce, tomato, shallots, and melted Burrata. The bison was richer than the beef and offered a nice level of gaminess. The shallots were a good addition but I was not as fond of the Burrata. All of the burgers were served with house-made fries that were very good.
The burgers were followed by my favorite dish of the evening, the “Charred Octopus,” served in a mélange of kidney beans, tomatoes, shallots, garlic, parsley and a pomegranate chimichurri dressing. The slow cooked octopus sections were soft and moist, some of the most tender octopus I have ever eaten, and when combined with the accompanying ingredients created a vibrant array of bold flavors. The roasted tomatoes exploded with sweetness and the al dente kidney beans offered a wonderful textural contrast. The entire profile was elevated by the pomegranate chimichurri sauce.
The table next shared two “36oz Dirty Tomahawk Steaks.” A large wood platter was covered with the two pre-sliced steaks, accompanied by bowls of red potatoes, mixed greens, and broccoli rabe, a few grilled shallots, prosciutto wrapped asparagus and three sauces, a porcini, a green peppercorn and a poutine. One of the steaks was served rare, while the second was prepared to medium, and both were simply and properly seasoned. It was very tender and slightly juicy, but contained a fair amount of fat, which was a little disappointing. The sauces were excellent and each complemented the steak differently. My favorite of the sauces was the poutine, which added a wonderful level of earthiness to the steak. The potatoes and broccoli rabe were simply prepared and delicious, but the asparagus were a little overwhelmed by the saltiness of the prosciutto.
To finish the meal, the chef presented a platter of “Chocolate Mousse.” The mousse was ultra-creamy, light in texture and delivered a medium level of chocolate goodness.
Overall, Tavern 489 is a both a neighborhood haunt, as well as a good choice for others looking for a menu with solid food that deliver bold flavors in a relaxed, rustic environment. With a varied selection of beer and wines, there are numerous beverage options to satisfy everyone. In addition, Tavern 489 offers live music six days a week.
489 Glenbrook Rd. - Stamford, CT 06906
- Charred Octopus $14
- Hunter Angus Burger $13
- Blackened Angus Burger $12
- Chocolate Mousse
- Venison Meatballs (special)
- Cold Tomato Soup (special)
- Taunton Fried Oysters $12
- Bison Burger $13
- Dirty Tomahawk Steak $MP
This was a media event. Neither CTbites nor the author were compensated for this review; the meal was provided without charge. The opinions contained herein are solely those of the author.