Rothbard Ale & Larder

90 Post Rd EWestport, CT 06880 • 203) 557-9666 • rothbardct.com

Rothbart is not a bar. Nor is it a restaurant. It is an Eastern European godsend filled with beer that flows like happiness dipped in gold and dishes that will have you thinking you’re in Prague, not Westport.

The setting alone couldn’t be more perfect really, with it’s castle-esque, basement dining room off the corner of an alley (of the charming variety). Which proves to be a living testament to just how good this place is, because it’s plenty busy for a place that isn’t that easy to find. In fact, the only reason we went there was because the wait was ridic at Bar Taco. And I’m so glad it was!

Beyond having kickass tripel beer on tap and in bottle, the bartender Adam is the perfect blend of sarcasm and wry- yet Johnny on the spot with his service and the recos.

Of the starters, I think I’d give it to the cannibal toast by a nose. Essentially a deftly balanced beef tartar spread over toast and over and out. We horked it down so fast I’m lucky I still have all ten fingers.

After that, an extremely close second would be the mussels, cooked in a beer-based broth that rivals any white wine version I’ve ever had.

The pretzel is also a solid option, but not by comparison to its predecessors. And truth be told, if it’s pretzel you want, then save yourself for the bratwurst platter. It is everything right with this world all on one cutting board. A beautifully charred brat, bursting at the seams with flavor. A ramekin of tallegio, a pile of cornichon, a dollop of grain mustard and last but not least, a pretzel roll that is every bit as good as the solo act, only with this dish you can doll it up into a bratwurst sandwich worthy of the gods.

The other starter I would giddily recommend is the deviled egg appetizer. Not quite as impressive as the ones over at The Whelk, but that’s a mighty high bar to be fair. These are topped with pickled pearl onions and trout roe and are hot damn delicious.

The only real miss for me is the chicken schnitzel. It’s really quite bland and lacking the accouterments to make it interesting. Essentially, it’s like ordering one gigantic chicken finger that covers your entire plate.

But getting back to the wowzers, be sure to get the salted apple pie as your closer. It is deceptively simple, yet magnificent in every metric imaginable.

This is not the place for the faint of heart, however. So if you’re on a diet and looking for a light bite, you really shouldn’t come here unless you’re willing to fall off the wagon. Hard.

The Ravenous Pig

1234 N Orange Ave. Winter Park, FL 32789 • (407) 628-2333 • theravenouspig.com
20130513-111428

I’m not sure if the term gastropub has worn out its welcome yet, but this is a very good one should you happen to be a fan of the genre like I am. And a fan I was, from the very first bite of my soft pretzel dipped in their taleggio-porter fondue. Just genius. I mean I’m a huge fan of grain mustard with pretzels, which was the other dipping option, but next to that fondue, it went virtually untouched.

The pretzels were quickly followed by an order of densely packed crab cakes with a nice, crispy crust. They were a solid good, served with mache, almonds and a cilantro aioli.

And for our mains, we split two sandwiches, the king salmon and the brisket. Now normally I would say that brisket is going to when this battle 9 times out of 10, especially at a place called The Ravenous Pig, but that’s the great thing about life…and food… They both never cease to amaze. The salmon was the clear winner. So clear even if you had an oil tanker full of Windex you couldn’t make it any clearer. Just spot on, with its nice slab of perfectly cooked fish, crisp bacon, gribiche sauce and a brioche bun.

Whereas the brisket shat the bed. A touch on the dry side with the meat overpowering the accouterments so much so that not even the chimichurri could break through. Fortunately we has a bunch of left over mustard from the pretzels which helped to save it, otherwise I’m not sure I would’ve eaten more than a bite.

And finally, the banana bread dessert with toffee ice cream was a strong finish. Served warm with a crunchy top and soft, fluffy innards. Then mixed with the cool toffee cream. So good, even though I was full, I pushed through it like a… ravenous pig.

Service and décor were also good, granted the server pulled one of my biggest pet peeves, dropping the ball on a recommendation with, “everything’s good.” But he was very nice and accommodating so I’ll let him live.

4 teeth