From the owners of The Sinclair comes one of Fairfield's newest eat-and-drinkeries: Malibu Taco. The indoor/outdoor space recently opened its doors to the Post Road just north of downtown close to Beach Road, and CTBites stuck our head in just long enough to have a few - yes - bites, and a drink or two at the bar. Here's a quick intro to what Malibu is bringing to the county seat.
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Hartford Baking Company announces a new location in Glastonbury! It's expansion time! Hartford Baking Company is delighted to announce that they will be adding a third retail location in January of 2020. The new cafe will be located at 400 Hebron Ave. in Glastonbury, CT, and will have the same vibe, menu, and bread selection of the two current West Hartford locations.
The Great Fried Chicken Sandwich War of 2019 came to Lower Fairfield County last week, following the viral Twitter skirmish that began when Popeye’s introduced it’s new chicken sandwich, an attempt to go after the Southern Fried Chicken Sandwich market that has been dominated by Chick-fil-A for many a year. This has been a fascinating study in viral marketing as it has been one of the first cases where corporations have been able to use Twitter effectively to go after one another. By the end of the news cycle even Hot Pockets claimed to be a part of this Battle Royal.
If nothing else was learned, it’s that consumers like snark. As one commentator said, it became the fried chicken sandwich version of Real Housewives, and it seemed to drive everyone’s’ proverbial ratings through the roof as Popeye’s sold out nationally and others sold out in some locations.
I primarily wanted to try the national chains that are available locally (no local friend chicken sandwiches, for the sake of the review). And it had to be a fried (as opposed to grilled) chicken sandwich. The contenders: Popeye’s, Shake Shack, Burger King, Chick-fil-A, Wendy’s, & McDonald's.
Stamford, you’re about to be on the receiving end of a whole lot of noods. Get your mind out of the gutter, we’re talking about the piping hot, comforting bowls of ramen and pho by Mecha Noodle Bar, opening at the start of September on Bedford Street.
Much like their other locations in Fairfield, South Norwalk, and New Haven, Stamford’s version of Tony Pham’s popular noodle shop will feature all the Mecha staples; KFC bao, a half dozen pho options, red oil dumplings, kim chi fried rice, and all the porky tonkatsu and spicy miso ramen you can handle.
But wait! There’s more! Mecha Stamford will have a few differences from its other locations, starting with the bar. The massive U-shaped bar was made to be a focal point of the dining room because of Stamford’s bar culture, so you can pull up, have a drink (or three) from beverage director Jonathan Rodriguez’s craft cocktail program, a few bites, and call it a night if that’s what you desire. Additionally, there’s some outdoor street level seating for when the weather obeys.
Aside from all that, there’s a little something “EXTRA” at this Mecha…
“There’s a section on the menu we’re referring to as the ‘Baller Menu,’” says Kaylyn Crawford, Mecha’s COO. “We’ll have stuff like a large pho for two with a steak, and large format cocktails like a punch bowl. We want to take it over the top for the demographic in Stamford.”
Get pumped West Hartford foodies. On Sept 21st, Pokéworks, the much beloved, healthy, fast-casual poke restaurant, will be opening its doors. The new spot is going into Corbin Collection (across from Westfarms mall) located at 1445 New Britain Avenue, and brings a fresh take on Hawaiian-inspired poke bowls and burritos with a convenient and customizable menu. (Check out our review for the Pokéworks Westport location here.)
The LBD. The Little Black Dress. It’s the item in a gal’s closet that never disappoints. It fits, it’s classy, not too overstated, but makes the fresh statement, “I’ve arrived.”
Well, guess who has arrived in Greenwich? The LBT. Little Beet Table. It too is classy, not too overstated, and undeniably fresh.
Following its successful predecessors in New York and Chicago, and under the esteemed direction of chef and culinary director Matt Aita (Rouge Tomate, Daniel, Jean Georges), Little Beet Table is amping up what it means to offer fresh, wholesome delicious food. From brunch to lunch and dinner, to cocktails and snacks, LBT puts a real twist on traditional sweet and savory bites and does it all gluten-free. As one of the first exclusively gluten-free restaurants around, Little Beet Table is on top of their game when it comes to unearthing tasty, healthy alternatives for the gluten-based dishes most of us crave, but some of us can’t or shouldn't have.
The owners of the Little Pub have announced they will open their next venture at the location of the former Marnick's on the Stratford seawall. Little Pub will also take over the attached seaside residence, which is being extensively redone, and renamed the Surfside Hotel. Expect the new pub to open on the beach this month, with the hotel opening shortly thereafter. Read on to see what Little Pub owner Doug Grabe had to tell CTBites...
“It feels like we’re in the Village,” said my gal-pal who joined me for my much anticipated jaunt to Bar August in New Haven. We can’t always explain it, but most of us can conjure an image that falls in line with what “the Village” is? It’s small and cozy, brick and historic, refined but not over the top, with a dash of European flair. And, with the lively scene that New Haven has already, Bar August is just a primo location from the start. Built in people-watching from its side-street, almost corner digs, and a menu that will knock your socks off, Bar August has IT.
Connecticut loves its ice cream! One afternoon, I posted a casual query to a food lovers Facebook group: “Hello, everyone! I’m working a round-up of all the best places to enjoy ice cream across Connecticut during these hot summer days. What are your favorite spots?” Within a matter of hours, the post racked up 154 comments along with countless likes, follows, shares, and reactions. Ice cream enthusiasts were eager to share their favorite spots all across the state, from hidden gems to beloved staples. Here are 30+ places for spectacular scoops in CT.
The niche at Conspiracy has been very warmly received and has opened up such a great new opportunity for Middletown visitors. Chef Sassi mentioned, “The small plates is something that’s been a passion of mine for several years, so, to have a place entirely devoted to small plates breaks the mold of the conventional way of eating out. What’s better than experiencing several different dishes and flavors and journeys for the cost of a single regular entree?”
I agree. It’s super smart, very creative, and gaaa damn delicious.
“Being a craft cocktail bar in Middletown is a hustle,” mentioned owners Mark and Jen Sabo. “We’re not a big city, the town isn’t (yet) a place people 100 percent think of as a destination, so we have to grind and push the boundaries of creativity and innovate and change constantly...our guests respond to variety and innovation, so we are constantly looking to deliver that.”
If it was even possible to manage more tasty bites, my guest and I tried the S'mores, to finish a journey of exquisite flavors. Like the PB&J, this treat paid homage to its childlike original and yet, had a cooler, dressed up vibe. Toasted graham cracker crumble, marshmallow creme anglaise, spiced chocolate, and brûlée marshmallow all painted on a plate, that was part art, part throwback summer memory.
After a two-and-a-half-month hiatus, SoNo Seaport Seafood is open once again, serving up the ocean’s bounty with a few exciting changes.
In mid-April, the 35-year-old South Norwalk mainstay announced they would shut down shop while the restaurant, outdoor bar, and patio all underwent renovations. To oversee it all, SoNo Seaport’s owners, the Bloom Family, brought in a legit Fairfield County chef to consult on the project.
That’s where Matt Storch enters the fray. But make no mistake, the chef/owner of Match and Match Burger Lobster wasn’t merely brought in to make decisions on what furniture to buy and what color paint should go on the walls. One of Storch’s focal points at SoNo Seaport was to give an outdated menu a much-needed refresh.
Exclusivity when dining out has a way of making us feel special. The smaller, the better. It’s like being part of a special club. It’s cool knowing that at that very moment, in a space half the size of a normal living room, that you and 20 people are the only ones that get to take part in an intimate dinner.
Most often the problem is that “exclusive” equates to “EXPENSIVE.”
That brings us to Greenwich! Wait, before you think this is going to be some $150 per person affair, you’re so very wrong.
What if I told you that there’s a great four-course tasting menu offered on the first Friday and Saturday of every month for $65?
If eating out is your thing, I bet you’d be intrigued. What am I saying? It’s Fairfield County, of course eating out is your thing.
Would it be crazier if I mentioned that it goes down at a luxury lifestyle boutique store? And that it’s BYOB? Bet you didn’t see those swerves coming.
Crack ‘em, steam ‘em, grill ‘em, looooove ‘em. Lobster, lobster, oh sweet lovely lobster, you make our hearts swoon. Summer is here, the living is easy and to make it even easier, why not throw a good ol’ New England Lobster Bake catered to your venue of choice? You’ll feel like you are oceanside (minus the Great Whites trolling the shores) no matter where you decide to hold your bash. Draw that buttah and color yourself happy! We’ve compiled a whole boatful of vendors that will cater to every whim you might have in order to create a memorable and gloriously fun time. We may even need a bigger boat, the list is so long (ok, who got the reference?). Two big claws up to great companies that are attentive to their customers’ needs and desires and strive to make every Lobster and Clambake a delicious event. Having just used up all the lobster-talk I have up my sleeve, please read on and enjoy…
"I've just always wanted to be a part of it," Chef Tyler Anderson tells me as we talk about New Haven and he hands me an everything bagel spiced cracker topped with a mound of bluefish tartare. "The culinary scene is so impressive here, and you have the city culture, the music. I had to do it some day." The "it" is where we're standing, six or so stories above a corner in the southwest of downtown, on the roof of the new Blake Hotel. High George (named for the intersecting streets) is Anderson's kitchen pied-à-terre in the Elm City - open air views open now.
Chef Anderson is a familiar face at his restaurants: Millwright's, The Cook & The Bear, and Porron&Piña, and to a national audience thanks to appearances on Top Chef and Beat Bobby Flay. He is also well known to the James Beard Foundation, who have nominated him as Best Chef Northeast every year since 2013. His idea for the menu at High George is to present small plate versions of New England summer food - clams, fish, coal-fired skewers - inexpensively, adding culinary interest through twists on flavors and presentation. Fried whole belly clams? Absolutely, and served wrapped in soft bao, the easier to knock back in a few bites while holding a cocktail in the other hand. Anderson and A.J. Aurrichio have brought on Tim Cabral as the third partner, using his experience at Ordinary to create cocktails in keeping with the light menu because this is, after all, a rooftop bar.
Connecticuters! Time to cross the border….No walls to be found over there in Port Chester, New York where you’ll find a truly stellar diner serving up some out-of-this-world, groovy meals. When you walk in, especially if you are my age (eh hem 40 something something), you’ll be transported back to the days of wall-to-wall paneling and all the rust and brown your heart desires. With rugs on walls, aquariums, and I-swear-that’s-my-grandma's wallpaper, somehow the 70s just look better in the noughty oughts.
When you shake yourself from the timewarp, you’ll sidle up to the counter--truly the best seat in the house-but it will not be your everyday diner affair. It is, as the brand describes itself,“diner-inspired.” So what that really means is, yes, you can get breakfast all day and yes, there are regulars at the counter, and yes, they even have spinning cake cases, and lots of clinking silverware, but the similarities end there. This is a diner where a truly experienced Chef and creative team come to play, be inspired, and frankly, knock your socks off. So, you want pancakes? They’ll present you with pancakes in a plump piled stack like you’ve never seen, and should you be feeling a bit bougie, you can get them with a side of foie gras. No joke. You want French Toast? Just try and bite into these pillows of deliciousness without gasping. Something besides lego-my-eggo waffles? Sure, have them with some Marrow AND butter. Toast and eggs? Well, of course, but I’ll take mine with caviar, thank you very much. That’s how they do it over the border at Eugene’s Diner.
Yalla Organic Hummus and Grill has taken Fairfield County by storm. Yalla Organic is a consumer-oriented experience where you get to choose exactly how your lunch and dinner is prepared down to the last detail. This family-run business has quickly become a town staple of Fairfield… and their hummus is making me question all previous hummus choices I have made.
Eighteen months ago, a small eatery with an odd name opened in a strip mall on the Norwalk-Wilton line. It was then that our own April Guilbault clued readers in on what The Dilly Duck Shop was all about.
Fast forward to present day. Word about The Dilly Duck Shop is getting out, and it’s all been positive for chef Russ Zappala and his mother, Phyllis, who runs the front of the house. “We’ve somehow maintained solid online ratings across the board, five stars,” Russ said. “We haven’t been able to fully commit to advertising, so we rely on that, and word of mouth. It spreads slowly, but we’ve noticed growth every month.”
That word of mouth is what brought me to Dilly Duck in the first place. Locals talk about it, as do Fairfield County chefs. Zappala’s philosophy that’s worked so far is to grow organically with the community and create a menu that the people here yearn for.
Dilly Duck is a darling amongst its regulars for a reason.
K Dong is beaming. Not because his newly minted MIKU Sushi Restaurant in Greenwich has just opened to strong word-of-mouth and packed houses. Nope, his delighted smile is the result of a diner’s one-word reaction to the Tuna Tartare:
That diner is me and I am quite impressed… as well as surprised. In most restaurants, TT has become a boring culinary meme — over sauced, over spiced, and overworked. K Dong’s version is totally understated. Garnished with micro greens, the crimson slices crown a mound of vividly green avocado, which sits on a gossamer of Yuzu and a whisper of wasabi. Rather than overwhelming the delicate flesh, like so many tartares, the sauce and spice enhance the pristine flavor of the Bluefin. Yep, this dish is, indeed, “Ethereal.”
Downtown Cos Cob will be a lot sweeter with the much-anticipated grand opening of Chocoylatte Gourmet on Monday, July 8. The desserts & coffee shoppe, located at 121 E. Putnam Avenue will open its doors to the public with a ribbon-cutting ceremony beginning at 11am.
Chocoylatte Gourmet will offer an array of handmade freshly baked desserts, cookies, pastries and assorted fine chocolates made with the finest ingredients available in the market. Every treat will be prepared from scratch, every day and handcrafted on-site. For those with dietary sensitivities, the desserts & coffee shoppe will also offer gluten-free and lactose-free goodies, and promises to maintain the same high-quality ingredients baked with thoughtfulness and care. Guests will also enjoy recipes containing less sugar, no trans fats, non-GMO ingredients, no preservatives, no chemicals, no artificial preservatives, no artificial sweeteners, and no artificial flavors.