Sunday, August 9, 2009

Christie's Country Store- Pizza

Here's just a quick review of  the pizza at Christie's Country Store in Westport. Being the closest food place to my house, I figured it'd be important to know what they're pizza was like (they even deliver).  That's already points for convenience.

So I ordered a small cheese pie (they have all the usual toppings).  The pizza was a good size for $9. I mean I couldn't eat all of it so it wasn't a personal pizza or anything. Their dough is very thick for your traditional pizza- I'm a fan of thin crust- but the crust was crunchy and pretty good for its thickness. The pizza was very hot- I hope that means it was freshly made. 

Although I liked the thick, gooey mozzarella they used, there was simply too much of it. There was so much it outweighed the rest of the pizza and often fell off because there was so much of it. The cheese was also impossible to cut because it was so thick. 

My favorite part of the pizza was their sauce. The taste was decent but they put a lot of sauce on, which I love on my pizza. 

In the end, Christie's pizza is pretty decent, but if I had my choice of pizza in Westport I wouldn't go back to Christie's for their pizza. 

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Molecular Gastronomy

Molecular gastronomy is the term that's been tied to the new culinary field involving new techniques like using liquid nitrogen and agar agar to change the shape or texture of foods. While I'm all for simple dishes using your usual oven, these new techniques bring surprise to food. 

Chefs can do so much with these new science tools. Alinea is one of the country's leading restaurants to use these. Click on the name for a behind-the-scenes video. 

Also in this field are two of my favorite chefs- Wylie Dufresne and Richard Blais. Who cares if I haven't ever eaten their food- their menus look awesome. Click their last names for their restaurants' sites. They're making foie gras milkshakes, powdered caramel that turns back into chewy caramel in your mouth, and crispy cream cheese. These chefs are taking flavors that seem to be a little odd, but that work remarkably well. 

Each dish looks to have a million different textures in it. I've yet to eat in any restaurant that uses these techniques, but just looking at the menu/photos makes me want to. I could go on forever talking about the "crazy" combinations they do. Just check this new cuisine out!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Archie Moore's Bar & Restaurant

Archie Moore’s Bar & Restaurant

(203.256.9295) 48 Sanford Street Fairfield, CT 06430

Before I get into my first review, I would like to introduce myself as the newest contributor to FCfoodbytes. I am a recent Staples High School graduate who will be attending Duke University in the fall. My personal addition to the posts, parallel to Jordan’s numerical ratings, will be the “What I would get if I returned” section, which is fairly straightforward.

Today I made my first visit to Archie Moore’s Bar & Restaurant in Fairfield. I had never heard of the place, but I was urged to go by my friend Dan who had a hankering for their famous Buffalo wings. Eventually, I was cajoled into coming, along with my friend Willys. As the three of us entered the restaurant, I immediately noticed the place’s college hangout feel. Fairfield University students were strewn among the many tables. The restaurant with filled with joyous noise that bounced off of the wooden interior. Vintage Coca-Cola posters, clocks, and signs peppered the walls. (My favorite was a sign over the bar that depicted two smiling kid’s faces and said “Welcome. Have a Coke.”) Wide-screen televisions showed the Yankees-Red Sox game to eagerly watching sports fans. The room was casual and cheerful.

The wait staff seated us promptly and seemed legitimately happy to see us. We ordered a 14-wing plate to share along with an appetizer of six “burger bites” (sliders) and a plate of cheesy-jalapeƱo nachos. Each dish was extremely large, well worth the price paid for supposed appetizer portions. Moreover, the wings were superb. The Buffalo sauce was not overpowering, yet it had a zest that built to a spicy climax upon finishing each wing. Plus, the wings were particularly crisp on first bite. The nachos were also delicious. The tortilla chips were smothered with cheddar and mozzarella cheese. In fact, there was so much cheese that I had to use a knife to cut each chip away from the gooey center. The sliders were good but not remarkable, clearly downsized versions of a pretty average burger. Overall, I had a great experience at Archie Moore’s, and the wings are alone are worth the trip.

What I would get if I returned:
A plate of wings and a Coke (I’d skip the sharing bit, though).
Please Note: This review is in addition to Jordan's previous review of Archie Moore's on July 7th 2009.

Osetra Oyster Bar and Fish House

Osetra 203-354-4488
124 South Washington South Norwalk, CT 06854

While relatively new and unknown, I'd been really eager to go to Osetra after seeing several unique dishes on their online menu here. I headed over one weekday night with my dad. Osetra's got a small narrow dining room on the left and a bar on the right, and located right at the front window is their oyster shucking station for everyone to see them shuck fresh oysters.  

Dad and I started with some of their raw oysters (seems to be their specialty). We tried ones from British Columbia, Massachusetts, and locals from right here in Norwalk. The menu spoke of "sugar-cane hints" and "peach finish". But I didn't taste any of those flavors nor did I taste a difference between any of the oysters. Their mignonette sauce was a bit too oily/peppery for my taste, too. Maybe I'm just an amateur at the whole oyster thing. 

Now onto appetizers. I had beef carpaccio with goat cheese. Beef had good flavor and I love goat cheese- but the cheese seemed to be too overpowering for me. Dad ordered cracked oat pancakes with bone marrow chantilly all topped with "caviar" made from currants. A really interesting dish- the pancake was outstanding and the sweetness of the currants was great.

I had yet to order a cooked thing yet. So I got the Osetra cioppino- clams, mussels, grilled salmon and grilled bass all in a spicy tomato broth. Everything in this dish was fantastic- the fish perfectly cooked and the broth seasoned just right. My dad got bbq striped bass with fried onions. Another well-cooked fish. And some of the best onion rings I've ever had. Of the sides we had (our three were saffron rice, summer succotash and asparagus), the grilled white asparagus with fried egg was definitely the best. 

Now for dessert. Homemade blueberry pie. And it was amazing! One of the best pies in recent memory. A great finish to a very good meal. 

So as you can tell we ordered A LOT. I couldn't help myself. Everything just sounded so good on the menu. And for the most part it was (only a few misses). Go to Osetra for some of the best fish dishes I've had in Fairfield County. Our service was solid and the atmosphere was pleasantly casual. But what matters most is that they really know how to do fish. But beware if you don't like fish- they have limited options for non-fish people. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Amateur Gourmet

The Amateur Gourmet is my new idol. Maybe it's because we're a lot alike (I like to think so). In his first review on eGullet, before he even started his site, he says, "My name is Adam and I am an aspiring gourmet, limited in my pursuit by factors that include: a. budget; b. food knowledge; and c. friends with limited pallettes."  Hmm- seems enough like me.  

The Amateur Gourmet- aka Adam Roberts- was started in 2004 when Roberts was only 25, and he has since won several awards, written a book and is recognized throughout the culinary scene.

He's got how-to's, recipes, and my favorite- his reviews of hundreds of gourmet (and casual) restaurants throughout the country (but mostly in New York).  

I love his blog because Adam is simply laugh-out-loud funny. He uses creative cartoons to portray his restaurant ventures and takes a picture of every plate he eats- a great addition. 

He discusses everything from why he chose to eat there, background, who he went with and even rates the bathrooms at restaurants. 

His reviews are really long- but I can never stop reading them. I'm gonna try my hardest not to copy everything he does and put it on FCfoodbytes. Anyways, bookmark it now! go to it!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Southport Brewing Company

Southport Brewing Company 203-256-BEER
2600 Post Rd Southport, CT 06490

With locations in Hamden, Milford, Stamford, Branford and Southport- SBC has become a popular Connecticut restaurant over the last 10 years- bringing in all different crowds. The Southport location, its original, is the only one I can really report on. It brings in families for dinner, couples, the sports-watching crowd and those who just enjoy tasting one of their 27 brews. 

SBC offers salads, bar food, burgers, sandwiches, and even entrees- steaks, pork and pasta dishes. I personally think their thin-crust pizzas are one of their better options. The last time I ate at SBC, I went with two friends, Eliza and Jordan for a quick dinner. 

I ordered the pork and beans-a pork chop with orange marmalade and sauteed beans with spinach. The beans and spinach worked well with the sweetness of the orange sauce, and I thought the pork was overall pretty good. 

Jordan ordered the pork special- his pork was overcooked/dry and the sauce was lacking in flavor. Eliza ordered the warm goat cheese salad which tasted pretty good- a simple salad but the goat cheese had a nice Focaccia crust that added texture. 

For dessert we ordered key lime pie and the chocolate lava cake. Both desserts were decent- not the best of either that I've ever had but not memorable by any means.

Don't expect to get great food at SBC, but its a good place for a modest family dinner, and I recommend trying the pizza or to watch a sports game at their bar/booths. Note: I can't comment on their beers- only a few more years..

Matteo's Ristorante

Matteo's Ristorante ~ 299 Long Ridge Road Stamford, CT 06902 ~ (203) 964-9802

Always having eaten at the restaurants in Florida or New York, I was happy to see that Matteo's branched out to Stamford because the food is great there. They serve hearty Italian meals family style, so each member of the family is bound to fill their stomachs to the brim.

My family started with the classic Matteo's Italian Chopped Salad, which comes with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, olives, onions, salami, and mozzarella cheese all finely chopped. I could eat this salad any time of the day. Next, we moved onto a full order of 12 baked clams. Though they were not as good as the ones in NY and FL, they were still tasty. In fact, the best part of this appetizer is dipping the warm bread in the clam sauce on the bottom of the plate. Following the clams, we were served our dinner. Keep in mind that all four of us are very big eaters... Our waiter came in shifts to serve us lobster ravioli, chicken francese, spaghetti bolognese, and a half order of burnt broccoli.

The ravioli was filled with cheese, lobster, and mushroom, and topped with heavy vodka sauce. It was good, but missing something. The chicken francese was also enjoyable, but not lemony enough. In addition, the spaghetti bolognese was missing the exploding flavor I expected, and no one came around offering grated parmesan cheese. Don't get me wrong - I enjoyed the meal, but I felt like the dishes lacked some flavor. It might be because I was tasting so many different dishes, or simply because the food was blander than normal - I'm not sure. However, the burnt broccoli was very good, but was $2.00 more than steamed broccoli.

Although the food wasn't as good as it normally is, the service was great. Our waiter made the salad in front of us and even served us from the family style plates. Also, he gave my dad a free beer after serving him a warm one first.

In the end, I'd say that Matteo's is just another family Italian restaurant - nothing so special to go out of your way for.

Overall: 3.3
Taste: 3
Atmosphere: 3 (crowded and noisy, but the building is nice and new)
Experience: 3
Menu: 3.5
Service: 4
Would I return? I wouldn't decline the offer to go back, but I wouldn't choose it

P.S. - I don't know why everything is underlined. Sorry if it's hard to read