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Pho Madison Open

Had the same issue with my order of cha gio: lukewarm at best. Also served without the common lettuce leaves accompaniment, and with a side of thick sweet chili dipping sauce rather than nuoc mam.

The pho broth was quite flavorful, but on the sweeter side than most I've had. And the sliced beef was not rare, but cooked through. Still, an enjoyable bowl.

Oct 20, 2013
plien69 in Southern New England

Best Sunday dinner off the Merritt Parkway?

Agree with bagelman on Strada 18's pizza. Underwhelming crust.

SoNo has a nice selection of restaurants, but as noted, parking on the street is hit or miss (usually miss), so you'll have to park in municipal lots/garages. there's one behind the row of restaurants on Washington st. Enter the lot from Haviland st. and there's an alleyway you walk through to Washington St.

Also, note that while South Norwalk is a short, quick ride down Route 7 from the Merritt, there is no direct access from Route 7 North to the Merritt North. You have to get off an exit before and take some side roads.

Likewise, there is no direct access from Merritt South to Route 7 South.

Aug 13, 2013
plien69 in Southern New England

Best Sunday dinner off the Merritt Parkway?

Yes, it's in the lower level of the Motel Hi-Ho, but it's a separate space; you don't need to go through the motel lobby to get to the restaurant. Honestly, the outside doesn't look like much (mid-century turnpike motel, gravel parking lot), but the restaurant space itself is nice. I would characterize it as retro chic, not motel shabby (IMO of course).

They do specialize in tapas, but also have a number of fuller entrees (think paella, mixed grill, etc.)

Also, according to their Facebook page, Sunday night is pig roast night: $29pp, and wine bottles are 50%.

Aug 12, 2013
plien69 in Southern New England

Best Sunday dinner off the Merritt Parkway?

Lots of options in New Canaan, but I'll let others more knowledgeable chime in there.

I'll suggest Barcelona Fairfield, literally right next to Exit 44 off the Merritt. Tapas and other more substantial Spanish entrees. Pretty extensive wine list that leans heavily towards Iberian and South American.

Aug 11, 2013
plien69 in Southern New England

Mecha Noodle Bar, Fairfield, CT

Pics of the KFC Bao and Chicken Paitan Ramen

Jul 04, 2013
plien69 in Southern New England

Mecha Noodle Bar, Fairfield, CT

For those lamenting a dearth of authentic ramen in Fairfield County, head on over to Mecha Noodle Bar, in the Brick Walk Promenade (behind Molto Pizzeria).

While the ramen selection is limited, they are doing things right. Chicken paitan broth is rich and milky, reminiscent of a rich tonkotsu pork broth. Spicy vegetable miso curry is very flavorful. And the mazemen (brothless ramen) is also very well done, the addition of cream cheese mentioned on the menu adds texturally to the mazemen sauce, but nevertheless melds well flavor-wise.

Apps I've tried include the KFC Bao, deep fried slices of chicken dresed with gojuchang and mayo, topped with picked cucumber, turnips, and carrots. Kind of a Korean version of of a buffalo chicken slider. Caesar rolls are a deconstructed caesar salad, wrapped in a Vietnamese summer roll wrapper (the slightly transluscent kind), and sliced sushi roll style, dressed in a light vinaigrette. Kale salad was a mixture of fresh and tempura kale leaves, along with dried cranberries, again with a light vinaigrette.

Since my first visit there, they've added pho to the menu. Not surprising, since the owners also own Pho Vietnam in Danbury. I will say that the pho, while good, are not the stand out items on the menu. You'll pay about $3-4/bowl more at Mecha compared to Pho Vietnam or Pho Saigon in Bridgeport. Also, they were rather stingy with the garnishes. Two in our party ordered pho, and out came one garnish plate with a small handful of sprouts and about 7 basil leaves total. And only 2 of the leaves were full size. And in keeping with the atmosphere, hoisin sauce and Sriracha were brought via tiny sauce ramekins.

Nevertheless, in my opinion Mecha is one of the more exciting openings in Fairfield County in a while. It's brought Momofuku-style cuisine to an area that quite frankly has seen only cookie cutter sushi and Asian fusion eateries in recent years.

Jul 04, 2013
plien69 in Southern New England

Dumplings, like freshly made in Southern NE

Don't let that (slightly tongue-in-cheek) phrase from Mecha's website throw you. It's a more a statement of inspiration rather than a roadmap to an unfocused menu.

Of the dishes I've tried there, I've found all of them to be well conceived and executed.

If you go, I actually recommend trying some of their other, more distinctive, dishes rather than the pho. The pho is good, but not dramatically different from what you'd get at the restaurantuer's original restaurant Pho Vietnam in Danbury, the main difference being you'll pay about $3-4 more per bowl ($11).

The ramens are pretty authentic, and something that you just don't find in Fairfield County. And the appetizers I've had -- KFC Bao, Caesar rolls, Kale salad -- were also dishes you normally wouldn't find in the run of the mill FC Asian Fusion restaurant.

Jul 02, 2013
plien69 in Southern New England

Clam Pizza

I do take-out Pepe's white clam all the time. 10 minutes travel is fine. If you can cut the pizza on your own just before eating, ask them not to slice the pizza. It'll keep the clam juices from soaking the bottom of the crust and making it soggy.

Jun 06, 2013
plien69 in Southern New England
1

Best lobster roll along 95

Another vote for Lobster Landing; their roll is more substantial than a regular New England style hot dog roll, and won't get soggy with butter. And the lobster is nice, fresh, and sweet.

I don't like Abbott's. Something about serving a lobster roll on a hamburger bun takes something away from the sum of its parts.

May 26, 2013
plien69 in Southern New England

Sunday lunch/brunch in Westport

Splash has a nice Sunday brunch. If you're not going for a couple of weeks, it may be nice enough to sit outside on the patio for (near) waterfront dining.

Apr 21, 2013
plien69 in Southern New England

Lunch, Will be in Bridgeport

Yes. It's a little hole-in-the-wall kind of place that's tucked in the back of a nondescript strip mall, not easily seen from Route 1. Only 4-5 tables sharing a small space with a drinks refrigerator with a TV on top (invariably tuned to Fox News). Order and pick up at the small window. Some counter space by the front window that doubles as the repository for the last couple days' newspapers. Depending on how well the exhaust fans are working that day, you may come out of there smelling a bit like a fryolator.

But I second bagelman's rec; it's *the* place for a quick, casual seafood lunch within 20 mins of Bpt. Excellent fish and chips (thin, crisp, seasoned batter. Not too "doughy"), NE chowder, fried oysters, whole belly fried clams. No sandwiches save for clam rolls that I recall, unless it's on the "specials" white board right by the door. They do a soft-shelled crab sandwich, but not quite the season yet.

Edit: N.B. They are cash only. No CCs or checks.

Mar 26, 2013
plien69 in Southern New England

Saigon Cafe in Stamford

Stopped in at lunch today to try the pho. My impressions:

As mentioned, it's more of a deli-like storefront with about 4-6 2-top tables. I ordered at the register, paid, then took a seat at a table. The usual condiments (basil, sprouts, lime, sliced hot peppers, hoisin, Sriracha) were immediately brought to the table. About 3-4 minutes later, a steaming bowl of pho arrived.

Light, fragrant broth. Not as much body to the flavor as I hoped, but pleasant.
Good amount of chopped cilantro and scallions in the broth. Also a little bit of slivered white onion.
There is only one pho offering, and it has both medium-rare beef and slices of well-done roast beef (round?)
Noodles are wider than the usual pho noodles I've seen: between linguine and fettuccine in width. Picks up less broth per slurp. :)
$7.50 for a bowl that would be equal to a small at other pho places.

Overall, I'd say it's a step below Pho Saigon in Bridgeport, but decent pho in an area where there previously was none.

Staff was very pleasant, and spoke flawless English with very little to no accent.

Oct 22, 2012
plien69 in Southern New England

New Haven area - Good NH pizza at weekday lunchtime?

Modern

Aug 23, 2012
plien69 in Southern New England

Vietnam Palace [split thread] [Stratford, Ct]

I'll add my thumbs up for TD Vietnam Palace. Had the Pho Tai and the roast pork Bahn Mi.

First the Pho: decent broth, a little on the light side, but fragrant. The beef had been in the broth for a while, making it more on the medium-well side rather than the medium rare that's advertised on the menu. But it was still tender to the tooth, and not at all leathery. Doesn't measure up to Pho 501, my pho standard bearer in CT, but given the dearth of pho options in southern CT, I'll gladly take it.

Bahn mi: Very flavorful! As previously described, thin slices of rich, unctuous roasted pork, nicely seasoned with some sweetness from their rub/glaze/marinade. Topped with slices of cucumber, cilantro, and shredded (lightly) pickled carrot. Slices of raw chili peppers on the side. Bread doesn't have a super light crust but is otherwise very good. It's dressed with their homemade mayonnaise (olive oil-based according to the very nice lady whom I spoke with when paying) that had added mustard (she brought out a bottle of Gulden's!). An authentic, Platonic Ideal of a bahn mi? Perhaps not, but it was darn tasty and yes, FG.

Aug 15, 2012
plien69 in Southern New England

Best warm lobster roll in Connecticut?

I recall that Abbott's tries to keep the food line moving, and serves things almost cafeteria style, if I recall. I doubt they have the time to individually grill and prep the lobster meat for each order.

The Abbott's site does have a picture of their lobster roll. Here's a bigger picture:
http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/fb.ash...

Note, the lobster meat is molded in the shape of the scoop they use. And if they're using a scoop, it probably means they have a big warming tray of lobster meat that they scoop from. Also, it's a regular seeded hamburger bun, not a potato roll, and not a toasted New England-style hot dog roll.

Maybe I just happened to get some lobster meat in my roll that had been sitting around a little too long. But I still submit that a true lobster roll should not be served on a hamburger bun.

Aug 14, 2012
plien69 in Southern New England

Mesa in Fairfield gone already?

I read this article
http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/...

which just mentions a very vague "this summer" along with "no opening dates have been confirmed."

May 12, 2012
plien69 in Southern New England

Mesa in Fairfield gone already?

It's to become a Panera.

May 12, 2012
plien69 in Southern New England

New Haven Pizza Tour

Just like there is wok hay for stir fried Chinese, there is "oven hay" for pizza. Any pizza is going to suffer a bit during travel.

That said, Pepe's pies can stand a little bit of travel, IMO. It's not so thin (like Bar, or Coalhouse in Stamford) that the pies really cool off once you step outside. Also, at take out I've always been asked whether I want the pies sliced. For best transport, I would hold off on the slicing, especially for more "liquid-y" pies like the white clam.

Still, I would try to eat on site for the full experience and best pies.

Apr 01, 2012
plien69 in Southern New England

Sister Seeks Perfect Lobster Salad Roll in Connecticut.

Good point. Not sure.

Mar 29, 2012
plien69 in Southern New England

Sister Seeks Perfect Lobster Salad Roll in Connecticut.

I like Clam Castle's: big lobster chunks, dressed simply in mayo (with I think just a touch of lemon juice). No celery bits that I recall, but it's served on a leaf of romaine inside a toasted New England-style hot dog bun.

Mar 28, 2012
plien69 in Southern New England

Breakfast in Fairfield County

Not a huge fan of Chip's in either their Orange or Fairfield locations. It's basically a diner with average food that happens to promote their pancakes. I'd actually rather go to Cracker Barrel for their pancakes; I prefer their texture, and they offer real maple syrup.

We've enjoyed the Sunday brunch buffet at Splash in Westport, but it's been a couple of years since we've been.

Mar 23, 2012
plien69 in Southern New England

Fairfield(CT) county restaurants serving dry- aged beef?

According to their website, Blackstones Steakhouse in Norwalk serves dry-aged prime.

Feb 08, 2012
plien69 in Southern New England

The Guy Fieri Drinking Game

Not a bad start. But to really get drunk you need to include: "where has that been all my life," "full on ride to Flavortown," and "that is ridiculous!"

Jan 24, 2012
plien69 in Features

Lunch in/near Orange, CT

I've heard good things about Peking Duck House, which is about a half mile up the Post Rd from LL Bean.

Jan 06, 2012
plien69 in Southern New England

restaurant for lunch near Omni Hotel New Haven

Yup, the same.

Dec 05, 2011
plien69 in Southern New England

Fairfield CT restaurant week: Nov 27-Dec 2

http://www.newenglandculinarygroup.co...

13 restaurants:
$10.11/$20.11 lunch/dinner
-OR-
$18.11/$30.11 lunch/dinner

Nov 26, 2011
plien69 in Southern New England

Visiting Stamford for a week — where to go?

Lots of good Italian and ethnic right in Stamford. Just some off the top of my head I can recommend:

For Italian:
Tappo
Columbus Park Trattoria
Quattro Pazzi
Zaza

For ethnic (incl. Peruvian):
Tawa
Chinese Mirch (Fusion Chinese and Indian)
The standard bearer for Peruvian is Fiesta, and there are two branches: Fiesta Atlantic is downtown on Atlantic St, Fiesta Cove is in the Cove section south of I-95 on Shippan Ave.
EOS (Greek)
Kotobuki (old school sushi joint)

-----
Quattro Pazzi Restaurant
165 Fillow St, Norwalk, CT 06850

Zaza Restaurant
114 Broadway, Saugus, MA 01906

Fiesta Cove Restaurant
323 Shippan Ave, Stamford, CT 06902

Columbus Park Trattoria
205 Main St, Stamford, CT 06901

Tawa
211 Summer Street, Stamford, CT 06901

Nov 23, 2011
plien69 in Southern New England

Modern aPizza

All the new Pepe's establishments were able to get permits for their coal ovens, so I guess it's possible.

Sep 13, 2011
plien69 in Southern New England

breakfast in new haven tomorrow with elderly parents

How about The Pantry, on State St? Not sure how veg-friendly it is, but it didn't seem too loud when I was there 6 months ago. Parking is in a lot in back.

Sep 09, 2011
plien69 in Southern New England

Bourdain Barbecue truck. Milford, CT

Is there any place to sit? On my drive-by I noticed only the truck, and a shade tent with the smoker and 2 folding chairs underneath. It seemed like you would either need to retreat to your car, or sit on the grass in the sun.

Sep 04, 2011
plien69 in Southern New England