Category Archives: Restaurants

Pics Of The Day #870

One view of the Duck …

… and another (Photos/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Saugatuck Slice Will Be Extra Nice

Saugatuck may not have any room to expand.

But the Slice of Saugatuck does.

From Bridge Square to Railroad Place — and everywhere else — Slice of Saugatuck is packed. (Photo/Terry Cosgrave)

The 8th annual event — a popular food-tasting, shop-exploring, kids-romping, music-enjoying festival — pushes north and west this year.

This Saturday (September 7, 2 to 5 p.m.), the Slice includes newly opened  Mystic Market — the sandwich/salad/prepared foods/coffee mart on Charles Street — and the Goddard School, the daycare and childcare center on Saugatuck Avenue near Dunville’s (they’ll have a bouncy house).

They join more than 50 other businesses. All provide samples, and show off their merchandise or services (like Tae Kwan Do and dance). New this year too: boat rides, courtesy of Carefree Boat Club.

Firefighters at the Saugatuck station promote fire safety (and offer a seat in their very cool truck).

It’s a true community stroll. Kids love activities like an obstacle course, giant slide, balloon bender and Maker Faire area.

Adults appreciate 2 beer gardens (with wine as well), on Bridge Square and Railroad Place. Many restaurants offer specialty drinks (and hold happy hours after the Slice officially ends).

Saugatuck has always been about food. The Slice of Saugatuck festival is too.

People of all ages can hear bands like the 5 O’Clocks and School of Rock at 6 locations.

Music — not train horns and garbled announcements — fill the station air.

Tickets are $15 per adult (2 for $25). Children under 13 are $5; kids 5 and under go free. Admission (cash only) is available on site, starting at 1:50 p.m. Saturday.

Last year, the sponsoring Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce donated $4,000 of the proceeds to the Gillespie Center’s food pantry. The total over 7 years is $28,500.

Any way you slice it, that’s a great gift.

Little Barn, Big Welcome

An alert “06880” reader — and grateful parent — writes:

Like many local businesses, Little Barn gets hit up for lots of good causes. Donate a gift card to a fundraiser? Buy an ad in a program book? Sponsor a team?

Owners Scott Beck and Kevin McHugh always say “sure!”

But the pair go way beyond donations. They’ve made their casual, friendly Post Road restaurant — formerly Dairy Queen, then Woody’s and Swanky Frank’s — what those other places never were: a “Cheers”-like home-away-from-home, where everyone feels welcome any time, and everybody knows your name. (And your kid’s name.)

Enter here for the Little Barn.

Some of their most devoted customers are Staples High School sports teams.

Take last fall’s freshman football squad. The heart of the squad has been together since 4th grade. Parents formed bonds as tight as the players. They all celebrated together after every game.

Many places viewed the enthusiastic group as an intrusion. Little Barn embraced them.

After the final game of the year — when the 9th graders finished undefeated — parent Miki Scarfo warned the restaurant that this gathering would be particularly large.

“Can’t wait to see you!” they said.

Players and siblings filled the back. Parents hung out in front. The varsity coaches and captains arrived, surprising the freshmen. It was organic, free-form and fun — a snapshot from another part of America, perhaps.

A small part of a large Little Barn gathering.

The rugby and wrestling teams have made Little Barn their own too. It’s where coaches, parents and athletes gather before and after competitions; where their booster clubs meet; wherever anyone goes at a random moment, knowing they’ll be welcome.

Little Barn’s support of Staples goes beyond sports.

Some restaurants with live entertainment hire adult musicians. Little Barn gives student bands a shot. The same parents who meet up for athletes pack the place, supporting the teenagers.

How does everyone know to go? When a gathering takes place, parents often send out texts. A group assembles in minutes. They call it “flashing the bat signal.”

Little Barn owner Scott Beck likes the “bat signal” idea so much, his marketing team created this graphic for it.

Little Barn sounds like a throwback to a different era.

But the “bat signal” texts are all about 2019.

Dairy Queen has sure come a long way.

Menu Moments: What To Eat At Sherwood Diner

The Sherwood Diner is legendary. Since 1977 it’s welcomed families, nearly every Staples High School student, travelers making a pit stop off I-95 — and everyone else, from early risers to night owls. (It’s also the place to go when power is out.)

“The diner” offers cozy tables, good meals at fair prices, and food that arrives in what seems like seconds. It’s also got one of the biggest, longest menus in town.

Sherwood Diner (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

In this latest installment of our continuing series, local nutritionist Heather Bauer offers a diverse selection of healthy options.

Like eggs?

  • Go for the Eggs Benedict. Skip the sauce and English muffin; add spinach and avocado. Tip: Eggs Benedict is a great stealth choice whenever you want to be healthy without being obvious. Order as is; ask for the sauce on the side, and eat the eggs with a fork and knife. (No one will notice.)
  • Try an egg white omelet with mushrooms, spinach, asparagus and a slice of American cheese (requesting 1 slice helps control the amount of cheese in the omelet). Ask for lettuce and tomato on the side, and fresh berries instead of toast.
  • Leanest order: 2 poached eggs, side of lettuce, tomato and fresh berries, no toast.
  • Really hungry? Add a side of Canadian bacon, turkey bacon or turkey sausage.

No-egg breakfast picks

  • Organic Greek yogurt with fresh berries. This is Connecticut local whole fat yogurt, so it keeps you satiated for longer than you think.
  • Oatmeal, plus a side of fresh berries or sliced fresh fruit.

(Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Salad Picks

  • I recommend the California salad, fresh spinach salad, mesclun salad or Village salad.
  • It’s okay to add grilled chicken, grilled salmon or roasted turkey. Vegetarians can add feta or a veggie burger as their protein.
  • Have the salad chopped for you, if you find it too much work to do at the table. Simply say, “please chop my salad for me, and leave the dressing on the side.” However, if you are fast eater, don’t go this route. Adding dressing and chopping it yourself will help slow you down.
  • Avoid more than 2 fats in a salad. Cheese, olives, roasted veggies and dressing all count as fat.
  • I recommend the lobster salad – yum! It has mayo and the portion is pretty generous though, so try to leave a little over if you can (I know it’s hard to leave lobster on your plate!). This dish comes over mixed greens, which is good.

Other good choices…

  • Broiled salmon over steamed or sauteed spinach.
  • Traditional burger, no bun, side salad (request grilled veggies on top).
  • Vegetarians: veggie burger (Morningstar Farms). And the diner now offers the Beyond Burger; order with extra grilled veggies on top, and a side salad.
  • Request house-made tzatziki on the side of any above (not pita) as a good dipping sauce

Friday Flashback #156

Regular readers know “06880” often laments the loss of things that make a town a community.

Movie theaters. Mom-and-pop shops.

And bars.

I’m talking about real bars. Not bars attached to restaurants, like so many places in town: Spotted Horse, Tavern on Main, Arezzo, Little Barn, you name it.

And not restaurants with very active bars, like Viva’s and the Duck.

No. I mean actual, go-and-stay-and-drink-and-maybe-have-peanuts-but-a-place-where-everybody-knows-your-name bar.

The Westport equivalent of Cheers.

Parsell’s Purcell’s was that kind of bar, on the Post Road near Southport. So was the Red Galleon, across from Green’s Farms Elementary School.

Ship’s Lantern was too, downtown on the Post Road (before it become The Ships nearby — which today is Tiffany 😦 ).

Then there was “The Bridge.”

Formally Ye Olde Bridge Grill — though there was nothing formal about it — The Bridge sat on Post Road West, right over the bridge (aha!), a couple of doors down from National Hall (at the time, Fairfield Furniture), and directly opposite Art’s (now Winfield) Deli.

It was around for years, but hit its stride in the 1970s and ’80s. With generous owner Dave Reynolds, popular manager/bartender Dennis Murphy, a large and loyal bunch of regulars, and a jukebox that played the same songs over and over and over again (“Domino” by Van Morrison, anyone?), The Bridge was the kind of gathering spot we just don’t have any more.

Owner Dave Reynolds …

(It was also the sponsor of an Under-23 soccer team of the same name. Stocked with the best Westport players of its time, and their friends from the college and semi-pro ranks, it won all kinds of state and regional championships. After every match, players and fans celebrated you-know-where.)

… and manager Dennis Murphy (standing, left). He coached the Bridge Grille team to many state titles.

Things change. Rents rose. The drinking age rose too, from 18 to 21.

The Bridge has been gone for 3 decades or so. Today it’s an antiques shop, or something like that.

Cheers!

Funds Raised For Marie Boyer

You may not know her name. But chances are you saw Marie Boyer around town.

The Westport mother walked miles to several different jobs — in all kinds of weather.

One was at Little Barn. She often opened up before anyone else got there. She worked long hours, hoping to get her girls a good education. Tracy — a Staples graduate — is in college, while Tamikah is a rising high school senior.

The Haitian native spoke mostly Creole. She lived on Hales Court, with her husband and daughters.

Marie died August 10, after a brief illness. She was 48 years old.

Friends organized a GoFundMe page, raising money for funeral and memorial expenses, back to school items, college expenses and day-to-day necessities. Click here to help.

Marie’s funeral is this Saturday (August 24), 8 a.m. at the Church of the Nazarene, 146 Main Street in Norwalk.

Mayer Boyer, when her daughters were young.

Very Special Family Visits Joey’s

Joey’s by the Shore is one of Westport’s not-so-hidden gems.

It’s got the most interesting menu of any beach place I’ve seen. Joey, Donny and the kids who work there do a great job cooking, handling crowds, and coaxing orders out of kids (and parents) who get to the cash register, look up from their iPhones and suddenly have no idea what they want.

Joey’s crew is also fanatical about keeping the place looking nice, inside and out.

One thing they should not have to do is clean up after customers.

On my way inside Sunday, I passed a family — dad, mom, 3 cute kids — eating at a patio table. The sky was blue; the vibe, wonderfully chill.

This is what I saw when I came out:

The happy family was nowhere to be seen.

Of course, they may have had an excellent excuse for leaving their gross mess:

Perhaps it was their maid’s day off.

Batsh*t Bride Comes Home

First came “Groundhog Day.” Then “Independence Day.”

A new film takes place on April 1. It’s not called “April Fools Day” — the title is “Batsh*t Bride” — but the premise is clear.

Just before her wedding that day, a bride pranks her fiance by saying they should break up. Unfortunately, he feels the same way. Everything spirals out of control from there.

Jonathan Smith’s indie feature — starring Meghan Falcone as Heather — debuts August 26 at Stamford’s Avon Theatre. The venue is signifcant: “Batsh*t Bride” was filmed throughout Fairfield County.

Many scenes took place right here, including Christ & Holy Trinity Church and Longshore and Pearl restaurant. A number of Westporters had roles as extras.

The first scene the filmmakers shot was Heather’s failed wedding. Cinematographer Jason Merrin worked on it while in town for his own wedding.

A local blog posted the call for extras. Expecting only a handful of people, Smith planned his camera angles creatively. However, the Christ & Holy Trinity pews were packed.

Lights! Camera and action came later. (Photo/Ellen Bowen)

Many extras were then recruited for other background shots. One was even given a line.

The ballroom and hotel scenes were all shot at The Inn at Longshore. But the production was allowed in only on Monday through Wednesday, for 2 consecutive weeks.

Smith liked Longshore so much, he rewrote several sections to fit the grounds. He added in golf and kayak scenes.

Tickets to the premiere are $10. Chez Vous Bistro offers a $25 prix fixe 2-course dinner prior to the screening, while Flinders Lane Kitchen & Bar has happy hour drink prices and complimentary appetizers after the screening (with ticket stubs).

Email batshitbride@gmail.com for tickets and dinner reservations.

Menu Moments: What To Eat At Sakura

For over 30 years, Sakura has been a Westport favorite. It’s a go-to place for celebrations, from birthdays and graduations to family reunions. Kids never tire of the hibachi tables, while the tatami rooms in back are great for private dining.

But for many Westporters, Japanese food can still be difficult to figure out. As part of “06880”‘s continuing series on healthy eating, Dietician Heather Bauer offers tips on the best dishes to order at the Post Road landmark.

Hibachi Recommendations

  • Start with onion soup or salad (if you order salad, use ½ dressing)

Entree:

  • Choose shrimp or chicken as your protein, and enjoy the veggies. The oil/sauce entree is cooked in and will count as your carb, so try to skip the rice at this meal. Also, avoid the extra dipping sauces they give you on the side.
  • Alternative: Order the sushi recommendations below at the hibachi table.

Sushi Recommendations

Appetizer (select one):

  • Miso soup (if you are not salt-sensitive)
  • Mixed green salad (with a half-serving of ginger dressing)
  • Edamame (share)
  • Seaweed salad

Entree (choose one):

  • Order your favorite roll Naruto style (wrapped in cucumber instead of rice). I love tuna/avocado, yellowtail/jalapeno or salmon/avocado. You can also order 1 hand roll of your choice (optional request: use cucumber instead of rice).
  • 6-piece maki roll (request to be cut into 8 pieces; this helps slow you down), with 4 pieces of sashimi.
  • 6 pieces of sashimi, and a side order of oshitashi (spinach).
  • Chirashi sushi (comes with 6 pieces of sashimi over steamed rice; eat one-quarter to one-half of the rice; leave the rest over. This is a great option for naturally slower eaters).
  • Chicken or salmon teriyaki, with double steamed veggies (skip the rice, as the sauce counts as your carb here. This is a great option for anyone who does not like sushi).

Things to Avoid

  • Tempura, spider, dynamite, spicy rolls and eel.
  • Dishes described as Agemono or tempura; both are deep-fried.
  • Sushi rolls made with cream cheese and too much avocado.

Additional Notes

  • Look for rolls wrapped in cucumber instead of rice (Naruto style).
  • Order your maki roll (usually 6 pieces) to be cut into 8 pieces; this helps you take smaller bites. Also, ordering rolls inside out adds more rice (better with the seaweed on the outside).
  • If you switch your roll from white to brown rice you add fiber, which makes it more filling. Note: brown and white rice calories are about the same.
  • Edamame usually comes salted; it is soybeans, so this works best for vegetarians or slower eaters who will only have a few pieces. If you are a fast eater and not good at sharing food, don’t start the edamame until there is a quarter or half left (in case you have trouble stopping!).
  • You can also always sub the rice in a hand roll for cucumber or other veggies.
  • Always request lite soy sauce. Add wasabi and ice cubes to help dilute it. No refills!
  • Eating with chopsticks helps slow you down.
  • Be careful with sake. It has more calories than you realize. Six ounces of sake is about 240 calories (there are 150 calories in 6 ounces of wine).

It all looks great. But some options at Sakura are healthier than others.

Al Fresco At Romanacci’s

Plenty of commuters pick up dinner to go at Romanacci Express.

But many people also eat in, at the popular pizza-and-more spot directly opposite the train station

Now they can also eat “out” — literally — on Railroad Place.

The restaurant received a permit to use one parking spot directly in front for al fresco tables. The view is not quite Roman — but it’s pleasant, breezy, and great for people-watching.

The idea was encouraged by town officials, eager to enliven Westport’s dining scene.

Tarantino and Harvest may follow soon.