Nosh Hound Food Truck Rolls into Stamford: Global Cuisine with Deliciously, Bold Combinations

Nosh Hound Eatery is the newest entry to the Stamford Food Truck scene.When I saw the post by my buddy over at Hey Stamford, I was curious. When I read his praise and a menu that really intrigued me, it had potential, and I decided to drive to Stamford and give it a shot.

Nosh Hound is the brainchild of owners Sam Ralbovsky and Maycie Maringer.  After graduating from the Culinary program at Johnson & Wales University and a three-month cross country food inspired road trip, they returned to Sam’s hometown of Stamford, CT. The two young cooks became enamored by the diverse cooking styles they encuntered on their cross country adventure and wanted to show their passion with a menu of “global cuisine experienced through the medium of sandwiches, snacks, and small bites.”

The menu is full of incredibly creative combinations. I smiled when I saw the heading “The Usuals,” which laid out combinations from Hamburguesa Americana (chorizo spiced beef, onions, Jalapeños, white American cheese and a chipotle “secret sauce”) to a VLT (smoked wild mushrooms, fried green tomatoes, arugula, sun-dried tomato aioli on rye toast). Nothing was “usual” about the menu. They start with foods that we all grew up with and then transform them with addition flavors and textures, inspired by various regions of the world, a Philly Cheesesteak with a Korean twist, a hot dog inspired by eastern Europe or a chicken sandwich with Latin flair.

The truck is new to the streets of Stamford, a mere three weeks, and they are still getting a feel for locations. The Facebook page states that they are parked on Summer Street across from the Ridgeway Shopping Mall on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but as I waited for my food I was told you might also find them parked in front of Dairy Queen and over at Landmark Square, or late at night in SoNo in the circle in front of Harlan Publick.

On my first visit I ordered two sandwiches, the Southern Sammy and the Korean Cheesesteak.

My clear favorite of the two was the Southern Sammy. It was outstanding. It included several pieces of buttermilk fried chicken, topped with slaw, house sweet pickles, Cajun aioli, and served on a brioche bun. With a few of the chicken pieces jutting from the bun I first tasted the fried chicken. It was perfectly fried, but I yearned for a little more seasoning on the coating. That desire for more seasoning was more than satisfied as I worked my way through the combination. The slaw was delicious, adding more crunch to the sandwich and the Cajun aioli was nicely spiced. The sweet pickles were sweet-spicy and the Brioche was a great complement to the ingredients. The sandwich was a great balance of spicy, sweet, crunchy, creamy and buttery. I highly recommend the Southern Sammy.

The Korean Cheesesteak was served on a traditional long roll and included Bulgogi, caramelized onions, melted white American cheese and Sriracha mayo. It was served open-faced and my initial thought was that if the taste was as bold as the visual appeal, it would be a great sandwich. Care needs to be taken to slowly close the roll prior to the first bite. It also offered an enormous boldness of flavors. Unfortunately, the beef marinade was a little overwhelming, much too much sauce, and then the spiciness of the Sriracha mayo kicked in. As much as the melted American cheese tried to balance the spicy-teriyaki, it could not. Likewise, the slivers of scallion that topped the sandwich added more pungency. I kept looking for the caramelized onions for some sweetness, but they were not present in my sandwich, a little growing pains mis-cue during assembly. Adjustment to the marinade could drastically improve this sandwich’s balance.

After my visit I reached out to Sam and Maycie and they were excited about the chicken and disappointed in the cheesesteak and asked me to return. There was great flavor coming out of that truck and on my second visit I enjoyed two new items from the menu plus a cheesesteak 2.0.

The Bangkok Fish Tacos included beer battered Mahi Mahi, coconut, peanut slaw, pickled Thai chile, and a red curry aioli. The thick pieces of fish were lightly coated to give just a hint of crunch while maintaining a juicy and soft interior. The flavors were enhanced by the red curry aioli, which added a little heat and the coconut and peanut slaw added some texture. The pickled Thai chilies added even more complementing flavors and left a nice amount of heat behind with each bite. It was a fabulous taco in both flavor and balance.

I was curious how they would blend a vegetarian option onto the menu with their bold creativity and the VLT quickly answered my question. Served on toasted rye bread, the VLT combined a lightly coated and fried green tomato, with smoked and fried wild mushrooms, arugula and a schmear of sun dried tomato aioli. The lightly coated tomato slice was a great canvas for the other ingredients. The mushrooms offered tremendous flavor, but were just a touch burnt on the edges, and the arugula and sun dried tomato aioli were perfect to brighten the dish and add some spicy notes from the peppery arugula. This is a vegetarian option that even a carnivore like me would order again.

They insisted I try their revised Korean Cheesesteak and I am glad I did. The marinade was complementing the beef, which was now the centerpiece of the sandwich and the inclusion of the two-hour caramelized onions added a wonderful sweetness. In addition, the melted American cheese and the Sriracha aioli were lessened and were in the background to add the Korean spiciness and umami to the sandwich. All of these changes created a superb cheesesteak.

Overall, Stamford has a new, and delicious, option with Nosh Hound. I really liked the fried chicken, it was delicious, the tacos were outstanding, a killer vegetarian sandwich and the revised cheesesteak that combines flavors from around the world. After two visits, Sam and Maycie can definitely combine bold flavors into delicious sandwiches. As they balance the meat and the sauce ratio, this will easily become one of the best trucks in the area and a must go-to. Check their facebook, twitter and website for their locations.

The author was compensated for this review; the meal on the second visit was provided without charge. The opinions contained herein are solely those of the author.

Tavern 489 (Stamford) Serving Some Solid Dishes

ctb_489_octopusThe newest addition to the Springdale-Glenbrook neighborhood is Tavern 489, located at 489 Glenbrook Avenue. A stone’s throw from the Glenbrook train stop, the restaurant sits in the space that originally housed the Moosehead Bar decades ago (thank you “Hey Stamford”) and shares the building with the newly relocated and reopened Tawa (reviewed here). The restaurant is the brainchild of owners Eric Monte and Partner/ Executive Chef Regis Saget. Stamford residents also know Monte as the the owner of The Fez downtown, which brought Moroccan cuisine to center stage.

Chef Regis is no stranger to various international cuisines and the Fairfield County culinary world. He spent his childhood in southwest France before receiving joint degrees from culinary school in Morlaas, France as a chef and pastry chef. Before settling in Greenwich in 2000 he worked in various regions including Spain, England, Andorra, Switzerland, South Africa and the East. He settled in Fairfield Count and worked at La Colline Verte and St. Tropez in Fairfield and opened Savvy Restaurant in New Canaan, which earned the highest “Excellent” rating from the New York Times in July 2006.

The fully redesigned interior of Tavern 489  is reminiscent of an Adirondack mountain lodge complete with exposed M-Trusses, a canoe dangling from the ceiling, a full front-to-back 18-seat wooden bar along the right wall, additional wooden high-top tables and chairs plus a large wooden “picnic” table for larger groups, all drawing focus to the imposing floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace in the rear. The walls are adorned with photos of Ernest Hemingway. When I asked Monte about these photos, he told me that Hemingway, in addition to being a great writer, was the ultimate outdoorsman, a true man’s man, and his photos fit the rustic, outdoorsy feel he was striving to achieve. In addition to the rustic décor, Tavern 489 offers live music six days a week.

The current menu is very eclectic, reflecting the various regions from Chef Regis’s background. CTbites was recently invited to a dinner at Tavern 489 where Chef Regis prepared items that both appear on the current menu as well as several specials that oftentimes appear on the menu. They each showed a focus on bold flavors that emphasized the inherent flavor of each ingredient, while balancing and complementing the combinations. (Since this was a sponsored event the photos may not reflect the regular portion size.)

We enjoyed three appetizers.

ctb_489_tomato_soupThe first was a Cold Tomato soup. The chunky texture was “gazpacho style” and accentuated the sweetness of tomatoes, offset with just a touch of pungency from some onions and a touch of vinegar. This rendition was delightfully refreshing.

ctb_489_venison_meatballsI also enjoyed the Venison Meatballs. They were served in a “bone-canoe” and were firm in texture while maintaining a moist interior. The venison absorbed a good amount of smokiness and were complemented by a thin glaze of a red wine green peppercorn sauce. The meatballs were served with simple fingerling potatoes that complemented the venison with a little earthiness.

ctb_489_fried_oysters_singleThe third appetizer was the Taunton bay fried oysters. They were coated in a thick seasoned corn meal and deep fried to a golden brown. They were paired with a lemon tamarind tomato curry sauce to bring a little sweetness to the dish. The crust was a little tick, detracting a bit from the sweet oysters.

ctb_489_bison_burgerThe next course was a trio of hamburgers, two beef and the third was bison. The bison was served with lettuce, tomato, shallots, melted Burrata. The bison was rich and expertly prepared to medium-rare. The shallots were a good addition but I was not as fond of the inclusion of the Burrata.

The seasoned hunter angus beef burger was served with lettuce, tomato, and a truffle pesto The medium-rare patty was medium in flavor and I really liked how the earthiness of the truffle pesto complemented the meat.

ctb_489_blackened_angus_burgerThe last burger was the Blackened angus burger, served with lettuce, tomato, and topped with melted Bleu cheese. Similar to the pesto, the Bleu cheese elevated the mildness of the meat.  All of the burgers were served with home-made fries that were very good.

ctb_489_octopusThe burgers were followed by my favorite dish of the evening, the Charred octopus, served in a mélange of kidney beans, tomatoes, shallots, garlic, parsley and pomegranate chimichurri dressing. The slow cooked octopus sections were soft and moist, some of the most tender octopus I have ever eaten. It was combined with the other ingredients to create a vibrant array of bold flavors. The roasted tomatoes exploded with sweetness and the al dente prepared kidney beans offered a wonderful textural contrast. The entire profile was elevated by the pomegranate chimichurri sauce. This was my favorite dish of the evening.

ctb_489_tomohawk_steakThe table next shared the Tomahawk Steak, which the menu describes as 36 ounces. The wood platter was covered with the pre-sliced steak was accompanied with bowls of red potatoes, mixed greens, and broccoli rabe, a few grilled shallots, prosciutto wrapped asparagus and three sauces, a porcini, a green pepper and a poutine. The meat was served rare and was simply and properly seasoned. It was very tender and slightly juicy, but did have a fair amount of fat. The sauces were excellent and increased the profile of the steak. My favorite of the sauces was the poutine which added a wonderful level of earthiness to the steak.  The potatoes and broccoli rabe were simply prepared and delicious, but the asparagus were a little salty from the prosciutto.

ctb_489_chocolate_mousse

To finish the meal, we enjoyed a platter of chocolate mousse. This was ultra-creamy, light in texture and delivered a medium level of chocolate goodness.

Overall, Tavern 489 is a solid neighborhood spot that is also a good choice as a go-to restaurant for people looking for a menu with eclectic choice that deliver bold flavors in a relaxed environment. With a varied selection of beer and wines, there are also numerous beverage options to satisfy everyone.

Really Liked

  • Charred Octopus $14
  • Hunter Angus Burger $13
  • Blackened Angus Burger $12
  • Chocolate Mousse

Liked

  • Venison Balls
  • Cold Tomato Soup
  • Taunton Fried Oysters $12
  • Bison Burger $13
  • Dirty Tomahawk Steak $MP

 

 

Hapa Burger – Food Truck Killin’ It

16_ctb_hapa_burger

Almost a year ago I visited Hapa Food truck and ordered three tacos. Little did I know that the smiling face of owner Chris Gonzales, who prepared those delicious tacos was hiding an incredible talent of delivering bold, balanced and creative cuisine. After I finished the tacos he told me I needed to try the burger. I was too full at the time and told him I would come back. Shame on me for waiting a year. Since that time Hapa has developed quite a following and Chris recently opened Miro in Fairfield, and a colleague who visited Miro told me it was fantastic,

Well…fast forward and I recently returned to Hapa for the burger. The smiling face of Chris was replaced by an equally smiling and friendly face of his wife. I ordered the HAPA burger with fries and she asked if I liked Brussels sprouts, of course I do.

The HAPA burger consists of grass-fed beef topped with pork belly, Vermont cheddar, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato, house aioli, encased in HAPA’s signature ube bun.

Let’s start with the bun. Ube is a purple yam. The HAPA bun was a sweet potato bun (made with pureed ube) which gave it the distinctive purple-blue hue and a high level of sweetness, a brioche on steroids. Inside the bun was a large beef patty, which was prepared exactly to medium rare. The meat was delicious, with a loose, medium grind and slightly seared. A delightful and creamy melted slice of Cheddar cheese was melted on the patty., and then the culinary boldness appeared with the accompanying ingredients. There was a slice of pork belly atop the burger that contributed a wonderful layer of smokiness and juiciness from the fat. Now the HAPA burger offered another level of flavor…the caramelized onions. These were cooked low and slow to create a soft and delicate texture, with the inherent sweetness elevated with the addition of brown sugar. The aioli intensified an already bold combination with another level of sweet and spicy, with a touch of wasabi to kick up the heat. A thick slice of tomato and lettuce rounded out the outrageous combination.

The fries were equally creative and delicious. Topped with a cheese sauce and sweet and spicy seasonings, they were the perfect accompaniment to the burger. There was tremendous flavor in both.

Let’s not forget the Brussels sprout. They were equally outstanding. Deep fried and then finished with pico de gallo, papaya seed dressing they are some of the best sprouts I have eaten.

Overall the HAPA burger can challenge any from restaurants in the area and is a contender for best burger in Fairfield County…it is that good.

 

 

 

EOS (Stamford) – Contemporized Greek Cuisine in Romantic Setting

ctb eos 16 dessert 2Eos Restaurant opened in 2008 by Nikki and Jimmy Glekas and his mother Dina Glekas Loukrezis with the goal of serving contemporary Greek cuisine. Chef Minas Sotirakopoulos recently joined the EOS culinary family and Nikki Glekas invited CTbites to sample a few of the newest additions to the menu, which blends the family’s Greek heritage with modern-day flair.

The interior of the restaurant is relaxed and inviting. The single dining room features a banquette along the entire right wall with seating for twenty plus an addition thirteen four-guest tables, nicely spaced to allow for normal conversation. Above the banquette are photos from the family’s recent visit to Greece while the opposite wall is adorned with wavy modular art, creating a relaxed aquatic feel reminiscent of a seaside restaurant along the Mediterranean. The mood is soft and romantic from the indirect lighting in the tray ceiling and carefully spaced, yet unobtrusive spot lights.

ctb eos 16 beans 2The evening started with three selections from the Mezedes (small plate) section. My favorite was the Gigantes. The giant butter beans were baked and served in a rich tomato sauce, and topped with small chunks of feta cheese. The beans were perfectly prepared to maintain a touch of bite and delivered a wonderful earthiness that was complemented by the rich, spicy-sweet tomatoes. The feta added a mellowness to the robust tomato sauce. This simple 3-ingredient dish was bold and superb.

ctb eos 16 salad 2The Prassinos Pyrgos was an amazing salad. It included fresh baby spinach, feta cheese, dill, and scallions, layered between toasted sheets of phyllo and finished with sesame seeds and a honey balsamic vinaigrette. The presentation was beautiful. The baby spinach was complemented by the pungency of the scallions and dill, neither of which I normally expect in a salad…and they worked. The feta added a mild creaminess and the dressing elevated the dish with a delightful sweetness.

ctb eos 16 octopus 2The newest addition to the small plate section is the Ospriatha. The dish consisted of grilled octopus sitting atop a mélange of lentils, white beans, chick peas, fresh vegetables (that included peppers and cucumbers) and finished with lemon vinaigrette. The dish balanced the tender octopus with a variety of textures in the vegetables, which also offered just a touch of spiciness. The octopus, itself, was a little over-charred, which lent a mildly unpleasant burnt taste to the dish.

For the main course, the Chef Sotirakopoulos prepared a table-sharing adventure with three entrees, including the Lavraki, the Paidakia, and the Pork Souvlaki.

ctb eos 16 entrees 2The best dish of the evening was the Lavraki, which included a whole char-grilled and de-boned Branzino sitting atop a sheet of toasted phyllo, itself covered with a Kalamata olive spread, roasted tomatoes and onions. This dish was spectacular. The filet was moist and delicious, and when combined with the olive paste, tomatoes and onions created an overabundance of brilliant flavors. It was one of the best fish combinations I have eaten in quite some time. A small sip of the Muses Mouhtaro further enhanced the dish.

The other delicious entrée was the Paidakia, a char-grilled lamb rib chop. The chop was first marinated in olive oil and lemon juice allowing the meat to absorbed just a hint of citrus. The texture was soft, yet firm and the chop was perfectly charred to enhance the richness of the lamb. The chop was served with a variety of grilled vegetables including roasted red peppers, Portobello mushroom, eggplant and zucchini, which added great earthy and sweet contrasts to the meat. The chef also included a few of EOS’ long standing Lemon Potatoes, which were delightful. The Megas Oenos red blend was well paired with the lamb.

The third entrée, the Pork Souvlaki was the singular mis-step of the evening. The cubes of pork tenderloin were marinated in a lemon-oregano marinade and char-grilled. Unfortunately, they were over-cooked, dry and chewy and I was not a fan of the seasoning.

Our dessert consisted of a trio of Greek specialties. My favorite was the Baklava. The filling was very dense and included both walnuts and almonds, plus cinnamon. This mixture was nestled between sheets of phyllo, and drizzled with honey. It was one of the best Baklavas I have ever tasted. The second delightful dessert was the Millefeuille, a wonderful dark chocolate mousse, served with chocolate-covered phyllo. The smooth and chocolatey mousse was delicious and it was the favorite of others at the table. The dessert trio also included a house-made yogurt, served with orange segments, strawberries, blueberries, all sitting in a small pool of honey. The yogurt was delightful, dense and was a great canvas for the sweet berries. Save room for all of these desserts. We enjoyed a split of Blink sparkling wine with the desserts.

Overall I really enjoyed my visit to EOS. The hospitality of the Glekas family is second to none, and the family’s hands-on dedication to the flavors of Greece are evident in each dish. Add a wonderful atmosphere in a lovely room and EOS is a restaurant I will return to often.

Really Liked

Gigantes (Butter Beans)

Prassinos Pyrgos (Salad between Phyllo)

Lavraki (Bronzino)

Paidakia (Lamb Chop)

Baklava

Millefeuille

Liked

Ospriatha (Octopus)

Yogurt with fruit

Did Not Like

Pork Souvlaki

490 Summer Street – Stamford, CT 06901

(203) 569-6250

Brasitas (Stamford) – Delicious Wine Dinner

brasitas_15_duckBrasitas restaurant is an oasis of quality Nuevo Latino Spanish cuisine in the east end of Stamford. Founded in 1999 by the late Jaime Guerrero, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York, the bustling restaurant continues Jaime’s legacy through his family, who now oversee this location and its sister restaurant in Norwalk. Jaime’s vision of creating a vibrant atmosphere to showcase his dream of melding Nuevo Latino cuisine with the authentic Latin American traditions of his native Columbia is alive at both locations and the love is evident in the food and his children who continue his tradition.

Brasitas_15_exteriorThe Stamford location welcomes its guests with a brightly colored interior that immediately transports the diners from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding neighborhood to a Latin cantina. With fifty seats and a separate bar area, the vibe is upbeat and a perfect backdrop to the vibrant cuisine.

Brasitas recently hosted a Holiday Wine Tasting Dinner and invited CTbites to join fifty other revelers as they enjoyed Lapostolle Wines from Chile. The winery produces organic certified wines, with over 200,000 cases produced annually.

brasitas_15_salsaAs the crowd gathered, fried plantains and salsa were brought to the table. The salsa was delicious, a great balance between the onions and tomatoes with just a whiff of cilantro. When combined with the crispy plantains, it made for a relaxing way to spend time meeting others at the table.

brasitas_15_chicoryThe first dish to arrive was the “Ensalada de Endiva,” a salad comprised of a slice of fresh Burrata topped with grapes, Cape gooseberries, Marcona almonds, julienned chicory and a splash of aged Jerez vinegar. It presented great textural differences amongst the crispy chicory, the almonds and the creamy Burrata. The grapes and gooseberries were a delightful sweet-sour addition…but it was the earthiness of the almonds that was the key to the dish, elevating all of the ingredients. It was served with a Casa Lapostolle, Sauvignon Blanc 2014, which was a bright and crisp wine.

brasitas_15_oxtailThe next dish to arrive was the “Estofado de Rabo y Calabaza.” Served in a glass jar, it was a layer of Argentinian Parmesan polenta topped with cubes of braised oxtail intermingled with an acorn squash ragout. There was a great balance between the deep, rich flavors of the braised oxtail /acorn squash ragout and the polenta, with a touch of spiciness in the ragout. This was paired with a Casa Lapostolle “Cuvee Alexandre” Merlot, 2012, which is the label’s flagship bottle, and placed the vineyards on the global map. It delivered a light to medium flavor with the oxtail.

brasitas_15_bass_2The dinner moved back to a lighter course with the “Merluza.” A filet of Chilean sea bass sat atop layers of cauliflower risotto and a sea urchin emulsion, topped with pickled cauliflower florets and a small piece of sea urchin. The combination of the risotto and the emulsion was my favorite of the evening, further elevated with the addition of the small piece of sea urchin. The cauliflower was a delightful addition with a little crunch and sparked the dish with its sour notes. Unfortunately the fish was overcooked and did not offer that wonderful juiciness that I expected. It was served with a Casa Lapostolle “Cuvee Alexandre” Chardonnay 2013, a wine that is aged half in stainless steel and the other half in French oak, to offer a little nuance of the oak.

brasitas_duck_2For the last of the entrées, the chef prepared a “Pato Ahumado.” The sliced duck breast was served aside a purée of parsnip topped with a foie gras-quinoa croquette and topped with a parsnip and kumquat chutney. This was an explosion of flavors and textures and my favorite dish of the evening. The smoked duck breast was served medium-rare to allow the richness of the duck to shine. The chutney was a splash of flavor from the kumquats, which offered a fantastic sour contrast to the meat. The parsnip purée (becoming a staple on many menus) was delightful. The foie gras was a playful addition, appearing as a cracker until cut and then the melted foie gras oozed over the sweet purée. It was paired with a Casa Lapostolle “Cuvee Alexandre” Carmenere 2012,which is the Chilean equivalent of a Merlot.

brasitas_15_chocolateTo complete the evening dessert, the “Crema de Chocolate y Turron” included a slice of a Valrhona chocolate cremeux, a scoop of Cabernet sorbet, plus hazelnut turron and a swath of passion fruit. The cremeaux was luscious, creamy with a wonderful chocolaty-ness. When combined with the crunchy, earthiness of the turron and the sorbet, the flavors worked in complete unison. Unfortunately, the passion fruit and the cremeaux seemed to fight with each other, both too bold to work together. The wine for this course was a Casa Lapostolle “Cuvee Alexandre” Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, which was also one of the ingredients in the sorbet.

Overall, the atmosphere was uplifting and alive, the service very good and the Latin-fusion cuisine vibrant and delicious. I look forward to returning and enjoying many more items from the creative and inventive menu.

954 East Main Street – Stamford, CT 6902

203-323-3176

The location has extremely limited on-street parking, but the restaurant offers a valet on Lincoln Avenue just to the left of the entrance.

Really Liked

  • Plantains with Salsa
  • Cauliflower Risotto & Sea Urchin Emulsion (It needs a special call out)
  • Oxtail, acorn Squash Ragout and Polenta
  • Duck Breast with Parsnip Puree

Liked

  • Chicory and Burrata Salad
  • Chocolate Cremeaux

Needs Improvement

  • Chilean Sea Bass

Boothbay Lobster Company Truck Rolls into Stamford’s Harbor Point

Boothbay Lobster Company is opening its first bricks and mortar location at Harbor Point in Stamford in the upcoming months. To give the community a taste of what to expect from super-fresh Maine lobster, the company is periodically parking its Boothbay Lobster Company truck 100 yards down the street from the restaurant, serving two types of Lobster Rolls, a BLC sandwich, Lobster Mac & Cheese, plus a few non-lobster items. On a beautiful afternoon CTbites visited the truck to sample the newest addition to the Harbor Point neighborhood. As I approached the truck I noticed a sign stating that the lobster were caught the previous day…this was an ultra-fresh product.

The cooking and serving truck was joined by a second, which acted acting as the portable inventory for the visit. On its opening day the week before, they were so overwhelmed with customers that their anticipated 10-hour stay was shortened to under five hours when they ran out of product. On this second visit, they assured numerous people on line that they brought plenty of food for the full afternoon and evening. The menu offers two varieties of Lobster Rolls, each priced at $16. The first was a “Downeast” (recommended by the owner) that included chilled lobster and mayo and the second was a “Connecticut” (my choice) that offered warm lobster with butter. I did not order, but the truck also serves a BLC (bacon, lobster and cheese sandwich), Lobster Mac & Cheese and a Grilled Cheese sandwich, plus a side of Potato Tots and a Whoopie Pie dessert.

    I first sampled the Connecticut. It contained large chunks of both claw and tail meat, lightly coated with salted butter and served on a griddled Martin potato long bun. The meat was perfectly cooked to maintain the lobster flavor and the texture was soft and not chewy at all. I was very impressed. I next moved to the Downeast. There was a scant amount of mayo, just enough to hold together the lobster meat. The owner was correct, the Downeast was fantastic. The major difference between the two was the Downeast delivered a hint of the ocean’s mild saltiness while the Connecticut’s saltiness was that of the butter. They were both served with cole slaw, which was basic shredded cabbage+ and Cape Cod potato chips.

Overall, Boothbay’s Lobster Rolls were delicious. I would recommend the Downeast over the Connecticut, preferring to taste the mild saltiness of the ocean versus the saltiness of the butter.

Check out their Facebook page for times and dates the truck will be on site.

Magee’s Curbside (Stamford) – Great BEC Empanadas

bl4I was scheduled for a meeting in downtown Stamford and decided to leave a little early to see if the raves about Magee’s Curbside were justified. Easy answer…yes.

bl2It is located on Magee Ave across the street from the car wash in a brightly colored building. There are several parking spots in front and to the left. The menu includes a wide range of choices from standard eggs, bacon, pancakes and sandwiches to a pulled pork combination. What caught my eye was the Bacon, Egg and Cheese Empanadas.

bl1When they arrived I was very impressed. Two large golden-crusted empanadas sat atop cubed breakfast potatoes and were drizzled with a pink sauce. Experience told me the filling would been incendiary so I started with a couple of the potatoes. They were perfectly prepared, outstanding, a little crispiness encircling a soft and creamy interior.  It was time to move to the empanada. Perfection. The crust was buttery and delicious and the creamy eggs bacon and cheese on the interior were perfect complements. I never thought I would think there was a better way than a bacon, egg and cheese on a roll, but this was much better.

bl3What a great combination. I only wish it were closer to my home or office.

Magee's Curbside Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Harlan Social (Stamford) – #1 (Tie) on 2015 Best Burger List

harlan_social_burgerAs I mentioned in my blog on South End, it wasa tie in 2015 for the best burger in southwest CT. The “Harlan Burger” at Harlan Social includes a special blend of meats which Chef Steve Lewandowski elevates the flavors with his incredibly unique toppings. He first bastes the burger with a house-made “Japanese Worcestershire Sauce” and then adds his “Cheddar Ale Sauce,” comprised of four different varieties of cheese, mushroom stock and cream ale. And Chef Lewandowski does not stop there as he tops these items with a fantastic Bacon Onion Jam. The sweet, sour, salty, umami elements were all present. Finally, the burger is encased in a Portuguese Muffin from Boston (my favorite bun on the tour), which adds a sweet accent.

Served with some of the best fries in CT and you have a prefect meal.

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Amore Cucina (Stamford) – Outstanding Pizza

amore_5There is another entrant onto my Great Pizza List. Amore Cucina & Bar recently opened on Hope Street in Stamford and is serving outstanding pizza. On a recent Monday, Owner Bruno DiFabio, opened his doors with 100% of the proceeds earmarked for the Susan G Komen Research Foundation for Breast Cancer. DiFabio is no stranger to the limelight. He is a six-time World Pizza Champion and Television Personality and owns eleven restaurants in the US.

amore_4Amore serves two types of pizza and on this visit I sampled the “Ferentini” square pie. The making of the dough requires a 96-hour fermentation process, using condensed milk that breaks down the gluten in the flour. Bruno told me this creates close to a gluten free product and he recommends to people with gluten issues.

amore_6The Ferentini is topped with spicy salami, green olives, tomato, Mozzarella cheese and San Marzano purée, and was the winner in the Best Traditional Category at the Las Vegas Expo. The square shape is reminiscent of Chicago pan pizza and the thickness of the dough may give some concern, but after one bite you will understand that you are in the presence of pizza greatness.

amore_7The pizza was perfectly baked, with a tan crust and underside, the cheese was firmly holding all of the ingredients in place (I do not like when the cheese covers the ingredients) and they were evenly distributed so each bite of the six slices would capture all of the flavors. My first bite of the crust was similar to biting into air surrounded by a thin crispy crust…it was divine, and the flavor was fantastic. I moved onto the full slice and they were fantastic. The sweetness of the San Marzano purée combined with the spiciness of the salami and the brightness of the olives was perfect. The cheese added a hint of luscious creaminess. This was one of the best pizzas I have ever eaten.

amore_1Overall, Amore is a great place, the décor is wonderful, the owner is a great person who can deliver exceptional food and gives back to the community and the pizza is world class.

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Harlan Social (STM) – Delicious After Two Years

rsz_collageTwo years ago Harlan Social opened as a part of the Lockworks project in Stamford amidst questions on whether the area would support the restaurant or whether the restaurant investors and the developers were visionaries. Two years later Harlan Social’s success shines as a local hang-out, an after work meeting spot, and a destination restaurant.

Harlan Social was the brainchild of Owner & Executive Chef Steve Lewandowski, who was previously the Sous Chef at Manhattan’s Abby restaurant, Gotham Bar & Grill, and Fantino in the Ritz Carlton before joining Tribeca Grill and becoming its Executive Chef. Currently overseeing the kitchen is Executive Chef Michael Sobelman, whose resume includes Sardis and Tribeca Grill with Lewandowski. When Harlan Social opened Lewandowski immediately reached out to Sobelman to join him and oversee the kitchen.

Harlan Social recently introduced its new Fall menu and CTbites visited to sample some of the new additions. The interior of Harlan Social is divided into three areas, a bar area to the right, and a large dining area to the left separated two-thirds of the way to the rear with a floor to ceiling wine rack; ample to host private parties. Guests can choose between a table or a booth in either area. The open kitchen occupies the rear of the restaurant. The atmosphere is hip and vibrant, and offers one of the best after-work bar scenes in Stamford.

The menu is divided into several sections, from Small Plates to full Entrées, which allows each guest to enjoy an individualized experience, and flexibly designed for those looking for either a full course of appetizer, entrée and dessert or those sitting at the bar desiring 2-3 smaller plates.

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My favorite of the smaller options was the “Artichoke Muffaletta” a meatless interpretation of the New Orleans icon sandwich. It paired a glass jar filled with an artichoke / olive salad with a scoop of the wonderfully creamy Stracciatella di Burrata. The artichoke salad delivered bright and earthy flavors offset by the slight tartness of the Burrata, plus a little spiciness from red pepper flakes. There was great balance between the Burrata and the artichoke salad. Served with four slices of grilled bread this is a great start to the meal.

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Another delicious small plate was the “Local Burrata” served atop red wine caponata. The Burrata was a touch sweeter than the Stracciatella and was complemented by the brightness of the olives in the caponata, which also contained raisins for a little sweetness plus capers and red peppers. The raisin bread added additional sweetness to the dish.

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If you are looking for a milder first course the “Ahi Tuna Crudo” is a good option. It was served with slices of jicama, radish, and finished with greens and a Jalapeño yuzu vinaigrette. The soft, mild sashimi tuna was paired with the yuzu vinaigrette. The finely diced and fried garlic chips and red onion added a sudden shot of pungency. This presentation was a careful balance of soothing and mild flavors.
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The small plate that delivered the deepest flavors was the “Braised Lamb Flatbread.” This horizontal version of a traditional Greek gyro was served with pickled red onion, tomato, lettuce and tzatziki sauce. The grilled bread was sweet and a great canvas for the toppings. The braised lamb was delicious, fork-tender, and in combination with the sweetness from the tomatoes and the pungency from the onions created a delightfully rich dish.
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My least favorite of the smaller selections was the “Potato & Onion Pierogies,” served with beer braised cabbage and topped with grain mustard sour cream. The dough was a little thick and overwhelmed the potato and onion stuffing. The cabbage was also bitter and left an unpleasant aftertaste.
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The “Baby Kale & Blue Cheese Salad” was outstanding and included a mélange of textures from sliced apples to spiced pecans, and finished with cider vinaigrette. This hearty salad delivered great combinations of flavors from the nutty cheese to the earthy pecans to the sweet apples. The kale added a little pungency. The blue cheese was a mild variety and did not overwhelm any of the ingredients. This is an excellent choice for either a starter or as a main course.
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My favorite entree was the “Grilled Flat Iron Steak.” The perfectly prepared steak was served atop a medley of roasted Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, cranberries, almonds, plus a side of pomme frites. The steak was cooked to medium-rare, sliced, and delivered a deep, rich beefiness. When the meat was paired with the season’s best vegetables, it created a fantastic combination. The addition of the cranberries added a little sweetness to the dish and the almonds a touch of earthy crunch.
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The “Seared Sea Scallops” were served over a spinach and pancetta risotto and finished with a truffle vinaigrette. The highlight was the risotto, which contained pancetta, tomatoes and spinach. The pancetta delivered a great smoky notes to the entire dish, and perfectly complemented the sweet tomatoes and the scallops. The scallops were topped with a few pieces of black truffle pieces that added an earthy note.
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The “Garganelli Pasta” was served with a short rib Bolognese sauce and a dollop of herbed Ricotta cheese. The pasta was cooked to al dente and the sauce (more a meat sauce than Bolognese) contained chunks of soft and flavorful short ribs and a smoky tomato base which were offset by the creamy herbed Ricotta. There was a great balance in the meat, tomatoes and ricotta.

Harlan Social is one of the best restaurants in Stamford, delivering great food in an environment to satisfy all ages, from the vibrant bar scene to the relaxing dining area. The carefully designed menu allow each guest to plan a meal with either a selection of small plates or a traditional appetizer and entrée.

121 Towne St, Stamford, CT 06902
(203) 883-8000
http://www.harlansocial.com

Really Liked
Artichoke Muffaletta $10
Local Burrata $12
Braised Lamb Flatbread $9
Baby Kale & Blue Cheese Salad $12
Seared Sea Scallops $32
Grilled Flat Iron Steak $21

Liked
Ahi Tuna Crudo $14
Garganelli Pasta $12/23

Did Not Like
Potato & Onion Pierogies $12