During its opening week I visited Eclectic and sampled some of their creative sandwiches and posted my thoughts on www.ctbites.com. I thought it was finally time for a return visit.
When I entered the Eclectic at 1140 there was one other patron ordering a sandwich while the kitchen was in full swing filling what appeared to be a fairly large take-away order. Since I ordered a soup, quiche and salad and enjoyed each on my first visit, I decided to order the “Eclectic Cheese Steak.” This sandwich is described as “shredded choice steak, sautéed mushrooms and onions, Havarti cheese, scallions, honey ham, sweet and spicy pepper aioli, served on butter and grilled NY style toast.” That’s a lot of ingredients for a sandwich but I was still curious to see how it came together.
I thought the combination worked excellently and there was a lot of great flavors. The beef was moist and tender and the melted Havarti gave that good balanced beef / cheese flavor. The scallions added a little pungency and crunchiness and was very different from the hundreds of other steak & cheese sandwiches I have eaten. The bigger, and most pleasant, surprise was the pepper aioli, which brought a good little kick, and in combination with the ham added a little sweetness. The grilled (actually griddled) bread was first slathered with salted butter and crisped to a golden brown. Every sandwich tastes better with buttered-grilled bread and this was no exception. Overall, I was impressed.
The interior is still very stark in design and decor, it is a diner / sandwich shop, not a restaurant. It appears they are targeting the high school and local employee versus the ladies’ lunch crowd. My other comment on my initial visit was the heaviness of each of the choices. They seems to be addressing slightly with a few salads, plus they now offer a wrap in addition to the of battered-griddle bread. The design your own salad also gives the guest a lighter option.
Eclectic is a good addition to the sandwich shops in New Canaan, four now, nicely spaced between the two east-west corners of downtown.
A stop at the newly opened Eclectic Luncheonette and Catering on Vitti Street offered a glimpse into the cuisine that owner/chef Robert Milano will bring to the east end of downtown New Canaan. The periwinkle exterior adds a bright, southern feel to this residential-commercial street; an inviting beginning to any visit. The interior is more sterile, offering 22 seats and a long counter where orders are placed.
The lunch menu consists of various salad combinations, sandwiches with melted cheese, soufflés and desserts. Most tend to include fried ingredients or cheese so be careful if you are looking for a lower caloric lunch; you can create your own salad from a list of a dozen ingredients.
My lunch started with a cup of the house made “Tomato Bisque.” The tomato-ey flavor was rich and delicious, the texture was silky from the addition of cream, and the diced scallions added a nice crunch with just a touch of spiciness.
Accompanying the soup was a “Beef Ossobuco Jalapeño Raspberry” sandwichserved on buttered and grilled Italian bread with melted white cheddar cheese and finished with a Jalapeño Raspberry BBQ sauce. The meat was delightfully tender. The sauce was very sweet and I would have preferred more spiciness from the Jalapeño peppers. The melted cheese was mild and added a little smoothness and the small slices of toasted bread were first schmeared with salted butter and grilled. Overall this was a very tasty sandwich.
Last, but not least, was the “Plain Corn Soufflé” (the menu allows for one of several toppings). This was more a quiche consistency than a soufflé, the filling was creamy, was full of flavor and a good addition to complete lunch. The corn added a good level of crunchiness to the dish.
With a few days under his belt Chef Robert is creating some interesting combinations. Hopefully the menu will expand to include lighter choices and the décor will develop into a softer, more relaxed atmosphere to appeal to the New Canaan lunch crowd.
This review was originally posted on http://www.ctbites.com at: