Decadent, high-priced cupcakes did not work here. Twice.
Jeffrey Pandolfino is betting the 3rd time — with real food — will be the charm.
He owns Green & Tonic. The smoothie/salad/wrap/bowl/cleanse company just opened its 5th location here in Westport.
Green & Tonic moves eastward, from Greenwich, Cos Cob, Darien and New Canaan. The new spot is the Jesup Green/Taylor Place corner vacated by bankrupt Crumbs.
Westporters poured into Green & Tonic last night.
Last night’s opening was packed. (It helped that everything was free.)
Green & Tonic’s tagline is “Revive with real food.” The menu offers “plant-based food and drink for everyday eating.” It ranges from berry and acai “power bowls,” through wheatgrass and bee pollen boosters, to salads like pomegranate kale with quinoa, and on into a sunflower seed tuna wrap and a curried lentil brown rice bowl.
There are also “cleanse programs and meal plans,” for those who want to “get back to basics.”
Green & Tonic owner Jeffrey Pandolfino.
So how is Green & Tonic different from Freshii (across the street)? Pandolfino points to greater variety, and the ease of picking up pre-made meals.
“We’re the healthy Starbucks,” he said. “We want to be the place you come to every day.”
Also from, presumably, right across the street.
The Green & Tonic philosophy is never far from customers’ minds.
In it, something else is out: Westport as a culinary capital.
The free paper’s survey covers a broad array of categories: restaurants, bars and clubs, drinks and eating (as in “best buffalo wings,” “best burrito,” “best falafel”…).
For those of us clinging to the idea that Westport’s got all best places in Fairfield County, I have 3 words: Get over it.
According to the Weekly’s readers, Fairfield reigns as county king. Our eastern neighbor won 30 categories — 32, if you count Southport as separate, which the paper did. (Southport Brewing Company won for Best Brew Pub, Coromandel for Best Indian Restaurant.)
In 2nd place was Stamford (27 winners). The great gastronomic metropolis of Bridgeport came in 3rd (14).
Norwalk had 10 winners. We were 1 back, with 9.
Actually, only 5 separate places made the cut — 3 won multiple categories.
The good news is that Le Farm picked up the big prize — Best Restaurant Overall — along with Best Chef (congrats, Bill Taibe).
Splash was a triple victor — Best Place for Brunch, Best Restaurant With a Water View, Best Restaurant With Outdoor Dining. (The last 2 are not, technically speaking, culinary awards.)
Our only other double winner was — ah, how the mighty have fallen — Five Guys. It captured Best Burger and Best Fries honors, which are culinary awards (technically speaking).
Sakura won for Best Japanese Restaurant. Our other champ, meanwhile, took Fairfield Weekly’s version of the Oscars’ Best Key Grip: Crumbs has the Best Cupcakes.
(Well, it should. How many cupcake specialty shops are there around here?)
When the busboy fills your glass, some people see it as half-empty. They would say that — culinarily speaking — Westport has gotten really, really dead.
I prefer to see the glass as half-full. I think Westporters are too busy dining in our many fine establishments to fill out some dumb-ass survey.
Caroline Purvins loves Westport. She says it’s “picturesque, quaint” — and when she looks out the window she sees “geese, not pigeons.”
As a New Yorker, Caroline can be forgiven for thinking that Canada geese are cuter, cuddlier or less obnoxious than pigeons. But she’s right about the rest of that view. Her enormous windows look out on Jesup Green, the library, the river — it’s one of the best views in town.
And right now many Westporters strolling by enjoy looking the direction too: in. Caroline’s windows showcase Westport’s newest store: Crumbs. The upscale cupcakery has just opened its 15th New York-area store, at the prime corner on Taylor Place behind Tiffany. It’s only the 2nd Crumbs in Connecticut; the other is in Stamford.
“Don’t tell the other stores, but this might be the best location,” Caroline says. (No worries — your secret is safe ;))
Caroline Purvins shows off her favorite cupcakes
Caroline — who despite a cupcake-based diet is as lithe as a gymnast — bubbles with enthusiasm for her new store. “The customers are so happy to have us here!” she says. “Everyone is so welcoming. They’re all talking about birthday parties, bridal showers — it’s great!”
Crumbs, it should be noted, has been open for all of 2 days. And though lots of people are away on school vacation, a steady stream of sugarholics already fills the spacious store. They’re drawn not just by the colorful assortment of cupcakes (in varieties like cappucino, Heath bar, lemon meringue and grasshopper, most for $3.75), but also brownies (walnut, Oreo, marble; $3.25), cakes (Reese’s and apple caramel, $34; red velvet, $40), along with muffins, Danish, croissants, pastries, cookies, coffee and soda.
One sign says, “Made by Hand. Baked by Love.” Another certifies that the goods are strictly kosher (“except for Passover”).
How smart is it to open an upscale business in a time of global downscaling?
Caroline did not want to speak for the owners. Personally, she said, “it’s a worry for anyone. But as far as Crumbs goes, I’m very comfortable. In times like these, everyone needs a treat.
“I feel so lucky to work here,” Caroline continued. “I started in college, and it’s a great company. We all know each other so well. And who wouldn’t be happy selling cupcakes, and making people happy?”
Point well taken. So now, the most important question: What is Caroline’s favorite cupcake?
“Hostess!” she answered immediately. “I love it!”
She paused. “But maybe soon it will be the Baba Booey. It’s new! It’s chocolate chip and peanut butter. I don’t even like peanut butter! But the chips…!”
Staples athletes Yarden Orly and David Mortner finish training with some well-deserved cupcakes
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