Tag: French

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

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Le Penguin in Westport

Le Penguin in Westport

doorwayLe Penguin opened in Old Greenwich in 2013, in the space occupied by Jean-Louis, and proved to be a very popular semi-classic French bistro. The owners, Antoine Blech and Anshu Vidyarthi, opened a second Le Penguin, with the same menu in Westport last August in Sconset Square, where The Blue Lemon used to be. It, too, has proved very popular and reasonably priced.

The menu features a number of delicious starters, including Tuna Tartare, Salmon Rilletts, Escargot and Country pate, as well five salads. If you only want a light meal, they have both beef and vegetarian burgers, salads and Croque Monsieur. The main courses are quite varied, including Mushroom Ravioli, grilled Cajun chicken, red snapper, grilled salmon, steak frites, and Mussels (Moules) a la Penguin.

The menu is interspersed with wines by the glass and bottle and they have an additional wine list as well.

mirror-shotThe restaurant is comfortable and informal with excellent service as well as outstanding food.  The mirrored wall on one side makes the place seem more spacious, and the warm lighting makes the overall effect very comfortable. In addition to the menu, Le Penguin announces its daily specials on a blackboard, we gravitated to a couple of them.

For one of our starters we chose their Tricolor salad special with raisins, hazelnuts,  blue cheese and sherry vinaigrette. It was large and flavorful with a nice blend of nut and berry flavors with the lettuces.

The menu offers their Mussels ala Penguin as a starter ($15) or an entrée ($22). It turns out, that either way you get an enormous number of mussels. The difference is that the dinner version comes with frites. You get to choose the sauce Marinieres (shallots, garlic, wine) or the cream sauce with saffron, shallots, cream and white wine. The mussels were terrific, although more than we could eat, along with several small toast slices to dip in the sauce or eat with the mussels. The ends of the toast pieces were a bit too dark for us, so we just trimmed them off.

One of our entrees was Beef Short Ribs with Mushroom Risotto, and like the salad and the mussels was a huge portion, but certainly possible to have for lunch the next day, perhaps a sandwich. The beef was tender and juice and the risotto creamy with a deep mushroom flavor.

short-ribs

And finally, our other entrée was roast breast of duck with a berry sauce, shown above, and served with hash browns. Again, it was medium rare as we ordered and a very large but delicious portion. The duck was perfectly prepared and juicy, and went well with the berry sauce.

We didn’t have room for dessert, but did have coffee and tea. Special praise for Le Penguin as one of the few US restaurants that serves tea in a pot, already brewing instead of bringing a tea bag and some luke warm water.

Would we go back? Definitely. Le Penguin is a real gem and with their changing menu, we can pretty much be sure there will be a lot of things we’re going to want to try.  Congratulations to the owners on a great new place to eat in Westport!

blackboard