The story of Mothership on Main Bakery in Danbury began eight years ago, after owner Anna Llanos had just finished treatment for cancer. Instead of applying for a job, “like a normal person,” she did what most of us would not dare to do in the easiest of times, she turned the Airstream trailer in her driveway into an espresso bar and bakery. After opening two more kitchens in commercial buildings in Danbury, she realized that she wanted to find a location where she could be a part of the larger community. This is how she eventually set up shop in a converted 1930s-era gas station on Main Street, where fans flock for breakfast, lunch, and all the baked goods they can eat in between.
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When Jeff Taibe opened Taproot in the second half of 2017, our Amy Kundrat summed up this Fairfield County gem beautifully. “Creative, seasonal, down-to-Earth, and hyper-local” (because damn near every ingredient comes from Connecticut farms) are all words she used. That summation is dead-on accurate.
And yeah, you should run there. I wish I listened to her closing sentence and didn’t wait so long for a stellar culinary experience. Bethel isn’t THAT far, and Taproot is worth the drive. When I did go, I deserved the ribbing. “Hey, man! It only took you a f*cking year to get here!” Taibe joked.
From the shareable, addictive apps, to carefully crafted cocktails, and braised pork cheeks that flaked apart with a slight twist of my fork, it was my favorite meal in Connecticut in 2018.
All of the above is a well-deserved shout-out, but I’m not giving you a Taproot update. I’m dishing on the restaurant’s one-Sunday-per-month mood swing called “Bushido.”
Bushido, as you can probably surmise, is a Japanese pop-up concept. The birth of Bushido is a story in itself.
Back in 2015 I was invited to a new Chinese restaurant concept in Westchester by veteran restaurateur Jody Pennette. Skeptical as to how this type of cuisine could be different and better, I went. What I experienced was indeed that and more. Chinese food, I soon learned, could be delicious, even healthful, sticking to simple flavors and using organic ingredients while placing these dishes in the middle of a dynamic and upscale setting.
Fast forward and I am invited to Greenwich to check out Pennette’s latest Chinese food adventure. Once again he pushes the envelope with another, though similar, take on this ethnic fare, bringing us LuLu Chinese with its lighter brighter versions.
Over the past few years, Hapa Food Truck and chef/owner Chris Gonzalez have gained quite the following. I’m guilty of following up a few weightlifting sessions at Crunch Gym with a Hapa Burger or tacos when Gonzalez parked his trucked at the Priceline building. So, yes, I’m a fan just as much as all of you are. But every winter, Hapa goes into hibernation, leaving many of us yearning for warmer weather and his Filipino-Hawaiian inspired food.
Well, friends, you don’t have to wait for spring and tracking Hapa down just got a whole lot easier. Gonzalez now has a physical Hapa location in Mamaroneck’s new microbrewery, Decadent Ales inside of the popular craft beer store, Half Time.
I love taking people to the tasting room at Two Roads for the first time and showing them all the history you can touch in the place. Feel how the wooden floor is worn down here? This is where decades of workers had to walk to get between the machines of the factory. Look and you can see some of the machines they built and used, just off from the giant mash tuns which rise up through the floor behind the glass. The wooden floor they cut out for the tuns got chopped into pucks and laid down as the bar surface we're leaning on now. Cool, right? The building next door, Two Roads' 25,000 square foot, $15 million dollar expansion, Area Two, is brand new - but it already has plenty of stories to tell.
Area Two will open to the public on Monday, March 11. The new facility is a short walk across the hop yard from the mothership brewery, on the same side of the street. The focus of Area Two is the production of wild, sour, and spontaneously fermented beers.
The historic corner waterfront property in the quaint village of Sandy Hook along the Pootatuck River has seen numerous habitants, but we think the current reign causing a stir at the Foundry Kitchen and Tavern are here to stay. Chef Clark Neugold and his magical crew are bringing lots o’ tasty vibes to hungry diners and we are eternally grateful.
An old foundry is quite likely the best place to spy upon all things shiny and the crew at the Foundry thought so too. The decor is what I like to call “dressed up rustic” with sturdy wood tables and chairs, exposed brick, and plenty of historic metal pieces from the original building circa 1857. Not to mention the metal plated ceiling that glistens when hit by candlelight. I daresay, this is what defined my first (and second, and third) “moment” at the Foundry.
Some people are afraid of change. Not Chef Neugold. Much of his career has been about creating, inventing, and trying new places and flavors. From Connecticut to Hawaii to Charleston, then back again, his very raison d’etre is to experiment, try new things, but commit to quality and great presentation. And, he hopes to do so in a welcoming environment with diners eager to know what’s new instead of expecting the same ol’ menu week after week. With that in mind, eaters at the Foundry will pick up exciting Pacific Asian notes he learned from his time working with chef of television fame Lee Anne Wong (Top Chef, Iron Chef, and Unique Eats) at her restaurant Koko Head Cafe in Hawaii; or, close their eyes in pleasure when tasting Southern fare inspired by Neugold’s time with world renown BBQ Master Rodney Scott.
The burger at Harlan Publick is always the right move. You know, the one on the Wave Hill Breads English muffin, with the sweet, salty bacon jam, and the cheddar ale sauce that drips down the plump brisket blend patty. No one would blame you if you ordered it every damn time. It’s that good and should be mentioned amongst Connecticut’s best burgers.
Spoiler: Harlan Publick is more than just a burger. I knew this, but it was still tough to look past. Even when I went for dinner and ordered something else, I still thought about the Harlan Burger. I felt guilty. It felt like cheating. And it’s not that the food wasn’t good, it was! Fact is, I’ve never had a bad experience at any of the Harlan restaurants.
I’ll continue to blame the burger for clouding up all my Harlan experiences, including Sundays, because that’s a thing, a thing I overlooked every time I had brunch in South Norwalk. When Harlan Publick reached out to CTbites with a brunch invite, I jumped all over it. SoNo’s my ‘hood and I needed to know if I could get over their burger or at least forget about it for one freaking visit.
A few weeks ago, Hey Stamford! took to the streets, (and social media) to find out the source for the Best Wings in Stamford. If you’re a wing lover, you’ll want to read this…
Spicy, dry rubbed, Jerk, or Grilled … any way, we love wings! Drenched in sauce or dry-rubbed with spices, chicken wings are the ultimate finger food that begs to be eaten in extremely large amounts — preferably with your favorite beer in hand.
Now when you’re talking about wings, the question always begins, “Who has the best wings in Stamford”? It’s actually a question we get asked a lot and though we have our favorites … this time we went to the people.
Westport’s “cool” factor just went up X10. We found out that The Meatball Shop, of NYC and DC fame, is opening in Westport! Cue the celebratory music. Founded by childhood best friends, Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow, The Meatball Shop opened their first location on The Lower Side in 2010. Since then they have expanded to six locations in NYC and opened their first location outside of this city this past fall in Washington DC. According to their job posting on Craigslist, they are bringing their Balls to Westport, CT this Spring! A reliable source tells us The Meatball Shop will be opening in the old PORT location next to Bartaco.
Their signature balls, go way beyond beef, and are highly customizable. If you haven’t sat down at one of their spots in NYC, the “Balls” menu allows guests to “Choose Your Ball” and then “Pick Your Sauce,” either naked or as a bowl. We’re not talking about beef vs chicken here. Options include: Gluten Free Chicken, Classic, Spicy Heritage Pork, Veggie, Salmon…and even a Maine Lobster. Featured toppings include: Tomato, Parmesan Cream, Spicy Meat, Pesto, Yogurt Dill (to pair with the salmon) and even a Lemon Butter for the lobster. This is ball heaven.
There’s a new pizza joint opening in Westport. “Ignazio’s Pizza will be moving into the former Bertucci’s on the Post Road in Westport. This will be the 2nd location for this thin-crust pizza establishment. The original location is in DUMBO right underneath the Brooklyn Bridge, adjacent to the famous Grimaldi’s and Juliana’s.
The Westport spot may be slightly less scenic than that of DUMBO, but will continue the Ignazio’s tradition of thin crust pies, or “signature round pies.'“ They will also be serving up a slightly thicker crust square pizza, the “Siciliana.” In addition to the pizza menu (which is extensive), they have a full Italian menu featuring dishes including: Estelle`s Meatballs, Baked Anchovies, a Chicory Salad, pasta favorites like Manicotti as well as Calzone.
Westport loves their Italian joints, so bring it on Ignazio’s.
This comprehensive guide to gluten-free dining in Connecticut is brought to you by Abby Kelly, founder of Gluten-Free New England.
Connecticut has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to gluten-free dining. And, as the number of people avoiding gluten rises at record pace, the number of restaurants working to accommodate them is absolutely skyrocketing. Although this makes going out to eat really fun, it also makes the job of compiling a list of favorites really difficult. And so, we present to you some of our favorite restaurants offering excellent gluten-free options. If we missed one of your favorites, please add your spot to the comments section below.
New Haven can now claim a Michelin-starred chef among its culinary denizens. New Zealand native and Chef Matt Lambert, along with Barbara Lambert and Jennifer Vitagliano, are the team behind Hamilton Park, the city’s newest restaurant. A self-described “neo bistro” with a seafood emphasis, the menu also features house-made pastas, house-cured charcuterie, and a memorable cocktail program by Eben Freeman (formerly of wd~50).
When Christie’s Country Store closed in December, a shiver went through the Cross Highway neighborhood.
The breakfast/sandwich/grill/grocery place had been around since 1926. It served nearby residents, Staples and Bedford students, and plenty of landscapers and workers nearby or passing through. But it was a non-conforming use, in a residential area. Now it was shut. These things don’t usually end well. Fortunately, this one does.
Chef’s Table is moving in. Rich Herzfeld will pick up right where John Hooper left off.
“It’s about the chicken…” says Chef Chris Scott (Top Chef Season 15), telling his new Connecticut fan base a story at his sold out Pop Up last Thursday night. And he’s about to knock nutmeggers socks off left and right with what he calls Real Soul Food, not the “gentrified” sort we’ve heard about or tasted before. There’s a story attached to the chicken, to the greens and black-eyed peas; there’s a story about the people who originally brought us the food. Real Soul Food is not just the celebrated dishes we’ve come to know and love. Chef wants everyone to understand the heritage behind this cuisine, and really hear about the ones who toiled long and hard for the meals we know as southern soul food. It’s time we learned about the Birdman; and Chef Scott is just the one to deliver the tale. He is passionate, he is immensely knowledgeable, he is experienced, and he just so happens to be one freakin’ amazing Chef.
When food trucks in Connecticut started to become more prevalent, there was one I remembered well. The name “Fryborg” definitely stood out, and the fact that they specialized in hand-cut fries didn’t suck either. I first stumbled upon Fryborg around the time Two Roads Brewing Company opened in Stratford, so that “stumble” was a real one after multiple pints in the brewery’s upstairs tasting room. It was then that Fryborg’s bacon, egg, and cheese fries and their marinara-laden pizza fries perfectly complimented my buzz. If I had to render a guess, I’m not in the minority on similar experiences.
Milestone Restaurant is redefining the idea of a neighborhood gathering spot offering made from scratch, simply prepared food with bold flavors and classic cocktails that are served up in a stylish yet understated setting. Drawing inspiration from the unique character of the area (the restaurant is on the site of a former lumber yard) owners Peter and Andi Fine aspire to do more than serve great food. The restaurant has been designed to be not only a welcoming gathering spot, but also to showcase fun and unique food events. (Stay tuned and we’ll keep you posted!)
Some restaurants transcend time and location, destined to linger in collective memory for decades after their passing. From the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and ’OOs, Basel’s, Robert Henry’s, Roomba and Ibiza, respectively, are still fondly remembered by longtime New Haven residents. Of all the eateries currently operating in the foodie Mecca that is West Hartford, the one destined to linger longest in memory is probably Restaurant Bricco, which chef-owner Billy Grant opened in 1996 at the tender age of 29.
Italian Restaurant Bricco is not Grant’s sole contribution to the Greater Hartford culinary landscape, however. Situated just around the corner in WeHa, Grants Restaurant & Bar, which opened in 2000, has tempted diners with a modern bistro ambiance, elevated American comfort food and spectacular dessert making, while Bricco Trattoria, which opened in Glastonbury in 2010 and has been a boon to the communities east of the Connecticut River, follows a blueprint similar to that of Restaurant Bricco.
From the made-to-order ice cream billowing with liquid nitrogen clouds and those crazy waffle-like Bubblecones, to the waiting line of people all abuzz and happy customers donning their blue cookie butter ice cream tongues, Milkcraft continues to make its mark on Connecticut’s local and adventurous food enthusiasts. The first Milkcraft opened in Fairfield in the spring of 2016, with a second location popping up in West Hartford one year later, and now a third location marks the brand’s 3-year anniversary with the addition of their soon-to-be-open New Haven locale.
Connecticut Magazine recently sited Gaudi Tapas and Wine as one of their favorite restaurants for 2018. We thought you should take a look…and taste.
Saray Ruiz saw something in the little house-like building off Route 37. The one with the small parking lot and everyday architecture. The one others drove by thousands of times without a second glance.
I’m going to open a restaurant there one day, she’d tell her twin sister, Noemi Ruiz, and anyone else who would listen to her dream. “It’s not going to happen,” Noemi would say.
At the time, a few years back, the spot was home to a Mexican restaurant. Saray had a feeling that would change and thought the cozy spot could host a restaurant inspired by her childhood in Lleida, a small town in the Catalonia region of Spain, within driving distance of Barcelona. This past fall, when she and her once-skeptical twin opened Gaudí Tapas and Wine, her dream became a reality.
And what a dream it is.