Artisan

275 Old Post RdSouthport, CT 06890 • (203) 307-4222 • artisansouthport.com
 

Artisan is probably the nicest restaurant in Fairfield County. Not necessarily the best, although very good, but certainly the nicest and dressiest. Which may or not be your thing, but if you’re looking for something that feels a little more special than The Cottage and The Whelk, Artisan is the ticket.

Located in the charming Devon Hotel, Artisan is broken into two hemispheres- three if you count the outside area, but that’s closed in the winter for obvious reasons. The outside and the front bar area are a bit more casual, whereas the back dining room is much more romantic, tastefully appointed bird’s nest light fixtures and warm wood everywhere. Kinda reminds me of a better version of Crabtree Kittlehouse over in Chappaqua.

All of this was unfortunately undercut by the crowd, although I’m guessing we might’ve hit an off night. When we first arrived we were seated next to an elderly couple who was SO old that when the man went to stand up to leave, an army of waiters swarmed around him, rearranging the furniture so that he could make the transition to his walker. And while that that alone might be disruptive enough amidst a romantic outing with wifey, the man repeatedly screamed at the top of his lungs as if a thorny catheter was being shoved up his backside. Now, on the one hand, I clearly felt bad for the poor man as his back or knees or both must surely be killing him. But then shouldn’t he be in a wheelchair? For his sake. Not to mention those around him? Ferocious minds wanna know.

Fortunately, they left inside of the first 15 minutes. Unfortunately that was only the tip of the iceberg, because, in general, the crowd was VERY boisterous for such a setting, and worse still, the couple that came to replace the elderly duo was infinitely worse, fighting the entire time we were there, dropping more F-bombs than Al Pacino in Scarface. Spoiler alert, I think they’re gonna get a divorce.

Oh,  the food? You wanna talk about that? Well, for starters, things started off slowly. The tuna crudo was light and refreshing but not amazing and the octopus was a richer yang and satisfying, but also not incredible.

The entrees saved the day, and our evening from bust, with a rock star butternut squash ravioli and a flawless steak au poivre, with perfect marbleization- perfectly cooked- And that SAUCE! Makes you wanna open a vein. Or just order more of it on the side, which we did.

For dessert though, still amidst the fire and fury from the couple next to us, the apple quince tart closed with a meh. So, clearly the bookends need work here, but the middle is quite something.

As is the wine list, offering Turley for under 100 bucks. Always a major fucking plus. Sorry, The I’m still shell-shocked from the profanity at the table next to us.

Ai Fiori

400 5th Ave. New York, NY 10018 • (212) 613-8660 aifiorinyc.com

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One flight up from the lobby in the Langham Hotel you will find a sizeable, fancy pants dining room that goes straight for the jugular (and by that I mean wallet), letting you know right off the bat that you are about to drop some serious cabbage for the privilege of eating at one of New York’s top rated restaurants. But with dozens like it, the décor kinda feels like it came out of the very same mold as Le Bernadin, Asiate and Per Se. Granted as molds go, you could definitely do a lot worse. But unique, it is not.

In an attempt to live up to the top-notch tenor, the service tries very hard to be perfect and comes but doesn’t quite get there, dropping things, hovering when you don’t want them and then disappearing when you do.

Like the service, the food also came up short of expectations, starting with the butternut squash soup with foie gras, which arrives at the table like a work of art, which they then cover in orange silkiness. But as texturally pleasing as the dish is, I found the foie gras virtually imperceptible to the taste. So then what’s the point? I mean if I’m gonna torture a goose, at least let me taste the pain.

The crab spaghetti fared much better, sporting a healthy kick to it, but even as much as I liked it, it falls way short of the one at Nomad just a few blocks south. And although I didn’t actually try the burger, which apparently won best in New York in 2014 according to our waiter, it looked pretty amazing and if the duck fat potato balls that come with it are any indication (which I did try), good gracious Ignacious!

3 teeth

NoMad Restaurant

1170 Broadway New York, NY 10001 • (347) 472-5660 • thenomadhotel.com

nomad-roast-chicken

While the Flatiron already runneth over with great restaurants, it just got more flooded. NoMad is absolutely sensational. From the décor with its incredible skylight to the service to the drinks to the food. This place didn’t miss a single beat.

For drinks I had the La Piña, and if you like spicy cocktails like I do, this one is a winner. Looks very cool too. My friend ordered the basil lemon drink (can’t recall the name), which was also quite solid. Bright and refreshing.

For appetizers, I had the egg with pancetta and corn. So creamy and savory, which is perfect for sopping up the sauce with their amazing fresh baked bread.

Also as an app, my friend ordered the cauliflower with almonds, grapes and manchego. Such a surprise winner. The carmelization of the cauliflower creates a wonderful sweetness that is accented by the grapes, yet contrasted by texture. Then, there’s the creamy saltiness of the cheese, which is both equaled and contrasted by the almonds. This dish is masterful.

Then came the entrees. I won this round with the tagliatelle. Bone simple, but simply brilliant. The acidity from the lemon, the cracked black pepper and the freshness of the crab. Not to mention the buttery, silkiness of the pasta. Absolute perfection.

As for the other entrée, the Butternut Squash, it was good. But not great. Granted, it truly relied on being the sum of its parts. For example, any bite without the green apple was just eh. Too much of one note. It really needed the balance of bitter to sweet to make it memorable. Although, to be fair, the dish is supposed to come with sausage instead of mushrooms, but because my friend is a veggie we had to suffer 😉

And last but not least, dessert. Perhaps the least impressive course of the meal, but that’s still high praise. The dessert cart is astounding (granted, presentation across the board was stellar). We had what is basically a croissant soaked in simple sugar to create a hard outer shell, then served that to us with a fig compote.

What else can I say? I’m mad about NoMad.

5 teeth