Archive

Posts Tagged ‘brunch’

Restaurant Files: Brunch Island Style – at Beach House Sono

April 13, 2018 9 comments

Beach House SONO Decor (6)What do you think of brunch? Yes, that late breakfast which is slowly becoming a lunch. Can this be ultimately the best family meal? It takes place over the weekend. It is not yet late in the day. It is the weekend, so you are (hopefully!) not in a hurry, and you can eat slowly, and talk. Breakfast is just … too early, and dinner… might be too late for the family time? So really, what do you think?

Okay, let’s assume you agree with me (you don’t have to, of course), and you also like the idea of brunch. Then the only questions remaining are when are where. Can’t help you with “when”, but as far as “where” is concerned, I might actually help you. If you happen to be in a close proximity to Norwalk, Connecticut, how about Sunday brunch at the newly opened Beach House Sono?

The “Island Style” to me is ambiance and food. As you walk into the Beach House Sono, located on the North Water street in Norwalk, right across from the entrance to the famous Maritime Aquarium, the maritime-style decor sets you right into a proper mood:

I like starting the brunch with a little cocktail – of course it can be a Mimosa, but at Beach House Sono, you have quite a few options fro chose from. I decide first to try Ring of Fire (house bloody mary mix, jalapeno peppers) – it was not as spicy as I wanted, especially for the cocktail which includes Jalopeno peppers among the ingredients – but it was still a good rendition of Bloody Mary. Coconut Mojito (cream of coconut, captain white rum & malibu, muddled fresh mint and lime, club soda), on another hand, was superb – I’m very particular about my Mojito, and not big on the coconut flavor profile in the drinks, but this cocktail was balanced, refreshing and delicious. The Best Dang Manhattan (bulleit bourbon, cocchi, luxardo brandied cherry) was also a pretty good take on the classic.

Let’s talk about food. We shared quite a few dishes for the starters. First, we had Meat and Cheese Plate (prosciutto, soppressata & capocollo, marinated olives, house select gourmet cheeses) – a very good selection of traditional Italian cured meats and cheeses. Next came Gorilla Bread (cinnamon roll filled with cream cheese, dulce de leche), which I wouldn’t even dare to call a “starter” – that is a whole meal, more looking like an over-stuffed French toast – very tasty, though.

We continued with Deviled Eggs (paprika), which were tasty (deviled eggs is one of my favorite dishes, but proper deviled eggs have roots in Russian cuisine and most of the restaurants in the US are only serving an okay version). Tuna Tartare (avocado, scallion, masago, spicy sesame soy) was good, but unnecessarily spicy to my taste – I would definitely tone it done, the heat was distracting from enjoying the delicate flavor of tuna. Goat Cheese Wonton (mixed with cream cheese, lightly fried, pepper jelly) were excellent, a nice crunch and a perfectly spicy jelly.

As this was not enough food already, from here we moved on to the so-called Plates. Frist, Chicken and Waffles (marinated country-fried chicken, freshly made waffle, habanero jelly, Brookside Farms maple syrup) – excellent, well-marinated chicken, good acidity, good spices. My only tiny gripe would be the habanero jelly which didn’t pack any punch at all. Another Southern classic, Shrimp and Grits (smoked tasso (pork), spring onion, pimento gravy) were excellent, great flavor, texture – just an outstanding dish all around; one more of the Southern classics, Chicken Fried Steak (smoked-paprika pork sausage gravy, breakfast potatoes, sunny side up egg) was delicious. The sausage gravy was so good that it inspired me to make it at home the next night, and everyone really enjoyed it. Great representation of the Southern cooking and three of my most favorite dishes of our brunch experience, right there.

Beach House SONO Chicken and Waffles (19)

Beach House SONO Chicken and Waffles (22) Beach House SONO Shrimp and Grits(22)

Beach House SONO Shrimp and Grits(21)

Beach House SONO Chicken and Waffles (20)
We tried two more dishes from the Plates selection – Lobster Benedict (grit cake, hollandaise, baby greens), probably my least favorite dish from the whole experience – the grit cake was falling apart, and the tiny piece of lobster had no seasoning, so that didn’t work. Organic Salmon BLT (grilled salmon, lettuce and tomatoes, bacon, cilantro jalapeno aioli) was interesting and creative – bacon was adding some good flavor notes.

We were pretty much done here, but still managed to try the dessert – Pistachio and Ricotta Cheesecake – which was simply a riot – melting in your mouth flavor bomb. Great finish to a great meal.

Beach House SONO Pistachio and Ricotta Cheese Cake

Beach House SONO Pistachio and Ricotta Cheese Cake 1

So, what do you think? How does the brunch sound for the next weekend’s plan? Well, as I said, I can’t help you with “when”, but at least I told you “where”. Cheers!

Beach House Sono
19 North Water St
Norwalk CT, 06854
203-956-7171
http://www.beachhousecafe.com/

Let’s Do Brunch – Oak+Almond in Norwalk, CT

February 21, 2014 7 comments

Who doesn’t like brunch, raise your hands. Yep, I thought so. It is literally impossible not to like the slow flow of the delicious food on Sunday, when you still have some of your weekend left, and the late breakfast becoming an early lunch is one of the indulgences of the weekend time with the family.

When it comes to brunch, you have to make some choices. I don’t mean “to drink Mimosa or not”, but most fundamental choice is between brunch buffet and the regular a-la-cart brunch menu. There are pro and cons for both, but this is not a subject of today’s post. What I want to talk about is a recent experience at one of the newest restaurants in lower Fairfield county in Connecticut – Oak+ Almond in Norwalk, CT.

Oak + Almond opened in the Fall of 2013 at the same location where Tuscan Oven restaurant was located for almost 20 years. Oak + Almond is classified as new American cuisine, which I think is quite fitting – lots of focus on local farms and products – you know where the cheese came from, you know where the chicken came from, you know where the eggs, berries and produce came from. As much as possible, everything is fresh and local, which is definitely a trait in the new American restaurant style.

The place is nicely decorated, reusing some of the components of the old Italian restaurant to their advantage, such as the pizza oven (those are always nice to have on hand, aren’t they). The decor overall should be classified as retro modern (or modern retro, whatever way you see it), with some very unusual lighting and heavy dark oak furniture. Here are the few pictures for you:

I never was a cocktails guy in the restaurant – until our first experience at Nola Restaurant in Norwalk last Fall, where I tried the real and true artisan cocktail, made with love – ever since, I’m always looking forward to the new and interesting cocktails before I would start my meal – so why brunch should be an exception? As I really like Scotch, I started with the cocktail called “where there is smoke” (islay mist 8 yo scotch, sherry, almond syrup, cocoa + cayenne powder) – it was nice, but I would say a bit too much in therms of the amount of the cocoa, which was not dissolving in the icy cold liquid, making the cocktail a bit chewy. The spice pear was not bad, and so was the Bloody Mary, which also was sporting premise-pickled veggies. And mimosa was, of course, the staple of the brunch, very nicely made with the nice dry Prosecco, very refreshing.
Our actual meal consisted of two parts – first, we shared a number of dishes, and then each of us ordered an individual entree. Here is what we had for the sharing:
Pork + Ricotta Meatballs with spicy tomato sauce – very nicely done, meatballs had just the right density, and the sauce was very pleasant.

Charred Octopus (guajillo squid ink sauce. potatoes. andouille. celery) – well done, octopus was just as exact “chewiness” where it is pleasant (I think cooking octopus without making it into a rubber is an art).

Funghi Flatbread (charred green onion. fontina. balsamic) – this was a masterpiece – with all due respect to all other dishes, the mushrooms were soooo … mushroomy! If you like mushrooms – don’t miss it.

O+A Margherita Flatbread (Hamden burrata. tomato. calabrian chile) – this was okay, but slightly… pedestrian, especially comparing to the previous flatbread.

We also had 3 “communal” boards to share – the Artisan Cheese Board (fruit preserves. nuts. crostini), the selection of 6 local cheeses – Cremont, Nancy Camembert, Nettle Meadow Kunik, Fiscalini Bandaged Cheddar, North Coutry Blue and Ocooch Mountain, all from the Artisanal Cheese); Meat Board (hand selected meats, pickles, crostini) and House Cured Salmon. All three dishes were well done and quite tasty.

And then there were our main dishes. I have to honestly admit that somehow myself and my wife made a mistake ordering two of the simplest dishes on the menu. I had Two Local Farm Eggs Any style (toast. potato hash or grits. bacon or sausage), and while eggs were distinctly fresh and applewood smoked, thick-cut bacon was tasty, there were only two tiny pieces of bacon, and the potatoes were, how should I put it, not at the level you would expect from the restaurant like this ( think IHOP breakfast potatoes). My wife got B.E.C (griddled farm eggs. bacon. cheddar. brioche roll), and while it was tasty, the ratio of a huge brioche ban versus really small egg and cheese definitely took away from this dish.
In no particular order this is what the rest of the group had (I believe they had higher degree of success than us): Buttermilk Pancakes (ct maple syrup, roasted apples), Mussels + Fries (blue lip mussels. harissa. fennel. shallots. fries), Chittara Carbonara (guanciale. pecorino. farm egg. black pepper) – ahh I regretted I didn’t get this dish, Grass Fed Hamburger (bacon. gorgonzola dolce. roasted cippolini. fries) – humongous!
We concluded our brunch with traditional Italian dessert – Affogato, with hot espresso poured over the ice cream:
All in all, this was a good experience (also I didn’t mention service, which was outstanding), so next Sunday, think about it – this might be just the place to relax. Cheers!
Disclaimer: I attended the restaurant as a guest of management. All opinions are my own.

Oak + Almond
544 Main Ave
Norwalk, CT 06851
203.846.4600
http://oakandalmond.com/

Oak + Almond on Urbanspoon