Soul Tasty Opens in Stamford: Southern Food from the Soul to the Table

chicken-wings-closeFairfield County offers some of the best food in the country, from trucks to fine dining, and when a restaurant serves food from the soul, it is special, it is uplifting, it makes you overjoyed. Every now and then I visit a new place that fits all these categories. Stephanie Webster, my CTbites partner, and I were looking for a new place for a lunch meeting and we chose Soul Tasty…we wanted to see what the buzz was about. It is located on Main Street in Stamford at the end of a dead end that doubles as the entrance to a pedestrian bridge and parking is incredibly difficult, have patience, it is worth it.

serving-counter

Soul Tasty is the brain-child and dream of Chef Jean Gabriel, Jr. When you walk in, you can feel the love. The walls are brightly painted, a little graffiti on the rear counter pronouncing FEED YOUR SOUL and a colorful menu above the hot trays holding the products of the chef’s homage to the Southern recipes of his grandmother.

Jean’s desire to cook food from the soul is deep-rooted in this soft-spoken gentleman whose enormous smile and modest demeanor was evident as we discussed the restaurant on our visit. As a child, his mother taught him a few techniques in the kitchen and Gabriel decided to pursue his passion and followed his dream by attending the Lincoln Culinary Institute in Hartford, CT, and overseas at the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners. His menu combines traditional Haitian cuisine with his family’s recipes. Before opening Soul Tasty he was one of the opening chefs at Paloma.

Soul Tasty is already part of the community with prices that allow anyone to enjoy his food. A guest can enjoy a $5 “Tasty Box” lunch of chicken wings, pork chop, fried fish, or baked or fried chicken and a large portion of dirty rice, or for an extra $1 you can choose fried fish, pork or turkey BBQ, chicken tenders or a smothered pork chop. “Tasty Plates” are all $15 or less and include an entrée of BBQ, baked or fried chicken, chopped BBQ, BBQ or fried pork chop, fried fish or shrimp, with up to four sides. The sides include candied yams, potato salad, collard greens, mac & cheese, dirty rice, sweet potato fries, black eye peas, fried plantain and French fries. Two “$10 Specialty Entrees” include chicken & waffles and shrimp & grits.

shrimp-gritsWe thoroughly enjoyed three dishes that are definitely in the “Must Order” category. My favorite was the Shrimp and Grits . A bowl of delicious grits was topped with well-seasoned shrimp, with a little sauce drizzled on top. The shrimp were firm, with a little spice and a lot of flavor. The grits were perfectly cooked, balanced between creamy and a little crunch. This is definitely a contender for Best of…

smothered-pork-chopThe Smothered Pork Chop was also outstanding. The chop sat atop an enormous mound of some of the best Dirty Rice I have tasted in a long time. It was moist and tender and the mushroom sauce was down home fantastic. The rice was filled with chunks of sautéed beef, carrots, onions and peppers and offered a nice level of heat.

chicken-wings-topThe third was the Fried Chicken Wings. I commend Tasty Soul for serving the whole wing, all three sections. Pulling the wing apart is almost a ritual and first seeing the three-part crispy skin, perfectly fried, and hearing just a little crackle when the sections were slowly pulled apart was a prelude to the taste. They were crispy on the exterior and moist and delicious on the interior.

turkey-bbq-2The pulled turkey BBQ sandwich was North Carolinian style, and consisted of a large mound of smoked turkey, lathered in a spicy vinegar sauce and served on two slices of white bread (menu states golden bun which I would have preferred). Steph was a big fan of the BBQ, I thought the meat was a little dry, but the sauce added all the moisture required to elevate this to a very good sandwich. A few people at the surrounding tables raved about this sandwich as their favorite on the menu.

We tried several hearty sides and I was surprised that my favorite was the collard greens; they offered just a little resistance, not mushy at all, and delivered a good level of spice to go with the inherent pungency of the greens. The black eyed peas were also excellent. They maintained a great texture and were served in a simple sauce. The last side we tried was the mac & cheese. The flavor was fantastic, Steph like the texture, I prefer mine a little creamier. Don’t forget to unwrapped some of the best cornbread, it was moist, flavorful and fantastic.

sweet-potato-pieDesserts are rotated and we both really enjoyed the sweet potato pie, which was creamy and delightful.

In case you haven’t noticed I really loved Soul Tasty. Each of the dishes let the flavors of the ingredients play center stage, and each was delicious. Chef Jean Gabriel, Jr. dedicated the menu to his family’s heritage and recipes, created a cuisine hub in the neighborhood, offering delicious plates of reasonably priced food, in an environment that makes you smile when you enter and smile even broader while you eat. When I asked him if this was food from the heart, he smiled broadly and said, “it is food from the soul.”

29 Main Street – Stamford, CT 06902

203-504-2625

http://www.soultastyct.com

Really Liked

  • Shrimp & Grits
  • Smothered Pork Chop
  • Chicken Wings
  • Dirty Rice
  • Collard Greens
  • Black Eyed Peas
  • Corn Bread

Liked

  • Mac & cheese
  • Sweet potato pie
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The Brunch Box Food Truck: Get Your Breakfast & Lunch on In Stamford

The Brunch Box opened several months ago, delivering numerous breakfast and lunch sandwiches at locations around Stamford, with occasional visits to surrounding areas and private parties. Jimmy Marcella, a Stamford native developed the concept of The Brunch Box after a lifetime of preparation; as far back as he could remember he wanted to own a restaurant. As a teen Jimmy worked at a local Italian deli in Westchester, scrubbing dishes, mopping floors, stocking soda, eventually prepping, making chicken cutlets and chopping parsley by the case. He saved his money for his self-education, Omakase at 16, elegant dining at 18. He subsequently worked at the Hudson Hotel in Manhattan, toured with his manager and eventually returned to Stamford; he was now ready to fulfill his dream. Jimmy decided to start with a food truck, where he could experience that personal one-to-one interaction with each customer. He thought that “Brunch” was the differentiator from the other food trucks in the area and The Brunch Box was born.

Jimmy’s philosophy is straightforward, “Our goal is to offer fresh, quality products cooked to order on our food truck. The slab bacon from a local hog farm in Pennsylvania to our Portuguese muffins we get overnighted from Fall River, Massachusetts. Quality matters. It’s just tastes and feels that much better! For the consumer and business.”

Each sandwich is served on that distinctively sweet Portuguese muffin (from the same baker from Massachusetts that supplies the bun for the Harlan Social Burger) and reflects Jimmy’s desire to elevate each sandwich with the bun. Over the course of several visits I enjoyed several of Jimmy’s creations.

One of my favorites was The Lox Box (pictured above), layers of Nova lox with cream cheese, tomato, red onion, capers, fresh dill on the Portuguese muffin. The Novy was mild, with just a hint of smokiness; the muffin was an outstanding choice to add great sweetness to the sandwich, and the capers a little saltiness. The tomato and slight schmear of cream cheese contributed creaminess to this great sandwich.

My other favorite was the Brunch Box Breakfast Sandwich, affectionately referred to as the TBB. It starts with a traditional three-ingredient bacon, egg and cheese with a little lettuce and tomato. The Brunch Box takes the sandwich to an incredible sweet-spicy direction with the muffin, and a swath of sriracha mayonnaise that offered a wonderful creamy-spiciness to this sandwich.

Another good choice is the Burger. The meat was mild, with a great sear on the exterior and compressed, which gave it almost a spongy texture (I understand he is now grinding his own meat). The patty was topped with melted cheese, bacon, pickle, lettuce, tomato on the Portuguese muffin. There was great balance with the thick, salty bacon, the ketchup, the aioli and the ripe tomato. Then the pickle kicked in and created a delicious combination.

The Pastrami Reuben included a mound of pastrami covered with melted cheese, sauerkraut, and Thousand Island dressing on the Portuguese muffin. To be fair, this sandwich suffers from the lack of good pastrami in CT. Jimmy searched all over for the best meat, sources it from a local deli, but it was not to my liking. In addition, this time the muffin was not a good substitute for the traditional rye bread that a great pastrami sandwich deserves. I enjoyed the other sandwiches more.

The Brunch Box is turning out some creative combinations. The use of the sweet Portuguese muffins works fantastically in most of the combinations, and the addition of spicy components is the key to many of the sandwiches. In several conversations with Marcella I am convinced he strives for the best in each of his ingredients. I look forward to returning and enjoying more of The Brunch Box’s breakfast and lunch sandwiches.

The Brunch Box

To see locations visit:

https://www.facebook.com/Thebrunchboxct/?fref=ts

https://twitter.com/thebrunchboxct