On Friday night, Little Barn was the place to be for Hibachi Dinner.
The popular Post Road restaurant’s menu has not changed. Hibachi Dinner is the name of an equally popular band, featuring 3 Brannigan brothers — Terry, Eamon and Seamus — plus Maddy Cerito, and special guest Dylan Curran.
The place was packed. Some of the most energetic fans were members of Staples Players. A week after their great “Guys and Dolls” show closed, they were there to support Seamus, a cast member.
Friday’s Little Barn crowd.
The high school band Dulcit (Grant Hill, Freddie Aldridge, Liam Donaldson and Jake Weissman) opened for Hibachi Dinner. Last night, it was Strictly Business. (That’s the name of another local band that played.)
High school audiences don’t buy drinks at the bar. But Little Barn owner Scott Beck doesn’t mind. He’s happy to provide a venue for them, and their friends.
Kudos to him and his staff. And of course, to Hibachi Dinner, Dolcit and Strictly Business, we say: Rock on!
Hibachi Dinner (from left): Seamus Brannigan, Maddy Cerito, Terry Brannigan, Eamon Brannigan, Dylan Curran.
But when it comes to restaurants, you know your onions.
Last week’s image — of a weathered, wooden finger pointing to an entrance — hangs (of course!) at Little Barn. It’s one of our town’s most popular dining spots, and one of our most iconic signs. (Click here to see.)
Ken Runkel, Rich Stein, Patti Brill, Lynn Untermeyer Miller, Seth Braunstein, Arthur Hayes, Janice Strizever, Pete Powell, Susan Yules, Jilda Mankas — and probably many more of you — nailed it.
So it’s back to a tough one this week. If you know where in Westport you would see this, click “Comments” below.
Remember when the family gathered together on Sunday night, sharing dinner while listening to a drama or musical on the radio?
Neither do I.
But Westporters — and anyone else with an internet connection — can enjoy evenings in the coming weeks. Staples Players presents 3 radio shows.
And 3 local restaurants are offering special meal deals, to spice up the fun.
This Sunday (October 25, 6 p.m.), tune in to “The Wizard of Oz.” Little Barn has created a special menu including Wicked Witch Wings, Tin Man Tacos, Munchkin Burger (kid-size), Emerald City Cocktails and more.
Click here and choose “Order later” for October 25. Scroll down to the “Wizard of Oz” menu (after “Entrees”). NOTE: Glinda the Good Witch says you can order from the whole menu if you like!
Little Barn is not in Kansas anymore. Then again, it never was.
On November 8 (6 p.m.), listen to “Pride and Prejudice” whilst dining on Pemberley’s prime rib dinner, complete with Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and sticky toffee pudding. It’s all courtesy of (of course) Fairfield’s Gruel Brittania.
Gruel Brittania’s sticky toffee pudding.
Then on November 22, gather round the hearth for the holiday classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The comes from a classic Westport spot: Dunville’s.
Call or text Dunville’s owner Steve Carpentieri (203-247-3113) with your order for:
George Bailey’s Yankee pot roast dinner for 4 (potatoes, carrots, celery, pearl onions. mixed greens salad)
Uncle Billy’s smoked St Louis ribs with fries and coleslaw
Mary Hatch’s seafood stuffed sole with mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables and hollandaise sauce
Mr. Potter’s New Bedford day boat sea scallops with sautéed spinach, white beans, garlic, extra virgin olive oil.
Dunville’s Yankee pot roast.
Menus are available on the restaurants’ websites within a week of each show. Order ahead; quantities are limited.
(The 3 radio shows can be heard on WWPT, 90.3 FM. For the livestream, click on www.wwptfm.org.)
Weeks ago, in another world where kids and teenagers actually had to be driven somewhere, VanGo was gold.
The cleverly named app was an uber-Uber. It eased parents’ worries about sketchy drivers, because VanGo’s drivers were nannies, teachers, babysitters — and most of all, mothers.
In the COVID crisis, that market dried up. People still need to market, of course. But they can’t always get out. Or they don’t want to.
So VanGo pivoted. It’s now a grocery shopping and delivery service. Once again, those moms come in handy.
While many grocery service providers are staffed by a bunch of randoms, VanGo’s shoppers “shop like you would,” says founder Marta Jamrozik. And they guarantee next day delivery for orders placed before 3 p.m..
Shoppers text families if an item is out of stock. Drivers wear masks and gloves while shopping, and when dropping off groceries.
VanGo Grocery is available in Westport and across Fairfield County. To log on and order, click here.
Arts organizations everywhere have been hammered by the coronavirus. Plays, concerts, ballets — all are on hold, as theater companies, symphonies and other institutions struggle to survive.
A tiny silver lining has been the realization that the arts are helping us get through this time. Drama, shows, music — they help sustain and nurture us.
Justin Paul understands that. The Staples High School graduate and award-winning composer/lyricist (“Dear Evan Hansen,” “La La Land,” “The Greatest Showman”) articulates it wonderfully. And he does so in a great, insightful online interview with Music Theatre of Connecticut’s co-founder and executive artistic director Kevin Connors.
The 2 sat down yesterday (in their respective homes) for an MTC Live! webcast. You can watch it below.
I guess that’s one more slim silver lining: The pandemic has led to all sorts of intriguing online discussions like this. Click here for more on MTC.
Little Barn is back! They’ve reopened, and now provide contact-less take out 7 days a week (4 to 8 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays until 9). Order online through our website www.littlebarnct.com or 203-557-8501; then call again when you arrive.
Four decades ago, Westporter Peter Gambaccini ran from Thompson (in the northeast corner of the state) to Greenwich. A writer as well as a runner, he took less than a week to cover the 155 miles, then wrote about it for Connecticut magazine.
The 40th anniversary of the run is being celebrated with a NUTmeg Challenge. Running “nuts” of Connecticut — and anywhere else — can duplicate the former Staples High School track star’s run. There’s also the opportunity to raise money for local charities that desperately need help: Mercy Learning Center, Bridgeport Rescue Mission and the Connecticut Food Bank.
The virtual online challenge — because, of course, we’re still mindful of COVID-19, so you just run in your neighborhood, wherever in the world it is — takes places between Memorial Day (May 25) and Bastille Day (July 14).
There are 3 “routes”:
The Gambaccini Gambol (original route across the state; 155 miles, average a little over 3 miles a day)
The Shoreline Scamper (Greenwich to Stonington along the coast, 253 miles, a little under 5 miles a day)
The Border Boundaround (along the New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island borders, 328 miles, 6 1/2 miles a day).
T-shirts and medals will be mailed at the conclusion of the Challenge. (Everyone registering by June 1 is guaranteed a medal.) For more information and to register, click here. (Hat tip: MaryAnn Meyer)
Every day, it seems, someone sends me a photo of a rock. All across town, people are discovering them. They (the rocks) make them (the people) feel special.
Doris Ghitelman sums up the feeling well (and gathered them all in a nice collage):
“I’ve come across these rocks on my walks around the library, Compo and Grace Salmon Park. I’m not sure who’s leaving them. My guess is, different artists 😉
“Whoever it is or they are, I would like to thank them. Whenever I see one, I stop and smile. Sometimes they make me think. Some are in plain sight, others hidden.
“It reminds me that if we take the time to look, really look around us, we might just be rewarded with something good. This space in time is giving us the opportunity to do just that. Let’s enjoy it!”
When the Shubert Theatre planned Monday’s “Next Stop: New Haven at Home!” virtual celebration (Monday, May 18, 7:30 p.m.), it did not have to look far for one star.
Westport native and Staples High School grad Adam Kaplan will take center stage. He’s a Broadway veteran (“Newsies,” “A Bronx Tale”), was part of the New York Philharmonic’s “Show Boat,” and toured the US and Japan in “Kinky Boots.”
A $75 Next Stop: New Haven ticket includes a box of goodies (serving up to 2 people) from several of Shubert’s restaurant partners, and the 75-minute live program with musical entertainment, a cocktail-making class (supplies included), cheeseboard-making class, Broadway trivia, and a peek at the Shubert’s 2020-2021 Broadway Series,
The ticket supports the Shubert Theatre, its restaurant partners, and Frontline Foods New Haven, which feeds teams at Yale New Haven and the VA Hospitals.
Tickets are available through 5 p.m. today. For more information and to purchase, click here.
And finally … one of my favorite movies of all time is “Stand By Me.” One of my favorite songs of all time is “Stand By Me.” These 3 minutes say it all:
If you want rustic-chic, American-style food, search no further than Little Barn. With delicious food, great drinks and lively entertainment — all in a barn-like building, served by friendly staff — Little Barn has a special charm.
From lobster mac n’ cheese to a Tuscan kale salad, they offer a wide selection of food for everyone, including vegetarians, vegans, and those on a gluten-free diet.
Enter here for the Little Barn.
Westport-based nutritionist Heather Bauer serves up her top healthy picks for Little Barn.
NOTE: Because the portions are so generous, all starters can be shared.
The Tuscan kale salad is the perfect way to start your meal. To lighten things up, order it without cranberries and pecans.
More traditional? Go for the fork-and-knife Caesar (without the croutons, and with a vinaigrette dressing instead).
Dig into the Shrooms or another veggie burger; request any salad on the side. To reduce carbohydrates, take off the top bun and eat your burger “topless.”
Pair up with your partner and share one of the following:
Brussels and chorizo
Tuna tacos wrapped in lettuce.
Brussel sprouts salad with grilled salmon or tuna on top
Fork-and-knife Caesar salad without the croutons; dressing on the side; add salmon or tuna
Tuscan kale salad with either cranberries or pecans; add salmon or tuna
Shaved Brussels sprouts salad.
Beef or pork taco wrapped in lettuce
Fork-and-knife Caesar without the croutons, but with vinaigrette (ask for dressing on the side).
Cobb Salad (skip blue cheese). with the option to add steak over grilled chicken
Any Brussels sprouts salad with grilled chicken or steak
Tuscan kale salad with either cranberries or pecans, with grilled chicken or steak
The DQ burger without the bun — or eat it “topless” with a side salad.
Because this restaurant is so laid back, you can add up your special requests as long as you are with good family or friends. In this casual atmosphere the entire table shares a few appetizers; then everyone each chooses their own entrees.
If your table is sharing appetizers you can’t really make special requests, but you can try to add in an appetizer (like the ones noted below) for a healthier option.
But if your appetizer feels “heavier” to you and you already had protein in your appetizer, go for one of the salad recommendations sans protein.
Keep the “3/4 rule” in mind: Since food can be heavier at a restaurant than at home, eat 3/4 of your meal; leave ¼ to take home for lunch the next day.
However, remember that fat and flavor are important in satiety and staying healthy. When you deprive your body of too much fat and flavor, you end up craving less healthy food. So be mindful of what and how much you’re eating, while still enjoying things that sound good to you.
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.
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.
Match Burger Lobster was one of two double winners. From left: Matthew Mandell, director of the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce; restaurant owner Matt Storch, and Ira Bloom of Berchem Moses, contest sponsor.
Best Veggie Burger: Little Barn
Best Non-beef Burger (fish, turkey, lamb…): Little Barn
Best Fast Food Burger: Shake Shack
Best Slider: Dunville’s
Honorable Mention: Rothbard and Parker Mansion
Vegans: Eat your hearts out!
In more Westport Weston Chamber news, the 5th Supper & Soul event takes place on Saturday (April 6).
One $75 ticket buys 3 great entertainment elements: a 3-course dinner at 6 p.m., a concert with Head for the Hills, and happy hour prices for drinks after the show.
Participating restaurants are 190 Main, Amis, Jesup Hall, Rothbard Ale + Larder, Spotted Horse, Tavern on Main and Wafu. All are located within a couple of blocks of Seabury Center, where the concert takes place.
Head for the Hills has been together for 15 years. They mix rock, folk, R&B and bluegrass. Mandell says, “If you like Mumford & Sons, you’ll love this band.” (Check out the video below — you’ll agree!)
Click here for tickets. A limited number of concert-only tickets are available too.
For Joy Mermelstein — the mother of a non-verbal, autistic boy — it’s particularly tough.
But Little Barn advertises itself as “kid-friendly.” They’ve got high chairs, special menus, and a patient staff.
The other day, Joy’s family — with her son Charlie — headed to the popular Post Road restaurant. He acted out a bit. A couple nearby — with their own young child — did not mind.
But another diner did. And said something.
Joy sat down. She teared up.
What happened next is remarkable. The wait staff, the manager — everyone — went waaaay out of their way to make Joy and Charlie feel welcome.
I won’t tell you exactly what happened. Joy describes it far better than I can.
And she does it on a video she posted to Facebook and YouTube. (Be sure to watch it to the end!)
It should go viral.
And if it does, Little Barn should add plenty of seats and tables. Because they deserve to be packed — every meal — with the kind of patrons who appreciate a good restaurant, run by and with great people.
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