Just as the weather begins to cool, the dining scene starts heating up. For our annual food issue, we’re taking stock of local restaurants on a quest for creative cuisine, late-night noshes, celeb hangouts, super smoothies, best bar eats and much more. We’ve got the dish on some great restaurants set to open later this fall and Westchester destinations worth the drive. With restaurant week right around the corner, we’ve also rounded up a list of specials and everyday deals to help you enjoy more for less. Plus, get the scoop on Greenwich foodie entrepreneurs, farm-to-table at home, lean-and-green food that’s tasty, too, under-the-radar eateries and more.
Dinner at the Bar
Some top local spots where the best seats in the house might just be stools.
For those who like a healthy side of socializing and people-watching with their meals, the bar is the place to be. One Greenwich couple, Dana and Richard Neuman, prefer eating at the bar in certain restaurants where the atmosphere is social and the bartenders friendly and accommodating. “It’s like a rolling dinner party,” says Dana. “It’s last minute and you don’t have to plan to have dinner with friends.” The Neumans have met all kinds of intriguing characters during their meals at restaurant bars, including a guy who races antique cars for a living, a Florida-based diving coach who was in town scouting for the Olympics and a female hedge fund exec who swills champagne with every meal.
363 Greenwich Avenue, 203-869-7622
A contemporary Portuguese restaurant on Greenwich Ave., Douro attracts a crowd with the modern cooking of chef-owner Rui Correia, who makes regular appearances on the Today show. Because the dining room is long but narrow, there’s a natural overflow to the bar, where the engaging bartender, Frank, caters to customers. For a quick supper, you can make a meal out of small plates (choose from a varied and creative menu) and a salad.
Fave orders: Empanadas, shrimp and chourico, marisco paelha (or any of the paelhas), dorado, rodizio mixed grill, tacos, flatbreads and spicy seared tuna
Drinks agenda: Anyone who’s visited Portugal knows the wines are excellent and a good value. Of course, there’s port as well as a feisty sangria.
Elm Street Oyster House
11 West Elm Street, 203-629-5795
At this popular downtown seafood restaurant, bartenders Tavo, Julie, Tony, Juan and Gustavo make all the regulars and newcomers feel right at home. In fact, they often get conversations going and will ask people to shift seats when needed to accommodate bar diners. It’s like one communal table and the bar is often full—seating is first come, first served.
Fave orders: Pan-fried oysters, fish tacos, seafood chili, lobster roll and any of the daily specials
Drinks agenda: Elm Street serves only beer and wine, but that wine list is extensive—fifty pinot noirs alone, plus ample choices in every category. There are always nine beers on draught; expect to see Oktoberfest poured at this time of year as well as craft brews and seasonal lagers like Jack’s Abby.
35 Church Street, 203-622-4223
This Italian steakhouse lures the after-work crowd with aged prime meats, choice seafood and a fun atmosphere. But the bar is a worthy dinner destination, too, a spot for sophisticated singles to grab a bite and warm up by the fireplace.
Fave orders: Pssst…there’s a mean burger to be had here—it’s not on the menu and only available at the bar. Top options from the menu include the truffle short rib arancini, the house salad, trenette aragosta and the seafood tower (if you’re sharing).
Drinks agenda: The elderflower flirtini is the recommendation of manager and maître d’ Tony Capasso. Or let the bartender pick your pour among many top wines by the glass.
366 Greenwich Avenue, 203-629-4747
Though the sidewalk patio of this Mediterranean restaurant may draw the most traffic during the summer, the bar inside the sailing-themed interior rules during the cooler months of the year. Seafood is the focus and if you want to share, say, the crispy skinned bronzino or the wild king salmon, the bartender will happily plate these fish dishes for two. The bar is also a choice spot to linger over a wood-fired pizza and enjoy some people watching.
Fave orders: Yellowfin crudo, carpaccio of fluke, white clam chowder, parmesan-crusted halibut, pizza with sausage and
the butternut squash ravioli
Drinks agenda: The sailor’s cocktail, Dark & Stormy, is a must if you’re not in the mood for wine, or try the Avenue Lemonade with citrus vodka and limonata. The wine list spans the globe with choice vintages from Spain and South Africa to Sonoma.
Napa & Company
75 Broad Street, Stamford, 203-353-3319
Inspired by the cuisine of wine country, this seasonal new American restaurant focuses on locally grown and organic produce, fish and meat. With just a few tables, the bar in this high-end establishment is quieter than the main dining room, making it a cozy spot to go with another couple or a small group. The very French bartender, Eric, pays close attention to his dining patrons and mixes a mean barrel-aged white negroni.
Fave orders: The menu changes with the season, but don’t miss the Wagyu burger, pan-seared diver scallops and ricotta gnocchi with braised veal breast.
Drinks agenda: Sip any of bartender Eric’s barrel-fermented cocktails. And, as the restaurant’s name implies, there’s a serious emphasis on wine.
18 Mill Street, Port Chester, New York, 914-939-3111
People think of going to Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s Tarry Lodge for a big sit-down Italian dinner with family, but some prefer the bar for quick service and good company. Bartenders Sandra and Mike take great care of their bar diners; if two people order a pizza and salad to be shared, they will divide the dishes and plate each course separately. Diners at the bar can get chummy enough to swap slices of pizzas.
Fave orders: Prosciutto san Daniele antipasti, guanciale pizza with egg and black truffle, eggplant parmigiana stack and Cornish game hen alla scarpiello
Drinks agenda: Try the signature Pompelmo cocktail (Tito’s vodka, St Germain, moscato and grapefruit), a Moretti beer, prosecco or ask one of the bartenders to guide you through the massive wine
Steals & Deals
Where to go to get the best food and drink for your buck
339 Greenwich Ave., 203-661-6634
This longtime favorite French bistro, a Greenwich Avenue institution, offers a prix-fixe lunch for just $17.50, which includes soup and the entrée of the day. On Wednesdays, indulge during mussels night—enjoy them in broth, with addictive frites and a carafe of wine for $28. Every Monday, bottles of wine are half price. New deals and special wine dinners are happening regularly, go to versaillesgreenwich.com for details.
85 High Ridge Road, Stamford, 293-977-7700
On Wednesday nights check out the Beer, Bourbon and BBQ special. For $25, you get a big plate of ribs, wings (the wings here are excellent) and fries, plus two beers and two shots of bourbon. The choice of beer is stellar with more than fifty-two craft brews available, plus weekly specials. If you love the wings, head back on Thursdays for 50-cent wing night.
7 Apache Place, Riverside, 203-990-0200
The Mexican food at this tucked-away joint on a residential street in Riverside is authentic, fresh and substantial. And the prices are muy simpatico, with tostadas for $3.50, a hamburger for $3, and twenty-one taco varieties for $2.75 each (choose from a basic fish or chicken to more exotic fillings like pork skin and cow tongue). Plus, they sell Mexican Coke for $1.75 a bottle and they deliver.
10 North Water Street, 203-531-6887
Fresh Greek fare at this family-run Byram hideaway is always a great deal. Top values: the Greek salad for $6.75, substantial and delicious with the best feta you’ll eat anywhere, and the souvlaki or gyro sandwiches, $6.50 each. There’s a reason the pizza is “famous,” and it’s also a bargain at $8 for a small.
4 Lewis Court, 203-422-2990
For an affordable Japanese lunch that’s tasty and satisfying, stop into the sushi bar for a bento box. We like the shrimp tempura with California roll, which comes with miso soup, salad and an appetizer for $10.25. The veggie version is just $9.25. Or get your sushi fix with the lunch combo: your pick of two rolls, plus soup and salad for $9.95.
253 Greenwich Ave., 203-661-3443
A deal so good, it bears repeating: at the daily happy hour here from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., your second drink is on the house. Try one of the twenty wines by the glass or the red-and-white sangria, and pair it with the fab cauliflower friti or the cheese plate.
3 Broad Street, Port Chester, NY, 914-305-8383
This gastro pub at the train station is a newcomer on the Port Chester scene with a beer garden that has a fireplace for chilly nights. The menu is reasonably priced (think sashimi tuna tacos for $12), but you get an even better deal when you eat here before a show at Capitol Theater—15 percent off your dinner bill.
170 Selleck Street, Stamford, 203-674-8970
Possibly the hottest micro-thin-crust pie in town (well, in Stamford, that is), Riko’s turns out a pizza that’s remarkably similar to Colony, but they make feeding your craving more convenient with delivery and a location right on the Old Greenwich border. A plain cheese pie is just $9.50, add $1.50 for the hot oil.
Westchester Hot Spots
17 Maple Avenue, Armonk, NY; 914-273-0900
If you drive past Armonk Square and spot a bunch of well-dressed twenty- and thirtysomethings on a stone patio, drinks in hand, and hear Madonna’s “Holiday” blasting from a barn-like building, you just passed Fortina. With a menu that’s a lineup of wood-fired goodness and a rustic interior that’s warm yet industrial, Fortina draws a hip crowd. This casual Italian was opened last year by thirty-year-olds Rob Krauss and John Nealon, who grew up together in Westport, and chef Christian Petroni, formerly of Barcelona in Greenwich and a past winner on Chopped. Rob and John act as outgoing hosts who are passionate about food but don’t take themselves too seriously (see their Facebook page). When I mention how much I like the lightly charred carrots, in shades of yellow, purple and orange with walnut crema, Rob says of the wood-burning oven, “you could throw a shoe in that thing—it makes everything taste better.”
In fact, there are two side-by-side brick ovens, one for the “protein” and one larger one dedicated to pizza, a must-order. We tried the Luigi Bianco and it’s a memorable pie: creamy burrata, parmesan, goat cheese and puréed black truffle on a thin, lightly charred crust that’s chewy and airy on the ends. Giant recycled tomato cans serve as the pizza holders on the tables. With the burrata antipasti, the creamy mozzarella is topped with sweet corn, brown butter and a splash of vino cotto over grilled country bread; we’d come here for that burrata alone. We also loved the hand-rolled pici pasta in a simple tomato-onion sauce with chopped smoked bacon so fragrant we could smell the dish before it reached the table. A user-friendly, mostly Italian wine list groups whites and reds into categories (like “light, crisp, clean and aromatic whites” and “medium-bodied, rich, velvety reds”). Non-drinkers will appreciate the mocktails, such as the Preggo Mama and Pina Faux-lada. As the night wears on, servers hand out hunter-green blankets on the patio to help anyone who’s chilled stay comfortable. For a sweet finish, opt for an Italian classic like tartufo, semifreddo or tiramisu (served in a cocktail glass), or simply order a bowl of cherries. Good news for Fortina fans: Two more restaurants are set to open in Rye Ridge Plaza this fall and Harbor Point, Stamford later next spring.
Madison Kitchen, Larchmont
7 Madison Avenue, Larchmont, NY; 914-732-3024
From up-and-coming chef/owner Nick DiBona, this sophisticated new-American restaurant features creative fare that’s seasonally driven in a small-but-sleek space. MK’s dark, glam interior is both date-night worthy and fitting for a celebratory meal with friends, with its lounge-y pewter-topped bar and black tufted-leather banquettes. The menu appeals because of its original, playful take on some favorite foods. For instance, among the starters you’ll find Hudson Valley foie gras pot stickers, a chicken and waffles app (with homemade buffalo sauce and a blue-cheese Belgian waffle) and pork belly-stuffed clams (the menu description reads ‘nuf said’). Top entrée picks: roasted duck with sweet potato hash, spinach and a red wine-fig-and-anise sauce and an “everything” crusted ahi tuna, though the menu is always evolving. Also, don’t miss the homemade ice creams.
Purdy’s Farmer and The Fish, North Salem
100 Titicus Road, North Salem, NY; 914-617-8380
Situated within the twenty-two-acre Purdy Land Trust and housed inside a circa-1775 landmark homestead, this restaurant takes local sourcing seriously—three quarters of the vegetables and herbs are grown on a farm right on the property. Most of the fish served is caught in East Coast waters via Down East Seafood. The restaurant merges the talents of Chef Michael Kaphan (who also studied agriculture, a.k.a the “farmer”) and fishmonger Edward Taylor. The setting oozes historic ambience with old wood-beamed ceilings and stone fireplaces inside and picnic tables on the front porch. The food may remind you of favorite meals from a vacation in Maine or Cape Cod. Think lobster rolls, fish and chips, wild striped bass with garden beans and tomato vinaigrette, halibut with sweet corn risotto. The raw bar boasts an impressive lineup of East Coast oysters, plus lobster cocktail. After your meal, you can stop by the farm shop to pick up produce grown on the premises and baked goods to bring home.
391 Old Post Road, Bedford, NY; 914-234-8900
Boxcar Cantina fans will like Nancy Allen Roper’s newest venture, a casual Southwestern-inspired eatery set in a spot that was once a truck stop along Route 22. With a vintage-feeling interior that’s pure Americana, Truck’s dining room is lined with antique wallpaper and salvaged wood paneling punctuated by a giant Texas longhorn skull. The Northern New Mexican cuisine is prepared with vegetables from local farms and the gardens on the property, as well as grass-fed beef and sustainably raised pork, and the menu departs from your average Southwestern. Yes, there are tacos and burritos but also Santa Fe “stacked” enchiladas and other worthy choices such as fried oysters with chipotle crema sauce, a Mexican salad with roasted corn, avocado, tomato and cilantro-lime dressing and a chorizo con queso starter. If you have a taste for heat, ask for the house-made habanero sauce with your meal. Drinks? The Power Wagon premium margarita is the natural choice, but there are white, red and rosé wines on tap and bottles of Mexican coke.
147 Larchmont Avenue, Larchmont, NY 914-341-1460
Word must be out about Polpettina’s exceptional pizza, rustic Italian cuisine, cool vibe and its win for “Best Meatballs” in Westchester, because there was a wait to be seated on a Monday night in the summer. Yes, a Monday. The interior has a woodsy feeling, with reclaimed beams covering the back wall and communal tables crafted from tree slabs (there are also individual tables and a few bar seats); in front, there’s sidewalk seating under lime-green umbrellas. Standout signature dishes: crispy eggplant chips with wildflower honey and sea salt, which appeals even to those who swear they don’t like eggplant, and, of course, the meatballs. Order a sampler to taste all three varieties, a classic beef with tomato sauce and parmigiano; chicken with an Asian twist, pickled carrots and spicy aioli; pork with broccoli rabe, chiles and garlic. For the ultimate sweet-savory indulgence and a mouthwatering mix of textures, try the fig pizza with black mission figs, pancetta, goat cheese, arugula, truffle honey. Polpettina’s carbonara gets its earthy richness from the addition of truffle and roasted mushrooms, while a linguini and clams is tweaked with pickled chilies tossed into the dish.
Adventures in Healthy Eating
Most of us want to eat lighter, nutritious food without sacrificing taste. But what does healthy eating really mean? Kale and quinoa? Green juices? Vegan and Vitamix? For me, it’s about colorful dishes based on fresh vegetables and fruits with some protein in the mix, foods with lower calorie counts that require a dash of willpower but not major deprivation. I spent a week trying to improve my intake, and fortunately, a number of Greenwich eateries have cleaner, greener options. Here’s where you can fuel up and feel good.
85 Railroad Avenue., 203-622-1479; 7 Strickland Road, 203-869-1376
With locations in Cos Cob and downtown Greenwich, this Best of the Gold Coast winner offers one-stop-shopping for healthy prepared foods, fresh juices and smoothies, soups and smart snacks—such a selection there’s no excuse not to eat well. I can walk to the Cos Cob location, so it’s a go-to spot for me. On a summer Monday, I started my day with the coconut yogurt with flax granola and dried cherries, delicious though a small portion, and iced citrus green tea. That iced tea, refreshing without any agave or honey, is part of a lineup of G&Teas, alternatives to coffee (also try spicy green tea lemonade with liquid cayenne or the yerba maté latte for a metabolism boost). G&T lunch provisions: I picked the Baja salad with spinach and other greens, red pepper, corn, black beans, quinoa and red onion (a satisfying mix of textures), the Skin Glo drink plus water. Salads are tasty here with some greens and veggies sourced from local farms, but when I need a rest from roughage, I love the spicy avocado wrap or the kelp noodle Pad Thai. Smart afternoon snacks are key to staying on track; two top ways to curb cravings: Emmy’s macaroons or the addictive Thai coconut-curry cashews. Also at G&T: a range of cleanses (from one to ten days). Almost all include a “jumpstart” bar, kale salad and soup, so you stay energized and not too hungry.
3 West Elm Street, 203-622-6644; 1075 East Putnam Avenue, 203-698-1066
Though you have to bypass tempting cookies, cakes and baked goods here, this prepared-foods mecca in Riverside and Greenwich is a prime place for eating well on the go. Breakfast options include the broccoli-tomato-cheddar strata (my preferred somewhat healthy indulgence) and egg-white veggie breakfast burrito. If you’re taking a break from coffee, there’s hot honey-ginger tea or iced ginger tea for digestion. For lunch or dinner, cleverly packaged salad shakers make portion control a no-brainer. The Asian salad shaker with rice, red pepper, cabbage, celery, edamame and a spicy ginger dressing is especially satisfying. Another good option is the Moroccan with chicken, cabbage, chickpeas, couscous, figs, lime and tomato. When you have a heartier appetite but want to eat on the lean side, order the salad plate—your choice of three or four, including a fab salmon salad loaded with colorful veggies; shaved Brussels sprouts and crisp apples in a light vinaigrette; orzo with veggies; and the best egg salad around.
362 Greenwich Avenue, 203-629-6153
You may dream about this French eatery’s crepes, nicoise salad, croque monsieur and homemade ice cream, but there’s also a complete menu of juices and “detox” foods as well as a cleanse program designed by holistic health practitioner Kevin Reese. I sampled a one-day cleanse recently and this is the gist: a shot of wheatgrass to start (ugh, have chaser ready!), followed by a tasty smoothie of coconut water, blueberry, raspberry and banana and then a steady stream of juice, plus salad for dinner. Everything is ready to pick up by 7:30 on the morning you start. All of the juices are pleasant enough, though the beet-apple-dandelion-apple cider vinegar (ingredients aimed at kidney support) was my least favorite. Each blend is designed to help your body in different ways, whether promoting circulation or boosting immunity. Oddly enough, I wasn’t really hungry while doing the cleanse, but I did feel tired and had a mild headache by late afternoon, and let’s just say, ahem, that cleansing did occur. By the time I got to dinner’s “detox” salad, I didn’t want to finish it all. Raw kale, I’m just not that into you. I downed the last juice of celery, apple, parsley and alfalfa at around 9:30 p.m. and was ready for bed. Apparently this cleansing thing takes a lot out of you, but I felt good the next day and had a smaller appetite; I’d definitely try it again for a longer stint.
107 Greenwich Avenue, 203-992-1800 and 264 Sound Beach Avenue, 203-637-0240
This “real food” eatery serves dishes with most ingredients sourced from Back Forty Farm in Washington, Connecticut, whose owners also own Organic Planet. The best salad I’ve eaten in ages is, in fact, called the Back Forty. Some might disqualify it as truly healthy due to the inclusion of bacon and egg, but I’m happy to overlook this. The greens really taste farm-fresh, as do the poached egg and intensely flavorful summer tomatoes, and apple-cider mustard vinaigrette is the perfect finish. For an even heartier but healthy meal, I like the turkey burger sliders with tomato-ginger chutney and sweet potato wedges. Now Riverside and Old Greenwich residents can pick up some Organic Planet top sellers closer to home: Back 40 Mercantile, opened over the summer on Sound Beach Avenue, sells a range of organic prepared foods, including a Back 40 cobb, curried chicken salad, quinoa and vegetable salad and, for a treat, a chocolate chia pudding with cacao powder.
Good Eats Inc.
Stephanie Norton may have been twenty years ahead of her time. It was nearly two decades ago when the successful pro baker first discovered that she had gluten issues. “I had problems that I didn’t know were related to gluten—chronic backaches, headaches, runny nose after eating,” says the entrepreneur and Old Greenwich mom of two. After talking with a few doctors and trying an elimination diet, she discovered that she was, in fact, allergic to wheat and gluten. Her new dietary restrictions left her missing the delicious baked goods she loved. “I had always baked to get rid of stress. My grandmother had taught me all of these amazing recipes, but I couldn’t use them anymore,” she says.
So she went on a mission to recreate the treats sans gluten—whipping up thousands of varieties with her husband as a taste tester until she perfected the mix, made with fiber and bean flour. The result: chocolate brownies and blondies so luscious you’d never know they’re made any differently. In fact, this was Stephanie’s goal:
“I wanted my brownie to be a crossover, something that somebody who wasn’t gluten-free would want.” Her son also has gluten intolerance and the sweet treats were designed as a positive alternative for him too. “My goal was to have other kids look at what he’s eating and say, ‘I want that.’”
Her Freedgoods Brownies were first sold in smaller markets and then a distributor discovered them and decided to pick up the line for 200 stores. Today, the brownies are still locally made by a bakery and have national distribution. Stephanie uses some of the proceeds of sales to give back—she donates 5 percent of profits to an organization called Resolve that helps people suffering from infertility, which in some cases can be linked to gluten issues. In town, you can pick up a box of these guilt-free brownies at Aux Delices, Darlene’s, Upper Crust Bagel and Garelick and Herbs, among other stores.
“I think of cooking as a creative expression, not a science,” says Heidi Matonis, a longtime vegetarian who recently founded a brand called Meatless Meatballs. Heidi, who is also a mixed media artist and mom of three, first got interested in becoming an entrepreneur as her kids were getting older. She launched and later sold a successful business called PositiviTees—t-shirts with upbeat messages and proceeds going to charities, picked as one of Oprah’s Favorite Things.
Heidi was looking for a new venture when her friends and family urged her to bring her much-loved meatless meatballs to market. She was intrigued by the idea of meatballs from cuisines around the globe and reinvented them at home for her mostly vegetarian family using grains, veggies, dried fruits and other non-meat ingredients. After experimenting with different varieties and serving these savory morsels to friends, she decided to go public with four most-requested flavors: Italian, Santa Fe, Spicy Thai and Persian.
After test-marketing the meatballs at Stewart’s Market in New Canaan and Palmer’s in Darien, Heidi connected with a regional manager for Whole Foods. The Whole Foods in Greenwich began stocking the meatballs and the line has now expanded into Whole Foods in Manhattan, where Heidi and her daughter have logged many days handing out samples to customers. With the product line, Heidi encourages people to “eat creatively,” using the meatballs as a basis for meals, such as a taco salad with the Santa Fe variety; Spicy Thai in a stir-fry or served over spaghetti squash; Persian meatballs over a salad with balsamic dressing (Heidi’s go-to lunch). Sold frozen, these meatless morsels are easy to prepare—just bake in the oven—and handy for healthy meals.
As a girl growing up in Sydney, Australia, Annabelle Marvin’s family complemented their meals with condiments much different from what we crave in the States. While many Americans go for mayonnaise and ketchup, the Aussies prefer relishes and chutneys. Years later after she and her husband and boys moved here from Melbourne, Annabelle missed these special spreads from her childhood. She had learned to cook from her mom, who was one of five girls with a father in the cookie business. So with her family’s recipes in hand, she began to whip up batches of the beet relish, onion-chili jam and other varieties—not only to dish out to her husband and three high-school-age boys, but also to sell at Christmas boutiques. “It was something I started for fun,” says Annabelle. Soon a friend designed her new logo and the Greenwich Food Company was born.
These relishes, which are now sold at the Westport Farmer’s Market, Darien Cheese Shop, Saugatuck Craft Butchery and other specialty stores, can be the basis for dinner. For instance, the Middle Eastern spread called Kasoundi is a blend of ginger, garlic, cumin and jalapenos that’s great with chicken or pork tenderloin—just spread it on the meat and bake. The mixture can also transform farro and chickpeas into an exotic side dish.
When we eat out at restaurants these days, many menus tell a tale of grass-fed beef, garden-fresh veggies, heirloom tomatoes and other high-quality ingredients. Certain eateries even reveal the location of the gardens where the vegetables were grown or the waters where the fish was line-caught. So how can we get the same caliber of food for our kitchens at home? Where can you source the best local produce, eggs, poultry and meats when the farmers’ market has finished for the season? Yes, there are organic produce sections at the supermarket, but these literally pale in comparison to what’s picked locally. Here are some ways to be a locavore and procure premium ingredients for your plate.
A convenient farm-to-home food service founded by three Greenwich natives, Mike’s Organic picks up vegetables, fruits, eggs, meat and cheese from local farms every Monday and brings this bounty to about 350 homes in our area each week. “We’re a bridge from the farm to your kitchen counter,” says Chris Kimball, vice president. You can place an online order a la carte, say, a single basket of seasonal produce, a whole chicken from Ox Hollow Farm or pasture-raised eggs from Pine Hill Farm, or opt for a full season’s worth of meats, eggs, fruits and veggies and cheese. And unlike a CSA, where you won’t know what you’re getting until you pick it up and you might wind up with eight bunches of kale, Mike’s sends a weekly email detailing what’s coming up, with variety as the goal.
Mike Geller, founder of the company, has been developing close connections with local farmers over the past five years since he left the corporate world to start the business. A Brunswick alum, he brought in Chris Kimball and Mackenzie Judson, also from Brunswick, to work with him as the company has expanded. After visiting tons of farms, Mike chooses to work with those whose practices meet his high standards and whose product is top-notch. One of those is Hepworth Farm, which growns 479 varieties of vegetables and fruits and began planting a few vegetables exclusively for Mike’s—purple string beans, purple broccoli and Romenesco cauliflower. He sources eggs from Kathy Blackshaw of Pine Hill Farm, where the chickens graze outside and the weekly payment is left in a cigar box—Kathy still works on the honor system. The eggs reflect the chickens’ natural surroundings—during clover season, the yolks are deeper in color. Recently, Mike’s has been sourcing premium seafood, including salmon from a Native American tribe in Kodiak and wild Florida white shrimp. “I can tell you the name of the boat the fish comes off of,” says Mike.
He’s not only passionate about the farmers but also his customers. Mike’s will work with people’s special requirements, whether they have certain allergies or autoimmune issues or they’re on a paleo diet. Deliveries happen during a three-hour window; if you’re home, the staff will bring everything into the kitchen and put it away for you; you can also leave a cooler out for unattended deliveries. Not much of a cook? Mike’s includes simple recipes each week along with the box. “We care about the produce and know how to cook it,” says Mike. “We want to bring back cooking.”
1332 King Street
As local as you can get, this King Street institution is possibly the only working farm left in Greenwich, run by John and Kathy Augustin. John grew up here, helping his dad in the fields, and the couple continue to grow vegetables and fruits and raise chickens on the property. People rave about the eggs from Augustin’s, with shells in a rainbow of soft hues; don’t miss meeting the famous chicken named Ricky that John says is a part of the family. Augustin’s farm stand is open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. “until the first snowfall” or December 20. The eggs and honey are available year-round; during the winter months, Augustin’s operates out of the greenhouse in back, which is open to the public 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Not only is Stone Barns a beautiful place to visit (you can download a map for a thirty-minute self-guided walking tour) and a pioneer in sustainable farming, this center also sells fresh produce, meat and eggs to the public every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Meat and eggs are also sold in the Farm Store, Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.) As the holidays approach, this is the place that food pros rely on to procure their turkeys—choose from broad-breasted White turkey or a variety of heritage breeds.
In The Know
Those who love Le Penguin have been eagerly awaiting le fat poodle, opening in Old Greenwich this month. Adrien Blech, son of owner Antoine Blech, will head up the kitchen (Adrien was also the original chef at Le Penguin and helped select the current team). With fourteen-foot ceilings, the beautiful space was, like Le Penguin, designed by Lynn Morgan, but Le Fat Poodle has its own distinct personality. “We want to keep them very different on the menu aspect; it’s not as French as Le Penguin,” says Antoine, who describes LFP as a “modern, eclectic bistro” but with a similar atmosphere.
Some of the best celeb spotting in town happens at casual Avenue eatery Meli-Melo, where Harry Connick Jr. is a regular, and Cindy Lauper, Goldie Hawn, Sue Simmons, Judge Judy, Jerry Springer, James Carville and Mary Matalin as well as Geoffrey Zakarian of food-world fame have all been sighted.
In early 2015, Greenwich native Chef Geoff Lazlo—most recently executive chef at LeFarm and The Whelk in Westport—will open a sustainable, seasonal New American restaurant in Byram. Lazlo’s all-star culinary credits include serving as sous chef at Gramercy Tavern and cooking at Blue Hill and Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California. His yet unnamed restaurant will source produce from local farmers and purveyors, Geoff’s own garden, and from the restaurant’s business partner, Back 40 Farm in Washington, Connecticut. Expect a warm, casual setting with glass doors connecting an outdoor patio to the communal table dining area and the raw bar counter inside, creating an open atmosphere.
Late Night Noshing
There’s a new way to enjoy the cuisine and scene at Lefarm, the acclaimed Westport restaurant founded by über-talented Bill Taibe. On Friday nights at 10:30, the restaurant is hosting “deux amis” with Chef Arik Bensimon and barman Jeff Marron, who join forces to dish out some amazing food and cocktails. No reservations needed. You could start your night with ramen and small plates at Kawa Ni, Taibe’s new forty-seat Izekaya-esque Japanese-American restaurant, which opened in September.
morph into Back 40 Kitchen later this fall. Owned by Lesley and Bill King who also own Back 40 Farm in Washington, Connecitcut, the restaurant will undergo some minor renovations. “We’ll still be all organic food,” says Lesley, and the menu will be similar but with some tweaks and upgrades. Among the changes: the addition of prepared foods for more convenient grab-and-go meals. The new restaurant will continue to serve farm-fresh meals, sustainably produced wines, local beers and organic teas from the farm (try the lemon balm and chamomile mint).
A popular gastropub that’s an anchor restaurant in Stamford’s Harbor Point development is coming to Greenwich. Harlan Social will soon open downtown, expect fun cocktails, a weighty beer list and creative comfort food.
If your appreciation for art is matched only by your love of good food or you just want to try some creative cuisine, check out the Artist’s Table dinners at the Drawing Room Gallery. Chefs Björn Eicken and Paul Lockley create amazing five-course meals, with each course as a culinary interpretation of individual artwork on display. The next one is set for October 26 and will reflect the gallery’s first exclusive photography exhibit, Outside Focus, with works by Jeff Becker, David Burdeny, John Griebsch, Laura McClanahan and Torrance York. Talk about inspired eating!
154 East Putnam Avenue, Cos Cob
Need the perfect cheese platter for a party? In November Laura Downey and Chris Palumbo (of Fairfield Cheese Company), will open the Greenwich Cheese Company in Cos Cob. Look for a top selection of artisanal and farmstead cheeses from around the world and an array of handmade charcuterie and specialty foods.
What’s big at the recently opened Little Pub right now? Enjoy a different Oktoberfest beer on draft daily through early October. Also, check out the Pumpkin Patch, a special selection of pumpkin beers. For a taste of all your favorite autumn flavors in one dish, don’t miss the new harvest bruschetta, made with Granny Smith apples and butternut squash with rosemary goat cheese on a crostini drizzled with aged balsamic.