Borough (MSP) – Delivers Some Great Dishes

BL MenuLocated on North Washington at the southeast corner of N. 8th Ave., Borough is pleasing to both the eye and the palate. The interior is beautifully designed with dark woods throughout and leather and plaids cover the chairs and banquettes. The chandeliers include converted graters and antiqued copper shades illuminating the space with a soft and inviting light. Mirrors adorn a tiled wall, a large collage of distressed 8×8 railroad ties cover the far wall with a long highly polished reclaimed wood table under the railroad ties.

BL InteriorOn my initial visit I ordered two dishes, the “Pork Belly” for an appetizer and the “Swordfish” for my entrée.

BL BellyThe “Pork Belly” was served with butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, wild rice and maple. The pork belly was two separate preparations in one piece; one side was succulent and delicious with a touch of BBQ sauce, while the other was a little over-salted and not as satisfying. The butternut squash was creamy and delightful and worked perfectly with the crunchy roasted wild rice that sat atop. A couple of shallot “hearts” accompanied the wild rice and they added a slight spice to the sweetness of the squash. The shaved Brussels sprouts were delicious, with great flavor, and offered a slight crunchiness to the dish.

BL SwordfishThe “Swordfish” was grilled and served with smoked tomato grits, clams, salsa verde and caponata. The two small cubes (about 2-ounces each) of swordfish were cooked to medium-rare, still translucent on the interior. The texture was wonderful, firm, yet soft, and the flavor was mild and complemented every other item on the plate. The ingredient not mentioned on the menu was the centerpiece of the accompaniments, escarole. It delivered a nice little kick of spiciness and when combined with the grape tomatoes and the corn kernels, was delicious. The smoked tomato grits was formed into a small triangle and fried. It was a delicious addition. The caponata added a good level of saltiness. The clams were not necessary; they did not add anything to the dish

Service was fantastic. My server is the benchmark for others in MSP, he knew the menu, was comfortable in making recommendations and if he did not have an opinion of an item that was added that day he was honest. He recommended the swordfish and I was incredibly grateful since it was delicious.

Borough is a great place for some incredibly creative dishes in a very cool atmosphere.

Borough & Parlour on Urbanspoon

Eclectic Luncheonette and Catering Opens in New Canaan

BL Corn souffleA stop at the newly opened Eclectic Luncheonette and Catering on Vitti Street offered a glimpse into the cuisine that owner/chef Robert Milano will bring to the east end of downtown New Canaan. The periwinkle exterior adds a bright, southern feel to this residential-commercial street; an inviting beginning to any visit. The interior is more sterile, offering 22 seats and a long counter where orders are placed.

The lunch menu consists of various salad combinations, sandwiches with melted cheese, soufflés and desserts. Most tend to include fried ingredients or cheese so be careful if you are looking for a lower caloric lunch; you can create your own salad from a list of a dozen ingredients.

BL Tomato SoupMy lunch started with a cup of the house made “Tomato Bisque.” The tomato-ey flavor was rich and delicious, the texture was silky from the addition of cream, and the diced scallions added a nice crunch with just a touch of spiciness.

Accompanying the soup was a “Beef Ossobuco Jalapeño Raspberry” sandwichserved on buttered and grilled Italian bread with melted white cheddar cheese and finished with a Jalapeño Raspberry BBQ sauce. The meat was delightfully tender. The sauce was very sweet and I would have preferred more spiciness from the Jalapeño peppers. The melted cheese was mild and added a little smoothness and the small slices of toasted bread were first schmeared with salted butter and grilled. Overall this was a very tasty sandwich.

BL Corn souffleLast, but not least, was the “Plain Corn Soufflé” (the menu allows for one of several toppings). This was more a quiche consistency than a soufflé, the filling was creamy, was full of flavor and a good addition to complete lunch. The corn added a good level of crunchiness to the dish.

With a few days under his belt Chef Robert is creating some interesting combinations. Hopefully the menu will expand to include lighter choices and the décor will develop into a softer, more relaxed atmosphere to appeal to the New Canaan lunch crowd.

This review was originally posted on http://www.ctbites.com at:

http://www.ctbites.com/home/2013/10/24/sneak-peek-at-eclectic-luncheonette-in-new-canaan.html

 

Guvnor’s Brewery (SONO) – Great Fries with a Side of Burger

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Guvnor’s Brewery was a mere month old when I visited to try a burger and fries. I arrived at 215, the lunch crowd was onto other activities and I was a solo in the restaurant. Channeling Norm from “Cheers” I sat at the end of the bar and ordered “The Guvnor’s Burger,” described as “Our Signature Meat Blend, Pancetta, American Cheese and Thousand Island Sauce.” I asked if the burger was served with fries and was informed that fries did accompany the burger.

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As I waited I enjoyed an informative conversation with the bartender. There were five beers served, a sixth was on its way and the IPA that they recently introduced was such a hit it was sold-out more quickly than thought, a good sign for any restaurant touting itself as a brewery, but that’s a different story. Another server wondered over and joined in the conversation. Both were incredibly friendly and very knowledgeable about the entire restaurant.

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The burger arrived and there were several items that were immediately visible. The bun was very tall and I was concerned it would be too much bread for the burger and the large portion of fries was heavily seasoned. In addition, the patty was perfectly round, compact and gave the appearance of pre-made by machine.

BL BurgerLet’s start with the good news. The fries were some of the best I have eaten. They were thrice-fried (no idea why you need the third dipping) and the seasoning was delicious. They were crispy on the exterior and moist and soft on the interior. The seasoning also added a great saltiness and cheesiness. I noticed garlic cloves and sprigs of rosemary intermingled within the fries and the bartender told me that they three ingredients were all fried simultaneously.

BL OpenOnto the burger. The Guvnor’s Burger is probably six-ounces and the bartender told me it was a 3-meat blend of short rib, chuck and brisket (unconfirmed). The meat was well cooked to medium-rare but lacked any flavor, there was no seasoning whatsoever either before or after cooking. The texture was compressed and borderline hard. The cheese added a little flavor and the pancetta added a little saltiness, but the Thousand Island Sauce was too vinegary and the flavors were too bold for the other ingredients. The bun was too large for burger and was not complementary to the meat. Overall the burger was fairly disappointing.

The space was incredibly well done, the service was excellent and the fries were outstanding. Unfortunately, I would not run back and re-order the burger.

Guvnor's Brewery on Urbanspoon

Golden View Firenze Opens in Greenwich

The culinary landscape in Greenwich expands with the recent opening of Golden View Firenze at 249 Railroad Avenue with its owner, chef and menu direct from Florence, Italy. For many years Tommaso Grasso, owner of Golden View Open Bar overlooking the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, visited friends in the US and they recently convinced him to bring his upscale cuisine and vibe to Greenwich. He persuaded Italian chef Francesco Casu to join him from Florence, and the two have created a traditional and authentic Tuscan menu.

Entering the restaurant, you immediately feel the European influence in the décor. The sleek black and white tables and chairs were imported from Italy and the walls are all adorned with paintings also imported from Italy. The entire space has an inviting European hip ambience and is spacious for the forty guests who will dine on traditional Tuscan cuisine. The entire rear of the dining area is dedicated to the stainless steel kitchen with a Chef’s Counter for four lucky guests.

Golden_View_Restaurant_CT4

The menu includes traditional Tuscan fare; a cuisine focused on simple presentations, fresh ingredients and a sense of balance to the dish’s construction. The opening menu includes choices reflective of the owner and chef’s Italian roots. There are ten choices of Salumi e Fora ranging from Prosciutto Di Parma to Lardo and a selection cheeses (including my favorite Taleggio) served with Italian honey and homemade jams. Insalates range from simple Mixed Greens to Buffalo Mozzarella with grilled zucchini, snap peas, sundried tomatoes ad mixed greens. Antipasti selections include cold and warm selections including soup Cheese flan, grilled vegetables and several fish preparations.

On my initial visit during the restaurant’s opening week I decided to bypass the appetizers and ordered a pasta and entrée. With almost a dozen pasta choices, I decided to sample theSpaghetti all’astice (Spaghetti with Lobster) and the Branzino di Fondale alla Siciliana (Sicilian style black sea bass with leeks, celery, tomato, capers and black olives).

As I waited I enjoyed a simple bruschetta of tomato, olive oil and basil sitting atop a slice of house-made bread. The kitchen allowed the flavors of the tomatoes to stay as the centerpiece of the dish with just a touch of oil and basil.

The Spaghetti was delicious. A large portion of spaghetti was complemented by a light lobster fumet and finished with chunks of lobster. The pasta was perfectly prepared to al dente and the lobster was succulent and delicious. The sauce included just a touch of spice that left a delightful after flavor on the palate.

The Black Bass sat atop a potpourri of cherry tomatoes, olives, capers and celery. Black Bass is one of my variety of fish and Golden View’s preparation was simple with the wonderful flavors of the bass showcasing and the freshness of the other ingredients that added varying flavors and textures.

As the chef adjusts the seasoning differences between the American and Italian palate this will become a go-to restaurant in Greenwich. Stay tuned as CTbites returns in the near future for a more in depth review.

249 Railroad Ave. – Greenwich, CT -(203) 817-0919

This review was originally posted on http://www.ctbites.com at:

http://www.ctbites.com/home/2013/10/13/sneak-peek-at-greenwichs-golden-view-firenze.html

 

Picador 2.0 Opens – Italy Meets Spain

BL PastaMore culinary changes are occurring in New Canaan as Picador Restaurant on Elm Street was recently purchased by Ray Rivera, former Food and Beverage Manager at The Hyatt, and Leo Gaspar the owner of New Canaan’s Club Sandwich. Rivera and former owner Alan Basaran (owner of New Canaan’s Carpe Diem Restaurant) have known each other for years and a conversation eventually led to the Rivera and Gaspar purchasing the site.

The pair immediately hired Chef Corey Falcone, who was previously the chef/owner of Bella Luna, one of Stamford’s favorite Italian restaurants. This partnership culminates years of discussions between Rivera and Chef Corey who wanted to work together in a small restaurant. Rivera summed up his four year search for the perfect venue and cuisine, “I’m thrilled about our restaurant being on Elm Street in New Canaan and presenting international fare plus steaks and chops. Corey is excited to use his talents to fuse Spanish and Italian flavors and he is a master of the grill.”

Over a delicious plate of Fettuccini Carbonara, Chef Corey explained his vision of the restaurant. “I want people to come in, relax, enjoy great, consistent food. They should have the same quality food on a crowded Saturday night as they do on a Wednesday evening.” Born in the Bronx and self-taught in the kitchen, Chef Corey is comfortable modifying traditional and classic recipes. The Carbonara included imported pasta, diced onion, a little chicken stock, butter, just a touch of cream, diced Serrano ham, grated Romano and finished with the traditional scrambled egg. The dried pasta was perfectly prepared to al dente and the two minor modifications of the Serrano ham and Romano cheese added a slightly different and delicious variation to the traditional recipe. Likewise, the chef allowed the pasta to maintain the focal point and the dish was lightly sauced.

Will the name change from Picador? Maybe a slight modification. With a recent NY Times review that rated Picador “Very Good” it will be hard to change completely, maybe Picador Grill, but no decision has been made. And if the Carbonara is an indication, this restaurant will be very successful with any name.

Stay tuned as CTbites returns for a full review of the new Picador in a few weeks.

15 Elm St New Canaan, CT 06840 – (203) 972-9999

This review was originally posted on http://www.ctbites.com at:

http://www.ctbites.com/home/2013/10/10/picador-20-opens-in-new-canaan.html

Village Social (Mt. Kisco NY) Delivers Great Cuisine

A new restaurant in my home town of New Canaan will feature the cuisine of Village Social’s Chef Mogan Anthony so one night I drove to Mt. Kisco to sample his cuisine. And I am very glad I did. The chef combines textures and flavors incredibly well and I look forward to his arrival in my little town.

The restaurant is large, separated into a vibrant bar area to the right and a dining room the left. The décor creates a great vibe and as I sat at one of the high tables in the bar I watched a steady stream of young, old, singles, couples, and groups…an eclectic clientele, all looking forward to an enjoyable evening. And during my 90 minutes of wonderful cuisine, I saw smiles on every guest. And the cuisine was one of the prime reasons. The food that Chef Mogan served was outstanding.

BL Tunajpeg (1)I started with the Salty Pretzel Crusted Tuna; a sliced, slightly seared wedge of tuna that sat atop a spicy kimchi aioli with a few sliced scallion. The tuna was cool in the center with the salty crust offering both a textural and salty contrast. Adding the kimchi aioli to the tuna added a level of spiciness and creaminess to the dish and the scallions increased the flavor profile. This was one delicious dish combining salty, spicy, crunchy, soft…all great together.

bl beetsjpegAnother light, small plate that I enjoyed was the salt baked beets with whipped ricotta, mache, orange slices and pistachio vinaigrette. The earthiness of the beets were beautifully offset with the sweetness of the orange segments and the whipped ricotta added a soft creamy texture. The pistachio pieces complemented with a touch of earthiness and crunch. This dish was fantastic.

BL SteakjpegAnother outstanding dish was a small plate of the slow cooked skirt steak with onions over mashed potatoes. Although the menu states Chimmichuri, the restaurant is currently serving this dish with caramelized onions and I really liked the change. The perfectly prepared medium-rare steak was rubbed with a slightly spicy Japanese seasoning, nestled in creamy mashed potatoes with a rich beef jus. The steak was tender and flavorful and the caramelized onions were soft and sweet and worked perfectly with the steak and potatoes. The beef jus added an added level of flavor.

Another dish I sampled was the Burrata poached in olive oil and served in a jar, served with a basket of bread. This was not to my liking. The server informed me that I pour the Burrata over the bread and then the table normally shares the Buratta covered bread slices. As much as I like the idea of sharing great cheeses with friends, I found the olive oil diluted the wonderfulness of the Buratta, and I would prefer enjoying the Burrata and the bread without the olive oil.

BL PizzajpegSince the New Canaan location will feature Neapolitan pizzas, I asked which was the most popular at Village Social, and the server told me the “Sunny Side Egg.”  When it arrived I was anxious to try Chef Mogan’s red-sauced creation that included mozzarella cheese, Prosciutto di San Daniele, with a sunny side up egg perched in the center and slices of truffle finishing the combination. This was an excellent pizza with a fabulous sauce, great mozzarella, the egg and truffles added additional decadence and the crust was perfectly charred from the wood burning oven. I would have preferred slightly less saltiness from the prosciutto.

BL dessertjpegSave room for dessert. The Salty Caramel pie was a tribute to sweetness and textures. The filling was a smooth caramel-custard and the crunchy crust was a perfect complement to the sweetness of the filling. It was served with a scoop of mild-flavored vanilla ice cream that offset the sweetness of the pie and created a great balance.

Overall the atmosphere and food at Village Social were outstanding. Serving up to 700 guest on a busy weekend night, this restaurant is a go-to place in Mt. Kisco and Chef Mogan Anthony is creating delicious food.

Village Social Kitchen and Bar on Urbanspoon

Craftbar – Great Vibe and Some Excellent Choices

(Sorry for the lack of photos…it was a family event)

Located on Broadway, three blocks north of Union Square, Craft Bar is a bustling restaurant with excellent service and delicious food. The restaurant has a constant vibe that gives great energy to the atmosphere. There are both booths and tables, but be forewarned on the booths, they are long and four people occupy only three of the sides so the two people on each end are fairly far apart. If you are looking for conversation amongst all four guests, opt for a table which are much more intimate and allow for easy conversation. We did, and the four of us spent three relaxing, unrushed hours enjoying many of the dishes.

Our server was excellent, knowledgeable, friendly, and was quick to offer suggestions, and each of his recommendations were perfect. The only drawback to the service was what I would describe as aggressive bussers; maybe they were assigned too many tables but they constantly reached across the table versus walking around. These intrusions were disruptive to the flow of the conversation. They need instructions to just walk behind each guest versus intrude.

We immediately ordered both the Cheese and Meat assortments to enjoy as we looked through the numerous small and large plate offerings.

The meats consisted of Pastrami Wagyu Beef Tongue (brined & confit beef tongue with pastrami spice) with a dab of spicy beer mustard; Chicken Liver Paté (roasted and puréed with shallot and bourbon) with strawberry jam; Country Pate (Duroc pork, morello cherry and quatre epices) with cherry mostarda; and Smoked Pig’s Head Terrine (brined and smoked pig head) with pickled mustard seed and Calabrian chile. The first two were exceptional. The thin slices of tongue were melt in your mouth tender with rich flavor and the paté was decadently delicious, smooth and rich with flavor. The slice of the country pate brought a good amount of flavor but was not in the same league as the first two and the Smoked Pig’s Head was more about texture than flavor, it was overly gelatinous and delivered no flavor.

The five cheeses included portions of Harbison (Cow) from Jasper Hill, Greensboro, VT; Pawlet (Raw Jersey Cow) from Consider Bardwell Farm, West Pawlet, VT; San Andreas (Raw Sheep) from Bellwether Farm, Sonoma County, CA; Hudson Red (Raw Cow) from Twin Maple Farm, Ghent, NY; and Point Reyes Bay Blue (Cow) from Point Reyes Farmstead, West Marin, CA. Each of these was delicious, and choosing one as a favorite is difficult as everyone at the table enjoyed all of them.

For my appetizer I ordered the Marinated Montauk Squid with lentil salad, pickled shallots, and pickled celery. This was a very refreshing dish, with beautiful colors and vibrant flavors. The amount of squid was scant, almost to the point of a scavenger hunt halfway through the course and I would have preferred much more squid. For those who are adventurous there is a duck heart and dumpling option. My daughter ordered the hearts and they were prepared medium rare; the flavor and texture reminded me of liver with incredibly rich, almost gamey flavor. The Lumache Pasta with a Bolognese Duroc pork Ragu, soffritto, and Parmigiano was very good. I really liked the choice of the pasta which held the sauce perfectly. I found the Bolognese was a little too salty but it was rich in flavor. The highlight of the meal was the Veal Breast Roulade, which was served with a potato purée, Hen of the Woods mushrooms, heirloom tomatoes, and watercress. I rarely find a veal breast on any menu and I asked the server his opinion prior to ordering. He smiled and said he never had a problem recommending this dish. He was correct. The veal was tender, with incredible flavor and the accompaniments were excellent choices to add flavor and texture. This rendition receives a perfect ten in my books.

Leave room for dessert as one of the choices, the Blueberry & Almond Cake with candied ginger purée, toasted almond Anglaise was outstanding and also recommended by our server. With loads of butter, this cake is slightly crispy on the exterior but the softness and flavors of the cake was outstanding and the blueberries added the sweet component. I would eat several pieces with a cup of coffee. Not in the same league was the Praline Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream, and Candied Pecans. The flavors did not work well together, almost fighting each other. I would shy away from the Chocolate Cake.

I would absolutely return to Craft Bar and try other dishes. I really enjoyed the evening.

Craftbar on Urbanspoon