Gates (New Canaan) Reopens

ctb_gates_16_bar_fotorWhen is Gates opening? How many of us have been asked, and have asked others, that question?

Good news…the anticipated re-opening is almost here and CTbites was invited by the new owners to sample several of the items that will be featured on the opening menu.

Gates, an institution that opened in 1979 as the first restaurant on Forest Street, was sold last year, and many residents compared the closing to the loss of an old friend.

Residents who have enjoyed a burger and beer at the bar or a family dinner in the dining room should feel a sense of excitement when the doors re-open very shortly. Those who have longed for that burger and beer at the bar or a family dinner in the dining room will again enjoy their meals at Gates – and yes, the name will remain ‘Gates.’ Diners will also find comfort in the direction that the new owners are taking to maintain the modernized nostalgia of this New Canaan institution.

They told CTbites, with children in the New Canaan school system, they wanted to create an inviting atmosphere where families can go for a great meal, and adults can enjoy a burger and beer in the bar. “Gates has been here for 35 years and we want it to be here for another 35 years.”

Gates is part of a larger, historical New Canaan institution that dates back over 125 years. Before looking at the new Gates, let’s rewind the calendar to 1882, when Henry B. Rodgers purchased, demolished and built the current structure using 650,000 bricks that were transported to Stamford by boat and on to New Canaan. Formerly a shoe factory, Rogers converted the space to manufacture clothing for the newest rage of that era, bicycling. Over the years it housed a shoe company, a linen shop, a drug store and a beauty shop. The first New Canaan gas lamp was situated in front of the Main Street entrance and Rogers was one of the first four residents in town who owned a telephone. The building has been embedded in the history of town and will be for years to come.

The interior of Gates has undergone a complete renovation under the guidance of Company K, a New Canaan based interior design firm. It now showcases the previously hidden brick walls and wooden beams. The new layout presents an open kitchen with “kitchen-bar seating”, and wood-topped tables under a newly coffered ceiling gently illuminated by retro lighting. The original iron gates that previously adorned the hostess area have been reconditioned and are floating between the bar and the dining area.

The centerpiece of the new bar area is an amazingly striking, refinished crafted metal bar fabricated by local artisan, Chris Curnan. Wood and metal booths offer an urban vibe for those looking for a more casual dining experience. The beverage menu highlights a wide selection of beer, ranging from local CT breweries to international favorites. The glass-front refrigerator behind the bar sports additional large and small label selections. Live music will be an occasional addition when dinner service begins to wind down on Saturday nights.

ctb_gates_16_chicken_2_fotorThe culinary concept for the new Gates is American comfort that, “will bring passion, heart and soul to the food.” It will feature a wood burning oven for a selection of artisanal flatbreads, plus a wood burning rotisserie to slow cook a variety of meats and poultry, each prepared to “melt in your mouth.” While these items act as the centerpiece for many of the entrées, they will also serve as the foundation in all of the sandwiches on the lunch menu. The opening menu will include a burger and hand-cut fries, Rotisserie Chicken, and assorted fresh fish and steaks. Several of these items were served during the pre-opening tasting and were delicious, an excellent indication of things to come.

The new Gates will be a destination for adults and families seeking a delicious meal, sports enthusiasts seeking a beer and burger in the bar, beer lovers thirsting for a wide selection of international and local brews, and couples looking to end an evening with a little live music and a nightcap.

Stay tuned as CTbites continues to provide additional details on the re-opening of Gates.

10 Forest St, New Canaan, CT 06840


Fleishers Craft Kitchen (Westport) Opens for Dinner Under Chef Adam Truelove

dsc_0943Saugatuck Craft Butchery was founded in 2011 by Ryan Fibiger and Paul Nessel with the philosophy of combining “traditional butchery skills with sustainable, whole animal practices and modern-day food movement ideals.” It purchases locally raised animals from farmers that share this philosophy, dry-ages the meat in-house and sells directly to the public. Over the last four years, as its popularity increased, it expanded to a new, larger location across the street that would feature both a butchery and a restaurant and earlier this year it merged with Fleishers Butchery, of Brooklyn, to become Fleishers Craft Butchery.

After the successful launch of breakfast and lunch service, Fleishers recently hired Chef Adam Truelove, formerly of Tarry Lodge, Napa & Co. and Pine Social to oversee its culinary expansion. In the last month it both opened its doors at its newest location in Cos Cob and expanded the service in Saugatuck to include dinner to showcase the farm raised meat and poultry from the butchery coupled with Chef Adam’s creativity. With a very low key environment, 30 seats and an additional six stools at the bar, the restaurant will offer a simple menu, as well as Family Dinners, from Tuesday through Saturday from 530-930PM.

The menu is divided into three sections, “Small,” “Burgers” and “From the Butcher.” The small plates range from cheese or meat platters to salads, to meatballs and pigs’ ears. With four choices of burgers, there are a full range of options for guests looking for a twin-thin to a large fatty patty (both beef and lamb are featured), while the entrée sized plates include several cuts from the butchery attached to the restaurant

CTbites was invited to sample a selection of the new cuisine.

dsc_0933The “Apple and Fennel Salad” was one of the best renditions of the currently popular kale salad I have tasted. The kale, slivered apples and fennel were tossed with a house-made bacon vinaigrette, shredded goat cheese and pistachios. The bacon-y vinaigrette was a fantastic complement to the kale with loads of smokiness that created a delightful combination. The apples brought a mild sweetness and the goat cheese a touch of saltiness. The pistachios rounded the salad with a nice earthiness and additional crunch.

dsc_0937The “Lamb Meatballs” were nestled in a swath of smoked ricotta and finished with a spiced red wine reduction and slivered scallions. The Indian influenced meatballs, seasoned with curry and cumin, were complemented by the creaminess of the smoked ricotta. They were soft and moist from the steaming and reheating in the wine reduction, which added a slight bitterness to the dish.

dsc_0930The last small plate was the “Crispy Pig,” which included chicharrones and thinly sliced strips of pig’s ears, which were braised before deep frying. The strips were coated with a spicy Sriracha sauce and parsley, and served with aioli. The chicharrones were crunchy pillows of air while the pork strips were the textural opposite; a chewy, crunchy texture. I was not a fan of this combination (a personal preference) but others at the table loved it.

dsc_0941The “Craft Burger” was included on my 2015 list of Best Burgers in Southwest Connecticut and the current version continues as one of my favorites in the area. The burger begins with a combination of dry-aged beef with a little added fat, dipped in an IPA cheese fondue, and topped with a few greens, bacon jam and an onion ring. The deep flavors of the dry-aged meats were perfectly balanced by the bacon jam and the fondue dip. The burger was encased in a brioche that added buttery goodness. Shoestring fries accompanied the burger and they were crispy on the exterior and soft on the interior

When you are sitting adjacent to one of the best butchery around, it is hard to select which of the entrée to choose, with a double-cut pork chop, a half chicken, steak frites (currently a Rib Eye) and a lamb dish all an option.

dsc_0943The highlight of the visit was the “Rib Eye,” the current cut for the Steak Frites. Since we enjoyed the fries earlier with the burger, Chef Adam paired the chop with brisket burnt ends and beans. After one bite, I knew this was an outstanding steak. The 16-ounce filet was cooked to a perfect medium-rare, with a great sear on the exterior. The deep, ultra-rich flavor was fantastic, fork-tender and reminiscent of a great steak house. The side of brisket burnt ends and beans was a wonderful accompaniment that both mellowed and enhanced the steak.

dsc_0939The “Pork Chop” was an enormous double-cut chop served atop a mound of sausage stuffing and a small side salad. The chop was served medium-rare and pink in the middle (order differently if desired) and glazed with a pomegranate molasses and finished with a dash of Gray rock sea salt. The sausage contained house-made sausage and brioche and offered just a hint of spicy-sweetness. The chop was moist and flavorful and delicious with the sweet pomegranate glaze.

Overall, the initial offerings at Fleisher’s were fun, creative and showcased the top-tiered quality of the butcher shop. Chef Adam informed us after the meal that lamb will be a continual offering to expand the year-round acceptance of this wonderful meat. The prices reflect the restaurant’s ability to offer exceptional quality at relatively reasonable prices. The $32 rib eye steak frites was a great value and the other entrées were priced in the mid-$20s. I look forward to returning to Fleishers to work my way through each of the meats and poultry.

Really Liked

  • Apple and Fennel Salad
  • Craft Burger
  • Rib Eye
  • Pork Chop


  • Lamb Meatballs

Did Not Like

  • Crispy Pig

580 Riverside Ave. – Westport CT 06880



1020 Post (Darien) – Pretty Ordinary Burger

ctb_1020_burger_1Almost every time the subject of where to eat in Darien arises, the name Ten Twenty Post is mentioned. Some have also recommended the burger and the last time I ate their House Burger was two years ago…it was time to give it a re-try. When I arrived around noon the twelve tables on the rear terrace were beginning to fill and without a cloud in the sky, all of the umbrellas were open and people were either looking for full sun or hiding in the shade.

The server informed me that the “House Burger on Soft Roll” was served with Gruyere cheese (the current website states Jarlsberg cheese), lettuce, tomato and onion, with a side of French fries. I asked if they could hold the lettuce, tomato and onion and add a couple of strips of bacon. I also asked that it be prepared medium-rare. As I sipped my water I found I was in a very small minority, almost everyone was drinking beer or wine. It was a festive mid-week lunch for many.

The burger arrived. The exterior of the patty had a good sear, the cheese was nicely melted but the two strips of bacon were just thrown on top as one…both on one side of the patty, not a lot of care in its placement. The bun, which was a basic, soft bakery bun, was nicely grilled. There was a good sized mound of fries and several slices of B&B pickles.

ctb_1020_burger_2I cut the burger in half. My guess would place the weight in the 5 oz. range, and the size was more on the thin versus thick side. It was prepared a little beyond medium, much more than my requested medium rare. The grind was very compressed, and there was very little juice escaping. I first tasted the meat, it had a good level of beefiness, very good flavor. A taste of the bacon and Gruyere cheese gave me a different impression, both were on the bland side, and the bun was also not very flavorful. A bite of the combination gave a beefy flavor with the other ingredients adding little to the dish. There was just a hint of juiciness in my first taste but it became drier with each succeeding bite. By the time I started the second half, the burger was very dry. The fries were nicely cooked and seasoned and the B&B pickle slices were excellent. The cost of the burger was $17, which was high for its quality.

Overall it was a flavorful patty that was overcooked, causing it to dry out, with bland toppings. I previously rated the burger a “6” on my 1-10 scale, but given the blandness of all of the items (with the exception of the meat) I now rate the House Burger at Ten Twenty a “5”.


Bogey’s (Norwalk) – Just an OK Burger

bogeys_ctb_prime_burgerI was driving by Bogey’s on Cross Street in Norwalk last week when I saw a new, large banner proclaiming “Voted Best Burger in Fairfield County.” When a restaurant proudly proclaims that distinction I am excited about the prospect of enjoying another quality product and hopefully add it to my growing list of great burgers.

After a little research, I discovered that this is not the first venture for the owners of Bogey’s, they also owned the same named restaurant in Westport. Earlier this year it relocated to its current location, again offering a wide array of pub fare, from sandwiches to chicken to steaks. The space in the new location is separated into two areas; to the right of the entrance is the dining area with tables and booths while the left side offers a four sided bar plus several tables.

There are two distinct burgers on the menu. The first is the “Angus Burger” ($11), which is simply 8-oz of Angus Beef, plus lettuce and tomato. For an additional $1 it can be prepared with cheese. The other burger is “The Prime Beef Burger” that includes 8-oz of Allen Brothers USDA Prime blend topped with Applewood smoked bacon, Blue cheese, and a fried egg (not mentioned on the menu but included on my burger were lettuce and tomato), served with French fries ($16). When the server approached I asked her which was the recipient of the award and she responded “they both were.”

I was a little confused by her response, but ordered the Prime Beef Burger medium-rare. It was both wide and tall; the patty sat atop slices of lettuce and tomato, with the bacon, cheese and egg layered on top of the patty. The fried egg was cooked perfectly, slightly crisped on the edges, the bacon and melted cheese were hidden beneath the egg with the edges of the bacon jutting slightly out from under the egg. I cut the burger in half, releasing the yolk and saw the patty was cooked exactly to my requested medium-rare, with an excellent char on the exterior. When I saw that the grind was very compressed I was a little disappointed; it appeared that it was pressed several times to achieve the exterior sear.

I really enjoyed my first taste of the meat, the flavor was excellent and delivered a great, deep richness. This might have led to a great combination and deserved the honor, but unfortunately this is where I diverge from the award. The bacon was well cooked but it was much too salty and the Blue Cheese overwhelmed the wonderful meat flavor. The egg added a delightful creaminess but also fought with the meat, and all were served on a non-descript bun, which added nothing to the overall composition. Each of the ingredients, by themselves, was very bold, but the combination was not complementary at all. In addition, after one bite, I removed the tomato as it was an over-ripe grocery store variety. The fries were good, they were crispy on the exterior and soft on the interior and served piping hot

Overall, Bogey’s definitely chose a fantastic meat for the Prime Beef Burger (I was told on a previous visit that the meat in the other burger was not the same blend) and with a better balance from the other ingredients, there is a possibility that I would agree that it is an excellent burger, but I enjoyed other options in Fairfield County much better.

Sitting Duck Tavern (Stratford) – Pretty Good Burger

Travelling north on the Merritt on a Friday evening is never a pleasant experience, but given the recommendations from others about the burger at The Sitting Duck Tavern in Stratford, we waited through the traffic and delays and eventually arrived in downtown Stratford around 7PM. The exterior tables were was already completely full, did not want one upstairs, and we grabbed a booth on the right side overlooking the kitchen pass.

Our server was very prompt in the drink and food orders and was knowledgeable and pleasant throughout the meal. I ordered a bacon cheeseburger, medium-rare, with bacon and fronions with a side of French fries. There were two other burger orders from the group, the other two were ordered medium, plus we ordered a side of onion rings for the table.

When the burgers arrived the first thing I noticed was the size of the patty. Sitting Duck is very generous with the meat. I lifted the top bun and saw the two slices of bacon, the melted cheese, but barely any fronions. I was disappointed in the meagerness of the fronions. This all sat atop shredded lettuce and a thin slice of tomato. I cut the burger in half and it was more medium than medium-rare and one of my dinner companions was the medium-rare doneness while mine was the medium…just a little carelessness by the kitchen.

I tasted the meat and was impressed, it had a medium level of beefiness and very tasty. The bacon was well cooked and the cheese was nicely melted. Since I did not order the lettuce and tomato, I removed these two items and took a bite of the complete package, it was very good. The fries were very basic and the restaurant decided to use an off-brand ketchup, not Heinz, and it was surprisingly good.

The order of onion rings consisted of four, yes four, rings. Three were very small and one was large. It was almost embarrassing, four onion rings in an order for a table of four. The coating was very thick and the onion itself was mushy. Having my single ring was enough.

Overall, I liked the casualness of the Sitting Duck and the burger was pretty good. As I watched the food leave the kitchen my guess is 75% of the orders are burgers, which is a good sign. There is a banner on the front stating it is “A Hidden Gem,” but seeing the crowd and the number of burgers leaving the kitchen I am not sure it is hidden any longer.

Sitting Duck Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eli’s (Hamden) – Basic Fare in a Friendly Environment

rsz_img_0518-001Sometimes basic is good enough. And my lunch at Eli’s in Hamden was good solid basic fare in a friendly environment with an outstanding server.

The four of us decided to go to Eli’s for lunch after temple. It is conveniently located near Route 15 and there is ample parking across the street. We grabbed a table for four in the main dining area and Mike, our server approached. He was fantastic, patient and spot on throughout the lunch.

It was midday and the menu included an entire section on of my favorite meals, hamburgers. I chose the Bacon and Cheddar with regular fries, medium-rare. When it arrived the first noticeable feature was the size. In addition to a large patty, there was ample bacon jutting out of the sides, plus lettuce and tomato, all enclosed in an enormous bun. The meat was grilled to my requested medium-rare. My impressions were that the meat was mild in flavor, nothing special and good. The bacon was also grilled properly, crispy without being burnt. The cheddar was too mild to compete with the bacon and I would have preferred a larger amount to deliver more cheddar flavor. The bun was buttery, almost a brioche and it was very good, but a smaller size would have been more in proportion to the other ingredients. The fries were very good, crispy on the exterior, soft on the interior, and properly salted.

Overall Eli’s delivered a very good burger in a relaxed, family environment with a great server.

Eli's On Whitney Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

SE Uncorked (New Canaan) – Outstanding Vibes and Vittles

Uncorked burgerChef Nick Martschenko’s (South End) newest venture, SE Uncorked, is already creating an incredible buzz throughout New Canaan for its great food and great vibe. Inspired by the speakeasies of the Prohibition era and taverns in the UK and Australia, Chef Nick told CTbites that his vision is for “guests to be comfortable and relaxed in a heavily beverage, comfortable environment with foods designed for a pub versus restaurant theme.”

Uncorked teamLocated at 15 Elm Street, both the exterior and interior have been completely redesigned. The brick-faced exterior features a drop-down wood shelf, windows at eye-level  and a wood carved sign announcing “Uncorked” with the familiar South End circle-logo with the additional prelude… “Snacks & Taps.”

Uncorked insideFrom the moment you walk through the rear wood-hewn door you understand the concept behind the mantra of Snacks and Taps. Guests enter a dining area like none in New Canaan. The entire right wall is filled with a single banquette, the center of the dining area has several wooden high top tables and the bar occupies the entire left wall with thick wooden shelves holding the libations for the guests. The front of the room has a long wooden bar shelf with a “pass-through” to hand guests dining outside their food and drinks.

Uncorked tapsThe atmosphere is casual, laid back, kick up your feet, eat great food, watch the ball game on two separate TVs and have a few beers, a couple of glasses of wine and hang out with friends.  The menu is geared to creative fare and filled with an array of bold and delicious options. Uncorked pours all the beverages from taps or individual bottles and cans with four beers, ten wines and two waters on tap, plus a wide selection of local breweries and national  brand beers. Likewise all of the juices are made in house and mixers are poured from bottles and cans.

Uncorked NickThe menu is divided into smaller and larger selections and I sampled several of each.

Uncorked NachosFish and sushi lovers should choose the Hamachi Nachos, a delightfully refreshing small plate of sweet and spicy. Freshly flash fried yucca chips were topped with large cubes of Hamachi that were marinated in grapefruit and orange juices, garlic and shallots. They were served with an orange section, cilantro oil and finished with a thin slice of Serrano chili and a sprig of micro cilantro. This cerviche on steroids delivered an amazing array of flavors and textures from the sweetness of the oranges and spiciness of the serrano chili to the soft and delicate fish to the crunchiness of the yucca.

Uncorked sausageFor the adventurous, the house-made Merguez sausage sandwich was fantastic. It was served on a long Martin potato roll and accompanied with Tzatziki and swirls of harissa sauce. The sausage was wonderfully seasoned with a minimal level of spiciness. The creaminess of the sweet Tzatziki and the spiciness of the harissa were great fantastic together. Choose one of the beers for this sausage.

Uncorked Drink 2There are two very different carpaccios. Creating a complex dish from a few simple ingredient is the foundation of the Scallop Carpaccio. Thinly sliced scallops were marinated in lemon juice, Espelette pepper and red pepper and presented with dollops of pickled mustard seeds, slices of radishes, olive oil and thinly sliced serrano chilies. The scallops were sugar sweet with just a touch of citrus and a background of pepper. The pickled mustard seeds elevated the dish with great sour notes and for additional spiciness, pop one of the chili slices on the fork.

Uncorked squashThe Zucchini Carpaccio was presented in a fish scale pattern with a touch of grated Pecorino and drizzled with olive oil and salt. This refreshing dish accentuated the simplicity of the zucchini with just a hint of salt from the cheese. It would be a great accompaniment with a glass of brisk white wine to begin the meal.

Uncorked curdsThe Fried Cheese Curds included bite sized pieces of Wisconsin cheddar cheeses that were lightly coated with a mixture of beer, cornmeal and flour and flash fried and paired with a Sriracha aioli. The mild cheddar was a perfect canvas for the spiciness of the Sriracha. Order the curds with a light beer for a great snack.

Uncorked peppersUncorked’s rendition of Shishito Peppers began with quickly blistered peppers, which were joined with an aioli that contained a surprising ingredient, poached tuna. When the mild peppers (beware that about one in ten is very spicy with no advanced warning) were dipped in the aioli, the combined flavors were delicious and distinctive.

Uncorked oystersAs a tribute to the bars of Australia, Uncorked also serves Oysters Kilpatrick. The roasted oysters were topped with Benton’s bacon and a house-made BBQ sauce. The combination was very bold from the bacon and sauce and I thought the sauce overpowered the oysters.

The entrées include a variety of options including meats, fish, and chicken, plus another great burger.

Uncorked burgerNo less than three months after South End tied for my top burger in southwest CT, Chef Nick created the Double Double. The only similarity to the South End burger is it will be a serious contender for next year’s top spot. The patties were seasoned with Worcestershire sauce and slowly cooked onions, seared to medium-rare and joined on the toasted sesame seed bun with thinly slice zucchini pickles, melted American cheese and SE (South End) burger sauce. The Worcestershire sauce and onions added wonderful depth to the meat and the zucchini pickles were a lighter touch than traditional pickles. The burger was accompanied by some of the best fries in Fairfield County.

Uncorked ChickenA dish that exploded with a combination of flavors is the Chicken. The chicken was marinated in a mixture of coconut, lemongrass and ginger, slow cooked and finished in a hot pan. It was served atop a bed of crispy olive oil potatoes and served over a large swath of leek purée and a drizzle of leek oil. The chicken offered a beautifully crisped skin and a moist and buttery texture, with tropical back-notes with potatoes that were incredibly crispy. A single forkful of all of the ingredients was outstanding.

Uncorked steakFor those looking for a steak dinner, Uncorked offers a Kobe Flat Iron Steak with a complex butter and au poivre wine sauce. The steak was perfectly prepared to medium-rare, sliced and accompanied by French fries and a small salad. The beef was rich in flavor and the sauce and butter added a wonderful lusciousness to the dish. The fries were fantastic and created a more pubby presentation to enjoy with a beer or a glass of red wine.

Uncorked Drink 1For a lighter entrée, Uncorked offers a Coriander Crusted Sliced Tuna over a Panzanella salad, which included pickled red onions, sliced heirloom tomatoes, plus fennel and basil from Uncorked’s garden. The rare slices delivered a Middle Eastern twist, while the salad offered robustness from the tomatoes balanced with the bright acidity of the Banyuls vinaigrette. The croutons made from house-made bread offered a wonderful textural contrast.

Uncorked pieSave room for dessert because Uncorked is serving two incredible throwback desserts. The first was an interpretation of an Ice Box cake, but I would call it a dense chocolate pudding pie. A wonderful graham cracker crust was filled with the creamiest and most delicious chocolate pudding I have tasted in a long time and topped with vanilla gelato and swirls of chocolate sauce. This was a must-have dessert.

Uncorked sundaeThe other throwback dessert is a tribute to Chef Nick’s childhood when his grandparents would take him for spumoni. Scoops of vanilla and pistachio ice cream were topped with fudge, toasted almonds and Luxardo cherries, and finished with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprig of mint. It was full of great flavors from the sauces and the Luxardo cherries were a delightful addition.

Overall, Uncorked presents an atmosphere that is alive and the food is vibrant and delicious. Chef Nick and his team have done an outstanding job in creating another go-to spot in New Canaan.

Really Liked

  • Coconut infused chicken $24
  • Merguez sausage $18
  • Hamachi nachos $17
  • Scallop carpaccio $13
  • Uncorked double double cheeseburger $19
  • Ice box cake $8
  • Spumoni sundae $8


  • Zucchini carpaccio $10
  • Fried cheese curds $13
  • Shishito peppers $12
  • Yellowfin tuna $28
  • Kobe Hangar Steak

Not to my liking

  • Oysters Kilpatrick $21

Flipside (Fairfield) – Disappointing Burger

bl1The Best of the Gold Coast Awards were announced recently and one of the areas of personal interest was the winner in the Burger Category. When I saw that Flipside was this year’s winner I immediately placed this venue to the top of my must-try list. I visited a couple of years ago and it never made my “Best of…” list so I was curious if the burger was different from what I sampled.

Flipside is located on the Post Road slightly east of Brick Walk on the south side of the street. Parking is located in the lot behind Ring’s End. There is a long bar, indoor tables and booths plus seating outside for 40-45 guests. It was a beautiful evening so I decided the terrace would be a great way to enjoy a burger.

Burgers are very much front and center at Flipside. There are sixteen predetermined combinations or guests can mix and match from 9 “meats,” 27 different toppings and a variety of 12 sauces. “Meats” include beef, fried chicken, ahi tuna, turkey, salmon and that ever-present veggie burger. I would caution ordering some of the pre-determined offerings as you can save a little money if your order the same combination a la carte. Just check.

I ordered a 6-ounce beef patty (medium-rare) with bacon and American cheese. Fries are included and I decided to keep it simple with regular fries, versus substituting (for a small fee) with sweet potato fries or onion rings.

bl2When the burger arrived I cut it in half and was a little disappointed that it was more raw-rare than medium-rare. The meat had a decent flavor but nothing outstanding. There was no char whatsoever on the exterior and the kitchen forgot to place any seasoning on the patty. The bacon was well cooked and delivered just a touch of saltiness. The cheese was generous and well melted. The bun was in the same category as the other ingredients, basic and it was not grilled, straight from the bag to the plate. The other item of note was the burger tasted as if it was cooked on the same griddle as the onions, there was a significant oniony flavor on the meat.

The shoestring fries were also basic. They were somewhat greasy and most of them were limp, plus the seasoning was extremely inconsistent.

Overall it was an OK burger in an area that has numerous burgers that I view as better options. With all of the votes that Flipside is serving the best burger around I had high hopes and was disappointied.

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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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South End (New Canaan) – #1 (Tie) on 2015 Best Burger List

IMG_0314-0012015 was a difficult year in choosing the number 1 burger in southwest CT and the coin flip did not help. In the end I decided that it was a tie between South End in New Canaan and Harlan Social in Stamford.

IMG_0315-001The “South End Burger” created by Chef Nick Martschenko starts with fantastic beef, topped with Benton bacon, American cheese, South End burger sauce and served on a poppy seed roll. The flavor of the meat is perfect, and Chef Martschenko chars the exterior while maintaining a medium rare interior that oozes tons of juicy goodness. The bacon is crisp and flavorful and complements the meat. A few slices of B&B pickles adorn the burger and add another delightful sour component and the melted American cheese encases the patty. The sauce was a chunky spiced ketchup-y delight, which adds another flavor level. The roll was light and allows the other bold flavors inside to shine. The fries are delicious, lightly salted with a dusting of parmesan cheese and is a great partner for the burger.

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