1020 Post (Darien) – Bar Scene Better than Food

After several visits to 1020, I’ve been more disappointed than satisfied. But in Darien, this restaurant offers one of the better choices in town.

Each time I visited 1020 the host seems to give the impression that you should be honored to each there, humility is not his greatest strength. The front bar area is a favorite for a burger and beer with friends to watch a ballgame or just hang out. This and Darien Social are probably the best bar in Darien

When the food arrives manage your expectations. On one occasion I ordered the clams and the broth was so bitter I needed to send it back to the kitchen. This was replaced with what the menu described as Lobster Mac & Cheese, but mine, unfortunately lacked any crustacean meat.

I was hoping the burger would be the saving grace, but alas, even this was a disappointment. It is a decent burger but not in my go-to list. The meat was over-seasoned in some areas and under-seasoned in others and lack deep flavors. The caramelized onions were soft, moist and very flavorful, but the bun was pedestrian. Not a recommended burger.

Overall, it is a bar trying to be a better restaurant, than a restaurant with a great bar.

 

1020 Post on Urbanspoon

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Corner Table (Minneapolis) Still Serving Delicious Local Food

BellyIt has been a little while since my last visit to Corner Table, the management has changed but the focus remains sourcing and serving local flavors. And the end result is still delicious food.

On this cold winter evening I sat with my back to the windows and I wish I would have worn a sweater as I was cold throughout the meal. I ordered the pork belly, braised cabbage, apple puree, and mustard seed ($9) for my appetizer and the pan roasted duck breast, sweet potato gnocchi, black garlic, and winter greens ($26).

As I waited, the server brought a plate of bread that was still cool; I never understand why a restaurant starts the meal on a note that could so easily be better with 30 seconds in the oven. There were two slices of Focaccia that had a mid-level of flavor and two slices of a baguette that had good texture and crispy exterior. It was a good start to the evening, but could have been better.

The belly was brought and visually this was one of the most beautiful dishes I have seen in a while. The pale yellow apple puree was plated, then topped with the shredded red cabbage and finally crowned with a large piece of belly. A few dollops of whole grain mustard dotted the puree and snipped chives added green contrast.

The belly was prepared confit-style in its own fat for 6 hours and then pressed to hold the shape. It was tender, flavorful, and maintained a high level of juiciness. The braised cabbage maintained its crispiness while braised and had an earthy quality and the apple puree had a slight level of sweetness but not too sweet. Together the salty warm pork, the slightly cooler and crispy cabbage and then the cool and creamy puree created perfect complementary textures, temperatures and flavors. I can characterize this dish as a brilliant interpretation of the seasonal flavors.

duckThe duck was not in the same league as the belly, not many dishes I have tried recently are. The duck had a mild flavor, served rare with the skin slightly salted before the kitchen sliced and plated. Although technically the sweet potatoes were Gnocchi, they were more mashed sweet potatoes that were slightly sautéed; a more apt description would be small, round sweet potato croquettes. The sauce was not as rich in flavor as I hoped for and the flavor of the black garlic was almost missing. Overall I was looking for more contrasts in this dish as presented in the appetizer. There was a salty component, but my tongue wished for a sour, sweet or spicy for some contrast. Likewise the texture was one-dimensional.

With the perfect appetizer, it would be hard for an equally brilliant second course, but Corner Table is still serving delicious, locally sourced food in a relaxed environment. Would I return…absolutely.

Corner Table on Urbanspoon

Preview of Dinosaur BBQ – Great Addition

BL Exterior“Twas the night before Christmas, and…

Sorry wrong post.

BL MenuWell it was the night before the official opening of Dinosaur BBQ in Stamford and I was fortunate to have my name included the list for this “Friends and Family” gathering. So with 200+ of my closest BBQ lovers, I wandered through the “stations” of beef, pork, ribs, and sides to see if the Q was as good as everyone was telling me. And with few exceptions, the food at Dinosaur BBQ was outstanding. And the items that did not hit a “10” I would chalk up to pre-opening execution.

BL Ribs 2For a quick overview of the items that we sampled.

Meats:

Wings – As I serpentined through the maze, a server brought a small plate of wings, well actually one wing, with two sauces, BBQ and Buffalo. The rub had a nice kick to it, and dipping in either sauce was equally delicious. I am not a huge Wing Man, but I would definitely order some for the table. Add me to the wing convert group.

BL BrisketBrisket – Touchdown!! This won Best in Show for the night. The meat was perfectly smoked, and then they placed a few slices on a great roll. I added a touch of the spicy sauce on top to add to the already abundant flavors.

Pulled pork – The slab of pork sat on the steam-table as the crew removed the bark and then hand-pulled the meat. Then they formed a small mound, grabbed a bun and added a little sauce. Again the meat was perfectly smoked and was both succulent and delicious.

BL Ribs 1Ribs – Here is where the execution was not up to the standards of the other dishes. The slab the server cut my portion from had major problems. The bark was way too thick and the bones themselves were broken. It was next to impossible to eat, forget about picking up this portion. There was a nice dry rub and then a thin layer of sauce. The good news was the meat when you could get to it, was perfect. When I returned to snap the photos the other slabs looked perfect.

The Side dishes:

Macaroni salad with tuna – A cold version of the classic that brings back bad memories of growing up, But Dinosaur’s version was delicious; it had great flavor and offered a refreshing element to the spices that the meats carried.

Macaroni and cheese – This side was fantastic. It was creamy and full of flavor and to finish the portion they sprinkle a spicy and smoky dusting on top to increase the heat. The smooth and creamy cheese sauce and the spicy topping were delicious.

Fred Rice – OK I have to say, WHY? Why is a BBQ joint serving fried rice? But it was delicious, offered a totally different flavor profile than every other side and was full of flavor. Did it go with the BBQ, unfortunately I would not order this side on subsequent visits; it just was a confusing dish.

Cole Slaw – The cole slaw was very good, creamy and delicious and performed the task that cole slaw is supposed to perform with BBQ, add to but not distract from, the main course. The Dinaosaur BBQ did just that.

Corn bread – Like the cole slaw, not ups, no extras. It was right down the middle of I-95. It was a good was good, but not memorable

Service:

There was a ton of staff at the event, not sure how the servers will work out when there are tables and guests. They were all incredibly friendly, but will need additional training on the menu. With all of the beers offered they need to learn the basics and they could also use a little more training on the items that are offered. Darwin’s Theory will come into play and in a couple of weeks the staff should be fine.

Overall, I was very impressed with Dinosaur BBQ. It was not even officially open and it was already serving some of, if not the best, BBQ in the area. After years of Fairfield County being a BBQ Wasteland, we now have a bar that is high enough to be proud of.

Welcome to the neighborhood Dinosaur BBQ…I am glad you are here.

Dinosaur Bar-b-que on Urbanspoon

Cotto Wine Bar and Pizzeria – New Kid in Stamford


CTB Cotto ExteriorThere’s a new kid in town, Stamford that is, and its name is Cotto Wine Bar and Pizzeria. Husband and wife Claudio and Silvy Ridolfi have teamed with Chef Kevin Kraklio to create a traditional Italian menu (with a few exceptions) that includes a wide variety of Tapas, entrée-sized dishes and pizzas. Located in the space that formerly housed Tappo, the trio first transformed the interior into a sleeker space, with a front-to-back Italian marble topped bar along the right wall, black-and-white photos adorning the left wall (many of Silvy’s mom when she was an actress pictured with Marcello Mastroianni, Brigitte Bardot and David Niven), a curved wood-planked ceiling and an enormous gas fired pizza oven in full view in the rear. Raised in Rome, Cotto represents Claudio and Silvy’s first restaurant in the United States, while Chef Kraklio takes the helm of the kitchen after attending the French Culinary Institute and working at restaurants throughout Italy.

CTB Cotto BologneseAfter seeing the menu on-line, my curiosity got the better of me so I stopped for a quick lunch and I am incredibly glad that I did. I ordered the Rigatoni Bolognese and it was divine. The pasta was perfectly cooked to al dente and the beef and veal based sauce was rich, creamy, deep flavored, and was perfectly proportioned to the pasta. Other than a smattering of sautéed mushrooms, it was a traditional preparation with just a touch of cream and butter added at the end to highlight the flavors plus a sprinkling of crushed red pepper to add a little spice.

CTB Cotto NutellaAs I was speaking with the owners, they offered a thin-crust dessert pizza, made with focaccia dough and covered with Nutella, Rice Crispies and powdered sugar. I have always struggled with calling this combination a “pizza,” but regardless of the name the combination of the chocolaty sweetness, the nuttiness and the Rice Crispies was a great way to end the meal.

In addition, the restaurant currently offers 200 labels on its enormous wine list.

If my first meal is any indication of the food at Cotto Wine Bar and Pizzeria, it will be a go-to spot in Stamford. Stay tuned as CTbites revisits in a few weeks for a full review of this newest addition to Stamford.

Cotto Wine Bar and Pizzeria 51 Bank Street – Stamford, CT 06901 – 203.914.1400

http://cottowinebar.com/

The review was originally posted on December 4, 2012 on CTbites.com at http://www.ctbites.com/home/2012/12/4/cotto-wine-bar-and-pizzeria-opens-in-stamford.html

Cotto Wine Bar + Pizzeria on Urbanspoon