Category Archives: Restaurants

Dismantling The Red Barn

Any hopes for a hail Mary rescue of the Red Barn were dashed last night.

Simply Estated said it will hold an estate liquidation sale this Friday and Saturday (July 17-18, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.). Everything in the restaurant — which closed abruptly this month, after 32 years in the Nistico family and decades more under previous owners — is for sale.

Tables, chairs — it’s all on the market (except kitchen equipment).

Who knows? Somewhere in the back you might find the “The” part of the iconic “Red Barn” sign. It blew down in a storm a couple of years ago, and was never fixed.

Generations of memories fill the venerable restaurant. The Nistico family — and those before them — served Westport long and well there.

After Saturday, everything else will be gone.

Red Barn painting

“Jazz Rabbi” Blows Horn For Ornette Coleman

Greg Wall faced a challenge.

The “jazz rabbi” — a saxophonist who doubles as the spiritual leader of Westport’s Beit Chaverim (or the other way around) — needed a place to blow his horn.

Plenty of local spots feature music. But jazz is often relegated to “background music” — not the high-level listening experience offered at the major New York venues he’s worked, like Joe’s Pub and the Village Vanguard.

Enter 323. The restaurant near Coffee An’ offers a nice, wood-finished listening space. Every Thursday night Wall curates weekly jazz events, with well-known musician and guest stars.

The 2 faces of Greg Wall.

The 2 faces of Greg Wall.

Like the jazz professional he is, Wall improvises well. This Thursday there’s a tribute to Ornette Coleman, the legendary alto saxophonist/composer who died last month.

Sitting in will be Coleman’s longtime guitarist/collaborator Kenny Wessel.

“I’m a firm believer in meeting people where they are,” says Wall. “Whether it’s using my music to make a connection with people in a night club, or teaching Talmud classes on a sailboat” — his Friday morning onboard classes are a whole other story — “I try to remove any barriers that stand in the way of people and their spiritual development.”

That spiritual development — the jazz element, anyway — continues every Thursday night through August 27. Upcoming guests include guitar legend Bob Devos and the New American Quartet.

There is no cover charge to hear the jazz rabbi and friends blow their shofars horns.

(For more information, click on the Facebook page: Jazz at 323 Westport.)

Arezzo Launches National Line

There is only one Arezzo.

It’s in Westport. Since opening nearly 2 years ago at the corner of the Post Road and Riverside Avenue — a location that over the years had seen many restaurants come and go — the Italian place with a killer patio out back has become one of our town’s most popular spots.

The caponata earns raves. The sauces are fantastic.

Arezzo caponataSo owner Juan Ceballos is making a smart move: He’s including them in a new multi-item product line. They’ll be available at retailers in the tri-state area — and nationally soon after that.

For 15 years — at his Arezzo Ristorante & Bar in New York, then at his New Canaan restaurant — customers have asked Ceballos to package his signature items.

But he worried about quality control. Now — assured of full control over the ingredients, preparation and production — he’s good to go.

In addition to the caponata and sauces (garden tomato, classic marinara and fra diavolo), Arezzo Authentic Fine Foods will include biscotti and lemon sauce (great for salads, vegetables and fish).

Westporters who know restaurants know Arezzo. Soon, the rest of the country — at least, those who love fine Italian food — will know it too.

Missing Fisherman Found

Many Westporters were sorry to see Mansion Clam House start morphing into Parker Steak House.

But lobster, shrimp and seafood aren’t the only losses. The Mansion fisherman — a mannequin that sat on the roof for years — disappeared as soon as construction began.

Yesterday, an alert “06880′ reader walking past the enclosed dining area beween Mansion and Julian’s’ spotted what she thinks is the fisherman — or at least, his legs — in a container.

(Photo/"Saugatuck Cindy")

(Photo/”Saugatuck Cindy”)

The rest of him is in the bottom of the container, somewhat smashed up.

If the fisherman could be salvaged, that would be quite a catch.

 

Red Barn — Revisited

Last week — based on a phone call to the Red Barn — I reported that the rumors of the restaurant’s closing were wrong.

I said — based on what I’d been told — that the kitchen was being revamped. New ovens and a natural gas hookup were on the way. Re-opening was set for today (Wednesday, July 8).

A number of readers suggested — publicly and privately — that I was wrong.

A woman said that one of the owners called to tell her that her group’s annual luncheon — held every year in late July — would not happen, because the restaurant had been sold.

A salesperson described going to the Red Barn at midday to pick up a check. No renovation work was underway. In fact, no one was there at all.

Red Barn painting

I called this afternoon — the day I was told they’d reopen. The phone rang and rang and rang. Finally, I hung up.

Just in case, I checked the website.

It still touts itself as “a unique, rustic place for your next event or function.”

But even more prominently, it still advertises its Mother’s Day specials.

Meanwhile, the Westport Family Y — which everyone in Westport thinks has bought the property, though no real estate transaction has been filed — is not talking either.

The out-of-date (and strangely dark) Red Barn website.

The out-of-date (and strangely dark) Red Barn website.

  

 

Extras! Extras! Needed At The Duck!

John Francis Sullivan is a Westport native, Staples grad, and Los Angeles filmmaker. His next project is “Taste of Life” — a romantic comedy about a single dad who meets online dates at the same comedy club/cabaret/restaurant.

On Thursday, he needs a few extras for a scene he’s shooting.

Okay — full disclosure: The scene is part of his crowd-sourcing fundraising on Indiegogo.

Still, it’s a chance to kinda/sorta be in a movie. Plus, it’s at the Black Duck — and Sullivan is offering a free drink or two.

If you’re interested, head to the Duck this Thursday (July 9) at 6 p.m. Look for the cameras. Sullivan will take it from there.

Action!

You can be a star!

You can be a star!

 

Christy Colasurdo Celebrates Connecticut’s Farm Tables

Christy Colasurdo  says her son Charlie was “somehow born to be a farmer and environmentalist.” To ensure that other kids would have a place to learn where their food comes from, how to care for animals, what it means to recycle and compost, and just spend time in nature — Christy got involved with Wakeman Town Farm.

While Charlie apprenticed at local farms, Christy — a former New York magazine editor — began writing about the farm-to-table movement. That led to her launch of Graze (now called The Simple Scallion), a service that delivers milk, eggs and the like from small farms to people’s front doors.

Christy Colasurdo

Christy Colasurdo

Christy admires and respects the endless hours of hard work farmers put in: working the land; handling weather, pests and disease; marketing their products; packing and unpacking wares at farmers’ markets, and (these are not farmers of yore) navigating social media to educate people about good seasonal food.

While getting Graze off the ground, Christy met Tracey Medeiros. She’d just published a book about Vermont’s farm-to-table scene.

Christy described Fairfield County, where fantastic chefs are partnering with local farmers, fishermen, oystermen and honey connoisseurs.

A new book was born. Christy identified restaurants, chefs and farmers, then wrote the profiles. Tracey and a tester tried hundreds of the chefs’ best recipes.

A year and a half later, The Connecticut Farm Table Cookbook is a beautiful homage/culinary travelogue. From Greenwich to Groton, Norwalk to Litchfield, Christy and Tracey tell great stories, using intriguing stories and stunning photos.

And, of course, mouth-watering recipes.

Preparing a recipe at the Westport Farmers' Market. (Photo/Oliver Parini)

Preparing a recipe at the Westport Farmers’ Market. (Photo/Oliver Parini)

Among the local places and recipes:

  • The Whelk and Le Farm (deviled eggs with cornmeal, fried oysters and pickled red onion)
  • Blue Lemon (fresh peach tart)
  • Gilbertie’s Herb Gardens (Brussels sprouts and petite edibles)
  • Saugatuck Craft Butchery (slow-roasted porchetta with cilantro and smoked paprika; dry-aged steak tartare crostini with pickled garden turnips)
  • SoNo Baking Company and Cafe (strawberry frangipane tartlets; caramel-apple tart)
  • Tarry Lodge (rosa bianca eggplant caponata)
  • Terrain (salt-roasted beets with blood oranges, pistachios and goat cheese salad)
  • Westport Farmers’ Market (various vendors)
  • Wakeman Town Farm (chipotle veggie chili)

Christy Colasurdo book“The chef/farmer relationship often goes unheralded,” Christy says. “Yet it’s exponentially more difficult for a chef to source from small local and organic farms and fishermen than from a large commercial supplier.

“It’s a lot easier to let the Sysco truck pull to the back door,” she adds. “Instead, they get out to the farmers’ market. They take ‘field trips’ to local organic farms. They forge old-fashioned relationships with their suppliers that often include bailing out a farmer with too much zucchini or kale, or asking the farmer to plant special crops like Peruvian purple potatoes or Asian specialty greens, just for their restaurants.”

The Connecticut Farm Table Cookbook is available at Terrain and Barnes & Noble. This Thursday, July 9 (10 a.m.) there’s a talk at the Westport Library. At 10:45, Christy and Tracey will stroll over to the Farmers’ Market. Local farmers and vendors featured in the book will be introduced, and Tracey will give a recipe demo using fresh market produce.

Get set for a delightful, delicious day.

Pulling Into An Actual Parking Spot Is So Overrated

For most Westporters, yesterday evening was a chance to relax just a little bit longer, after a wonderful Independence Day weekend.

One driver though was apparently so stressed, he or she could not be bothered to use a parking space — even though most were empty, in the Saugatuck Craft Butchery/Garelick & Herbs parking lot.

Yes, this is an actual parking job. No, there was no one in the car.

(Photo/Jamie Braun)

(Photo/Jamie Walsh)

Did the driver have an immediate need for ice cream at Saugatuck Sweets? A drink at the Whelk?

Most times, these “entitled parking” photos evoke at least one defender, who points out a legalistic or otherwise morally suspect reason the driver may have parked as he or she did.

No one can dream up an excuse for this one.

Independence Day Weekend — In Westport?!

Bill Whitbeck grew up here. His 1st job was cooking burgers at Big Top, where his customers included Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Bill also was a huge Mario’s fan.

He moved far away in the late 1970s. But he still lives in Westport.

Bill sent along a few photos, and explains:

“Happy 4th of July from Westport, Washington! A beautiful evening on the Pacific Coast.”

Westport WA 1

Westport WA 3

Westport WA 2

Red Barn Is NOT Closing

The rumors have swirled for weeks: The Westport Family Y bought the Red Barn. It will be torn down, and used for parking.

The Y is not talking. But the lights were off last night, the parking lot deserted — and Westporters got even more worried.

Red Barn restaurant

You can keep worrying — but only if you wanted to dine there before Wednesday.

The Red Barn is closed because the kitchen is being revamped. They’re adding new ovens, and a natural gas hookup.

It reopens July 8.

At the same place its been all these years: next to Merritt Parkway Exit 41.

You know: Right near the new Y.