Washington Prime (SONO) – Serving Creative Cuisine

DSC_4516Washington Prime recently opened at the entrance to the SONO “Ironworks” on the corner of Washington and North Water Streets and is already garnering positive feedback and enormous crowds each night. CTbites offered a sneak peek a couple of weeks ago and recently re-visited this high energy and bustling establishment on two separate occasions to sample the food.

Self-described as an Eating + Drinking Well, Washington Prime reflects the collective vision of locals and co-owners Rob Moss and Marco Siguenza. Moss, a native of New Canaan, is no stranger to opening high energy restaurants in Fairfield County, overseeing many over the last ten years. Siguenza is the epitome of the American dream, starting as a busboy at Match Restaurant and now 16 years later one of the owners of Washington Prime, a neighboring restaurant. The kitchen is overseen by Executive Chef Jared Falco, classically trained at the French Culinary Institute. Before moving to Fairfield County, Chef Falco honed his culinary skills at Daniel and WD-50 in NYC. The trio are now working closely to present a vibrant bar scene with incredibly delicious interpretations of tradition cuisine.

The menu is divided into several sections. From “Soups / Salads” we sampled the “BEETS,” the “GRILLED CAESAR,” the “N.E. CHOWDER” and the “PRIME WEDGE.”

The N.E. CLAM CHOWDER was my favorite. The creamy base was smoky and filled with Little Neck Clams. Included in the presentation were sweet corn and small diced potatoes. The rich bisque was fully focused on melding the brininess of the clams with the smokiness of the soup. This was a great combination.

CTB WedgeThe PRIME WEDGE included gem lettuce, which was fresh, clean, and the canvas for the remaining ingredients. The mild Hudson Valley blue cheese was creamy and the house-made bacon bits added saltiness and crispiness. Complementing these items were the tomatoes, which contributed both sweet and sour notes, and the chili flakes that delivered a surprise, sometimes too much kick to several bites

CTB CaesarThe GRILLED CAESAR was layered with charred Romaine, topped with shaved Landaff cheese, a poached egg, finished with black garlic Caesar dressing and a sprinkling of celery powder. Slicing the poached eggs released all of its creaminess, and created a great balance with the charred lettuce. The cheese was delicious, but it completely overwhelmed the other components.

The BEETS were marinated and pickled, and mixed into arugula, chicken fried goat cheese, and topped with a blood orange vinaigrette. The beets were very tart and when combined with the blood orange vinaigrette increased this sour component, which overpowered the other ingredients.

We ordered a sampling of choices from the “SMALL PLATES” section including the “DEVILED EGGS,” the “OCTOPUS” and the “POUTINE.”

CTB OctopusThe OCTOPUS was my favorite of the Small Plates. It slowly braised for several hours and then grilled. Joining the octopus meat were duck fat roasted potatoes, sliced pickled onions, and halved cherry peppers. The octopus was incredibly tender. Chef Falco elevated the spiciness of the dish with the inclusion of a pepper emulsion and the seasoned potatoes, which were soft and enjoyable. The onions added a touch of acidity, and guests have the option of increasing the spice level with the cherry peppers.

CTB PoutineThe POUTINE was served in an elongated bowl, beginning with crispy French fries, topped with the oxtail ragu, and finished with scallions and foie gras powder. The ragu was delicious, slowly braised and delivered a medium depth of flavor. The fries were crispy on the exterior and soft on the inside, and balanced the texture of the braised oxtail. The foie gras powder elevated the depth of flavor for the ragu, creating a wonderful combination. The scallions added a little more crunch and just a touch of pungency to this dish.

CTB EggsThe DEVILED EGGS started with slowly poached eggs, which were halved and filled with the yolks combined with Sambal, garlic, chili flakes and speck. Nestled atop the yolk was a mini-meatball, then topped with a smattering of sliced pickled onions and foie gras powder. The texture of the egg white was soft and the slightly spiced yolk mixture was very good. The foie gras powder brought an earthy quality, and the bacon bits and the chili flakes contributed the saltiness and spiciness.

We also sampled three of the “LARGE PLATES” including the “18 OZ RIBEYE” the “LOCAL BASS” and the “PRIME BURGER.”

CTB SteakThe 18 OZ RIBEYE was incredible. A Prime 18-ounce portion of Ribeye was simply seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked under a 900-degree broiler. The result was a perfectly seared, crusted exterior, while the interior was brought to the requested medium-rare. The first bite was mouthwatering in both flavor and texture. The steak was full of deep, rich, beefiness, it was melt in your mouth tender and delivered juiciness that made me smile with each bite. A wonderful buttery texture accompanied each tasty morsel.

CTB BurgerThe PRIME BURGER started with a 3-cut blend ground beef from Saugatuck Craft Butchery, combined with a little dry-aged porterhouse. Chef Falco topped the patty with melted two-year old Vermont Cheddar cheese, a slice of mildly pickled Lucky Real Tomatoes, and shredded smoked lettuce. The burger sits atop an Umami Bomb sauce and encased in a Wave Hill brioche bun; served with a large helping of French fries. The addition of the aged porterhouse to the blend created a slightly deeper flavor. The smoked lettuce was an interesting twist, beautifully complementing the smokiness of the meat, and the cheese added a little creaminess. The Umami Bomb Sauce (a mixture of soy, fish sauce and mushroom stems) was a new element and introduced earthy notes to this burger. It was fantastic and a competitor for CTbites’ “Best of…” list.

CTB BassFor a milder option, the LOCAL BASS was a pleasant combination of mild Mediterranean flavors. A large filet was served alongside a salad comprised of pear, celery, tomatoes and cucumbers. A swath of Tzatziki sauce finished the presentation. The filet was cooked superbly with the crispy skin offsetting the firm, yet succulent interior. I would have preferred a little more salt on the skin. The diced fruit and vegetable salad delivered a bright and light complement; the richness of the Tzatziki offered both a creaminess, plus the dill was a wonderful supplement to the overall experience

Service could stand a little improvement. Our server was a little aggressive on upselling, somewhat inattentive and could use a deeper knowledge of the menu.

Overall, Washington Prime is an excellent addition to the culinary landscape in SONO.

This review was posted on:


Really Liked

  • N.E. Clam Chowder ($9)
  • Octopus ($13)
  • Poutine ($12)
  • 18-Oz. Ribeye ($46)
  • Burger ($16)


  • Prime Wedge ($12)
  • Deviled Eggs ($11)
  • Local Bass ($25)

Did Not Like

  • Grilled Caesar ($12)
  • Beets ($13)



Don Carmelo’s (Norwalk) – Not Very Good

BL Tacos 1
Don Carmelo’s is located in the same building as Subway and next to the Mobil Station on route 136 south of exit 16 off 95. Parking is located behind the building. You can chose to sit at the bar or grab one of 20+ tables inside or if weather permitting sit outside and watch the traffic pass and people fill their cars with gasoline.

The menu on line is an exact replica of the menu I received. It is quite extensive and allows for plates of individual choices or you can choose to create your own combination. I was looking for a taco lunch, and ordered three soft tortilla tacos ($12), one each filled with steak, pork and chicken. Ordering as a combo includes rice and beans.

BL Chips
As I waited, the server brought a plate of chips with salsa, green and red sauce. The salsa was very good, freshly made and full of flavor and the two sauces were both spicy and clean. I was hopeful for a good plate of tacos.

When they arrived I had a different feeling. The 6” tortillas were each topped with grilled meat and a couple of cubes of avocado, nothing else. A little mound of chopped cilantro and a handful of diced onions accompanied the tacos. A separate plate contained half rice and half beans, sprinkled with a little cheese.

BL Taco 2
This feeling was confirmed with a bite of each of the tacos; they were not very good. The pork was nicely prepared to maintain its juiciness, but had zero seasoning, and the steak was also cooked properly with just a dusting of seasoning. The polar opposite was the chicken that was overcooked and over-seasoned. A few bites of each and it was time to leave, no need wasting calories. The rice and beans were nothing special, basic rice and beans.

Overall it was an incredibly disappointing visit with the food at Don Carmelo. The area has numerous place to enjoy some fantastic tacos, unfortunately Don Carmelo’s is not on my list.

Don Carmelo's on Urbanspoon

Kazu (SONO) – Inventive Sushi Rolls and Bento Boxes

photo 1Located at the entrance to downtown SONO on North Main St., Kazu offers a variety of Asian cuisine. Whether you are looking for creative sushi rolls, combination platters or a quick Bento Box lunch, Kazu has numerous choices. With tables that seat over 50 guests and a long sushi bar along the rear wall, there is plenty of seating.

I really liked the Pork Katsu Bento Box on my recent visit. It included two small dim sum, a mini-spring roll, three pieces of a California Roll, a mound of rice and a pork cutlet, a several course meal for $11. The first taste was the California Roll, it delivered fresh flavors and was a good start. Moving to the dim sum, I really liked these small niblet; filled with a delicious pork mixture. The spring roll added a little crunch and then I moved onto the Katsu. The pork patty was breaded with Panko, nicely fried, crispy on the exterior and just a touch of toughness to the meat. Dip in the hoisin sauce and it was a delightful, quick meal.

As an added benefit, i overlooked the numerous sushi chefs as they commenced the daily ritual of preparing the recently arrived fish. One meticulous carved a tuna to extract its magnificent center portion while others prepared mackerel and salmon. It was both a delicious meal and a bit of an education.

The only drawback was an aggressive server who though he deserved an $8 dollar tip on a $12 bill. I handed him a twenty and he asked if I wanted change. Just be on the lookout for this bad behavior.

Overall I really liked Kazu and it is a quick, varied lunch that can include Asian cuisine from sushi to katsu.

KAZU Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sweet Sabrina’s Cake Shop (Norwalk) – Looks Can Be Deceiving

There has been a lot of positive reviews on the web for this newest addition to Norwalk, so as I hunt for places for http://www.ctbites.com, I thought I would check out the hype. Unfortunately after two visits, the taste just does not live up to the looks. The pastries are all beautifully prepared, great designs, lovely presentations, but the taste and textures left a lot to be desired.

On each of my two visits I sampled a regular and a chocolate croissant. The first time they were very dry and very bland, no buttery richness. On the second visit the same blandness was present but the outer layers of dough were light and airy but unfortunately the center was undercooked and mushy. I was also not fond of the chocolate, missing that deep chocolaty goodness of a great croissant. The banana pastry was beautiful to the eye, but the texture was gummy and the flavor was not to my liking.  Real disappointment.

As much as I wanted to like this place, it did not live up to my hopes.

Sweet Sabrina's Cake Shop on Urbanspoon

Wild Rice (Norwalk) – Lots of Very Good Lunch Specials

Wild Rice is located off Exit 39A of the Merritt just south of the Stop & Shop / Bob’s / Total Wine strip mall on Main Ave. in Norwalk. This stand-alone building has decent parking and the interior is comfortable and pleasant. With my office just up the street, Wild Rice lends itself easily for a mid-day decompression with a well-priced selection of lunch specials.

During the summer months I normally order the Lunch Sushi. Included in this option is a bowl of Miso soup, five pieces of sushi and a roll. The miso soup is mild and very pleasant. The sushi has a rotating selection and the roll is almost always a California roll. For slightly more than $10, it is a good deal.

When I am looking for a larger, yet lighter cooked selection I order the Beef Negimaki Lunch Bento Box. This option allows for a choice of soup (miso, hot & sour, egg drop or wonton) and I normally opt for the Hot & Sour. The soup has a good balance of spicy and sour notes. In addition to the Negimaki the bento box contains three pieces of California roll, two pork dumplings (shumai) and a small salad. The combination of flavors from the hoisin sauce on the Negimaki, the spicy and sour soup, the wasabi added to the rolls and the sauce on the shumai are excellent together. This is normally priced within $1 of the sushi.

For a heavier lunch, the General Tso’s Chicken is a good choice. I again start with the Hot & Sour and choose the fried rice to go with the deep fried chicken pieces. Again, the combination of the spicy and sour soup and the super sweet chicken are a good mid-day pick me up. I drink lots of tea when I order this combination to offset the mid-afternoon sugar rush. This selection is priced at less than $10…this is the best deal in town for Chinese food.

I keep looking for another Chinese restaurant in the area that offer lunch specials in a relaxing environment, but have yet to find one that is comparable to Wild Rice.

Wild Rice on Urbanspoon

Breakfast @Valencia Luncheria (Norwalk) – Delicious

BL 1I was feeling in a rut with my regular old bacon, egg and cheese on a roll and my back-up go-to breakfast spot closed a few months ago. I needed some eggs, I needed some cheese, and I needed some spice. I sent an email to my buddies over at www.ctbites.com and they had a simple answer…Valencia Luncheria.

After many visits and some great lunches at Valencia, it was a little strange entering the restaurant so early in the morning. Instead of the hustle and bustle of the lunch crowd devouring empanadas and arepas, a few patrons were working their way through eggs, pancakes, French toasts and omelets. I looked up at the menu on the wall, but not focused on my normal Empanadas or specials. I was there for breakfast, wanted something delicious and needed to focus on a different part of the huge menu. I worked my way past the omelets, past the eggs and omelets and past the egg sandwiches and eventually found “Tortilla Wraps.” Fortunately Chef Michael Young has created several outstanding combinations from a basic “Baliadas,” an egg, cheese and black beans to the one I chose, the “Red Smitty,” with eggs, cheese, chipotle and chorizo.

The Red Smitty was fantastic. The flour tortilla was filled with moist scrambled eggs, smothered with melted cheese. This alone would have made for a good breakfast tortilla, but then the chipotle and chorizo kicked in. These ingredients elevated the tortilla from good to fantastic. It will be hard going back to a simple BEC sandwich.

If this combination is not for you, there are several others like the “Egg Wrap” with chorizo, cheese, black beans, onion and jalapeño peppers or the “Veggie Wrap” with avocado, cheese, mushrooms, onions and tomato.

As I was leaving, a stack of muffins caught my eye, the Dulche de Leche muffins. These were delicious as well, dense texture and the muffin was the perfect balance for the sweet and delightful leche.

Valencia Luncheria on Urbanspoon

Rincon Taqueria (Norwalk) – A Hidden Gem in Plain Sight

BL 1Rincon Taqueria is the epitome of a hidden gem.

The exterior is fairly non-descript and the interior is one large, open space, but the food is delicious. As you enter there are tables for twenty patrons to the left and behind these tables is a long glass deli case containing large baskets and bowls filled with several varieties of chili peppers. Along the right wall are three six-foot tall refrigerators with bottles of soda, home-canned items and take-away containers, including homemade apple sauce, beef and vegetable soup, cassoulet with duck and pork, duck confit. Taqueria?

The young lady behind the counter asked if I needed assistance. I looked at the wall behind her and saw two large hand-written chalkboard menus with more traditional taqueria fare…Huevas Rancheros, Burritos, Chilaquiles, Tacos, Empanadas, Tamales and a Chicken Quesadilla. I ordered a trio of tacos…a fried fish, a beef and a pork. As it turns out the young lady is one of the owners, Maria Munoz Del Castillo.

BL 2As I waited, Maria brought a plate of Frijoles con Arroz. In addition to the slightly spicey rice and black beans, the dish contained a few green beans, corn, scallions, diced red onions and topped with cilantro. It was a very pleasant way to wait for my meal.

The tacos arrived and each had a generous amount of filling and these tacos were not just meat and salsa, there were several additional toppings on each.

BL 3I started with the fish taco since I thought this would be the mildest. It contained three pieces of lightly coated and fried fish, topped with cilantro pesto, salsa, fresh cilantro, diced red onion and scallions. The flavors were bright and delightful, accentuated by a good amount of garlic. This was not a typical Baja fish taco and it was delicious.

BL4I next moved to the beef taco. In addition to the toppings of the fish taco, the beef taco was topped with a sprinkling of grated cheese and crema. The first bite was fantastic. The shredded meat was a deep braised beef, full of bold flavors. This taco was a combination of Latin and Basque flavors with the mild hint of spiciness from the chili peppers. The beef and the toppings could easily be served by themselves as an entrée.

BL 5The pork taco was even better. Instead of the traditional sautéed cubes of pork, this rendition started with a mound of shredded pork. The texture and flavors indicated a long, slow cooked pork shoulder. The toppings were the same as the beef taco, with just a little more spice. The pork was one of the best braised pork dishes I have tasted and, like the beef, could easily be served as an entrée. The pork taco was outstanding.

After I was finished, I asked Maria about the food and the recipes. She informed me that her mom was the talent behind the cuisine. She was raised in Chile, was a formally-trained French chef and her family previously owned Bistro du Soleil in SONO. You can taste her love of the Basque cuisine in each of the dishes.

I entered Rincon Taqueria looking for some good tacos and left with the knowledge that this newly opened restaurant was serving some outstanding non-traditional cuisine. This is not your everyday taqueria.

This review was originally published at:


My Top Five+ Fairfield County CT Dishes from 2013

2013 was an amazing year for food lovers in Fairfield County…several great restaurants opened, several chefs moved and are now creating incredible meals in new locations, several more restaurants announced their openings and I cannot wait.

During the year I enjoyed hundreds of courses in Connecticut and on my travels. With all of those flavors and textures, it was an incredibly difficult task in choosing my five favorite Fairfield County dishes for 2013. In fact, I did not since I couldn’t whittle the last one from this list, so it is six, plus three special categories.

Here are my favorite dishes from 2013:

  • elm – The “Tagliatelli Neri” is over the top umami heaven. The dish begins with hand-made cuttlefish ink pasta topped with Peekeytoe crab, sea urchin, sea urchin butter, Calabrian chili, garlic bread crumbs and brightened with Meyer lemon juice and oil. The flavors dance on the palate and textures from the silky pasta to the crunchy garlic bread crumbs, are like none I experienced anywhere else.
  • Match – “Pho” is an incredible Vietnamese soup that Fairfield County needs to embrace. The broth is made from oxtails, ginger, onion, cinnamon, and star anise. When served, thinly sliced rib eye is added and cooked and then finished with cilantro, noodles and Sriracha. This dish is absolutely magical in its complexity of flavors and textures.
  • South End – “Nonna’s Meatballs” are comprised of pork and veal (that’s right, no beef) that are lightly mixed with tons of sheep’s milk ricotta and Parmesan cheese, then lightly fried and cooked in a crushed tomato sauce. The soft and tender texture of South End’s meatballs separates them from all of the others…they are fantastic.
  • Nola –The “Poached Lobster & Cornbread Waffle” is one of my favorite combinations in the area with butter-poached lobster, Queso Fresco cheese, topped with a brown sauce served with sweet, crispy waffles. The outstanding flavors are complemented by the best brown sauce north of Mr. B’s Bistro in the French Quarter.
  • Mama’s Boy – The “Shrimp and Grits” just keep getting better. Perfectly prepared U15 white shrimp, red peppers, scallions, and Tasso sit atop Tennessee sourced grits and finished with a simple garlic butter, white wine, and cream sauce. The grits are my favorite and when paired with the shrimp create an outstanding dish.
  • Bar Sugo – The “Spaghetti Neri” includes squid ink pasta, smoked tomato sauce, shrimp, bread crumbs and Bottarga. The pasta and shrimp are complemented by the smokiness and spiciness of the tomato sauce, but the entire presentation is elevated by the Bottarga, which adds a delightful brininess to the dish.

Top Hamburger – The Whelk – Over 70 hamburgers comprised my 2013 Hamburger search and The Whelk’s hamburger was my favorite. Full of rich flavor, encased in a great bun and topped with some great cheese, onions and house made pickles.

Top Bolognese – Cava Wine Bar – My colleague at CTBites, Lou Gorfain, and I scoured lower Fairfield County for our Bolognese round-up and my personal favorite was Cava’s Gnocchi with Bolognese. What set this apart from the others was the soft, ricotta gnocchi that were pillows of deliciousness.

Top Pizza – Locali – This newcomer uses age-old pizza-making techniques, San Marzano DOP tomatoes and house made mozzarella. The flavors, texture and the perfect amount of char from the wood burning oven produce some of the best Neapolitan pizza this side of the Campo dei Fiori.

Bar Sugo 2.0 (Norwalk) – Enter Chef Paul Failla

BL InteriorSlightly more than a year ago, restaurant Bar Sugo opened on Wall Street in Norwalk featuring a variety of owner/Chef Pat Pascarella’s fantastic pizzas, meatballs and delectable pastas. Pascarella recently handed the reins of the day-to-day culinary oversight to Chef Paul Failla, and CTbites re-visited to taste Chef Paul’s cuisine and his creative spin to the menu.

BL Chef PaulChef Faillia attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park before accepting a position at Burger Bar in South Norwalk. His culinary training continued at Dolce in Norwalk, The Atlantic Grill in Manhattan and The Saltwater Grille in Stamford, where he met Pascarella. He subsequently worked with Chef Dan Kardos at The Whelk and was one of the opening chefs with Chef Kardos at NOLA Oyster Bar.

BL MenuWhen Pascarella first approached Failla about joining Bar Sugo, he was looking for a successor to continue his vision of “food that Italians eat every day” while allowing the new chef to add his individual flair to the dishes. Chef Paul accepted the challenge and he is already placing his mark on the menu, focusing on Italian small plates. Guests create their meal from a selection of cheeses with house-cured meats, Bar Sugo’s meatballs (a few modifications are already appearing), up to twenty Cichettis (small plates), six pastas, or one of six brick oven pizzas. He told CTbites, “We will change several items on the menu on a weekly basis.” After an initial visit Chef Paul is succeeding in presenting delicious and full flavored selections.

BL BurrataThe “Burrata Bruschetta” was served atop stewed garbanzo beans, arugula pesto and topped with toast points. The Burrata was ultra-creamy and mild in flavor and the Garbanzo beans added a touch of earthiness and a bit of a bite in texture. The highlight was the arugula pesto that added a little saltiness and nuttiness from the Parmesan cheese.

CTB Brussels SproutsBar Sugo’s “Brussel Sprouts” was paired with chunks of squash and sautéed with sherry and truffle honey, which created and crispy caramelized exterior. The Brussels sprouts were “like candy,” sweet, crispy and incredibly delicious. This is a great choice to share amongst your group.

BL OctopusThe “Octopus” was presented with orange segments, potato wedges, and kale chips, all coated with a harissa infused sauce. The octopus was soft on the interior with just a slight crispiness from the kitchen finishing the presentation on the grill. The octopus was flavorful and the orange segments added a little sweetness and offset the spiciness of the harissa. The kale chips added a little textural contrast but the seasoning was slightly uneven with one receiving all of the salt while the others were missing any hint.

BL Short Rib 2I enjoyed two of the meat options. The “Short Rib” was served atop celery root puree, plus a few fried oysters (not normally included but some local oysters arrived from Norm Bloom earlier in the day). Unlike many other wine-braised short rib preparations, Chef Paul veered slightly from the norm and developed an interpretation of a traditional English combination. The celery root was accented with a horseradish crème fraiche that was a tangy and enjoyable balance to the richness of the beef, creating a modified English Beef with horseradish sauce. The addition of the fried oysters was strange and was more confusing than complementary.
BL Lamb The “Millstone Lamb” was served over a puree of smoked sunchokes, bacon olives and crispy faro. The meat was exceptionally tender and flavorful and the puree added a mild earthiness to the dish. The crispy faro added a surprisingly delightful crunch. This combination was fantastic.

BL PastaChef Paul saved the best for last and a special call-out is required for his “Spaghetti Neri,” one of the best pasta preparations I have tasted. The squid ink pasta was served in a smoked tomato sauce with shrimp, and topped with bread crumbs and Bottarga. The pasta was perfectly prepared to al dente and the mild smokiness and spiciness of the tomato sauce was delicious. The entire presentation was elevated with the addition of the Bottarga, salt-cured fish roe that added a brininess to the dish that was fantastic. The shrimp were cooked perfectly with a slight crispiness to the exterior and a soft interior.

BL Pana CottaChef Paul prepared an “Apple Panna Cotta” for dessert, topped with an oatmeal streusel and finished with a drizzle of sweet caramel sauce. The apples were first steeped with cinnamon, which created a very mild apple flavor, I would have preferred more from the apple. The streusel added a great crunchiness to the dessert and the caramel sauce was delightful. This was a great way to end the meal.

Moving into the second year of business, Chef Paul Failla is elevating the culinary scene to an otherwise challenging location nestled between stores with similar signage. Once inside, the vibe is alive. The food is exciting and the prices allow for a reasonably priced dinner for a couple or shared plates for a family that will not break the bank while enjoying great company.


  • Spaghetti Negri

Really Liked (In Descending Order}:

  • Millstone Lamb
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Apple Panna Cotta
  • Short Ribs
  • Octopus
  • Burrata Bruschetta

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


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

BL Bottles 2

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.

BL Dining

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.

BL Bar

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