Tag Archives: Patricia Brooks

Times Critic LOVES The Cottage

To earn an “excellent” review from New York Times critic Patricia Brooks, a restaurant basically has to be perfect. That means a spectacular menu, an uber-creative chef, flawless presentation and service. The bathrooms should probably be beautiful too.

But Brooks has just given an exceptionally rare “excellent” rating to The Cottage.

In tomorrow’s New York Times, she raves that the “small, cozy and very homey” Colonial Green eatery — the successor to Le Farm — boasts a menu “far more sophisticated than its simple setting would suggest.”

Brooks and her companions did not have “any disappointments, at either dinner or brunch.”

A cozy table, at The Cottage.

A cozy table, at The Cottage.

She says there were “too many high points at dinner to mention” — perhaps the highest praise she has given any restaurant.

“There were so many appealing choices, and too little time,” Brooks laments. She adores — among chef/owner Brian Lewis’ dishes — appetizers like crunchy tuna, Chioggia beets and Maine sea scallops; house-made pastas; cod and salmon entrees, and 4 “resoundingly ambrosial” desserts.

When Patricia Brooks gives a “very good” rating, restaurateurs can be set for life.

With this “excellent” review, you should call now — the day before the Times lands on your doorstep — for reservations. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait about as long you do for “Hamilton” tickets.

(Click here to read Patricia Brooks’ full story. Hat tip: John Karrel)

Post Cinema

Patricia Brooks begins her review of Post 154, in tomorrow’s New York Times Metropolitan section:

If you have not been to Westport recently, you might be surprised to find that its old limestone-and-brick post office, which opened in 1935 on the town’s main thoroughfare, is now a snappy new restaurant, called Post 154, that fairly rocks in prime time.

Brooks gives it a “Very Good” review, which in Times-ese basically means, “Holy s—-, this is one of the 10 best restaurants I’ve been to in my life!”

Post 154 restaurant.

Post 154 restaurant.

She loves the lobster quesadillas, duck confit taquitos, grilled Portuguese octopus, grilled salmon (“which came medium-rare as requested” — go figure), and rosemary short ribs (though her “only cavil was that the mesquite garlic creamed potatoes under the meat were seriously over-salted”).

Brooks ends her review:

With its interesting, creative menu, Post 154 makes an ideal stop before or after a movie, whether for a full meal or a series of delicious small plates, snacks and nibbles.

“Before or after a movie”?! Sounds like Brooks herself has “not been to Westport recently.”

Or, say, since last century, when the Fine Arts Theater closed.

Times Is Tough

What does a restaurant have to do to get a “very good” review from the New York Times?

Sunday’s Metropolitan section raved about Rainbow Thai — the new place in Bridge Square, with the spectacular river view.

Pad See Ew tastes a lot better than it sounds. (Photo courtesy of CTBites.com)

Pad See Ew tastes a lot better than it sounds. (Photo courtesy of CTBites.com)

Patricia Brooks loved the surprise of “finding some dishes on the menu that are not commonly found at other Thai restaurants in Fairfield County,” like mee grob and larb.

She called the sizzling pancake “a special delight … the star of our lunch.”

She noted several other fine dishes, including tao hoo tord, kong tod and “a refreshing somtum salad of green papaya spears woven through greens and fresh tomatoes in a tangy tamarind sauce with peanuts on top.”

Brooks even described the servers — rushing food from the basement kitchen — as graceful, patient and always smiling.

So what rating did she give the place (quickly becoming a Saugatuck favorite)?

“Good.”

I’m glad she was never my classroom teacher.

Times Touts Tavern

Tomorrow’s New York Times contains a review of the Spotted Horse Tavern. Patricia Brooks likes it as much as the hordes of Westporters who have flocked there since it opened in March.

Among the highlights:

It “has the homey, tavernesque décor of a longtime establishment, with simple, unadorned wooden tables, wood flooring and exposed beams…. The only modern touches are the three framed photo blowups of horse heads on the dining room walls. Never mind that only one horse has spots.”

The Spotted Horse (and the horse).

As in many pubs, brew pubs or taverns, the Spotted Horse menu is fairly concise, but here the food is a lot more sophisticated and better-prepared than basic pub grub. This may be why, even midweek, the dining room is a feeding frenzy during peak hours and the U-shaped bar is occupied three-deep. The moderate prices might also have something to do with it.

The choices are limited; one can select from seven entrees. But they cover most bases — sea, land, air — and are anything but old-time ordinary.

Brooks praised much of the menu. She wrote:

(A) humongous single grilled pork chop, tender beyond belief, marinated — believe this — in Dr Pepper soda, comes with a purée of sweet potato infused with a murmur of vanilla at a price of $21.95. At the same price, a glistening pan-roasted Atlantic salmon filet — barely cooked, as requested — swims in a creamy, well-made sweet pea risotto. Just as delicious, at $14.95, is the grilled “under a brick” half chicken, moist, fully flavored and snuggled into a mound of creamy polenta.

The famous pork chop.

Of course, all was not perfect: “(W)hile the chicken and black bean empanadas were spicy and flavor-rich, especially when dipped into their creamily piquant lime sauce, they needed more filling, less of the heavy pastry casket.”

Hey, nobody’s perfect.

But reviews like this come at a price. The Times has juice. For the next few weeks, finding a table at the Spotted Horse will be tougher than ever.