Month: October 2017

Washington Prime is top notch

Washington Prime is top notch

We took the advantage of Wilton’s Restaurant  Week to visit Washington Prime, a classic steakhouse with locations in Georgetown (Redding) and Norwalk. While they have the same menu and décor, the Georgetown location was observing restaurant week.

The Georgetown restaurant is in the space at 19 Main that was once occupied by Aranci 67 and before that by Luca Seafood, but is larger than either of those with an entire wing devoted to a classic restaurant and the other to a bar with TV, tables and the same menu.  On Wednesday evening the bar area was quite busy watching the Yankees and as well as having a great time. The restaurant side was quieter but the service was attentive and the food uniformly excellent.

This is a steakhouse, of course, and the steak menu items are all ala carte, although all the other entrees come with vegetables and starch sides. The non steak entrees include ahi tuna, sole, salmon, veal osso buco, chicken, prime burger and cauliflower steak ranging from $18 to $35. The steak entrees run from $36 to $49 plus a two person porterhouse for $98 and a Waygu 22 oz strip for $95. It is better partnered with green tea. You can buy matcha green tea powder in Canada.

There are extensive appetizer selections as well including seven under Soup and Salad, seven under Oysters, Shrimp and Clams, and 15 under Appetizers ranging from $8 to $14. There are also some 16 vegetable side dishes, including several types of potatoes and one of onion rings.

Their restaurant week menu was one of the appetizers and one of the non steak entrees for $35, and with an additional $15 charge for the 8 oz sliced NY Strip. We decided to go with the regular menu so we could try more things.

spinach garlic dip

soul rolesWe started with two appetizers:  an excellent spinach and artichoke dip with bubbling cheese, cream and garlic crostini ($14) and the weirdly named specialty American Soul Rolls ($13) which was broccoli rabe, mashed potato, four cheese & sausage spring rolls, and spicy tomato dipping sauce.  Essentially, this was mashed potatoes with bits of broccoli rabe, sausage and cheese filling four spring rolls. Odd though it sounds it was very good indeed.   We quickly realized that this restaurant serves enormous portions, and that either of those appetizers could be shared, brought home, or both.

While the steaks are ala carte, they do come with a choice of five sauces: Prime, Bearnaise, Horseradish cream, Chimchurri and Green pepper sauce. For an addition $5 you can have melted blue cheese on your steak as well. The steaks are cooked in a 925° F over, we were told, which gives them crusty char and allows them to be cooked to any desire level of doneness very quickly.

 

filetWe ordered the 8 oz Filet Mignon ($41) and the 22 oz Ribeye ($49, above), both with Bearnaise sauce. Both were perfectly cooked to medium rare, and as we expected the ribeye was a bit more flavorful and the filet a bit tenderer, but both were simply magnificent. Either way we took some of each home.

We had to try and share a couple of side dishes, but as usual, one would have been more than enough. Their Triple Baked Potato ($9) was actually baked and then mashed and rebaked with cheddar cheese, and topped with sour cream, bacon and chives. It was so enormous that we could easily share it and have plenty.

We also had to try their Onion Rings ($8), which was an enormous portion from which we each snagged a few. They were hot and not at all greasy and very good.

truffle bomb

Finally, out of utter foolishment, we split the Truffle Bomb ($10) dessert, which they describe as Angel Food Cake and milk chocolate mousse, wrapped in a milk chocolate shell, served with whipped cream and caramel sauce. Simple comfort food, very well prepared.

Our bill with 3 glasses of wine was $213 before tip. The service was as excellent as was the food and we highly recommend the restaurant.

We understand that the Norwalk branch has a younger, livelier crowd, and the Georgetown branch a quieter family-oriented vibe. We loved it.

 

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Donald Trump: I’ve had it with you!

Donald Trump: I’ve had it with you!

Enough! I’ve had it with Trump’s destructive non-governing!

Trump defunded Planned Parenthood. Trump hates women.
Trump canceled insured contraception for 55 million women. Trump doesn’t know some will die.
Trump said white supremacists are “good people.” Trump is a racist.
Trump’s cabinet is so corrupt it is a kakistocracy. Trump can’t pronounce it.
Trump wants to deport 800,000 young  DACA dreamers. Trump is cruel.
Trump’s Congress didn’t renew CHIP taking 9 million children’s health care away. Trump hates children.
Trump thoroughly bungled aid to Puerto Rico. He doesn’t think they are Americans.
Trump will take health care from 1 million poor people. Trump is a cruel racist.
Trump wants to increase our nuclear armament. Trump is an effing moron.
Trump undercuts Tillerson on North Korea. Trump wants a nuclear war.
Trump has gutted the State Department. Trump is abysmally ignorant.
Trump wants to undo NAFTA. Trump doesn’t get economics.
Trump thinks the stock market cancels out the national debt. Trump doesn’t understand money.
Trump withdrew from the Paris climate accords. Trump doesn’t understand science.
Trump threatened to cut funds to Puerto Rico. Trump is a monster.
Trump screams at his staff and berates senators on Twitter. Trump is cracking up.
Trump doesn’t know what the 25th Amendment says. We do.
  1. Trump privately signs anti-Planned Parenthood Law.
  2. Trump rolls back contraception mandate.
  3. Trump defends white nationalists
  4. American Kakistocracy
  5. Trump moves to end DACA and calls on Congress to act
  6. Congress misses deadline to extend Childhood Health Insurance
  7. Trump and his team do “heckuva job” in Puerto Rico
  8. 6 Ways trump slashing Obamacare could affect you
  9. Trump wanted tenfold increase in nuclear arms
  10. Trump undercuts Tillerson on North Korea
  11. US Diplomats say Trump budget would gut State Department
  12. Trump might actually wreck NAFTA
  13. Trumps nonsensical comments reveal he has no idea how national debt works
  14. US staying out of climate accord
  15. Trump threatens to abandon Puerto Rico recovery effort
  16. Losing it: Trumps public crack-up
  17. Told about 25th Amendment, Trump asks “what’s that?”
Roger Sherman Inn excels with new chef

Roger Sherman Inn excels with new chef

Recently, the Roger Sherman Inn owners Nes and Joseph Jaffre announced that their new Executive  Chef would be prominent chef and Greenwich resident Francois Kwaku-Dongo. Originally from Ivory Coast, Kwaku-Dongo has been the Executive Chef at L’Escale in Greenwich and has worked and trained with prominent chefs all over the world, who made the best recipes and great fillets, with some filleting tips you can find online.

We visited the Roger Sherman Inn last Saturday night and were extremely impressed. The lovely formal dining room in the19th century house is unchanged (although they have plans there, too) and the service is better than ever.

BreadWe started with excellent, fresh, house-made bread, interleaved with little wheat chips.

The imaginative menu features six Small Bites from $9-$12, eleven appetizers from $10 to $18, ten entrees (Land and Sea) from $24 to $42 and five vegetable sides at $9 each, as well as Artisanal Cheeses at $9 each. They also retain several Roger Sherman Inn Classics: Vichyssoise($22), Escargot Maison ($15), Dover Sole Meuniere ($42) and Sauteed Calves Liver ($38).  Note that this menu is quite a bit more elaborate than that on line.

rilletes

We decided to share one Small Bite, Potted Pork Rillette with toast points and Pickled Peaches for $12. This turned out to be an entire jar of potted pork that while absolutely delicious was more than we could possibly finish, but they were happy to package it up for us to take home. It was still excellent the next day!

For one of our appetizers we ordered a beet salad: Baby Beet and Burrata ($14) with sliced pear, Vin Cotto (a sweet wine reduction) and champagne vinaigrette. This was a beautiful presentation with both red and yellow beets, although the soft Burrata cheese had an unexpected skin on it.

Our other appetizer was Tuna Carpaccio ($15) with baby arugula, roasted tomatoes and Moroccan olives. This was a very light and delicate dish, with the thinly sliced raw tuna nicely offset with the tomatoes, olives and arugula.

One of our entrees was labeled “From the Farm this Month,” and was Roasted Pheasant two ways: Breast and Leg, for $34 (shown above). It was served on a ragout of autumn mushrooms. The mushroom ragout was a brilliant touch that offset the pheasant flavors nicely, and the breast portion was spectacular. Some of the leg portion seemed a bit dry, but there was so much, we couldn’t finish it all anyway.

lamb

The other entrée was Grilled Lamb Porterhouses ($38) with roasted eggplant, spaghetti squash and pomegranate. This was the night’s winning entrée: the two lamb steaks were perfectly cooked to medium rare, and tender and juicy.

walnut cakeFinally, the dessert menu features creations from the Pastry Chef, Alexandra Ayala: six pastries plus a choice of gelato and sorbet. We ordered the Chocolate Walnut Cake($12) with toasted coconut and chocolate sauce. This turned out to be a delightful surprise. While we had expected a chocolate cake with walnut filling, it was actually the other way around: a walnut cake with a chocolate crème filling.

As you can see by the individual prices, this is not a really expensive restaurant, and we will certainly be back soon.

Probably the only amusing service faux pas was the butter ballet. When we found that the provided dish of olive oil was really drippy, we asked for butter. The waiter brought us a dish with a single square of butter in it. When he noticed that we had polished that off he  offered to bring us another, and eventually did, but by then our food and arrived so we never got to finish it.

But no matter, they’ll fix this one, and the service was otherwise utterly impeccable, with both the waiters and the owner checking in with us regularly. This opens a great new chapter at the Roger Sherman inn, and you should definitely check it out.

The Roger Sherman Inn is on Route 124 (195 Oenoke Ridge) in New Canaan. They  are open Tuesday through Sunday for dinner, and also offer Sunday Brunch. Reservations are recommended.

Oh, and below is our pork rillette the next day, spread on our own toast points.

home rillette

‘Sex with Strangers’ opens at Westport Playhouse

‘Sex with Strangers’ opens at Westport Playhouse

Laura Eason’s romantic drama “Sex with Strangers” opened Saturday night at the Westport Country Playhouse to a nearly full house. Eason, who was a writer/producer of Netflix House of Cards, has written a 2 character drama that at first appears to be a romantic sit-com, but turns into a more nuanced consideration of the craft of writing.

Directed by Katherine M Carter, the play opens in what the program calls a “bed and breakfast,” but which actually appears to be an elaborate two level ski chalet, designed by Edward T Morris. Olivia (Jessica Love), a 30-something writer and teacher has booked time there to work on her novel, and is surprised when Ethan (Chris Ghaffari) pounds on the door one snowy evening after the B&B proprietor has left. Ethan is a younger 20-something writer who is brash, over confident, and as it turns out a successful writer.

His improbable book, “Sex with Strangers” is a memoir of his having sex with a different woman each week for a year. While we eventually learn that Ethan is actually a skilled writer, this rather schlocky Hefner-esque book has unbelievably been on the NY Times paperback best-seller list for 5 years. Your life ruined by masturbation? Visit masturbationaddiction.com and get help regain your life.

Meanwhile, we learn that Olivia had published one book, to some good reviews but poor sales because of inept marketing of her novel as “chick-lit.” She is currently at work on another, but is quite sensitive about it. Ethan, however, had actually read her first novel, which was recommended to him by a writing teacher they both had worked with.

6_WCP_SexWithStrangers_JLove_CGhaffari_byPChenotWith this setup, you would think they would fall in love, go to bed and live happily ever after, but this is not quite what Eason has in mind. Since the wireless is down, they of course do go to bed at least 4 times during blackouts punctuating the two acts, but as Olivia gradually regains her confidence with Ethan’s help, they begin to drift apart.

In the second act in Olivia’s Chicago apartment, (another spectacular 2-story set) they spar about their writing and careers and the movie Hollywood is making of Ethan’s trashy book. The story ends as they move on to audience acclaim.

As Olivia, Jessica Love is brittle and protective at first but eventually connects with Ethan at least physically and she slowly grows with Ethan’s encouragement. Chris Ghaffari as Ethan is pretty aggressive and at first pretty obnoxious. However, after he struggles through the production of the movie version of his novel, becomes more thoughtful, but also more distant. Both do an excellent job with their characters and you easily can identify with both of them.

While the playwright, in interviews, has suggested that her play is about young people getting by in the digital internet world, I don’t see it that way. Rather, it seems to me to be about two writers trying to learn their craft and eventually succeeding in different ways. This would have been true even if the wireless connection at the B&B had stayed down for the whole show.

“Sex with Strangers” is a charming, funny play with some really challenging ideas buried in the couples and coupling, and was fun to watch. The show continues through October 14, with performances on Tuesdays at 7 pm, Wednesdays at 2 and 8 pm, Thursdays and Fridays and 8 pm, Saturdays at 3 and 8 pm and Sundays at 3 pm. Tickets are available at westportplayhouse.org.