Fairfielders were very disappointed when they learned that The Original Bagel King had closed its doors at its Brick Walk location. Brick Walk Tavern now occupies the space along with the former restaurant next door and is being very well received by locals. The restaurant opened by Chef David Snyder and former financial executive and Fairfield resident Ted Vincent offer guests what they describe as “food with integrity” – high-end options that are approachable and familiar as well as those that might be seen as pushing the envelope slightly. The atmosphere inside upscale yet casual. A long bar at the back has a midcentury modern vibe, while the leather couch in front of the fireplace offers the coziness and quaintness of an historic New England town.
I have been twice so far. I went for a late lunch on a Saturday afternoon a few weeks ago when the restaurant had just opened. We adored the Brussels Sprouts (Small Plates) and our burgers were quite good as well. Pleased with my meal I was happy to accept an invitation to sample some more of the menu.
We began at the bar where we noshed on crispy House-Made Chips and Onion Dip, Chicken and Lemongrass Dumplings that were far better than the ones I’ve had at most Chinese Restaurants and their General Tso’s Chicken for which I will say the same.
If I am going to sit at the bar with a Happy Hour menu I ought to be sampling some of the cocktails, and that is exactly what I did. The Chai Me Down and Love Me, served in a coupe, is a beautiful lavender cocktail made with Empress 1908 Gin, Lemon, Juice and Chai Tea Syrup was refreshing with a slight sweetness.
The Mules of Engagement offers a fun take on the traditional Ginger Mule made with Bootlegger Vodka, Pear Purée, Lemon Juice, Rosemary, Sage & Thyme, Ginger Beer. I won’t lie, I ordered the Flannels, Vests & Ugg Boots for the name alone. Made with Bully Boy Boston Rum, Marshmallow Vodka, Kerry’s Irish Gold, House Made Pumpkin Spice Syrup, I wasn’t expecting to like it but it reminded me of an incarnation of a drink I enjoyed all too much in my early 20s, the White Russian. This sweet, dessert-like beverage had that comforting, warming feel that was partly nostalgic and partly fresh and new.
From the bar we moved on over to our table where we were presented with piping hot bowls of Asparagus soup, the Soup of the Moment. Silky, creamy and smooth, this was soup was exceptional. It was followed by the Chili Garlic Crispy Shrimp served with radish cilantro and green onion which, to our surprise and delight, packed a punch. Those who prefer milder food might want to stay away while those who have an affinity for spicier items will want to check these out.
The Lamb Meatballs served over orzo, peas, lamb jus and imported feta were also extraordinary. For those who truly enjoy the taste of lamb, and the texture of a tender meatball, these melt-in-your-mouth treats were a delight. An Octopus lover, I order it often. I especially liked the unique approach to serving it over smoked farro salad with a lemon emulsion. Because of its popularity, the octopus will remain on the menu but do expect the recipes to vary.
Last and certainly not least of our Small Plates selection was the Braised Pork Cheek, the Chef’s Special of the day. It was the greatest surprise and my favorite of all the items. I would have liked to have seen this in a dinner sized serving. The meat was especially tender, falling apart as soon as the fork touched it, with a depth of flavor. Served with its natural juices, over a bed of spinach and an equally amazing chestnut puree, this dish – in my humble opinion – exemplifies what Brick Walk Tavern is about, a perfect example of food with integrity that slightly pushes the envelope. The flavors and textures were comforting and familiar, yet new and surprising. An upscale dish disguised as comfort food. Genius.
Next to arrive were the salads. A Tuscan Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad with Polenta Croutons, dried cranberries and lemon truffle vinaigrette and a Spinach and Asian Pear Salad. The kale and Brussels sprout salad had a little too much going on for me – I would have preferred something a bit simpler in terms of flavor but the spinach salad was a winner in my book.
While I am not one to ordinarily order salmon out as I cook it so often at home, the Seared Scottish Salmon is a must try if you like this pink fish. Served over a cauliflower truffle puree with maitake mushrooms, black kale and a port wine syrup, this dish offers the flavors ad comfort of the cooler season without the heaviness. The port wine flavors so complemented the mushrooms, cauliflower and fish. The Pan-Roasted Cod with white beans, chorizo, charred tomatoes, wilted spinach and roasted poblano broth offers flavors that are very complimentary. The fish’s mild flavors were enhanced by the the poblano broth and the chorizo.
Meat and potato lovers will not be disappointed in their Steak Frites, a 10 oz hanger steak, cooked medium rare, accompanied by parmesan truffle fries that were perfect for sopping up the scrumptious 72-hour red wine sauce. The Wild Boar Pappardelle made with rustic-raised boar, house-made ricotta and red wine tomato sugo is the ultimate in comfort food. Wide noodles bathed in a delicious, hearty broth with generous portions of tender, savory meat.
For those with a sweet tooth, who insist a meal is not a meal without dessert, you’ll find you’ve come to the right place. Although, the last part of your meal, desserts at Brick Walk Tavern are not an afterthought. Their French Toast Bread Pudding, Pecan Pie and, my favorite, the ultimate After Dinner Espresso, I highly recommend.
Brick Walk Tavern is located at 1275 Post Road, Fairfield CT 06824