Washington Prime (SONO) 2.0 – Enter Chef Howard McCall Jr.

rsz_ctb (2)Patrons of Washington Prime will find comfort in the cuisine of its new Executive Chef Howard McCall Jr. This unassuming chef is not new to SoNo or the kitchen at Washington Prime; he started in the kitchen at Barcelona twenty years ago and was the opening Sous Chef at Washington Prime last summer. Prior to joining Washington Prime he oversaw the kitchen at Mint restaurant in North Carolina, which influenced his new Southern style cuisine.

CTbites was invited to meet the chef and sample some of his new additions to the menu. Chef Howard exudes a soft personality, allowing his culinary talents to speak. His recent changes to the new menu range from a creative American Soul Rolls to a Braised Lamb Shank, plus modifications of previous favorites. Each maintained the focus on the main ingredient with delightful accompaniments…more akin to Southern comfort food.

Three of the Small Plates were delicious.


The first was the Short Rib. A large, single, boneless rib sat atop a dollop of the braising liquid and the chipotle onion jam, then crowned with two onion rings and finished with micro greens. The slowly braised rib was tender and succulent; and when paired with the spicy onions created a spicy-earthy combination. The onions were soft, but be prepared for a little spiciness from the onion jam, while the sauce was a wonderful and rich offset to the spicy onions. The onion rings were perfectly fried with a crispy exterior while retaining an al dente interior.


Chef Howard took great care in allowing the rich flavors of the prime beef to stand out in the Steak Tartare. The dish included diced prime beef mixed with finely diced shallots, parsley and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. It was served in a swath of truffle vinaigrette, accompanied by a quail egg. The scant inclusion of the shallots was perfect and when combined with the truffle vinaigrette was outstanding. Make a divot in the beef and add the quail egg and combine to create an even richer experience. A sprinkling of Parmesan cheese added a touch of saltiness. This is one of the most delicious tartares in Fairfield County.


Not to be outdone by the tartare, the Mac + Cheese is the creamiest I have tasted in quite some time. Chef Howard chose orecchiette to deliver his four cheese (White Cheddar, Yellow Cheddar, Asiago and American) mixture in each bite. This simple combination created a beautifully balanced taste. The texture was velvety and then the crunchy bacon-breadcrumbs kicked in. The pasta was cooked to a perfect al dente. There were additional bacon bits within the dish. This may be the standard for other Mac + Cheeses in the area.


The last Small Plate I sampled was the American Soul Rolls that combined sausage, broccoli rabe, mashed potatoes served a la egg roll, with a spicy tomato-veal demi-glace dipping sauce. The potatoes were soft and creamy and were complemented by the crispy egg roll skins and a tomato dipping sauce worked well with a crispy potato combination. The spiciness of the sausage was balanced by the smoothness of the potatoes. I could probably enjoy the Soul Rolls accompanied by a beer at the bar but thought there were too many elements competing in the dish.


I also sampled two of the large plates and really enjoyed the Braised Lamb Shank. It was served nestled in polenta, crispy Brussels sprouts and topped with rich gravy and a few onion rings. The large shank was perfectly braised to maximize its tenderness and the Brussels sprouts were fantastic, crispy and sweet. The polenta was creamy and mild…a great canvas for the all of the rich flavors of the dish. And lastly, a few perfectly fried onion rings perched on top to accompany an already great presentation.


The SONO Fried Chicken was an enormous half chicken served with its traditional accompaniments, mashed potato and gravy, plus braised greens. I started with the sides…they were fantastic. The potatoes were creamy, lightly seasoned and the gravy was excellent. The braised greens were outstanding with a sweet syrup and bacon. The two enormous pieces of chicken were disappointing. The ultra-crispy fell off the chicken and cutting the chicken was incredibly difficult. The texture of both the breast and the thigh was too firm for my taste and the entire chicken was under-seasoned.  As much as I loved the sides, the chicken was not to my liking.

Chef Howard’s cuisine is Southern comfort with a modern twist. He has a delicate touch that allows the main ingredient to maintain the focus of the dish with accompaniments that enhance the flavors. I look forward to returning to Washington Prime and enjoy many more of Chef Howard’s new creations on the menu.

Really Liked
– Short Rib
– Steak Tartare
– Mac + Cheese
– Braised Lamb Shank
– Mashed Potato and Gravy, Braised Greens (in SONO Fried Chicken)

Did Not Like
– American Soul Rolls
– SONO Fried Chicken


The Spread (SONO) Burger – Great Spicy Rendition

In the midst of a 10-course dinner with friends at Spread I ordered the “Cheeseburger.” I’ve enjoyed Executive Chef Carlos Baez’s version in the past and wanted to see if there was any update to his interpretation to one of my favorite dishes.

Chef Carlos starts his rendition with an 8-ounce patty of grass fed Kobe beef. He tops the patty with pickles, melted Cheddar cheese with the option of bacon or Jalapeño peppers, with a swath of spicy mayo encased in a sesame seed bun. Since spicy mayo was already included I asked for the bacon but not the peppers.

The meat was outstanding. It was cooked perfectly to my requested medium-rare, and the kitchen was delicate when they formed the patty, it maintained a wonderful loose grind. The flavor was deep and rich from the grass feeding and was juicy, but not overwhelming. The bread and butter pickles added a great sour component and the bacon was perfectly cooked and a smoky-salty balance. The spicy mayo was a little too spicy for me, detracting from the other great flavors, but that is a personal preference. The bun added a nice buttery complement. The fries were excellent, fresh, hand cut with just a touch of salt.

Chef Carlos is hitting it out of the park with his cuisine and the burger was just one great example.

The Spread on Urbanspoon

Apricot Bar & Grill (Norwalk) – Pretty Basic Burger

IMG_0165Apricot Bar and Grill recently opened on in Norwalk next to Fat Cat Pizza. The building has an interesting and storied history with numerous bars and several adventure-based occupants.

IMG_0163With its narrow and deep interior, the current owners divided the space into three sections. The front is a “lounge” with a sofa in front of a fireplace place two wing chairs. The mid-section houses the copper-topped bar with 10 bar stools, two HDTVs, a selection of 12 basic bottled beers, 12 smaller brewery bottled beers and five beers on tap. The drafts currently include Samuel Adams Winter Lager, Half Full Brewery, Long Trail Ale, Yuengling Lager and Miller Lite. The rear offers a more traditional setting with table cloth covered tables for thirty-nine guests, plus four booths.

AP 1For my Sunday venture I ordered the HOUSE BURGER, an 8oz. patty of Certified Black Angus Burger, American cheese, and lettuce & tomato, served on a brioche roll. I requested bacon and was offered either regular or sweet potato fries, I chose the former.

©jeff “jfood” schlesingerWhen the burger arrived it looked fairly ordinary. There was a little juice from the patty seeping into the bottom bun, the cheese was half-melted and a thin tomato and iceberg lettuce sat on the cheese. The fries looked like they were plopped out of a plastic bag into a fryer and dumped on the plate. I cut the burger in half and I have to admit it was prepared perfectly to medium-rare. I tasted the meat, it had decent flavor, was medium compressed and maintained the grind of the meat. The bacon was nicely cooked to deliver just a touch of saltiness but was very basic. The tomato and lettuce were ordinary and the cheese was nothing special. The “brioche” was a more a grocery store bag bun. The kitchen did butter and griddle the bun for a nice buttery goodness with a good crunch. Other than the meat this was basic in all other aspects. The ketchup was also disappointing. It was Sysco’s “House Recipe” brand. This was an immediate turn-off, and the taste was more vinegary than Heinz, which is my preference.

Ap 3Overall this is an assembly of basic ingredients. The kitchen did an excellent job in preparing the patty and toasting the bun. But their hands were tied from the ingredients and they did the best they could.

7 Wall St Norwalk CT 06850
(203) 831-0399

Apricot Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Mediterraneo (Norwalk) – A Culinary Tour of Southern Europe

Mediterraneo, a ‘destination restaurant’ in the Hotel Zero Degrees on Main Street in Norwalk is a beautiful backdrop for Executive Chef Albert DeAngelis’ culinary tour of the Mediterranean. The aquatic inspired dining room features a large bar area to the left, with several high top tables to augment the bar seating, and to the right is the main dining room. With hardwood floors, white chairs and a large nautical flag painting along the far right wall, the dining area presents a clean and airy feel. The highlight of the room is the floor to ceiling glass wall that overlooks the panoramic, million-dollar waterfall view on the river. From a magnificent French Braised beef “Bourguignon” to a mild Tuscan Prosciutto wrapped rabbit loin to an outstanding Wild black sea bass, the menu at Mediterraneo offers wide varieties of clean flavors and combinations. Mediterraneo is one of five local restaurants owned by the Z Hospitality Group.

DSC_0094Chef Albert joined Z Hospitality Group as Executive Chef in 1989 and is the creative vision behind the group’s five Mediterranean-style bistros. By the time he graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1986, he was already a veteran of the kitchen. His tenure began at the age of 16 and his career included stints at Tropica, Chez Josephine, and Taliesin in Manhattan as well as at Hotel Le Goyen and the two-star Michelin restaurant Gérard Besson in France. Z Hospitality recently invited CTbites to sample Chef Albert’s new menu at Mediterraneo.

burrata_2The chef prepared a wide variety of appetizers, entrées and desserts. My favorite appetizer was the Maple Brook Farms Burrata served with roasted grapes and chestnuts sitting atop slices of grilled country bread. The Burrata was halved to expose its creamy interior and was delicious with the sweetness of the roasted grapes. The chestnuts added a wonderful nuttiness to the dish and just a hint of saltiness.

bean_soup_1The White Bean Soup included chunks of duck confit and savoy cabbage, served with two slices of toasted rosemary crostino. The al dente beans retained their bite and was accentuated with the deep, richness of the moist and tender duck. The savoy cabbage offered a touch of crunchiness.

egg_1The Hazelnut Crusted Egg was accompanied by a mini-tower of crispy pork belly topped with thinly sliced pickled onions and a few sections of roasted cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. The pork belly was the highlight; it was moist and the slivers of pickled onions were a fantastic complement to the pork. The Brussels sprouts and cauliflower brought an earthiness and a crunchy component.

Octopus1The Charred Spanish Octopus was served with shaved fennel, Taggiasca olives, blood orange segments, and drizzled with sherry vinegar. The four, small sections of the octopus were a little tough in texture and slightly under-seasoned. The orange and olives were a good additions but the fennel lacked flavor.

kale_2The Grilled Kale Sprout Salad paired Bosc pear, roasted pecans and Manchego cheese with a date vinegar. There was a slight sweetness to the pears and the Manchego Cheese was delightful with its subtle nuttiness. As much as I liked the taste of the kale sprouts, it was overcooked and overdressed.

beef_1My favorite dish of the entire visit was the Braised Beef “Bourguignon” served with roasted vegetables, cremini mushroom caps over crispy spätzle. It was delicious and may be the best Bourguignon I have ever tasted. The dish included three, boneless short rib sections, braised in red wine and served with carrots, crisped Brussels sprouts, cremini mushrooms and served over crispy spätzle. This deep, rich combination of the ingredients was superb. The beef was soft and tender, absorbed the full body of the wine and was perfectly offset by the sweet carrots. The mushrooms brought a touch of earthiness and the spätzle added a light crispiness to the dish.

bass_1Another outstanding entrée was the Wild Black Sea Bass, served atop a potato and Brussels sprouts hash, bacon, all nestled in a pool of a reduced balsamic / garlic sauce. The two large fillets were flawlessly prepared, with ultra-crispy skin while maintaining a moist interior. The hash was delicious and the smoky-salty bacon was fantastic. The sauce was phenomenal; rich, flavorful and beautifully complemented the other ingredients.

duck_1The Prosciutto Wrapped Rabbit Loin was served atop white beans, Brussels sprouts in a pool of rosemary au jus. The saddle of Rabbit was wonderfully moist and tender and the prosciutto delivered a slightly crisped and salty exterior. The beans were served al dente and the Brussels sprouts conveyed a bit of earthy qualities. The rabbit jus was finished with a bit of garlic and rosemary.

scallops_1The Pan Roasted Natural Sea Scallops were accompanied with “parsnip three ways,” a black truffle tapenade with a touch of baby red mustard. The scallops were perfectly prepared, seared on both sides while maintaining a moist interior. There were several sweet components to the dish with the scallops and the parsnips which were balanced by the earthy black truffle. The three creative parsnip interpretations included soft roasted parsnips to crunchy parsnip “ribbons.”

pork_ravioli_1Of the two raviolis, I really liked the Braised Pork and Lentil Ravioli which was served with dollops of carrot purée, shredded Pecorino cheese, and cracked pepper. The pasta was thin and delightful. The pork filling was rich in flavor and the cracked pepper added a little spiciness. The carrot purée was a delicious complement to the richness of the pork. I was not as fond of the Scallop and Roasted Cauliflower Ravioli, which was served with fresh thyme butter and toasted almonds. The texture of the scallop filling was more a mousseline, which was slightly off-putting.

tiramisu_1We enjoyed three desserts. The Tiramisu was accompanied by dollops of chocolate and crème Anglaise. The luscious texture of the cake and creams were lightly accented with the liquor in the tiramisu. The second dessert was a Tuscan Boule Bread Pudding with a caramel sauce. This version was outstanding but I found it a little dense and heavy. The last dessert was a Chocolate Molten Cake, served with pistachio gelato. Mediterraneo’s version is a mild chocolate, with the interior oozing on the plate and complemented by a mild pistachio gelato and the caramelized banana slices.

chocolate_cake_1Overall, the new menu at Mediterraneo includes some exceptional choices. With five restaurants stretching from Rye to Westport that include Aurora (Rye), Mediterraneo and Terra (Greenwich), Sole (New Canaan), Aqua (Westport) and Mediterraneo (Norwalk) Z Hospitality Group and Executive Chef Albert DeAngelis are delivering the cuisines of southern Europe.

353 Main Avenue – Norwalk, CT – 203-229-0000

Really Liked

-Maple Brook Farms Burrata ($14)
-Braised Pork and Lentil Ravioli ($17)
-Wild Black Sea Bass ($28)
-Braised Beef “Bourguignon” ($26)


-White Bean and Savoy Cabbage Soup ($10)
-Hazelnut Crusted Egg – Crispy Fresh Bacon ($14)
-Pan Roasted Natural Sea Scallops ($28)
-Prosciutto Wrapped Rabbit Loin ($28)
-Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce and Whipped Cream
-Molten Chocolate Cake with Pistachio Gelato

Not Fond Of

-Charred Spanish Octopus ($15)
-Grilled Kale Sprout Salad ($12)
-Scallop and Roasted Cauliflower Ravioli ($21)

Johnny Utah’s (SONO) – Not Crowded for a Reason


The original plan was to meet at Donovan’s to watch the first half of the Cowboys-Packers game, have a burger, and I was looking forward to also ordering a bowl of Clam Chowder. But Donovan’s was packed so plan B was to walk down to Johnny Utah’s, which has a good beer selection for my buddies and 10 TVs for the game. While Donovan’s was packed, there was hardly a soul in Utah’s, so grabbing a table was an easy adventure.

We immediately ordered Wings ($12.00), hot with bleu cheese. When they arrived they looked a little strange, instead on the wing slathered in sauce, they had a light coating and they were swimming in a small pool of Buffalo sauce, with a side of blue cheese dressing. I chose a winglet for the initial bite and it was OK. There was very little spiciness to the wing. I added a little extra sauce and again, they were OK, still not a lot of spice. I added extra sauce and a little blue cheese dressing and they were still, just OK, nothing special at all. They were pretty boring at best. With my bacon and cheese additions this was a $14.50 burger that was not worth the money.

The next round was burgers. I ordered a medium-rare Johnny Utah’s Burger ($12.00), a half-pound burger with red onions, lettuce, and tomato, served on a brioche roll, and I added bacon and American cheese with a side sweet potato fries. For a bar that was 85% empty it took almost 25 minutes for 3 burgers and a sandwich, but we were watching the game so this was not an issue. When they arrived the consensus was that each was cooked more than ordered, mine was medium+. The first bite of the sweet potato fries was disappointing, they were all crust, tasteless and overcooked as well. The meat had a little flavor, was highly compressed, and offered little juiciness. The bacon was very pedestrian and the cheese was grocery store quality. The brioche had zero buttery goodness, it was very bland. Overall it was a very disappointing burger.

The service was outstanding, the server was prompt, efficient and checked in regularly. Hopefully this is the standard when she is serving more than one table. It was too bad that Donovan’s was too busy, and it is understandable why Johnny Utah’s was not.

Johnny Utah's on Urbanspoon

Burger Bar & Bistro (SONO) – Train Goes off the Rails

DSC_0006Burger Bar & Bistro is located across the alley from the SONO theater multiplex on North Main Street. Parking is very convenient behind the theatre and BBB offers bar service, a dining room, plus outdoor seating. On one of the first colder days of the year I went for a burger, since others have told me they were excellent.

DSC_0001Each weekday from 11-4 BBB offers “$9 Lunchbox combos” each available in 10 minutes. Choices include a ¼-pound cheeseburger; a chili dog; a meatloaf sandwich; a tuna salad sandwich; a ¼-rack of ribs; a veggie wrap or 3 scrambled eggs, each served with fries and a choice of a soda or a PBR. Given my experience, this 10-minute guarantee is a must option.

DSC_0003I ordered my traditional bacon cheeseburger, medium-rare and a side of fries. I sat on one of the high top tables in the bar with my back to the window and I would recommend bringing a sweater or jacket as the windows are not the most efficient and it was quite cold.

DSC_0007After a 20-minute wait my burger finally arrived. In addition to the burger and fries the plate included a mound of chipotle chips and a pickle wedge. I cut the burger in half and understood why the wait was so long…it was cooked beyond well-done and must have been on the griddle for the entire 20 minutes. I called the hostess over, showed her the burger and told her I did not have another 20 minutes to wait. She said she would take care of it.

A few minutes later the server approached the table and told me that he thought I ordered it medium-well. I also told him I did not have 20 minutes to wait for another burger. Ten minutes passed…nothing. The bartender approached and told me “it is almost ready.” I told him that if was not at the table in 2 minutes I would have to leave. Five minutes later, I started to put on my coat and the hostess saw me and mouthed, “it is almost ready.” I could not wait any longer. As I was approaching the front door to exit the bartender raced out of the kitchen with a brown bag and handed me a bag that contained a Styrofoam clam-shell. His parting words after handing me the bag, “We are not charging you for this.” I reached into the bag and opened the Styrofoam container…it contained a cheeseburger, no bacon, no fries…no thanks.

Things happen and when they occur you try to correct them and be honest with the customer. By continually telling me it was almost done, it gave false expectations, and in the end, the bartender’s dismissive attitude was the last straw. Burger Bar and Bistro is now on my Do Not Return list…there are too many options in the area to return.

58 N Main St. Norwalk, CT 06854

Burger Bar & Bistro on Urbanspoon

Return to JAX – Keeps Getting Better

Pulled Pork BLMy second visit to JAX started with more confusion. As much as I convinced myself at the end of my first visit that the next sandwich would be “The Che,” “The Chicken and Waffle” or “The Spread” when I stared at the chalkboard I wanted everything. I was finally pulled to the register by the “Smoked Pulled Pork” and ordered. The menu described this sandwich as 16hr pork, high brow slaw, house Q, topped with Alton Brown’s Koolickles (Dill pickles brined in Kool-Aid) on a Portuguese roll. As I waited, I ogled at OPF (that’s “Other People’s Food”) and saw a variety of sandwiches that I absolutely needed to try on subsequent visits. Each was large, well-constructed and looked absolutely delicious.

My Pulled Pork arrived and it was the same size as my Cuban from the first visit, and almost looked like its twin sibling. The slow-cooked pork…it was outstanding, overly tender; rich in flavor and could easily stand on its own as a platter. The other ingredients elevated the pork…the slaw delivered just a touch of background tartness, the sauce added and increased level of spiciness and then the Koolickles kicked in with an interesting grouping of sweet-sour. All of this deliciousness was encased in a wonderful roll. The combination delivered a perfect balance of smoky, sweet, spicy, sour, savory…absolutely wonderful.

To rewind to my first visit, I ordered the “Cubano,” with Black Forest ham, pulled pork, Swiss, house pickles and creamy house mustard, served on a pressed Cuban roll. It was previously a challenge finding a great Cubano in the area, and Jax’s rendition was delicious. My first bite was a mouth-watering explosion of flavors. A full description of this phenomenal combo can be found at:


I cannot wait to return to JAX. For the next few visits I will continue to work my way through more sandwiches…is “The Che,” “The Chicken and Waffle” or “The Spread” up next? It’s a tough decision.

46 North Main Street – South Norwalk, CT – 06854
203. 857.1414

Jax & Co. on Urbanspoon

Chiu FAI Garden (Norwalk) – Alternative to a Sandwich?

General Tso
There are times when having another sandwich for lunch at the office is just not what you are in the mood for. Maybe look for some pizza, or hamburgers or a to-go platter…Chinese take-out is always an option. There are very few options in the area. I’ve constantly driven by the multi-colored sign for Chiu FAI Garden near Stew Leonards and I tucked it away for future reference. Today, I finally made the journey for one of its lunch specials. For ~$6 it is the same price as a sandwich and I was in the mood for something different.

The interior is standard NYC-style Chinese take-out. The rear of the building is the kitchen with several cooking stations, there is the obligatory picture menu (faded by the sun) above the ordering counter and there are tables and chairs for 16 people while either waiting or eating. I am not sure dining in is the best choice as the space is very sterile…this is definitely a grab and go. The menu is extensive, with Cantonese, Hunan and Szechuan choices. What caught my eye was the number of Lunch Special offerings…33 in all, ranging between $5-$6 and includes a choice of an entrée, rice and either a soup or an egg roll. I chose the General Tso’s Chicken, fried rice and an egg roll.

The egg roll was medium sized. It had a good, thick crust, crispy and the interior was all vegetables. It was a good basic lunch egg roll.

The General Tso combination platter was quite large for the price. It contained a good heaping of chicken, an equal amount of fried rice and two broccoli florets. The chicken was fried very well…the exterior was crispy and the chicken was cooked through without being over-cooked. Unfortunately the coating was very thick and you could barely taste the chicken, which was moist and tender. The pungent sauce delivered a lot of flavor, was sweet, maybe a touch too sweet, and was less than medium spiciness; do not be scared by the pepper icon on the menu. The fried rice contained a teeny smattering of roasted pork and onions, was very bland, but was good to coat the sauced chicken piece.

Overall it was a good $6 lunch. Is this a go-to Americanized Chinese take-out restaurant? I would not recommend for dinner at home but for a quick lunch that does not include a sandwich, Chiu FAI Garden is an OK option.

Chiu FAI Garden on Urbanspoon

Q’s Viet-Pho Restaurant (Norwalk) – Some Pretty Good Pho

BL Interior 1Q’s Viet-Pho restaurant opened recently in the former location of Valencia’s on Main Street in Norwalk and after reading the review at CTbites I decided to try the Pho.

The interior of the restaurant is very utilitarian. With 7 red topped diner-like bar stools and four tables that seat four, covered in red-checked plastic picnic table coverings, the interior is the backdrop to enjoy the food, not a destination décor. Bottles of Hoisin and Sriracha sauce sit on each table.

BL TableThe menu is very limited, beef, chicken or shrimp Pho (each priced at $9), BBQ on a Stick, Sweet Buns or Spring Rolls (each $2) or Peking Raviolis ($3).

I ordered the beef pho and a spring roll to go. While I waited I chatted with the husband. He was Marine in Viet Nam 40 years ago, fell in love with the food. His wife is from southern China and has always yearned to own a restaurant. They decided to “give it a shot” and start with a small menu.

The pho was packed in two containers. The soup with the noodles in a large plastic container and the other ingredients in a paper “Chinese Take Out” container. When I returned to my office I opened the latter and it contained carrots, cucumbers, cilantro, raw onions, lime wedges and thinly sliced beef (not raw but slightly cooked). I added all but the onions to the broth and allowed them to simmer.

While the vegetables and beef simmered I tried the spring roll. It was about four inches long, thin and fried to a golden brown, more Chinese than Vietnamese. It was delicious with a sweet interior and an exterior that reminded me of fried phyllo versus thick Chinese exterior. I wish I would have ordered two versus one.

I tasted the Pho and it was full of deep, multilayered flavors, great umami notes. The noodles were perfectly cooked, soft with a bit of bite and the meat was flavorful. The cilantro added fantastic flavor and was the perfect complement to the other deep flavors.

Overall the food at Q was delicious. I will definitely return to try the other Pho options.

Q’s Viet-Pho Restaurant
172 Main St Norwalk, CT 06851
(914) 484-0092

Q's Viet-Pho Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Overall the food at Q was delicious. I will definitely return to try the other Pho options.

JAX – Mama’s Boy’s Other Child Opens in SONO

CTB CubanoWhenever the owner of a restaurant that serves great food announces a second location, I am excited to see where this second venture will lead.  After hearing that Greer Fredericks, the co-owner of Mama’s Boy in SONO, was opening JAX around the corner on North Main, I couldn’t wait for my first visit. JAX opened a few weeks ago and currently serves a wide range of breakfast options, plus a tremendous selection of creative sandwiches at lunch. It is also placing the final touches to its soon to be released take-away dinners, and awaiting the delivery of its ice cream machine.

©jeff “jfood” schlesingerLocated just south of the SONO theatre, the interior is completely redesigned, accented with a red painted art nouveau ceiling and lots of wood throughout…it is definitely the sister restaurant to Mama’s Boy. There is a long communal wooden table from front to back, seats along the window, a large display case, a separate open refrigerator with a great selection of beverages and blackboards on two walls announcing the menu.

CTB BreakfastWhen I walked into JAX, Greer was behind the counter, handling orders, making suggestions and bringing her southern charm to Norwalk. The menu is colorfully painted on the enormous multi-colored blackboard spanning the entire left wall. On my first visit I ordered the “Cubano,” described as Black Forest ham, pulled pork, Swiss, house pickles and creamy house mustard, served on a pressed Cuban roll. It has been a challenge over the years finding a great Cubano in the area.

CTB MenuJax’s rendition was delicious…my first bite was an explosion of flavors.  The sandwich started with a pile of pulled pork, which was tender, juicy and full of smokiness. The Swiss cheese offered a touch of nuttiness, the pickles added both crunch and a little tang, the mild black forest ham contributed more smokiness and then JAX swathed the roll with a spicy house-made mustard. The combination was outstanding, and the spicy mustard really kicked up the heat. Next time I will make sure it is grilled.

I cannot wait to return to JAX when it is in full swing. For now I will just have to work my way through a few more sandwiches…is “The Che,” “The Chicken and Waffle” or “The Spread” up next? It’s a tough decision.

46 North Main Street – South Norwalk, CT – 06854

203. 857.1414