Tag: Seafood

Knot Norm’s: Best lobster roll in the state

Knot Norm’s: Best lobster roll in the state

If you want one of the best lobster rolls in New England (and probably the very best) you need to eat at Knot Norm’s: a new restaurant cum caterer along the harbor in South Norwalk. While the façade may be unprepossessing, the food is superb and Chef Jay LeBlanc really knows what he’s up to. The restaurant is at 10 1st Street, just around the corner from Seabreeze Ave. If you’ve gone to Harbor Lights, this is just around the corner.

The menu at Knot Norm’s is straightforward, but everything on it is excellent. In addition to the above-mentioned lobster roll, they have fried oysters, fried chicken, steak and cheese, brisket, BLT and pork belly rolls. Other entrees include roasted oysters,  fish tacos, fried chicken wings and beet and apple salad.

They also have a large number of bottled craft beers and a number of wines. On tap were Allagash White and Allagash Hoppy Table.

They also have various daily additions, which on Tuesday included clam chowder, potato-leek soup and lobster bisque. We had to try the Chowder ($8): it was served with frizzled onions and chives on top as well as the usual oyster crackers. The soup was thick without being gluey, full of potatoes and plenty of clams and was absolutely delicious.

Platter

But to get to the main event: the Lobster Roll is simply amazing. The lobster is steamed and then the shells removed and the lobster poached in butter. The lobster is served on a traditional toasted New England hot dog roll, with that same lobster butter poured over it. You also get a large bowl of potato chips, lemon, coleslaw and pickles. And, according to the chef, you get an entire lobster on that roll, about 6 oz of delicious lobster. You’ll probably never have a better lobster roll. And it is only $23.

blintzes

And if that isn’t enough (and it was really filling) it turns out that the chef tries out new dessert ideas on Tuesdays, and I got to sample a delicious Cheese Blintz made by rolling out those same hot dog buns, sprinkling them with cinnamon and sugar, spreading sweetened cheese on them, rolling them up and toasting them briefly. They were served with strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream. Utterly amazing!

Here is a restaurant you simply have to go try! The food is terrific and the service excellent. The restaurant is small: about 16 seats, but there will be more outside as the weather warms. Tables turn fairly rapidly, I would expect because the menu is fairly limited. Parking is on-street and you may have to hunt a bit if it is busy. The 15 minute parking sign is not enforced at night.

The waitress told me that next time I really had to try the Lobster Bisque: unlike most bisques, this one has pieces of lobster floating in it!

 

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Match Burger Lobster: outstanding new Westport eatery

Match Burger Lobster: outstanding new Westport eatery

Match Burger Lobster opened this fall to ecstatic praise, at least from those of us who revere lobster roles. Located in Saugatuck, it is the brainchild of Matt Storch, the proprietor of the full service Norwalk (Sono) restaurant Match.

Match Burger Lobster is a far more informal affair, seating about 40, plus more in the bar area. The menu  features lobster rolls, oysters bags of steamers and actual lobster all from Norm Bloom and Son.  In addition, they offer grass-fed sliders and burgers from the adjacent  Fleisher’s Craft Butchery.

This is a friendly and informal place, with the beer choices on a wall board and little paper menus in the box on each tables that hold cutlery and napkins as well.  On a Thursday night, it wasn’t particularly busy or noisy, but the waiter told us that weekends are very busy. There is limited parking in front, but a large lot behind the building.

From our point of view, there is nothing better than their warm lobster roll ($24), served in a hollowed out brioche bun and soaked in butter. However, they also offer a cold lobster roll with Yuzu lobster Mayo, (also $24). Both are served with plenteous and delicious house-made potato chips.

The lobster roll here is a little different than the one at Match in Sono:  it’s more buttery and less drippy than the Sono version. We liked it better.

mini mini

However, if you want to try their grass-fed sliders, you can order a mini slider and a mini lobster roll ($20). The hamburger ($15) and the smaller mini slider ($7) are served with bacon, cheddar dip and S&S onions, where S&S presumably means “sweet and sour.” We think we ask them to leave off the onions next time ad they were a bit overpowering. The burger, however, was outstanding.

Desserts are limited to a Donut Milkshake, a Slice of Cake, Donut Crazy Holes you can fill yourself, a Brownie Sundae and Key Lime Pie. Of course, we went for one of the latter.

dessert

Our bill with two drinks, and tax was only $80, but for a larger group, a lot of $24 lobster rolls will add up. But you can’t do better.

Match Burger Lobster, at 580 Riverside Drive, just off Exit 17, is open daily 11:30 am to 9 pm.  No reservations.

window

Shrimp scampi carbonara

Shrimp scampi carbonara

If you think Shrimp Scampi is great, imagine it served on spaghetti carbonara instead of boring old spaghetti! This is the the perfect meld of two excellent dishes, resulting in shrimp on a rich, creamy spaghetti base. And the whole recipe still takes only half an hour.

For the scampi

  • One pound large (or larger) shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 lemon, juiced. Save the zest, too.
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 5 Tb butter
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley

For the carbonara

  • 2 strips bacon
  • ½ to 1 lb vermicelli
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

 

  1. Start by frying the 2 strips of bacon from the carbonara recipe. Cook until dry, and drain on a paper towel. Chop the bacon up and reserve in a small dish. Pour the bacon drippings in the bowl as well.
  2. Rinse out the pan, removing any excess “bacon tracks,” dry and add the olive oil.
  3. Saute the shrimp 2-4 minutes, depending on size. They should be pink and firm, but don’t cook until they shrink. Set the shrimp aside.

 

  1. Add the minced garlic and pepper flakes and a little more olive oil. Saute for a minute or so until fragrant.
  2. Add the lemon juice and wine and cook down for a couple of minutes.
  3. Stir in the butter, a Tb at a time until the sauce is smooth and uniform.
  4. Cook the vermicelli in boiling water until just past al dente. For this recipe, we prefer starting with dried, rather than fresh, pasta, because it will hold more heat for the next step.

 

  1. Drain the pasta and return to a bowl. Using two forks, mix in the eggs one at a time so they cook in the hot pasta.
  2. Add the parmesan cheese and stir in so it begins to melt.
  3. Mix in some or all of the bacon or you can also use steak that you can cut in little pieces following the best filleting tips.
  4. Reheat the shrimp in the sauce, briefly and pour both over the spaghetti.
  5. Sprinkle parsley on top.

There! Done in half an hour or less, and creamily good. Serve ladling the shrimp, sauce and pasta onto each plate.

plated

Buon appetito!

The Club Car goes for the veggies

The Club Car goes for the veggies

The Club Car, right on the way to Straight Wharf has been a popular dining destination since Joe Pantorno and Chef Michael Shannon opened it in 1977 and the structure has been renewed with the new ceiling and roofing from services you can find if you view website. It was a white tablecloth restaurant with tuxedoed waiters and well-regarded food and service. After Shannon retired, sous-chef Tom Proch took over, continuing treasured dishes like Shannon’s Shrimp Scampi and Beef Wellington, but in recent years, especially after Proch retired, the restaurant’s service had become tired and the food repetitive, but much less impressive, while maintaining their high prices, where a number of entrees were over $40. You may check out the best foodsaver reviews and model to choose the better one which suits your needs and you may even get a discount.

tablesSo it is with some excitement that we learned that Pantorno sold the Club Car to a new team: head Chef Mayumi Hattori (formerly the chef at Straight Wharf) Ty Costa, director of operations, and general manager Tanya McDonough. In addition, the interior had been completely redesigned by Tharon Anderson with a lighter and brighter and less formal look (and apparently no white tablecloths).

Hattori, who is of Japanese and Spanish descent, wanted to include some of her home cooking and has overhauled the menu, doing away with the formal dining experience, and replaced it with 6 tapas ($5-$9), 4 toasts ($9-$15), 12 small vegetable plates ($12-$17), 7 Land and Sea plates ($18-$31) and for and for people who want a traditional main course, there is limited availability of 3 larger plates: roast chicken ($39), lamb sirloin ($45) and grilled sirloin for a jaw dropping $65.

We decided to forgo the large plates and play the game the way they wanted us to, ordering toasts, veggies and small plates from Land and Sea. Note that The Club Car does not provide bread, so you are left with your water and wine until the first plate your ordered arrives. The Toasts are probably some of the quicker things you can order and we started with them.

We started with the House Cured Sardine Toast ($10) with basque peppers, capers and olive oil. It was served on a baguette toast, and was interesting but only about 4-5 bites and it was gone.  The Roasted Mushrooms Toast ($15)with crème fraiche and at least 3 types of mushrooms was a much larger portion and truly delicious, with plenty to share. This was probably the dish we liked the best: reminiscent of a mushroom stroganoff with better mushrooms.

squash

For an intermediate plate, we settled on the Roasted Summer Squashes ($17) with corn, cherry tomatoes cilantro and lime. This was a huge portion that you could share with two or three people, and while there was a lot of it, it wasn’t really particularly filling. We suspect that may be the case with any of the Garden plates.

skateFinally from Land and Sea, we ordered Spice Crusted Skate($26) with long slices of cucumber ribbons and walnut tarator (sauce). There were two slice of skate and this was fairly spicy rather like the old Cajun blackened fish, except not black. It was very good, but there wasn’t much of it. We suggested they call it “Skating on Thin Cucumbers.”

king oyster crabFinally our other Land-Sea dish was called King Oyster Mushrooms ($24), with peeky toe crab, Bartlett’s corn and jamon (ham) broth. This was really an excellent dish, but needed a bit more crab in it.

Overall, this was a pleasant meal with very friendly and helpful servers. Our bill, with 3 glasses of wine  and tax was only $143, making the Club Car a much more reasonable choice than it used to be. Our server said that despite the major change in style, they had had a very active summer and done quite well. We liked everything they served, but there was only one available dessert, so we walked down the wharf to Jack and Charlie’s Ice Cream instead.


twoshirts
This is the last of our 2017 Nantucket restaurant reviews, but it is not too late to order Nantucket T-shirts from The Nantucket Store, and if you use the discount code MILLIE17, you can get about a 15% discount through the end of September.


 

The SeaGrille: one of Nantucket’s favorites

The SeaGrille: one of Nantucket’s favorites

facadeThe SeaGrille has been a favorite of islanders and vacationers for over twenty years. Located mid-island at 45 Sparks Ave, E J Harvey and his staff serve deliciously prepared seafood (there are also steaks and chicken on the menu) at reasonable prices. We have been going there for years and have never had anything but outstanding. Service is always excellent.

One thing we learned this year is that the Tuesday after Labor Day is when the islanders come out of hiding to enjoy the Sea Grille, too. It was packed and reservations are recommended.

They started us with a bread basket of three kinds of bread and three butter balls to go with them.

chowderWe each started our meal with E J Harvey’s excellent  Island Quahog Chowder ($9.00). Harvey’s recipe has some celery in the soup and a trace of lemon. The clams are plenteous, and the potatoes minimal. We never skip it!

Then, one of us went for their Free Form Ravioli ($36), which contains ravioli in name only. It is more like a seafood casserole or stew with a few sheets of house-made pasta over top. Under the pasta, you will find lobster, shrimp, scallions, ricotta, mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, garlic and crispy carrots, along with a delectable seafood broth. It is fantastic, and really filling.

ravioli

For our other entrée, we went to the  Fried Fisherman’s Platter ($34) which contained excellent fried clams, shrimp, scallops, baby squid and calamari rings and cod, along with perfectly prepared French fries that were piping hot and most probably freshly made. The seafood itself was also piping hot, unlike almost anywhere else, making it utterly delightful, and way too much to finish.

platter

Our bill with three glasses of wine as only $141 and well worth every penny.

The Summer House: a disappointment

The Summer House: a disappointment

The Summer House restaurant and inn is on the ‘Sconset end of Nantucket, overlooking the ocean. The restaurant itself is white and colonial looking with several lovely dining areas with white table cloths and attentive staff. When last we visited in 2015, we were impressed with it quiet elegance and cuisine.

 

This year, we would have to say that the aretirement community staff was asleep at the switch. The menu is similar to other years and like many Nantucket restaurants, it dominated  by seafood.

We started with excellent Corn Crusted Oysters ($24), crunchy and delicious and with an order of Crab Cakes ($25) that were chock full of excellent crab. In fact they could easily have been a main course.

 

However our entrees were not at all up to snuff. What was billed  as Flounder Meuniere ($40 !!) turned out to be a huge piece of white, steamed, and relatively tasteless fish. A meuniere preparation starts with browning the fish and serving it with brown butter, lemon and capers, but instead, this lump of white fish had about 5 capers, with no brown butter or lemon to add flavor at all. Just to prove they did know how to prepare this dish, below is a picture of Fluke Meuniere we had there two years ago. (Fluke and Flounder are essentially the same fish.)

 

chicken milaneseOur other entrée was Chicken Milanese ($34), with arugula, heirloom tomatoes, mozzarella, fingerlings, lemon vinaigrette, and  balsamic glaze, which looked fine, but the underlying fried chicken patties were greasy. We suggested to the waiter when he cleared the table that the cooking oil was at too low a temperature, and he came back to tell us the chef had agreed and the “problem had been fixed.” He took the price of one of our glasses of wine off the bill, which came to $165 with tax but before tip.

With that experience under our belt, we decided to have dessert elsewhere, and decamped to the Island Kitchen for ice cream.

ice cream

Greydon House: Nantucket’s extraordinary new restaurant

Greydon House: Nantucket’s extraordinary new restaurant

signThe remodeling of the old sea captain’s house, most recently occupied by Dr. Collins, took place last year, and the Greydon House hotel opened last fall, with the use of the best Home Remodeler company it was a total success. The restaurant, helmed by chef Marcus Ware did not open until late fall and it is only now that we were able to experience it.

Chef Ware was the executive chef at Charlie Palmer’s restaurant in Chicago, and more recently at the Michelin starred Aureole restaurant in New York. In this small, elegant restaurant decorated in a plain, Nantucket Federal style, he has created a menu of eleven appetizers from $16 to $32, eight entrees from $36 to $48, four sides ($8 to $12) and two sharable entrees: a seafood tower at $59 for two and a 32 oz Wagyu Ribeye for $125.

restaurantThe appetizers included Tuna Nicoise, Pumpkin Pond Farm Salad, Heriloom Tomato Salad,  Oysters on Ice, Hudson Valley Foie Gras Terrine, Tuna Crudo, Beef Carpaccio,  Fresh Fusilla Pasta (with veal Bolognese), Black Ink Gnocchi (with octopus), Lobster Tortellini and Crispy Calamari.

The entrees included Halibut , Monkfish,  Scallops, Salmon, Poached Lobster, Roast Chicken, Black Angus Steak, and Grilled Pork Chop.  And the sides were asparagus, roast potatoes, sautéed kale and spinach and caramelized Brussels sprouts. As usual with restaurants of this class, the brief menu descriptions don’t begin to describe the imagination in each dish.

Note that this differs considerably from the online menu.

Our meal

focacciaOur meal began with warm rosemary focaccia brushed with olive oil and sea salt, served in a little wooden box with the GH logo on the side. And they brought real butter to go with it!

For appetizers, we ordered the Pumpkin Pond Farm Salad ($16) which was made up of yellow corn, peaches, blue cheese, pine nuts, radishes and lettuces. This was an excellent version of this fairly common island salad with corn kernels as well as miniature corn adding to the novelty and one of the perfect recipes for cheese lovers.

Far and away our favorite dish last night was the Hudson Valley Foie Gras Terrine ($24) where the foie gras was “sandwiched” between a peanut butter crust and a cherry gelèe, and served with brioche, strawberries and figs. We lingered over every delicious bite.

zuke blossomAbout this point in our meal, a guest at a neighboring table came by carrying a small plate with a zucchini flower stuffed with lobster that the chef had just made for him. We grabbed a quick photo.

For entrees we ordered their amazing scallops ($44, shown above) served with three colors of roasted cauliflower, one of them pickled, raisins, pecans and verjus (pressed grape juices). Not only were the scallops perfectly prepared, but the accompanying vegetables were gorgeous as well as delicious.

Our other entrée was their Grilled Pork Chop ($45), with broccoli rabe, plantain puree and a sauce charcutiere. It is always a risk ordering a pork chop, since most restaurants cook them to be dry as leather. That, of course, we not the case here as nearly every bite was tender and juicy, since the chop was well-marbled as well as aged to enhance the porky flavor.

For this dish, we asked for salt and pepper in case we needed it (we didn’t), but imagine our surprise when we found that both the salt and pepper mills weighed about 2 pounds: apparently the silver was real!

potatoes

We also ordered a side of roasted new potatoes ($7) which were perfectly prepared. Each potato had a tiny dab of pureed squash on it as well to add a bit of color and interest.

Since we were too full for dessert, the waiter brought us each a box of 4 little chocolates. This was a really lovely touch.

All in all, an exceptional experience we will be happy to repeat. The bill, with 3 glasses of wine as $210 with tax but before tip. For the food and service we received, this was quite reasonable. Our waiter had a culinary education from Johnson and Wales in Rhode Island and was taking time off from cooking to learn about wine and the front of the house, and his knowledge of how the ingredients were prepared made the evening all the more interesting.

More about Greydon House

building

The right hand part of Greydon House is the original sea captain’s/doctor’s house, and  the room where the restaurant was created was apparently the doctor’s surgery. The developers got permission to move the building a few feet to the right and built an accompanying addition, painted gray in the photograph, to add the guest rooms of the hotel.

The elegance of the hotel is best appreciated by looking at photos of the library and a craft beer bar in the main section of the hotel. Dinner is served 5:30 to 10:30 pm, 7 days a week, and  the Bar is open Fridays and Saturdays until 1:00 and Sundays through Thursdays until midnight. Don’t miss this Nantucket gem.

 

Baked sea scallops in less than 30 minutes

Baked sea scallops in less than 30 minutes

The delicate flavor of scallops is a marvelous treat whenever they are in season. Sea scallops are the bigger scallops; the little ones are called bay scallops and are best used in dishes like Coquille St Jacques.

This recipe is so easy, you should start the rice you serve it with first, in a pan, an Instant Pot or a rice cooker. Then preheat the oven. We got our idea from one by Christine Laliberte.

  • About 1 lb sea scallops (around 16)
  • 5 Tb melted butter
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 scallions, chopped in short lengths, green part included
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 4 Tb olive oil
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • Lemon wedges or sliced for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 450° F.
  2. Place the scallops, melted butter and chopped scallions in a bowl
  3. Add the garlic, using a garlic press or just mince it.
  4. Add salt and pepper.
  5. In another bowl, add the breadcrumbs and mix in the olive oil.
  6. Place scallop mixture in a casserole and cover with the breadcrumbs.
  7. Bake in a preheated oven for 11 minutes or more, until brown.
  8. Sprinkle parsley over the browned breadcrumbs and serve with rice.
Cru Oyster Bar: Nantucket’s newest bar

Cru Oyster Bar: Nantucket’s newest bar

Cru Oyster Bar opened about 5 years ago and received deserved praise from diners and the food press. In fact, Chef Erin Zircher was even invited to cook at a James Beard Foundation meal. The restaurant, at the end of Straight Wharf (site of the former Rope Walk) has a fantastic harbor view through the huge glass windows, some of which open when the weather permits.

We’ve eaten at Cru 4 previous times, and described most of the meals with high praise, as an elegant family restaurant with a terrific view. We remember seeing young people coloring on the provided menu pages with crayons, and seeing our own brood eating from children’s portions.

No more. The menu is simpler than it was formerly, but certainly not cheaper. Three minutes after we were seated at a nice window table, a group of about 8 men (ages 30 to 50) came in and began shouting to their comrades at the bar, which was just behind the window tables. This continued unabated. While this certainly showed a lack of consideration, it was apparently not unexpected, as the restaurant management did nothing to quell this disturbance.

We immediately asked to be moved to another table where we could actually converse, and they did move us to the second, darker dining room, where the noise was still substantial but more diffused. Here we were able to converse by cupping our hands behind our ears. In fact, this racket never really subsided during our entire meal. Cru is no longer a classy restaurant, but a raucous bar that serves some of the same food, albeit with less care.

For starters, we ordered a Blue Crab Cocktail ($23), served over lettuce and a horseradish crème sauce. There was plenty of crab, but it was kind of a dull presentation. On the other hand, the Shrimp Cocktail was priced a $5 a shrimp. (Really? Five dollars each?). It turned out that these shrimp made jumbo shrimp feel completely inferior. Each of them was gargantuan (we ordered 3 and couldn’t finish them). Something a considerate waiter might have alerted us to. Honestly, shrimp that big are just preposterous, and as you’d expect, not as tender as smaller ones would be.

One of our entrees was a really fine Nantucket Lobster Roll on a warm, buttered, toasted brioche roll for $36. There was a tremendous amount of lobster in this roll, and it was tender, buttery and delicious. In fact it was more than one of us could finish. This turned out to be fortuitous considering the other entrée.

Taking a turn away from the Nantucket’s emphasis on fine local seafood, we ordered their Chicken Under a Brick ($36). This is essentially half a spatchcocked chicken roasted under weights to help with uniform cooking, and served over a “summer bean salad.” Here is how Mark Bittman describes this recipe. In this case, it didn’t work very well. While the dark meat was good, the breast meat was tough and dry. When the waiter checked on us, we told him it wasn’t very good and he said he’d “tell the chef.” This did not, however, result in any changes. Fortunately, I was able to eat the rest of my wife’s lobster roll instead.

As soon as we could finish we asked for the check without even considering dessert in that din, and were shocked to find a bill of $171. OK, we had 4 glasses of wine, 2 while we waited interminably for our entrees, but they had offered no price adjustment on the terrible chicken dish. The waiter protested that my wife had “finished the chicken” so we weren’t due a refund. When we set him straight, he went away and eventually came back with a $139 bill. This is still a lot of money for at best middling food with none of its former distinction, and no dessert or coffee, but we paid and left.

If you’ve ever been hired for a job that turns into quite a different one after a couple of years, you can understand the chef’s predicament. She is doing a huge business with a rowdy crowd not really there for the fine food, but probably making a lot of money. And the waiter assured us that this was a quiet night after Labor Day and that it has been louder than this all summer. But this is not a place for comfortable dining and we won’t be back.

 

Cod Creole: an easy fish dish adding great flavors to white fish

Cod Creole: an easy fish dish adding great flavors to white fish

If you are tired of fried fish and fish with a lemon butter sauce, maybe it’s time to make a delicious creole sauce and use it to cook your fish. We made this simple half-hour meal using cod because that’s what looked good in our market, but it would work well with any white fish and pretty well with oilier fish as well. And we loved it!

This recipe is adapted from the book Turn Up the Flavor.

The original recipe suggested some red bell peppers, but if you have a few more interesting peppers around you can toss those in too. We found some sweet yellow peppers and a poblano pepper we’d picked recently from our now frost-ridden pepper patch. You could toss in a jalapeno or two, depending on how much heat your diners prefer.

  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 “other” peppers, depending on what you have available
  • 1 Tb olive oil
  • 1 diced onion
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups tomato juice
  • 1 Tb Sriracha or other hot sauce
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 lb cod filets, or other white fish
  • 2 scallions, chopped diagonally
  • Brown rice

Sauteing vegetables
Sauteing vegetables
Heat oil in a large pan and add the peppers, onion, and celery. Saute until softened, and add the garlic. Cook 30 seconds.

Tomato juice, Srirach and Worcesterhire
Tomato juice, Srirach and Worcesterhire
Add the tomato juice and then the Sriracha and Worcestershire. Simmer about 4 minutes.

adding fish
Add the cod
Add the filets and nestle them among the vegetables.

Cooked cod
Cooked cod
Cook covered until the fish is opaque, about  8 minutes.

Cod creole with scallions
Cod creole with scallions
Spoon into serving bowl and decorate with chopped scallions.

Cod creole plated with brown rice
Cod creole plated with brown rice
Serve with brown rice.