Little Barn In Westport Is Anything But Little

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“Little” might be in its name, but Little Barn in Westport is anything but little. Instead you can expect attentive service and well-crafted cocktails in an environment that I would call country chic – a perfect fit for Westport. And of course there’s the food. Oh, the food! Everything we tasted at Little Barn we liked so very much and I cannot wait to visit again. Little Barn’s menu is an ecclectic mix of American pub food with some classics, both hearty and light. It is the type of menu that appeals to different tastes and cravings and is sure to please your entire group.

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The decor at Little Barn reminds me of quaint and cozy barns you might find in Vermont that have been reclaimed and renovated. Distressed wood on the outside of the restaurant is continued throughout the inside on the floors and walls, and exposed beams in the ceiling creating a warm environment full of character and charm. A bar area with hightop tables and a more traditional dining area, along with an outdoor patio, offer a variety of dining areas perfect for anything from a cocktail to a full meal. The two rustic stone fireplaces add the finishing touch to the indoor and outdoor dining areas.

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Dining Room

 

Also, if the location looks familiar, yes, it is indeed the former Swanky Frank’s location, however co-owner Scott Beck explained how they renovated and built Little Barn from the ground up, literally.

 

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View of the bar from the dining room

 

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Outdoor patio

 

 Craft Cocktails

We tried two cocktails from Little Barn’s Octoberfest menu: Cider and Black Rock Lemonade. The Cider made is steaming local apple cider that is mulled – and the best part I think – spiked with Fireball cinnamon whisky. The hint of cinnamon with the warm cider is perfect on a cool night and I enjoyed sipping it by the outdoor fireplace on Little Barn’s patio.

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If the Black Rock Lemonade sounds familiar, it should be because you can also enjoy it at the Chelsea in Fairfield, also co-owned by Scott Beck. American Harvest vodka and fresh lemonade are shaken with a black cherry-jalapeno puree to create a drink that has a slight kick, but mostly you are left with an interesting and appealing mixture of the lemonade, black cherry and jalapeno flavors.

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Snacks by the fire…

We snacked on the Giant Pretzel with our cocktails and it is exactly how it is described – GIANT. It is easily  an appetizer to be shared even if you are really hungry. Served with a spicy stout and honey mustard dipping sauces the pretzel stands out because it is deep fried, but not greasy, creating a texture similar to fried dough on the outside that is slightly crispy and soft and chewy on the inside as you’d expect with a pretzel. I liked both dipping sauces, however the spicy stout was my favorite.

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Appetizers

Kale

Kale is an item that has become increasingly popular on menus, so I was delighted to see Little Barn’s version of a kale salad is different from most others that I have tried lately. Made with raw kale, shaved fennel, dried cranberries, candied pecans, and red wine vinaigrette the flavors of all the ingredients pair very well with the kale, especially the cranberries and candied pecans (who doesn’t like candied pecans?!),  and I think make this salad very interesting. The added sweetness is always appealing if you have a sweet tooth like I do.

 

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Shaved Brussels Sprouts

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Brussels sprouts is another popular menu item and I was again impressed with how Little Barn put their own twist on this increasingly popular vegetable. The Shaved Brussels Sprouts are tossed with toasted pumpkin seeds, granny smith apples, and dried cranberries in a whole grain honey mustard vinaigrette with parmesan cheese. The flavors of the pumpkin seeds and apples along with the other ingredients made this dish just different enough that it stands out from others I have tried elsewhere.

 

Tai Chicken Lettuce Cups

 

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I am a big fan of lettuce wraps (or cups) in general, but the Thai Chicken Lettuce Cups are a little different and they made me say, “Oooooo!” At Little Barn the chicken is made with chopped peanuts and a hot chili sauce and served along with baby bibb lettuce so you can build your own lettuce wrap or cup. The subtle hint of the peanuts along with the flavor of the chili sauce, which was not hot if you’re someone who doesn’t like too much heat, is quite frankly, delicious.

 

Tuna Blocks 

 

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The Tuna Blocks were a hit with our entire group and had people oo-ing and ah-ing. Pan seared sesame crusted Ahi Tuna over smooth roasted jalapeno-avocado puree, topped with grilled pineapple pico de gallo and a little siracha on the side creates this flavorful appetizer.

 

Tacos

I am pleased to say that we were able to try two types of tacos at Little Barn: beef tacos and chicken tacos. Also, they do have fish tacos on the menu for all you fish taco fans. Both tacos were flavorful and delicious. The addition of the roasted pineapple in the beef tacos and the chipotle mayo in the chicken tacos added to each dish and really made them stand out, especially since this is a menu item we see very regularly.

 

The chicken tacos are made with marinated grilled chicken, pico de gallo, micro cilantro, and a chipotle mayo to give it a little kick.

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The beef tacos are made of char grilled filet tips, roasted pineapple, guacamole, pico de gallo and micro cilantro.

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A close up of a serving of thai chicken lettuce cup, taco, and tuna block.

 

Entrees

Chicken Pot Pie

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This beauty was the star of the show for me and if I had to pick a favorite, which is so hard because I really enjoyed everything we sampled, I think I would have to vote for the chicken pot pie.  Chopped braised chicken, carrots, peas and onions, in a rich cream sauce and topped with a flaky puff pastry create this simple, yet hearty dish. The perfectly flaky and buttery puff pastry on top of the chicken that was shredded pushed this chicken pot pie to the top of my favorites list. The chicken pot pie is large and could easily be shared between two people, or it will guarantee some amazing leftovers for the next day. Either way, I’ll be coming back to enjoy the chicken pot pie at Little Barn on a cold snowy day when I’m craving this dish.

 

Meatloaf

 

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Meatloaf is one of those dishes that people either find comforting and love or avoid altogether. I find meatloaf to be comforting, however not everyone gets this dish right and meatloaf can be a tricky thing to make. Little Barn gets their meatloaf right. So very right. The meatloaf is a family recipe and is served with mashed potatoes, buttered corn and a creamy cognac sauce. The sauce was delicious and similar to a gravy in thickness, but was not too heavy. The meatloaf itself has a texture more similar to a pate than you  might be used to with a more traditional meatloaf and I think that’s where Little Barn’s version stands out for me. If you’re craving meatloaf, Little Barn’s is one you must try.

 

Ahi Tuna

 

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The Ahi tuna made with sesame and wasabi crusted Ahi over a warm soba noodle salad with sweet soy, scallions, and a little sriracha is very good. The crust of the sesame and wasabi create in interesting texture and the flavors, along with the sweet soy over the noodles and the sriracha, make this dish a success.

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Brat

 

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The Brat shows the range of items on Little Barn’s menu. For this dish grilled beer brats served on a pretzel bun with kraut, stout mustard and relish with a generous side of German potato salad. I have to say that the German potato salad is quite possibly one of the best I’ve ever had, also putting this dish on my favorites list.

 

Dessert

When you visit Little Barn make sure you save room for dessert. From the classic warm brownie with ice cream to the very unique cookie dough bites, there is something to satisfy any sweet tooth.

 

Brownie

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The brownie – YUMMMMM! The warm chocolate chip brownie was soft and slighty gooey and topped with chipped cream. Served over caramel sauce and with a side of vanilla ice cream, this classic dessert will leave you with a smile on your face.

 

Pumpkin Pie

 

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It’s October, so of course there is pumpkin pie on the dessert menu. Pumpkin pie lovers take note,  this one is a creamy fall spiced pumpkin pie with a dollop of whipped cream.

 

Cookie Dough Bites

 

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If you’re looking for a more unique dessert to try, then look no further. The cookie dough bites at Little Barn are crispy chocolate chip cookie dough bites dusted with powdered sugar with a scoop of vanilla gelato. The gooey and chocolaty bites are fried, but they are not greasy or too heavy, and they remind me of something you might have at a carnival or fair.

 

If you’re looking for somewhere new to have a meal, visit Little Barn, the charming, cozy restaurant with a wide selection of dishes from the classics to those with their own unique twist to appeal to big appetites.

 

Little Barn

1050 Post Road East

Westport, CT 06880

(203) 557-8501

For more info check out Little Barn’s FaceBook page here.

 

Disclaimer: I was invited to this dinner, however all opinions expressed herein are my own.

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Gastro Bar Brings the Mediterranean to Downtown Stamford

 

A new restaurant has opened in Stamford with food and decor that is as vibrant as the downtown scene it now calls home – Gastro Bar!

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Overlooking Columbus Park Circle from its location at 78 West Park Place, Gastro Bar’s large glass doors open onto their outdoor patio area allowing diners to experience the energy of both the restaurant and downtown Stamford no matter if they prefer eating inside or out.

A pop of bright teal blue begins with the awning and sign and carries throughout the restaurant itself with beautiful blue leather upholstered chairs. Exposed brick, the dark wood of the long bar, and hand painted murals help to create an atmosphere that is comfortable yet full of energy in a space which seats about 80 people.
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Mediterranean flavors and tapas are the foundation of Gastro Bar’s menu and you can see the influence of Italian, French, and Spanish cuisine along with the Ecuadorian background of owners, and brothers, Mario and Alejandro Lopez, and Excecutive Chef Fernando Gomez.

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Drinks
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With the word “bar” as part of its name, we had to try several cocktails off of Gastro Bar’s specialty drinks menu. Above is pictured the West Park Tini (top left),  White Sangria, which is made in house and sold by the glass or the pitcher (top right), the G’Maretto and the Slow & Low (bottom left), and the Gastro Mule (bottom right).

Appetizers 

One of my favorite parts of dining at Gastro Bar is the array of appetizer and tapas to choose from! From pizza to fried calamari to oysters, Gastro Bar has a large selection of appetizers perfect to start off your meal, or if you prefer to have some tapas or small plates and a cocktail.

Pizza

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The pizza here is delicious and makes my pizza list (I’m kind of particular about my pizza)

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The Mushroom pizza (above) made with mushrooms, bacon, and fontina cheese was very popular with our entire group .

 

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The Fig and Goat Cheese pizza was my favorite and I cannot wait to order it again next time I visit Gastro Bar. Made with figs, goat cheese, a 10 year balsamic, proscuitto, and arugula, this pizza is light and packed with flavors from all the ingredients which compliment each other very well.

 

Bianco

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Grilled chicken, tomato, ricotta, and truffle oil comprise this simple, yet tasty, pizza that our group really enjoyed.

Margherita

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Hierloom tomato, buffalo mozzarela cheese, and basil are what makes this classic Margherita pizza.

Oysters

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Gastro Bar’s crispy oysters are uniquely served  over an avocado puree topped with grapefruit and radish.

Salmon Tartar

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The Salmon Tartar is excellent and something I would highly recommend you order and try at Gastro Bar. Made with jalapenos, shallots, crispy potatoes, and cilantro, this Salmon Tartar is very fresh and  gives you a small kick from the jalapenos. The crispy potatoes, which are somewhat like potato chips, add a light saltiness to the dish.

 

Brussles Sprout Salad
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Shaved brussels sprouts, truffle oil, and lemon juice presented on top of a crispy and delicious risotto cake make for a very different kind of salad. The shaved brussels sprouts are very light and somewhat crunchy, as you would expect with a salad, and the truffle oil creates a slight nutty flavor. You could think of this salad as brussels sprouts deconstructed essentially, and if you like brussels sprouts and are looking for a unique way to eat them then this dish is for you.

 

Albondigas

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The albondigas are essentially lamb meatballs  made with baby kale and tomato sauce with a 10 year balsamic reduction drizzled over the top and they taste as good as they sound!

 

Eggplant Parmesean 

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When I tried a bite all I could think was – WOW, WOW, WOW! Eggplant Parmesean is one of my favorite dishes. I order it often and occasionally use it to help me decide how I feel about a restaurant. The Eggplant Parmesean at Gastro Bar made my list of favorites and I would make the drive here just for this dish. Baked eggplant, prosciutto, marscarpone and ricotta cheese.

 

Cavatelli

 

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If you’re looking for a hearty pasta dish, especially since our New England Autumn will soon turn to Winter, then I would suggest the Cavatelli at Gastro Bar. The short rib ragu is cooked with red wine vegetable stock and combined with black truffle and cream and if you’re wondering if you should order it, my answer is a resounding YES.

 

Baked King Salmon

 

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I went into my first bite slightly biased since I don’t really like horseradish, however I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised and the dish was popular with our group. The salmon is cooked perfectly and the flavors of the horseradish, beets, and celery pair nicely with the salmon and the potatoes.

 

Paella

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Our final dish was the Paella. Clams, shrimp, chicken, mussels, calamari, sweet peas, chorizo, and saffron rice are all cooked together to create this truly impressive dish. Quite possibly the best paella I have had to date, the paella is something you must try at Gastro Bar.
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Dessert

Key Lime Mousse

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If you’re looking for something that’s a little different for dessert I would suggest you try the key lime mousse; it has all the flavors of key lime pie but in the form of a mousse and it is delicious.

 

Panacotta in Red Wine Sauce
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Isn’t it beautiful? The Panna cotta is a creamy and somewhat gelatin Italian dessert that is usually served with fruit or something similar. The panna cotta at Gastro Bar is served over a red wine sauce from which is takes a little flavor while remaining light.

 

 

 

 

Gastro Bar

78 West Park Place

Stamford, CT

203-817-0392

 

 

*Disclaimer: I was invited to this dinner, however all the views and opinions expressed herein are my own.

 

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Washington Prime: You Certainly Will Eat and Drink Well Here!

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On the corner of Washington Street and Water Street is South Norwalk’s newest formidable addition to the food scene: Washington Prime, Eating + Drinking Well.

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The large glass windows, clean brick façade with a pop of orange in the outdoor seating and bold lettered sign outside grabs your attention and beckons you to go inside.

And go inside, you must!

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The inside of Washington Prime is pleasantly surprising and not what I was expecting based on its outside appearance. The interior atmosphere is cozy, comfortable, and trendy, and you might even say a little funky with some unexpected features.

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Photo courtesy of MaxExposure

I don’t know about you, but for me I really notice the atmosphere of a restaurant and my response to it once I am seated. When you sit inside Washington Prime it’s as if you’re sitting under a canopy. The large windows give you a fantastic view outside so you almost feel as if you are indeed outside.

Polished cement flooring and exposed reddish-orange iron beams pay homage to the space’s former occupation as the old Ironwork’s building, and these details are softened by a green ivy (yes, I said green ivy) backsplash behind the marble bar, ivy climbing and woven around the iron beams, and a floor-to-ceiling ivy wall. Reclaimed wood shelving and wood panels along with delicate hanging lights from the canopy of iron, wood, and ivy simultaneously create a cozy and edgy atmosphere.

For diners who wish to actually enjoy their meal outside, Washigton Prime has two outdoor seating options: traditional tables and chairs (see photos above) and a lounge style patio area which is perfect for hanging out during happy hour.

Drinks

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I began the evening with the “Pippi Longstocking,” which I picked for both its ingredients and its name! The “Pippi Longstocking” is made with Smirnoff vodka, muddled strawberry, vanilla bean, and lime juice.

 

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My husband enjoyed the “Moscow Mule” made with Tito’s vodka, ginger puree, lime juice, and ginger beer.

Appetizers

We began our dinner with a Seafood Tower comprised of colossal shrimp, local oysters, little necks, Alaskan king crab legs, Maine lobster served with spicy mustard, house cocktail sauce, and classic mignionette.

Aside from the wide assortment of seafood to choose from, the Seafood Tower was noted by everyone in our group for its freshness and how the accompanying sauces added some extra flavors to get everyone’s tastebuds going. This appetizer was a huge hit with our group and I’d recommend ordering it when you visit Washington Prime.

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Deviled Eggs 

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Deviled eggs are an item I noticing more and more on restaurant menus, but I have to point out that what makes the deviled eggs unique at Washington Prime is the addition of the mini meatball and fois gras powder.  That’s right, these deviled eggs are made with a creamy yolk, a prime mini meatball, pickled onions, and fois gras powder. I should also add that this appetizer, like so many we tried at Washington Prime, is gluten free.

 

Lobster Bisque

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Similar to the Deviled Eggs, this next appetizer is also something you see on so many menus in Connecticut and the surrounding areas – Lobster Bisque. What sets Washington Prime’s Lobster Bisque apart from others I have tried is the freshness of the lobster coming through along with the flavors of parsley crème fraische. Overall the soup is not too heavy, but rather a brilliant balance of flavors and ingredients to create a lobster bisque that is light, flavorful, and memorable.

 

Burrata

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I’m a newcomer to burrata cheese and I have no idea what took me to long! Burrata is an Italian cheese made with mozzarella and cream so it is very soft and creamy. The Burrata appetizer is a combination of burrata cheese, creamy slaw, sambal aioli, and sesame on top of a pretzel bread. The soft burrata spreads on the bread, and the bread helps to soak up the creaminess of the cheese and the creamy slaw – delicious!

 

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Executive Chef Jared Falco came out several times to talk about the different dishes and explain their ingredients and the cooking process. It’s always a great experience hearing chefs talk about their dishes and the cooking process! Here he is describing the fantastic poutine to us.

Poutine

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The Poutine was hands-down my FAVORITE dish of the evening. I’ve never experienced poutine before, and wow have I been missing out! Made with oxtail ragu, house fries, cheese curds, and green onions this dish reminds me of disco fries – the starchiness and saltiness of the housemade fries along with the flavor of excellent ragu and creamy cheese curds -but it’s a hundred time better! This appetizer is large and could be made into a meal all by itself, which I have to admit,  I’m looking forward to doing next time I visit.

Knuckle & Claw

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What I liked about the Knuckle & Claw was the uniqueness of the dish. Blue corn grits, lobster sauce, and tobiko really create a medley of flavors and textures that is something you must experience for yourself.

Octopus

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Octopus is quickly becoming one of my favorite things to eat and the Octopus at Washington Prime makes my list of favorites. Pickled peppers, duck fat marble potato, and a pepper emulsion comprise this dish along with perfectly cooked octopus.

Wings

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My dear reader, most of you know that I’m very partial, ok let me be honest, I’m biased when it comes to wings and I have my favorite wing place. However, the wings at Washington Prime have made my list of favorite wings. Seriously. These fried wings are tossed in a kimchi sauce and served with scallions, soy, and chilli and they are gooooooood. Aside from the flavors of the kimchi sauce and other ingredients together, nothing beats a chicken wing that is cooked just right and would be delicious even without all the extra goodness of sauces and other toppings as these wings are.

Chop Chop Salad

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The Chop Chop Salad is light and I really liked all the flavors of the Iceberg & romaine lettuce, bell peppers, onion, carrot, provolone, salami, and red wine vinaigrette.

Prime Wedge

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For fans of wedge salads, this one is worth trying! Washington Prime’s Wedge Salad includes gem iceberg lettuce, pickled heirloom tomatoes, bacon, Ewes blue cheese, chili, and house ranch dressing. What makes this wedge salad different, and the part I enjoyed, was both the blue cheese and the ranch dressing together in this one salad making this wedge a little different from what you typically see elsewhere.

Land & Sea (aka our entrees)

There were so many entrees to try from that by the end of our meal I was convinced that Washington Prime truly offers something for everyone.

Sea
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The Grouper and the Scallops further demonstrated how Washington Prime’s menu puts their own unique twist on items you might typically see on menus elsewhere. The Grouper (pictured above)  is presented over Carolina gold rice along with tomato, asparagus, and a carrot butter sauce, while the Scallops (pictured below) are plated with middlins, corn relish, nicoise olives, and hunters sauce. An added feature that’s sure to please is that both dishes are gluten-free.

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Photo courtesy of MaxExposure

Land

When one goes to the steakhouse, one must try the steak at the steakhouse, and that is just what we did! For the land portion of our entrees we tried three different steaks: the 8 ounce filet mignon, 18 ounce ribeye, and the 32 ounce porterhouse.

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Photo courtesy of MaxExposure

All the steaks at Washington Prime are USDA prime certified and sourced from Pat LaFrieda meats in New York City and originally from Creekstone Farms in Arkansas City, Kansas (for even more info check out Washington Prime’s website). Cooked in a 900 degree special broiler to your preference and served with your choice of one sauce (prime steak sauce, chimichurri, horseradish sauce, umami bomb sauce, bernaise sauce, warm clarified butter, or maple truffle chili sauce). Washington Prime takes their steaks very seriously and it shows when you bite into one.

Dessert

Dessert is the finishing touch to a wonderful meal and Washington Prime gave us not one, but four different ways to finish our memorable meal!
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The chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich is made from scratch at Washington Prime and is served with cereal milk – that sweet, sugary milk similar to what you experience when you get to the end of a bowl of cereal – and it is every bit as good as it sounds. The cheesecake shown here with two different types of sauces on top are  classic examples of what cheesecake should taste like. Finally, we tried a chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream combination covered in a chocolate shell and then drizzled with caramel sauce when served. It was hard to choose which was my favorite; these are desserts you want to tell people about, but you won’t want to share them when they come to the table!

Whether you come for happy hour on the patio or to enjoy lunch or a full dinner, you can expect a dining experience that will beckon your belly to return!

 

Washington Prime
141 Washington Street
South Norwalk, CT
For reservations call 203-857-1314

 

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*Disclaimer: I was invited to this dinner, however all the views and opinions expressed herein are my own.

The 4th Annual Greater Valley Restaurant Week Is Coming Soon!

I like to eat out a lot as I’m sure you know if you follow along with my dining adventures. I have my favorite, go-to restaurants, but I also enjoy trying new restaurants whenever possible. But let’s be honest, eating out all the time can become expensive. So one of my most favorite things, as both a food blogger and a foodie, is to participate in restaurant week!

I love, I mean LOVE restaurant week because it’s the perfect opportunity to try a few local restaurants I haven’t had a chance to try yet, and there are often prix-fixe menus aka you get to try a few different things off the menu the establishment is featuring and it’s budget friendly. That’s a win-win in my book!

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I’m excited to share that there is a restaurant week coming your way in one week – the Greater Valley Restaurant Week! From October 6-10th you can enjoy some of your local favorites or visit the restaurant you’ve been meaning to try!

The list keeps growing, but so far particpating restaurants incude:

Ansonia

Crave

Beacon Falls

Molto Bene

The Pantry

Derby

Archie Moore’s

500 Degrees

House of Bones BBQ

Oxford

121 Restaurant & Bar

Seymour

Hot Tamale Mexican Grill & Bar

Tavern 1757

Shelton

 Ari Bella

Baingan

Bricks & Barley

Center Street Social

Draft House

Focaccia’s

Il Palio

Giove’s Pizza Kitchen

La Scogliera

Red Lotus

Vazzy’s Cucina

Verace

Be sure to check back for updates to the growing list of restaurants and I’ll be posting about places I try!

For further information be sure to check out the Greater Valley Restaurant Week 2014 website (click here)!

 

 

 

*Image from greatervalleyrestaurantweek.com*

Greenwich Wine + Food Festival 2014: The Food Event You Don’t Want To Miss!

The 2014 Greenwich Wine + Food Festival is here! From September 25-27th you can enjoy food, wine, beer, cooking demos, live music, and the best part of all – this three-day event benefits Paul Newman’s The Hole In the Wall Gang Camp!

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Presented by Serendipity, the Greenwich Wine + Food Festival will take place rain or shine at the Roger Sherman Baldwin Park in Greenwich. (Please note, you must be 21 or older to attend all festival events, and infants and strollers are prohibited per Greenwich Wine + Food Festival’s website.)

Tickets
The Greenwich Wine + Food Festival offers an array of different ticket options depending on how many days you plan to attend the festival, as well as how many events you plan to partake in each day. Please see the Greenwich Wine + Food Festival (click here) to choose which ticket(s) are best for you.
If you aren’t a foodie (I know, what am I saying??), there’s still something for you – a live concert on Saturday featuring The Bacon Brothers, Ian Murray Band, and Alabama! Just look for the Night General Ticket on the website.

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What events can you expect to see?
Head over the Greenwich Wine + Food Festival’s website for the full schedule, however you can expect such events as:

Thursday

Oysters & Wine with Castello Banfi wines and L’escale’s finest oysters from 6:30-8:30pm where guests will enjoy hors d’oeuvres and premium liquor & exclusive gift bag.

Friday

From 6:30-10:30pm you can partake in the Most Innovative Chefs Gala with Geoffrey Zakarian, Jean-Georges and other awarded chefs. This evening includes cocktails, a tasting menu prepared by the Most Innovative Chef winners and Chef Jean-Georges, and an exclusive auction.

Don’t forget to close the evening with live music by The Marshall Tucker Band. (The website notes that attire is casual chic and reminds you to wear shoes appropriate for the grass.)

Saturday

If you cannot attend all three days of the Greenwich Wine + Food Festival you might want to consider attending on Saturday, which is jam packed with plenty of events to choose from.

Celebrity Sommelier and Mixologist Tent, 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm, 30 — 40 minute demos.

Balducci’s Demo Tent ONE and TWO presented by Aitoro & Blue Star, 1:00-4:00pm, half hour demos.

Book Store, have your favorite cookbooks signed from 1:00-4:00pm! Books will be available for purchase.

BBQ Pit Masters’ Tent, 3:00-8:00pm

VIP Tent Celebrity Stage, 3pm, featuring “The Singing Chef” Neil Funtes

Top Bartender Showdown presented by Ketel, 3:30pm

Fourth Annual Celebrity Judged Burger Battle, hosted by Adam Richman, 4:30pm

Culinary Village, 12:00-5:00pm, Gourmet tastings by 100+ food, wine, and spirit vendors! See the Greenwich Wine + Food Festival site for a complete list (and some vendors are listed below).

Main Stage with Kerry Degman, country music’s rising star, and Kathie Lee Gifford with GIFFT wines by Scheid Family Wines of Monterey, California, 1:30-2:30pm.

Food Truck Corner – experience the area’s BEST food trucks.

Tequila & Tostadas! with Aarón Sánchez presented by Casamigos Tequila, 6:00-8:00pm

Front Stage Box Seats with Dinner by Red Rooster Harlem! 6:30pm

VIP Tent Ambassador Chefs Dinner, 6:30-8:00 pm
“An exclusive culinary feast at the water’s edge by award winning chefs: Rui Correia of Douro, Bill Taibe of The Whelk/ Le Farm, Frederic Keiffer of L’ecale, Rafael Palomino of Sonora Café & Bistro Latino, Debra Ponzek of Aux Delices, Clifford Crooks of BLT, Eric Gabrynowicz of Restaurant North, Eric Korn of Good-Life Gourmet, and Tim LaBant of The Schoolhouse at Cannondale.”

This year’s participants will include (list is subject to change):

Food Vendors

121 Restaurant North Salem,New York
Barcelona Greenwich Connecticut
Baro New World Cantina Fairfield, Connecticut
Mezon Danbury,Connecticut
Bar Sugo Norwalk,Connecticut
Bare Burger Coming to Stamford,Connecticut
Bobby Q’s Westport,Connecticut
Benjamin Steakhouse Westchester,New York
Cathy’s Biscotti White Plains,New York
Cayman Islands Dept. of Tourism N/A
Char Greenwich, Connecticut
Connecticut Cookie Co. Bridgeport,Connecticut
Cook & CraftOld GreenwichConnecticut
Cos CobberCos CobConnecticut
Da GiorgioNew RochelleNew York
Dan Rooney’sYonkersNew York
Dinosaur BBQStamfordConnecticut
Emmi Roth USANew York
Fairfield Cheese CompanyFairfield and GreenwichConnecticut
Fire Engine Food TruckBridgeportConnecticut
Fjord Fish MarketCos CobConnecticut
GabrielesGreenwichConnecticut
Good Karma Crunch, LLCN/A
Green & TonicGreenwichConnecticut
Harvest Wine Bar & RestaurantGreenwichConnecticut
Cava Wine Bar & RestaurantNew CanaanConnecticut
Scena Wine Bar & RestaurantDarienConnecticut
55 Wine Bar Wine Bar & RestaurantFairfield Connecticut
Hudson GrilleStamfordConnecticut
Johnson Food TruckMamaroneckNew York
Kelly’s Four Plus GranolaNew CanaanConnecticut
Little PubCos CobConnecticut
Mike’s Organic DeliveryFairfield/Westchester Counties
Morello BistroGreenwich Connecticut
NoMa SocialNew RochelleNew York
Parallel PostTrumbullConnecticut
Pinch American GrillYonkersNew York
Plan B BurgerStamford Connecticut
Preppy Pig BBQRhode IslandNew York
River House Bar & GrillPort ChesterNew York
Roger Sherman InnNew CanaanConnecticut
Ruth Chris SteakhouseTarrytownNew York
Schweid & SonsCarlstadtNew Jersey
Simply Delicious CateringNorwalkConnecticut
SonoraPort ChesterNew York
Tea-rrific Ice CreamNorwalkConnecticut
The DessertistCroton-on-HudsonNew York
The Flavored OliveMeridenConnecticut
The GingermanGreenwichConnecticut
The Granola BarWestportConnecticut
The Mumbai Times Indian CuisineCos CobConnecticut
The Purple Pear by TinaWillingtonConnecticut
The Restaurant at Rowayton SeafoodRowaytonConnecticut
The SpreadSouth NorwalkConnecticut
TomatilloGreenwichConnecticut
Versailles BistroGreenwichConnecticut
Villa ItaliaStamfordConnecticut
Whipped Up LLCWestonConnecticut
Wendy’s WeeniesGreenwichConnecticut

Beer + Wine + Spirit Vendors

American Harvest
Basil Hayden
Bloody Good Products
Blue Point Brewery
Buon Cello
Captain Lawrence Brewery
Casamigos Tequila
Cockspur Rum
Czechvar Premium Czech Lager
Daura
Estrella Damm Daura
Estrella Damm Inedit
GIFFT Wines
Goose Island
Half Full Brewery
Ice Wine Exclusives
Iceburg Vodka
Jim Beam
Ketel One
Knob Creek Rye
Leaf Vodka
Leinenkugels Orange Shandy
Long Trail – Otter Brewery
Makers 46
Martin Millers Gin
Miami Beverages
Murphy’s Stout
New Planet
Ninety+ Cellars
Old Greenwich Fine Wines
Pinto’s Pino
Quintessential Wines
Shaw Vineyard
Shock Top
SpikedSeltzer
The Wine Press
Tiger Beer

Disclaimer: I have been invited to attend the Culinary Village event (Saturday), however all opinions and views expressed herein are my own.

Images from Greenwich Wine + Food Festival

Food for Thought: My Paleo Challenge, Week 1

I can do this, right? I mean it’s just eight weeks.

This was what I was thinking when I signed up to participate in a paleo challenge with some of my fellow crossfitters a few weeks ago: eight weeks is doable.

I was up for a challenge; I have never followed a paleo diet before but I had heard of it. And this has been my year of challenging myself and trying new things, so after a little time considering it and encouragement from friends I decided to give it a try. How bad could eight weeks be?

Eight weeks.

Eight.

Weeks.

Today, September 22nd, marks the first day of week 2. I did it, I made it through week 1!

In celebration of finishing week 1 I’ve decided that once a week I’ll post an update and share my paleo challenge experience with all of you.

Monday

Ok, today is the day I begin my challenge! Well, I mean, it really started yesterday when I went food shopping and tried to meal prep for the first time. Aside from some big frustration in the salad dressing aisle at the grocery store when I realized that pretty much all salad dressing is NOT paleo unless I make a version myself and a few texts to one of my crossfit coaches  with some paleo questions (shoutout to Brittney!), I made it through my prep day.

Today was HARD. I have been hungry, actually ravenous all day long, but I stuck with it. Meal prep helped a lot and I’m really glad that I took the time to do it on Sunday. Some chatting at the box gave me some good pointers such as EAT MORE. Apparently I’m not eating enough, which easily explains why I’m so hungry. My friend Susan offered to lend me some paleo cookbooks and make me paleo buffalo chicken dip  and I’m so excited about it!

Tuesday

I miss coffee. A good cup of coffee with a little sugar and some cream. Ok, a lot of cream. I light my coffee light. Coffee with a little almond milk is too watery and now my morning is off to a rough start. Second challenge of the day – a work meeting that ends up being a lunch meeting. I walk in the door and smell pizza. Pizza is my kryptonite. I take a deep breath and tell myself that I have scheduled cheat meals this week and I will only eat the paleo lunch I brought with me. You know what? I made it through that meeting without eating any pizza! It was HARD, but I did it. Yay, me!

I make it through the rest of the day thinking about paleo buffalo chicken dip. Susan is right – this stuff is TO DIE FOR! I end the day perusing through some of her cookbooks and planning. Did you know paleo dessert exists?! I might make it through these eight weeks after all!

Wednesday

I have my first cheat meal today (or is it a cheat snack since I didn’t have a full meal?) and I feel slightly guilty about it. I decided I wouldn’t stop my food writing during my eight week challenge, so here and there cheat meals will happen. And to be honest, they’re giving me something to look forward to. Tonight I have just a little poutine at Washington Prime – it’s AHmazing and irresistable (read more here about my visit to Washington Prime)! A few small bites were worth it and now I feel back on track.

Thursday

One of Susan’s cookbooks has a coffee smoothie recipe and my morning is off to an excellent start! Today feels easier and I feel FANTASTIC. I promised myself I’d only step on the scale on the first and last days, but my work pants are surprisingly loose already so I step on today. Maybe once a week weigh in will help motivate me on hard days? Just shy of five pounds already – WOAH! Maybe I can fight off that cake craving I’ve been having!

My first full cheat meal is this evening and I’m feeling good about it. I’m excited to try this new restaurant in Stamford, Gastro Bar (read about my visit here)! I attempt to not talk about paleo the entire evening…

Friday

I’m on a mission today to find all the uncommon ingredients I need to try a paleo baking recipe. Almond flour, coconut flour, coconut sugar…did you know these things existed because I sure didn’t! I’m determined to try a raspberry lemon muffin recipe because my sweet tooth cravings have begun. Guess where I find almost all of these weird, or rather unique ingredients? Target! THANK YOU, Target xoxo! I begin baking at nine o’clock at night because, well, I have to admit I’m feeling a little desperate.

Muffin success – stay tuned for recipes next week!

Saturday

Today was a wakeup call that I really am not eating enough (even though I thought I was and have increased my intake) especially when I spend most of the morning battling being dizzy and miss my usual Saturday crossfit class. So the question now is – how much food should I be eating? Do you just fill up as long as it’s paleo approved? I have to figure this out.

Two slices of pizza with my husband and friends for dinner happened and that pizza tasted even better than it normally would!

Sunday

On Sundays I love brunch – waffles, pancakes…you get the idea. So I try a banana waffle recipe out of The Paleo Kitchen by Juli Bauer and they are really delicious! Paleo waffles are heavier and I assume I’ll eat two, but I end up filling up after one with some fresh fruit on top. I freeze the rest of the batch so I have waffles throughout week 2.

I spend part of my Sunday meal prepping and I actually feel like I’m starting to get the hang of this! On to week 2!

Does anyone else out there eat a paleo diet? Do you have any favorite recipes?

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A sneak peak at these delicious paleo banana waffles!

Catch Robeks Melon and Mint Smoothies Before They’re Gone!

Robeks special seasonal smoothies are here until September 28th and you don’t want to miss them!

smoothie

(Photo from Robeks.com)

Made from primarily locally sourced produce, Robeks is offering three seasonal smoothies:

Cantaloupe Cooler made with fresh cantaloupe, fresh mint, pineapple chunks, 100% natural orange juice, pineapple sorbet, and a splash of apple juice.

Wailea Watermelon made with fresh watermelon, fresh mint, ripe strawberries, pineapples chunks, 100% natural raspberry and pineapple sorbet, and a splash of apple juice.

Mojito Melon is created with fresh, chopped mint with raw watermelon, raw cantaloupe, and raw cucumber.

But if melon isn’t your thing, Robeks has a full menu of smoothies and juices for you to choose from. Also, did you know that Robeks has the ability to create and tailor smoothies and juices to your needs offering countless options? That’s right – for example you can have your smoothie made with almond milk, soy milk, greek yogurt, regular yogurt, or even dairy free if you prefer. Ask your Robeks mixologist if you need help tailoring your drink, and also for supplement recommendations which you can add to any smoothie or juice.

As Robeks says, “healthy never tasted this good!” and I couldn’t agree more!

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On the menu you can expect to find smoothie “Classics” such as Strawberry Banana, “Fan Favorites” like the Hummingbird (passionfruit, mangos, strawberries, bananas, orange sherbet), “Power” smoothies with whey protein, and “Fresh Squeezes Juices” like the Evergreen (kale, cucumber, celery, spinach, apple, lemon) and the Crazy Carrot (carrot, beet, celery, cayenne pepper) and many more options. Don’t forget smoothies specialized just for the kids! One of the most popular is the PB&J Delight (raspberry juice, peanut butter, strawberries, blueberries, non-fat yogurt).

I recently had the opportunity to visit Robeks in Westport and learn more about their products from the regional director of Connecticut and Southeast New York: Katrina Bickford. As we talked about Robeks juices and smoothies we sipped on the Tropi-Kale (pictured above) and I tried a shot of wheat grass for the first time.

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Did you know that one shot of wheat grass (one ounce) is the equivalent to eating two and a half pounds of green leafy vegetables? I wasn’t aware of the benefits of wheat grass until my visit to Robeks! If you’re wondering what wheat grass tastes like, it does essentially taste like, well, grass. However, the flavor is subtle and something I plan to order regularly now when I visit Robeks. 

 

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Robeks has locations throughout Connecticut in Fairfield (Black Rock and Post Road), Westport, Darien, Norwalk, Stamford (3 locations), and Greenwich (Cos Cob).  

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Disclaimer: I was invited by Robeks to visit and sample their smoothies, however all the opinions expressed herein are my own.

 

<a href=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/297/1471456/restaurant/Fairfield-County/Robeks-Juice-Westport”><img alt=”Robeks Juice on Urbanspoon” src=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/logo/1471456/biglogo.gif&#8221; style=”border:none;width:104px;height:34px” /></a>

Join Parallel Post and Onyx Moonshine for a Prohibition Era-Style Dinner RESCHEDULED for Setember 11th

Parallel Post has announced they will be pairing up with Onyx Moonshine, the 2014 International Craft Award winner and the first legal ultra-premium moonshine brand home based in East Hartford, Connecticut, for a dinner pairings event on September 11th!

“This debut collaborative effort will provide guests with a unique opportunity to savor an exclusive culinary menu accented with Onyx Moonshine flavorings including the original Onyx Moonshine, Sweet Stash, Onyx 111, Apple Honey Infusion, and Cape Cod Cranberry.”
 
From 5-8pm you can experience a speak-easy atmosphere and a five course tasting menu flavored with varieties of moonshine as well as glass samplings by Onyx Moonshine as you learn about the once outlawed liquor. Additional cocktails will also be presented by Parallel Post’s resident mixologist, Greg Genias aka “Bootleg Greg.”

Chef de Cuisine, Ali Goss and Executive Chef, Chris Molyneux of Parallel Post will create a menu for the event that “focuses on localism and follows the philosophy that natural and sustainable products, and responsible farming, are the key components in ingredient selection.” You can expect Onyx Moonshine-infused dishes will be featured such as Drunken Scallop Ceviche, Gilbertie’s Fall Harvest Salad with cape cod cranberry moonshine vinaigrette and Prohibition Canapés.

Tickets to the Parallel Post hosted Onyx Moonshine Dinner Pairings event are limited and are only available for advance purchase at $75 (tax and 18 percent gratuity not included) for guests 21 & over (valid driver license must be presented upon arrival).To RSVP for the September 11th dinner, please e-mail parallelpostevents@gmail.com.
 

Parallel Post
180 Hawley Lane
Trumbull, CT
203.380.6380.

To be[er], or not to be[er]…Shakesbeer 2014 is this weekend!

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To be[er] or not to be[er]…?

Ok, Shakespeare didn’t write those words, but I’d like to think that he would have fully supported a beer festival created with the goal of reopening the American Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, Connecticut.

If you’re from the area (Stratford is my hometown), then you’ve probably heard of the Shakespeare theatre and the many attempts to restore and reopen it over the past twenty years.

This weekend come out and enjoy music, beer, and food!

You can expect to see beer from over 60, yup SIXTY, breweries (see the Shakesbeer Festival website for all the breweries here) including Stratford’s own Two Roads Brewery, and food from:

Vazzy’s Brick Oven Restaurant
High On The Hog
Lobster Craft
The Spud Stud
Laura’s Cupcakes
Zack’s Frozen Yogurt
Firehouse Grill

WHERE:
The American Shakespeare Theatre
1850 Elm Street, Stratford CT,

WHEN: August 23, 2014 from 1pm to 7pm

PRICE: $40 / PERSON
*Must be 21 or over to participate in beer tasting.*

Community Plates Announces Upcoming Fundraiser, “Food For All”

As someone who writes about food, it is something that is always on my mind as I know it is for many of you too. However, for many people food is on their mind due to food insecurity and uncertainty of where their next meal is coming from. We can help change that! Join Community Plates at their signature fundraising event, “Food for All” on October 2, 2014 to help end food insecurity in Connecticut and beyond.

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In case you haven’t heard of them, Community Plates, a direct-transfer food rescue organization is working to end food insecurity in Connecticut and America. Community Plates’ headquarters is in Fairfield, and it also operates in New Haven as well as Albuguergue, New Mexico, and Columbus Ohio with plans to extend to four more markets this year. A volunteer-driven organization, Community Plates connects food donors (e.g., grocery stores, restaurants, caterers, bakeries and other food-service establishments), food runners (individuals who pick-up and deliver donated food) and receiving agencies (e.g., soup kitchens, pantries, etc.) so that surplus food can get to those in need. Using the web and smartphone enabled Community Plates’ GoRescue technology powered by WhenToManage, Community Plates has coordinated more than 700 volunteers and rescued 4.9 million meals to date since their launch in 2011!

 “Community Plates is already responsible for picking up and delivering almost 4 million meals at a value of over $6 Million to food insecure people in Fairfield County.  We’re focused on meeting the need of 110,000 people right here who struggle to know where their next meal is coming from, “ says Kevin Mullins, executive director and co-founder of Community Plates, “The Food for All 2014 fundraiser is our kick-off for our next food rescue season. It’s a lot of fun, the food is amazing, and we do a lot of good in the process.”

Community Plates’ fundraising event, “Food for All” will not only highlight the organization’s goals for the coming year and celebrates its accomplishments, but it will also feature the area’s newest restaurants who will be showcasing their signature dishes and a series of Craft Cocktails  created and presented by Fairfield County’s most innovative mixologists. The fundraiser will also give attendees the opportunity to learn more about Community Plates and their GoRescue smartphone interative food scheduling app that connects food runners to donors to those in need in our community.

You can expect to see the following featured at “Food for All”:

Featured Restaurants (as of 8/11/14):
Azuca Bistro Latino – Stamford
Back40 Kitchen – Greenwich
Bravo – Stamford
Brick + Wood – Fairfield
Craft 260 – Fairfield
Gastro Bar – StamfordHana Tokyo – Fairfield
Johnny Utah’s – Norwalk
Little Barn – Westport
Little Pub – Greenwich
Local Kitchen + Beer Bar – Norwalk, Fairfield
Shearwater Organic Coffee Roasters – Trumbull
Sign of the Whale – Stamford
The Granola Bar – Westport
Walrus & Carpenter – Bridgeport
Washington Prime – Norwalk
Craft Cocktail Bars / Featured Bartenders:
Bailey’s Backyard
Cask Republic / Post 154
Match
Mama’s Boy

 

“Food for All” will begin with a VIP cocktail reception (6-7 PM) featuring Marcia Seldon Catering, followed by the main event (6:30-8:30 PM) which will include featured restaurants, libations, music, dancing and more.  Tickets are can be purchased: www.communityplates.org/FFA14

Thursday, October 2, 2014
Darien Community Association
274 Middlesex Rd, Darien, CT 06820
VIP Reception: 6-7 PM, $100
Main Event: 6:30-8:30 PM, $50
www.communityplates.org/FFA14
 

 I hope to see you there as we help to end food insecurity in Connecticut!

*Image courtesy of MaxExposure*