Posts Tagged ‘ct bars and restaurants’

Restaurant Files: Grand Experience at Bistro V in Greenwich, Connecticut

July 25, 2015 7 comments

For the past 2 years, I had an opportunity to experience many great Connecticut restaurants, often in the group of passionate foodies (also known as bloggers), and to share those experiences with the world. Majority of our visits included food and wine, but I would say that food was always a star. Don’t get me wrong – we had a lot of wonderful cocktails and wines at most of the places we visited, but we had to connect food with wine on our own.

What would make dining experience “Grand”? To me, this is simple – proper pairing of food with the wine completely changes your dining experience. When the wine “works” with the food, the result is greater than the simple sum of two – it is totally different, elevated experience, a true celebration for your taste buds. This is exactly what I experienced at our recent visit to Bistro V & Pâtisserie in Greenwich, Connecticut. Every dish on the menu had its own wine pairing – and most importantly, not just a pairing, but very successful pairing.

Bistro V originally opened in 1980 on the busy Greenwich Avenue strip of shops and restaurants in Greenwich. In 2014, Marc and Evelyne Penvenne (originally from Burgundy, the owners of another successful Greenwich eatery, Méli-Mélo Crêperie & Juice Bar) took over the Bistro V and since then reintroduced it to their customers, maintaining dining experience as French classic as it can be.

We started our evening with the cocktail of Byrrh and Sparkling wine. Byrrh is something I never heard of before. According to Wikipedia, it is “an aromatised wine-based apéritif made of red wine, mistelle, and quinine”. Byrrh was created in 1860s, and it was very popular as an apéritif in Europe and US. It disappeared in US after the Prohibition, and was reintroduced back only in 2012. The cocktail of Byrrh and Monmousseau sparkling wine was excellent, light, refreshing and very easy to drink ( dangerously easy).

While we were enjoying our apéritif, two Hors D’oeuvres showed up, perfectly single bite size – tiny toasts with smoked salmon and similarly sized Paté toasts. Both worked extremely well with our sparkling apéritif.

As we situated at our tables, the bread baskets arrived. It is not for nothing there is a word Pâtisserie in the name of the restaurant. Baking is an indelible part of Bistro V, and while these were not the pastries, which Bistro V is famous for (well deserves a separate post), these rolls were incredible – fresh, yeasty, comforting, crusty, warm and fuzzy feeling-inducing. Nope, can’t describe it – but this bread alone is well worth the restaurant visit.

Fresh made dinner roolsOne fun part of been in a group of bloggers (besides the fact that no dish arriving at the table can be touched until multiple cameras with flash and without would be deployed for the good period of time – and also nobody would scream at you about using the flash) is that you get to see and do things which would be impossible if you just come to eat at the restaurant as a regular customer. For instance, to visit the kitchen. We were given an opportunity to step into the kingdom of the Executive Chef Erik Erlichson and snap a few pictures as the food was ready to be brought out – definitely a fun thing to do.

Watermelon and Feta Salad ReadyOur dinner started with Watermelon Salad (Ricotts salata, Candy-pickled rind, pine nuts, baby arugula, lemon vinaigrette). The contrast of sweet watermelon and sharp cheese was perfect, and addition of peppery arugula and pine nuts provided both spicy undertones and the texture. The intended wine pairing was Barone Fini Pino Grigio from Veneto. I have to tell you that inner snob got in the way here, and I expressed my surprise with the Italian Pinot Grigio at the French restaurant to our server – as the result, my pour was very small and I finished it before salad arrived – I think they would work together well, but I was unable to establish that.

Our next dish was Chilled Maine Lobster (Court-Bouillon-poached, hearts of palm, radish, tomato, cilantro emulsion). With this dish, there was a slight inconsistency, which is probably unavoidable when serving tasting portions – the portions which had mostly the claws were excellent, but the other part of the body were rather chewy. But in any case, the dish paired perfectly with 2014 Domaine La Colombe Rosé, Provence, which was excellent, clean, with touch of strawberries and perfect balance.

Next up – the Iron Skillet Grilled Branzino (Shaved fennel in citrus emulsion, orange “oil”) – an outstanding presentation to begin with. Crispy skin and very tasty dish overall, with an excellent balance of flavor. Here we were first introduced to the range of wines from Lebanon. 2012 Ixsir Altitudes White, Lebanon (blend of Muscat, Viognier, Sauvignon, Sémillon) had a touch of white fruit on the nose, spicy balanced palate of white peaches and a hint of spices, overall an outstanding wine. The pairing was excellent, the wine really boosted the flavor of the dish, moving the whole experience to the next level.

Next dish was Crispy Hudson Valley Duck Breast (Salad of confit, snap peas, carrot ginger dressing) – this was simply a perfection on the plate – every component of the dish was excellent by itself and delicious together. The wine pairing was very surprising – Cabernet Sauvignon blend from France (I would rather expect to see a Pinot Noir with duck), but once again, the wine complemented the dish spot on, delivering the next level of hedonistic pleasure. “F” Cabernet Sauvignon by Dave Phinney, France (15% ABV) had nice red fruit, touch of herbs, dark fruit on the palate, mint, touch of earthiness, nice spice and excellent balance, making the high ABV absolutely unnoticeable.

At this point in the dinner my relationship with the server completely restored after the Pinot Grigio fiasco, and I got to taste the wine which was not a part of the wine program for the evening – 2012 Ixsir Altitudes Rosé, Lebanon, a blend of Syrah and Caladoc (a new grape for me!) which was excellent, crisp, with strawberries on the palate and clean acidity, very refreshing.

Question: have you come across a new phenomenon (for me, at least) – a natural mineral water from Bordeaux? I saw one recently at the wine store, and we got to taste one at the restaurant – we had Ô Muse Grand Cru de l’Eau Natural Mineral Water from Bordeaux, both still and sparkling. I wouldn’t claim that I noticed any difference with any other regular or sparkling water, but I still wanted to mention this as we should expect to see those more often.

Let’s get back to food. While all the dishes were outstanding, I still had a favorite of the evening – Versailles Steak Tartar (Filer Mignon pf grass-fed beef, house sauce, traditional condiments, baguette toasts) – my notes only say “wow! wow!” – do I need to say more? This dish was a fiesta of flavor, simply spectacular. If you like Steak tartar, you owe it to yourself to come and experience it at Bistro V. The wine pairing was absolutely spectacular as well. 2010 Ixsir Altitudes Cabernet Blend, Lebanon (blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Caladoc, Tempranillo) had the nose of herbs, tobacco, smoke and red fruit. The palate was concentrated, with the nice tannins, dark fruit, firm and well structured – an excellent wine overall.

Our dessert was very simple, but uniquely refreshing and delicious – Chilled Fruit Soup (Cedric’s frozen yogurt). It also paired perfectly with Pineau de Charentes, a fortified wine made from the lightly fermented grape must with addition of neutral Cognac brandy.

At the end of the evening, we had an opportunity to thank Executive Chef Erik Erlichson for the delicious meal and inundate him with questions.

Chef Erik ErlichsonThere you have it, my friends – Grand Experience at the Bistro V in Greenwich, Connecticut. If you live in the area or plan to visit, I highly recommend you will make Bistro V a part of your dining plans. Cheers!

Bistro V
339 Greenwich Avenue
Greenwich, CT 06
Phone: 203-661-6634

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Spring [Menu] Has Arrived to Bailey’s Backyard in Ridgefield, CT

May 11, 2014 6 comments

What do you expect when you go to the farm-to-table restaurant? Probably that everything will be fresh, locally produced and seasonal? I like that “seasonal” part very much, as it means you can visit the same restaurant many times, and every time expect to see a different menu. You know that the taste and quality will be there, but then it is the foodie adventure served right up for you, the dilemma being solved without you thinking “hmmm, this is what I had the last time, it was good, so should I take it again?”.

The new season – Spring – has arrived to Connecticut (considering the way this last winter was, I wonder how many people didn’t expect spring to arrive at all), and it also arrived to the new menu at the Bailey’s Backyard restaurant, which I already wrote about the last Fall. I was very excited to visit the restaurant and try all the new food, as since the first visit, it became one of the favorite restaurants not only for me, but also for a few friends who were very happy with my recommendation. I was a bit short on time, so I had to leave before trying a few dishes, but nevertheless, there were lots of very tasty dishes which I need to tell you about.

The dinner was served with a number of cocktails – and it is not only food which is fresh and locally made at Bailey’s Backyard – all the cocktails, artfully imagined by the master-of-all-liquid-cocncoctions, Bryan, contained some of the ingredients which were locally made, like ginger infused vodka or mint-infused rum. Here are the cocktails which were served at the dinner:

Six Toed Cat (Blueberry & Mint Infused Rum, Lime, Fresh Mint, Ginger Beer) – absolutely delicious version of Mojito! Refreshing, bright, with a bit of the liquid happiness served inside.

Don’t Call Me Shirley (House Made Citrus Vodka, Fresh Citrus Juice, Cointreau) – Bryan’s answer to the Cosmopolitan – zingy, refreshing and delicious.

Samuel Clemens (Ginger Infused Vodka, Lemon, Ginger, Black Pepper , Club Soda) and Rude Barbara (White Rum, strawberry-Rhubarb Puree, Lime) – I didn’t get the chance to try these two, but I’m sure they were every bit as delicious as the previous two.

And then, there was food (and lots of it).

Chicken Liver & Grand Marnier Pate (Apricot Mustard, Thyme Toast) – if you are a fan of the chicken liver (like I am), this was the perfect dish, delicious combination of flavors, all melding very well together.

“Devils on the Horseback” (North Country Bacon, Armagnac Plums, Pear) – bacon and plums – who would’ve thought? It was actually very tasty.

Goat Cheese Profiterole (Aged Balsamic/Crispy Parmesan/Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette) – goat cheese profiterole – just say it a few times – does it produce a moth watering sensation in your mouth? Delicious! And I would take it over the actual dessert profiteroles at any time.

Zucchini Fries (Shaved Parmesan, Pecan Puree, Mint) – I love zucchini in all shapes and forms, and lately I encountered a number of indigenous dishes in few restaurants, with zucchini being simply a star. This dish was one of them – perfect combination of the light crunch outside and delicate zucchini slice inside.

Tempura Vegetables (Sweet Potato, Asparagus, Red opinion, Cashew powder, Hoisin Sauce) – perfectly executed, very light and delicious.

Grilled Asparagus Salad (Frisée/Prosciutto, Black Truffle Hollandaise, Shaved Pecorino, Herbed Red Wine Vinaigrette) – great acidity, very refreshing, and black truffle Hollandaise…. black truffle… need I say more?

Hawaiian Ahi Tuna Poke (sesame oil, garlic, soy sauce, Wakame, Black Sesame seed, Puffed Wonton) – one of the most delicious tuna dishes ever. Incredible flavor profile, just right amount of heat – close your eyes, and you are in Hawaii…

Whipped Foie Gras with Caramelized Onion Perogi (red wine pearl onions, Chive Crema, white truffle and Bacon Powder) – as Chef Forrest presented the dish, he explained it as a “rich man – poor man” play. The luxurious creaminess of the whipped foie gras paired with simple goodness of the onion perogi – this dish was a textural heaven, combined with the great balance of flavors.

The two dishes which I had to miss were Firecracker Rock Shrimp Scampi (Hand cut Linguine, Diced Shallots, Roasted garlic, Meyer Lemon) and Slow Roasted Suckling Pig (yellow corn Fritters, Lavender, Buttered peas, crackling-red eye gravy) – well, that gives me an incentive to visit the restaurant rather sooner than later.

And we are done here. I just want to say Thank You to the Executive Chef Forrest Pasternack, Bryan and Sal for the evening of great food and great cocktails. Until the next time – cheers!

Disclaimer: I attended the dinner as a guest of management. All opinions are my own.

Bailey’s Backyard
23 Bailey Avenue
Ridgefield, CT 06877
Bailey's Backyard on Urbanspoon

Come for a Glass of Wine, Stay for the Food – Vinoteca in Greenwich, CT

March 7, 2014 13 comments
Vinoteca wines

Vinoteca Wine List

It is Friday night, and you are thirsty. Not the Dos Equis thirsty, necessarily, but may be a glass of wine thirsty. Or a cocktail and a glass of wine. Or may be couple of glasses of wine. Bottom line – you want to go out and have a glass of wine. So, where do you go? Yes, I know – this is beyond rhetorical – you can find wine at any restaurant today. But – if you just want a glass of wine, or you want a glass of white, and then glass of red, or you are simply in a mood to taste a few of the different wines, you have two issues. One – by the glass selection in a typical restaurant is limited, or may be even very limited, depending on your luck. Two – by the glass selection in many restaurants is grossly over-priced. When you look at the $16+ by the glass selection, the first reaction is “I’ll just have a glass of water”. Well – the purpose of this post is not to complain about by the glass restaurant prices. My whole point here is to let you in on a little secret and to tell you that I just found a solution to this wine glass craving issue, and I want to share it with you. The solution? Vinoteca Restaurant and Wine Bar in Greenwich, Connecticut.

As you walk into the restaurant, the first thing you see is a wine bar. And then you see another bar. And then the wine list, where each and every wine is available in the glass pour of different sizes and by the bottle. No exceptions. You want to build a flight of Italian reds? No problems. Are you in a mood for a few of the California whites? No problems at all. You want to compare classic Italian Sangiovese with the one from California? You got it. The wine list has just perfect size – there is enough variety, but you are not feeling overwhelmed with the task of finding the wine you want to drink in the foliant you can barely hold in your hands.

The core of the wine list is Italian, but there is still enough variety (California, France, Germany and more). The prices are quite reasonable as well. During the course of the evening we had a number of different wines which our gracious host Sasha kept bringing over. Here are my brief notes:

2012 Gundlach Bundschu Gewurztraminer Sonoma Coast – I read about Gundlach Bundschu wines in many blogs, but never had an opportunity to try them, so when I saw Gundlach Bundschu on the list, I really didn’t care what exact wine was it, I just had to try it. The wine was very nice – Gewurztraminer wines, in my opinion, don’t have the middle ground – they are either good (can be spectacular, yes), or terrible – they don’t have the “well, okay” range – so this was a nice Gewurztraminer, well balanced, with hint of honeydew, spicy with good acidity. Drinkability: 7+

2012 Ferrari-Carano’s Fumé Blanc Sonoma County – a classic California Sauvignon Blanc, with fresh gooseberry and lemon notes, good acidity, a bit too sweet to my taste. Drinkability: 7+

2011 Abbazia Santa Anastasia Contempo Nero d’Avola Sicily IGT – excellent, herbaceous undertones, warm, smooth, inviting, toasted oak and fruit notes. Drinkability: 8

2011 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County – cassis on the nose, nice tobacco notes, touch of espresso, round and simple. Drinkability: 7+

So what happens after you have your first glass of wine? Yes, you want food. And food we got – plenty and delicious. The menu at Vinoteca is somewhat similar to the wine list – concise, but very diverse, with the good selection of “ahh, I must to try this” dishes.

We started with the nice selection of appetizers:

Polpettini (house made meatballs, whipped ricotta) – excellent, very tasty sauce, meatballs had nice texture.

Cozze (Prince Edward Island mussels, red curry, french fries) – well prepared mussels don’t need any explanations, right? The only thing which they demand is … yep, extra bread.

Panetto “Italian grilled cheese” (fontina, San Marzano sauce) – perfect comfort food, very tasty sauce.

Next, we had a few Pizzas to share – one better then the other:

Qauttro Formaggi (ricotta, gorgonzola, parmigiano, mascarpone) – was probably my favorite – very intense, cheeeesy

Rustica (charred tomatoes, olives, sea salt, olive oil) – perfectly fresh and delightful

Spicy Lobster (mascarpone, habanero, corn) – excellent spiciness, nice bite, and nice pieces of lobster. I would never think that lobster would work on the pizza – but it actually does!

As we were not fed enough yet, here came the salads:

Italian Wedge (bibb, iceberg, gorgonzola,tomato, crispy prosciutto) – The Wedge is one of my most favorite salads, ever since I tried it for the first time. Crispy bittersweet lettuce and salty bacon prosciutto – just perfect.

Kale (Bosc pears, walnuts, pecorino) – yes, I know kale is healthy and good for me … but it is just not my thing ( but other people loved it).

Greek Chop (cucumber, watermelon, feta cheese, red onion) – a nice version of the Greek salad, very fresh and light.

You think that was enough food? Apparently not! We got to taste a few more dishes:

Parpardelle Bolognese – believe it or not, but this was my single most favorite dish of the whole dinner. This pasta was served family style, and I swear I could’ve eaten the whole “family portion” just by myself – so homey, so comfortable, so delicious.

Pollo Scarpiello (cherry peppers, sautéed spinach, spicy sausage) – wood-fire roasted chicken – delicious! Perfectly tender chicken, and you can tell that it was roasted over the wood fire. Tasty!

Salmone Al Arranciata (mascarpone mashed potatoes, asparagus, blood orange) – I personally didn’t taste this dish, but people were very happy about it.

And finally – desserts!

Assorted Desserts – Cannoli Cake, Cappuccino Cake, Tiramisu, New York Cheesecake – do you think I can give you detailed notes on the desserts? Yep – I can’t. After that amount of food, the desserts were almost an afterthought. They all tasted good – however, none of them stood out. Note the presentation  – I like the choice of the stand out plates.


That’s all, my friends. By the way, today is Friday – but even if you are not reading this post on Friday, you are probably in the mood for the glass of wine and some tasty food anyway, so why not give Vinoteca a try? I’m sure you will not be disappointed! Cheers!

Disclaimer: I visited the restaurant as a guest of management. All opinions are my own.

Vinoteca Restaurant & Wine Bar
33 Lewis Street
Greenwich, CT 06830
Vinoteca Restaurant & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Style and Substance – Rouge Brasserie & Oyster Bar in Greenwich, CT

December 6, 2013 12 comments

Before you get to this post, just a little word of caution – if you are hungry, can I ask you to go eat first? Please?

Let me ask you a question: when it comes to the restaurants, how often can you recall the exact decor of the restaurant? Well, let me be careful with this – of course this question is intended for the foodies and not for the interior design majors. We typically remember great food and wine experiences (yes, extremely bad experiences get stuck in the head too – I still remember the worst spaghetti in my life in the little restaurant by the Lake George). Sometimes the exceptional service is also staying with you. But I would bet that decor for the most cases would be the last thing you would remember, especially if you visit the restaurant only once. But then there are exceptions. I still remember old Tavern on the Green, with all its imperial embellishments, or the wonderful Belgium restaurant we visited on Aruba, called Le Dome, which had 4 different dining rooms, each decorated in its own unique style. Why am I asking all the questions about remembering the decor? Please read on, you will see in a second.

Okay, so the goal of this post is not to take you on the memory lane, but to share our recent dining experience at the new restaurant in Greenwich, Connecticut called Rouge Brasserie & Oyster Bar. We happened to come in a bit before our dining companions, so I had a little bit of time to walk around. The unique decor and variety of styles within somewhat of a limited space were strikingly different from most of the places I’d been to. The way the different sections were appointed were going from country French to cozy corner to the Royal French – all tastefully decorated and oh so different. Yes, as usual, I plan to inundate you with pictures, so take a look:

As it almost became customary, we started our evening at the bar. While the list of cocktails at Rouge is not too long, everything we had was very well made and very refreshing. Brigitte Bardot (cognac, fresh Lemon, sugar, raspberries and champagne) and Broken Heart Margarita (tequila, elderflower liquor, fresh sour, cointreau, raspberry grape & pink peppercorn) were both done just right, not too sweet (I’m really not a big fun of the sweet cocktails), withgood amount of alcohol, but very balanced at the same time. And it was just fun sitting by the shiny, well lit bar and watch Kelly compose the tasty concoctions.

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Before we talk about food, I need to say a few words about the wine. I didn’t get a chance to see the wine list, so obviously I can’t comment on it – but during the evening, we were drinking two wines which were both, shall I say it, surprisingly outstanding. Our white wine was 2012 Domaine Saint-Lannes Côtes de Gascogne IGP  (80% French Colombard, 20% Gros Manseng) – perfect nose of the bright white fruit, very inviting, light and round on the palate, with white apples, touch of lemon, dry and refreshingly crisp, excellent balance (Drinkability: 8). May be the fact that the white wine was good was not all that surprising, but for the red… Our red wine was 2010 Chateau Gobert Bordeaux AOC. Can you point to the “surprising” part just based on the name? I remember when I was just starting with wine, which was a bit more than 10 years ago, the year 2000 was declared the “Vintage of the Century” in Bordeaux, and I decided to try those best wines, buying Bordeaux AOC wines for $7 in the discount supermarket in New Jersey. When I tried to drink those wines, which were green, branch-chewy and plain harsh, for the life of me I couldn’t understand how that can be a great wine (of course I would never admit it in public). As I was learning about the wines, and especially listening to the Kevin Zraly’s explanations about circles of quality, I realized that basic Bordeaux, sourced from the grapes from the whole region, in general is something to avoid. Now, at the dinner, the red wine was poured (I didn’t see the label), and my first impression was “wow, this is very nice” – soft dark fruit on the nose, quite fruit forward on the palate, but without much exuberance or going over the top – some plums, ripe raspberries, touch of green bell pepper in the back, soft tannins, nice acidity, overall very balanced (Drinkability: 8-). When I saw the label, my first reaction was “Really?” – for a few seconds, I couldn’t believe this was actually a basic Bordeaux red wine. I will have to start paying attention to the Bordeaux AOC wines again, as this was one eye opening experience. And I want to complement whomever selected these wines for the restaurant – great choice!

Okay, time to talk about the food! In a word, we were treated royally at the Rouge – it was literally no holds barred type of dinner – everything you can think of was on the table – the caviar, the oysters, the lobster, and lots more.

First, our bread arrived in the form of tiny, but ohh so tasty baguettes, accompanies by the butter, fresh young radishes and cornichons:

From our appetizer course, the very first dish was Fish Eggs and Chips (house made potato chips, Crème fraîche) – as you can see from the name, it was a play on “Fish and Chips”, only instead of the actual fish we had something which could’ve become a fish – both black and red caviar was sprinkled over the house made potato chips:

I understand the word play here, and the dish overall was interesting – but I would probably use something more neutral as a medium instead of potato chips – some kind of white bread crackers or even crispy water crackers would play better with the saltiness of the caviar. But again, I can’t complain about the caviar as a starter – not at all.

When you start with the caviar, what is the next thing you should expect? The best selection of the fresh seafood, of course. And the best it was! Plateux De Fruits De Mer had fresh oysters, fresh clams, lobster tails and claws, and prawns, accompanies by the trio of sauces (shrimp cocktails, mayo with herbs and onion/vinegar for the oysters). Fresh and immaculate, one of the best seafood platters I ever had. I’m generally not a big fun of fresh clams – and these were delicious.

Seafood platters can be served in different types of restaurants, but nobody would argue that with Escargots Bourguignon (shallot parsley butter) we are getting into the real French traditional cooking. The escargot  were excellent, succulent and satisfying. My only complaint was that I would serve the escargot separately from the toast, as the toast was completely soaked in butter in and out, but then I heard a number of people praising that exact butter-soaked toast. Anyway, this was definitely a delicious appetizer.

From French Classic to the French Classic – our next dish was Classic Steak Tartare (hand cut prime filet with charred country toast) – I tried steak tartare in Paris for the first time, and while I was scared with the plate put in front of me (raw ground beef was glaring at me,  asking “will you dare put me in your mouth”), once that raw ground beef was mixed with all the condiments, it became one of my favorite dishes of the French cuisine. In our case, the steak was already premixed, so all we had to do was to put it on the toast and enjoy – which is exactly what we did! It was very tasty.

Our last appetizer was Warm Onion Tart (tomato confit & nicoise olives) – if you look at the size of that thing, it was literally the whole pizza! It turns out that the restaurant inherited a real pizza oven from one of the restaurants located before in the same space, so they definitely took a full advantage of that. That tart was delicious, withcrispy crust, and mild bitterness of arugula perfectly complementing sweetness of the onion. Great dish!

This was the end of our appetizer round, and while we were quite well fed already, the best was yet to come.

Our entrees included:

Skate Meuniere (parsley new potatoes, lemon brown butter) – outstanding, perfectly cooked fish, very meaty, nice lemony bite, without any fish aftertaste (you know, like the one you get sometimes from tilapia or catfish). This dish made many of us wonder why we don’t eat skate more often.

Moules Frites (white wine, garlic & fine herbs) – may be the best mussels ever. The sauce was soooo tasty, we had to request [lots of] additional bread. Simply delicious. Mussles were also served with very tasty french fries.

Short Rib Bourguignon (red wine sauce with pearl onions & truffled potatoes) – is there any other food in this world which spells “comfort” better than the slow cooked meat? Probably not. We were really full at this point, but nobody could resist that voluptuous (interesting word to describe the cooked meat, huh?), succulent meat. Sauce was exceptional, just perfectly savory without any unnecessary sweetness. Great finish to our wonderful meal.

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Well, of course there was a dessert – luckily a small one, but super tasty! Chocolate French Custard was just perfect, not too sweet, with the very light and fluffy texture. And by the way, while we were at dessert, I learned something new! It appears that when you eat dessert (at least the one like this custard), you are supposed to turn the spoon upside down in your mouth, so the tongue with all its tastebuds will get in contact with the food, and not with the back of the spoon. I had no idea!

Last, but not least at all, we had a chance to talk to and express our heartfelt Thanks to the Executive Chef Josh Moulton, the mastermind behind this exceptional experience, Diego, our Maître D’,  and Fabiana, the designer who created all that exceptional style I described at the beginning of this post.

If you will have an opportunity, I definitely recommend that you will ignore all my writing and go experience Rouge on your own. For those who are too far away, sorry, but you will have to take my word for it – this was definitely an outstanding meal, with great style and substance. Cheers!

Disclaimer: I attended the restaurant as a guest of management. All opinions are my own.

Rouge Brasserie & Oyster Bar
230 Mill Street
Greenwich, CT 06830
Phone: (203) 813-3555
ROUGE Brasserie & Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

Creative American Cuisine Experience at Bistro B in Bridgeport, CT

November 22, 2013 2 comments

As soon as we finished our drinks at the Barnum Publick House, it was the time to walk for the whole 20 seconds to our dining destination – Bistro B in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

The restaurant inside is definitely done in the modern, simple style – leather, woods, clean colors, clean lines, solid high chairs. If interested, you can even take a pick into the kitchen from outside, to admire all the stainless steel marvels and busy people.

As we already had cocktails, it was the time to chose the wine. Bistro B features quite an interesting wine list. It is somewhat short, but the important fact is that it is extremely reasonably priced. Absolute majority of wines are priced within $24 to $30 range, with few occasional splurges to $36, and one, the most expensive wine at $40 – you don’t see this type of wine prices in the restaurants all that often ( no, it doesn’t sport Yellow Tale, Sutter Home or Crane Lake, if you are wondering). At the same time, majority of the wines were either quite safe or completely unknown to me, so as a self-admitted wine snob I had some challenges deciding what to drink.

We started with 2011 Pieropan Soave from Italy – the wine had hint of white stone fruit on the nose, simple and dry on the palate, with good acidity, but somewhat single-dimensional. Probably the issue was with my expectations which were rather based on my prior experience with Pieropan wines during Vinitaly tastings earlier this year (the two wines we had there were outstanding). Drinkability: 7

From Pieropan we switched to 2012 Mohua Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough New Zealand – typical New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, but pleasantly restraint – there is enough grapefruit and lemon notes both on the nose and the palate, but not overpowering, not smash-in-your-face-grapefruit type of wine. Vibrant acidity, good balance. Drinkability: 7+

It was hard for me to chose the red wine (I’m a snob, remember?) – most of the choices didn’t pique my interest. I settled for 2010 Carmen Petite Sirah Gran Reserva Maipo Valley, Chile – dark garnet color in theglass,good amount of dark fruit on the nose, ripe raspberries and dark chocolate on the palate, acidity in check, overall very balanced. Drinkability: 7+

And then there was food. We started with the selection of Small Plates (appetizers).

First up was House Cured Salmon (Star Anise Pickes, Horseradish Mustard Cream, Brown Bread) – the salmon itself was impeccable, perfect texture and flavor (I cure my own salmon myself, so I’m very particular about it). The horseradish cream had some unusual perfumy component (not my favorite), but overall this was quite a successful dish.

Next up were BLT Sliders (Braised Pork Belly, Roma Tomatoes, Iceberg, Maple Aioli) – the sliders were not bad, and you really have to like pork belly to order this type of dish – but definitely this dish has a point for the interesting twist on BLT concept.

Chicken “Lollipops” (House Made BBQ Glaze, Best Blue Cheese Dressing) definitely gets thumbs up for originality and creativity (just caught myself feeling that I’m watching way too much of the Iron Chef, and take it way too seriously – I promise to get over it) – I like the concept, understand the idea and never saw it done before – unfortunately, the “lollipops” were a bit dry, I think this dish can be improved a bit in terms of texture. At the same time, overall flavor profile was excellent.

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For our Garden Plates we had Lambs Lettuce (Crispy Artichokes, Roasted Garlic Hummus) – crispy artichokes were particularly tasty, but so was the salad as a whole – and I liked very much the colorful presentation.

Then the Large Plates came. Potato and Onion Encrusted Halibut (Forest Mushroom Ragout, Asparagus Tips, Truffle) was first – perfectly seasoned and cooked, delicious, flaky fish worked very well with mushrooms (spectacular flavor profile by itself) and asparagus. Definitely an excellent dish.

Next was Pork Schnitzel (Cucumber Salad, Mustard Honey Pan Roast) – this was my least favorite dish – the meat was too dry and too lemony for my taste. The side of cucumber salad was quite tasty.

Then the Roasted Hangar Steak (Pomme Frittes, Roasted Pears), which was served next, was, in a word, outstanding! Meat was perfectly done (medium-rare), and together with the sauce and that Carmen Petite Sirah it simply created a heavenly combination.

And when I thought nothing can beat that steak, the “Chicken Fried Chicken” (Crispy Amish Chicken Breast, Black Pepper Gravy, Cinnamon Spiced Baby Carrots) arrived, and the whole table had gone silent, and then very loud again – inexcitement. The chicken was spectacular –moist, flavorful, perfect crust on outside – and was absolutely delicious with the sauce. This dish definitely finished our main portion of the dinner on the high note.

Do you think we left restaurant without having the dessert? Think again – of course this is not possible. First, we had absolutely delicious coffee, maid in French Press right at the table – yay! Our dessert consisted of Butterscotch Pudding and Flourless Chocolate Cake – both were very tasty, but this is about all I can tell you at this point – hopefully the pictures give you an idea.

That concludes our great experience with the Creative American Cuisine, and as usual, I would like to finish this post by thanking Chef and Owner Jason Milanese and Chef Joe Italiano for the wonderful meal. Until the next time – cheers!

Disclaimer: I attended the restaurant as a guest of management. All opinions are my own.

Bistro B
1006 Broad Street
Bridgeport, CT 06604
P: 203-908-4224

Bistro B on Urbanspoon

Foodies Get Together at Nola Oyster Bar in Norwalk, CT

September 23, 2013 11 comments

Since its opening in March of 2013, Nola Oyster Bar in Norwalk, CT was a subject of multiple blogger reviews, so I will not inundate you with the details which you can easily find online. This was our first visit to Nola, and I can tell you – we had the best time. The reason? Simple. Yes, the restaurant has a very good food, drinks and service, but what makes your restaurant visit special is the company. We visited Nola with the group of food bloggers! We only knew a few people at first, but you know, when you share a passion, the connection sparks faster than the lit match can fire up a stack of dry hay. From the moment we got at the table, we were in the company of the old friends – the conversation was flowing, and uncomfortable silence never took place. It was a great pleasure to share this experience with Wendy and Greg from Connecticut Bloggers, Bonnie from Home Place, Kaitlin from the For Love of Carrots, Jeff and Cristina from Cooking with Jeff and Cristina, Jenn from That’s So Jenn, Alicia The Natural Princess, and Linda from MaxExposure, who got us all together.

It is very interesting to see 8 cameras pointing at the same dish – when nobody would yell at you to stop using the flash (yep, this was my experience a few weeks ago). When the food is served, you almost feel as a judge on Chopped with all the comments like “hmmm, interesting, I think this is a bit too acidic”, “I would slightly reduce the sweetness”, “ahh, the regular waffle would become too soggy, this is why the corn flour is used”, “I would make this dish a bit differently”. I can tell you, despite this level of attention, there was not a single dish which we didn’t like, so I think it tells something about the mastery of Chef Kardos.

Let me tell you about the dishes.

I started from the tiny cocktail – as it was called on the menu, “soon to be famous” oyster shooter. Think of it as a shot of Bloody Mary with a fresh oyster right inside, perfect combination of spiciness, saltiness and freshness:

soon to be famous oyster shooter

“soon to be famous” oyster shooter

We started with Crab & Artichoke Fondue (bacon, smoked Gouda, sriracha, crackers) – perfect texture, nicely put together without being too heavy, as some of the artichoke dips do:

Crab and Artichoke Fondue

Crab and Artichoke Fondue

Next up – Beer Braised Mussels – smoked ham broth, chipotle butter, toast. Tasty, flavourful broth is a key to this dish – and we got it. Glad we also had enough pieces of bread, not to leave any goodness on the plate.

Beer Braised Mussles

Beer Braised Mussles

Our next dish was Cornmeal Fried Oysters & Braised Pork (creamed spinach, pearl onion jam, aleppo chili flakes):

Oysters and Pulled Pork

Oysters and Pulled Pork

This was definitely an unexpected combination for someone used to the New England seafood style – I’m sure this dish has New Orleans roots. Cornmeal fried oysters were delicious, and so was the pulled pork. Just enough spice without overpowering. I probably could live without creamed spinach in this dish, but all in all it was very tasty.

Meal is not a meal without a vegetable, right kids? Our vegetable was a side of Fried Brussels Sprouts (bacon, maple, coder vinegar, pistachio):

Fried Brussels Sprouts

Fried Brussels Sprouts

Very tasty, and again very unusual. Definitely unique texture, due to deep frying instead of pan frying – crispy flakes, with some sweetness of the maple syrup , cut through by the cider vinegar. I have to admit that I love Brussels sprouts and could’ve eaten the whole dish just by myself.

A culmination point of the meal – Poached Lobster & Cornbread Waffle (butter-poached lobster, griddled scallions, Queso Fresco):

lobster waffle

Poached Lobster & Cornbread waffle

In my book, lobster is a very difficult ingredient – yes, of course it is considered a luxury, but in a lot of cases, it simply doesn’t taste well, no matter how expensive the restaurant is. This lobster was excellent. Tender, very flavorful, and it worked very well with the cornbread waffle. This cornbread waffle was the one which solicited the discussion as to why the cornbread ( heavy and dense) and not the regular waffle (which would become too soggy). Needless to say, this dish was devoured in a blink.

We finished the main course with Blackened Shrimp & Pork Fried Rice (soy, sprouts, egg, scallion, sesame):

Blackened Shrimp with Fried Rice

Blackened Shrimp with Fried Rice

Perfectly cooked shrimp (some of the best I ever had), very tasty rice, overall very successful dish – this was a nice to finish our main course.

For dessert we were served Maple and Pistachio Panna Cotta (apple jam, pistachios) and Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pot Pie Cream (whipped cream, roasted peanuts):

Chocolate and peanut butter tasted almost like Nutella, only with a slightly different texture. Panna Cotta tasted very light – both dishes were quite successful, and I would gladly have them again.

That is all I have for you, folks, as an account of our great evening. Nola Oyster Bar is definitely recommended as a place where you will find the New England traditional seafood with the New Orleans, southern twist. If you live in the area or visiting, take the opportunity to try it for yourself.

Disclaimer: I attended the dinner as a guest of management. All opinions are my own.

Nola Oyster Bar
68 Washington Street
South Norwalk, CT 06854
Phone: 203-957-3352
Nola Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

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