Category Archives: Restaurants

Pic Of The Day #28

Old Town Hall on the Post Road — now Jesup Hall and Rothbard + Larder restaurants. (Photo copyright Katherine Bruan)

Photo Challenge #123

David Sampson, Joyce Barnhart, Sally Korsh and Jill Turner Odice all answered last week’s photo challenge with 2 words: “Onion Alley.”

Technically, Lynn U. Miller’s image (click here to see) actually showed the intriguing wrought-iron gate at the Main Street entrance to now-closed — and slated for demolition — Bobby Q’s.

Onion Alley was the restaurant a decade earlier. But that’s typical Westport: We often refer to places that live on in our memories.

James Weisz was the first reader to use the most recent name, Bobby Q’s.

Then there’s Jacques Voris. The Westport native — whose family’s roots here date back to the 1700s — called it both Bobby Q’s and Onion Alley. And, he noted, it was also the entrance to “African American church/housing.”

That’s right. Back in the 1940s, 2 dozen black men, women and children lived there. The address was “12 1/2 Main Street.” Set back a bit from the road was a warren of apartments, and a small church.

The complex burned to the ground in 1950. The cause of the blaze was never determined. But that’s another story entirely.

This week’s photo challenge is a bit different than most:

(Photo/Seth Schachter)

It’s the Compo Beach cannons — duh.

But do you know where in Westport you’d find this image?

Click “Comments” below if you know where you see it. And most of us do see it, all the time.

Pop! Goes The Noodle Soup

Fleishers Craft Kitchen is gone.

But taking its place at Fleishers Craft Butchery is a pop-up soup kitchen.

North Shutsharawan and his wife Jillian run a bone broth and Thai noodle soup business — Nit Noi Provisions – based in Westport.

North Shutsharawan, in the kitchen.

All month long they’re selling those tasty soups — and a few lunch items — at Fleishers’ popular Saugatuck site.

The couple use pasture-raised animals (from Fleishers, of course) and organic vegetables sourced locally and sustainably.

You can eat in, or take out to braise your own meal.

But hurry! The pop-up shop is only open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

And only through May!

Noodles in vegetable broth.

Aux Delices Now Aux-pen

In one of the fastest turnarounds in coffee shop/baked goods/prepared foods history, Aux Delices opened today on Church Lane.

The small chain’s 2nd Westport location is the former site of Sono Baking Company. That store closed just 2 weeks ago.

Westporters always like checking out new places. There’s an extra incentive today: Free coffee until closing (4 p.m.).

Pic Of The Day #10

National Hall (Photo copyright Lynn U. Miller)

Sugar & Olives & Co-Working

One side of Sugar & Olives — Jennifer Balin’s fun, funky space just over the Norwalk line, across from Bowtie Royale 6 — is a restaurant. The other side is an event space, for receptions, celebrations, and bar and bat mitzvahs.

People don’t celebrate on weekday mornings or afternoons. They work then.

Of course, they work differently than they used to. They work at home — surrounded by kids, dogs, house cleaners and leaf blowers. Or they work at Starbucks — surrounded by conversations, constant movement, and baristas calling out wrong names.

Now there’s another option.

Balin — a longtime Westporter who raised 4 kids while also running Sugar & Olives — has turned her event area into a co-working space.

With big tables, high-speed internet, lots of fast table-top charging stations and floor outlets, a laser printer, desk lamps, a tall standing desk, free coffee and tea — plus discounts at the restaurant  — it offers the kind of quiet yet creative atmosphere you can’t get at home.

Or Starbucks.

The co-working space at Sugar & Olives.

Westport author Jane Green is a strong advocate. She encouraged Balin to post the idea on Facebook. Dozens of residents responded.

They’re writers, financial folks, marketers, non-profit workers and more. They pay $300 for a monthly pass, or $200 for a 10-pack. (Special plans are available for Westport Arts Center and Westport Historical Society members. And, Balin says, some companies pick up the co-working tab for employees. She’s got an invoice you can use for reimbursement.)

The vibe, Balin says, is “relaxing, inspirational and chill.” Phone calls are fine — just go to the restaurant side. (That’s called the “conference room,” for meetings and Skyping.)

The co-working space is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. — though Balin can be flexible.

Oh, yeah: There’s a free social networking breakfasting every Wednesday.

Beat that, Starbucks!

(For more information on Sugar & Olives’ co-working program, click here.)

“A Taste Of Westport”: A Testament To CLASP

Tracy Flood grew up on South Compo Road — just down the street from CLASP’s Pine Drive house.

The raised ranch is home to 6 women — members of the long-time, low key organization that provides family environments for people with autism and intellectual disabilities.

CLASP’s Pine Drive home.

As a grad student in 1984, Tracy began working weekends at Pine Street. What started as a short-term job turned into a passion — and her calling.

Like many CLASP folks, she found an extended family among colleagues and residents.

Shortly after Tracy began her Pine Street job, her mother died. The residents swarmed her with hugs, and told her how beautiful she was. Their support helped her through a very tough time.

Tracy realized that being part of the CLASP family meant not only giving love, but receiving it back in volumes.

CLASP residents on a baseball outing.

More than 30 years later, Tracy is president of CLASP. The organization has grown to include 13 group homes. Four are in Westport: Pine Drive, Weston Road, Kings Highway and Sturges Highway. Residents — some of whom have lived there for decades — are deeply rooted in the community. They work, shop and play here, leading full, productive lives.

CLASP is one of those local organizations most Westporters are only vaguely aware of. Many don’t even know that the big spring event they always see signs for — A Taste of Westport — is CLASP’s major fundraiser.

It’s one you can really dig your teeth into.

Many of Westport’s finest restaurants offer specialty dishes. You can sample wine, beer and specialty cocktails — and end with dessert from Le Rouge Chocolates.

There’s music too, plus a silent auction.

All money raised goes directly to the residents. So they can continue to thrive — and give back the love they receive, to CLASP staffers and the entire community.

(A Taste of Westport is set for Thursday, May 4, 6 to 9:30 p.m. at the Westport Inn. Participating restaurants and vendors include Amis, Black Bear Wines & Spirits, Bobby Q’s Cue & Co., Da Pietro’s, Dough & Co., El Segundo, Garelick & Herbs, Geronimo, Greens Farms Spirit Shop, Harvest, Hummock Island Oysters, Le Rouge Chocolates by Aarti, Little Pub, Matsu Sushi, Mionetto Prosecco, Pane e Bene, Pearl at Longshore, Rive Bistro, Tacos Mexico, Tarantino Restaurant, The Spread and Washington Prime. Click here for tickets and more information. 

All That Confusion Between Bravo And Rio Bravo Is Over

First came Bravo. The Italian restaurant replaced V, in the Post Road strip mall near Balducci’s.

Then came Rio Bravo 2 doors down, a Mexican restaurant with absolutely no connection to Bravo — other than the name.

Bravo did not last long. Inefficient service may have had something to do with its demise.

Now Julian’s has opened up in the old Bravo space. It’s the 3rd location for the brick oven pizza place. There’s one in Monroe, and another in Saugatuck.

(Photo/Seth Schachter)

So now, instead of saying “Do you mean Bravo the Italian restaurant, or Rio Bravo the Mexican one?” you can say: “Is that the Julian’s on Riverside Avenue, or the one on the Post Road?”

End Of An Old Mill Era

Emma Morano died on Saturday, in Italy. The world’s oldest woman — and the last person on earth known to have lived in the 1800s — she was 117 years old.

Here in Westport, a demolition permit has been issued for 233 Hillspoint Road. The notice affixed to the side of the building puts its age at 117 years.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

It too has a link to Italy: Most recently, it was the site of Positano. That restaurant closed at the end of 2014. It reopened several months later at its present location, next to the Westport Country Playhouse.

Positano restaurant.

Positano was the last in a storied line of restaurants at 233 Hillspoint. Perhaps its most popular predecessor was Cafe de la Plage.

In between, it was (briefly) the Beach House:

“Beach House,” by Tony Marino.

In the mid-1900s, Westporters knew it as Leo Williams’ Old Mill Restaurant:

Leo Williams’ Old Mill Restaurant, in 1954. (Photo/Bridgeport Post)

Before that, it was both the Beach Food Mart, and Joe’s:

In its 117 years, #233 Hillspoint has seen a lot. The neighborhood has changed — many times. Old Mill Beach has thrived, eroded, and come back to life.

Of course, there were floods, like Hurricane Carol in 1954 …

… and SuperStorm Sandy 59 years later:

(Photo/Matt Murray)

From these photos, it’s likely the property started out as a private home.

Once demolition as complete, that’s probably what it will become again.

But this is 2017. Not 1899.

Odds are good it will not look the same.

Food Rescue US Sinks Deep Westport Roots

If you’re like me, you’ve probably given little — if any — thought to the enormous amount of food that restaurants and grocery stores throw away every day.

If you’re like Simon Hallgarten and Stephanie Webster though, you have.

The Westporters — he’s a founding partner of Northview Hotel Group, she’s editor-in-chief of CTbites — are national board members of Food Rescue US.

The organization — known until this past January as Community Plates — fills a simple, important, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that mission: moving fresh, usable food that would have been thrown away by restaurants, grocers and other food industry sources, to families that desperately need it.

The national Food Rescue US group has a strong local presence. Under Hallgarten and Webster’s leadership, Westport has become a big town for food donors — and as “food rescuers.”

Whole Foods cannot possibly sell all its food. It’s a leader in offering its unused goods to people in need.

Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Fresh Market are longtime donors. Many smaller stores and restaurants participate too.

Right now, 40 Westport volunteers transport food to shelters, kitchens and pantries in Norwalk, Bridgeport and Stamford. Over the past few years, more than 350 Westporters have helped.

Many bring their children on food rescue missions. “It’s an important lesson for our kids who otherwise are sheltered from the harsher side of life, and the struggles that many families go through every day,” Hallgarten — who started his career as a chef — says.

Ziggy Hallgarten — Simon’s son, an All-State soccer goalkeeper and current lacrosse player at Staples — and his younger brother Ollie are food rescuers.

Ollie Hallgarten, with a vehicle full of donated (“rescued”) food.

“It’s an easy way to give back to a large community at once,” Ziggy says. “With an hour’s worth of driving, you can change the lives of so many.”

On his first run with his dad 2 years ago, Ziggy was shocked to see some of his favorite foods — perfectly edible — about to be thrown away.

They filled the back of their station wagon, and drove “pounds and pounds of food” from a New Canaan grocery store to a Stamford homeless shelter.

“The locations of my deliveries changed during the couple of years I’ve been a food rescuer,” Ziggy says. “But the priceless smiles of the recipients when I’ve driven up with boxes of food never ceases to amaze me.”

He brought friends on runs too, showing them the feasibility — and ease — of saving otherwise wasted food.

Though Food Rescue US is a volunteer driven (ho ho) operation, there are of course administrative and other costs. So this year’s fundraiser — “Food for All 2017: An Evening to End Hunger” — is very important.

Set for next Wednesday (April 26, 6:30 p.m., The Loading Dock in Stamford), it features over 15 tasting plates from top Fairfield County chefs, along with beer, wine and craft cocktails. Every $1 donated helps cover 20 rescued meals.

Westport sponsors for Wednesday’s fundraiser include Whole Foods, Moffly Media, and the Elizabeth and Joseph Massoud Family Foundation. Fleishers Craft Kitchen and Whole Foods are among the participating food vendors.

“Hunger is an issue that can be fixed,” Simon Hallgarten says. “Food Rescue US’ goal of ending hunger in not a crazy pipe dream. It’s a reality — if we reach critical mass in the next decade.”

In Westport — thanks to so many restaurants, stores and volunteers — we’re almost there.

(For more information on the April 26 “Food for All” fundraiser, including tickets, click here.)