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Aug 2, 2007 07:40 AM

My Anniversary Dinner - FFD County

It's funny. I write on this board darn near every day. But when it comes down to choosing a place to eat for my own anniversary dinner this weekend, I'm ashamed to say I'm totally indecisive and torn.

Here's the deal. I need a proper sit down restaurant (not my usual haunts of down-low latin/asian/whatever places). But, I'm on a budget. I'm not concerned about overly romantic ambiance, but do want something a step above my tortilleria hang outs!

And, the kicker, though I eat everything under the sun, my wife doesn't eat seafood. at all. Or duck. Or lamb. Beef and chicken are good (though a big preference for beef from her). Oh, and she's a real sucker for great salad and bread. that's the most important part to her.

On the budget part, we don't drink alcohol at all, so that helps prices, but I'm really trying to see if I can keep it to at or less than $70 for the two of us (not including tip). That would need to include probably one salad, two entrees and a dessert (which is what I'm the sucker for). So, out for Napa and other fru fru places in Greenwich.

So, here's what I'm thinking about right now (with some random thoughts next to it)

* Barcelona, Greenwich or Norwalk - I'd love it, and have always wanted to try it, but their menu online seemed to have limited options in the chicken/beef category. Also, would I be able to get a few tapas options while wife orders a regular entree and stay around $70?

* Plum Tree, New Canaan - jfood's post the other day reminded me that I've always wanted to try this place. I love japanese. For this dinner, I won't be doing sushi, but how's the menu otherwise? Good non-seafood options for my wife?

* Gaia, Greenwich. I think this is going to be out of my price range, right? But the whole sous vide thing is intriguing. That said, I've been burned too many times on greenwich avenue (ala mediterraneo, where against my better judgement we went for my last anniversary. bad move)

* Baang! - Greenwich. The noise level is obnoxious, but I'm more worried about the non seafood options. Menu online looked weak in that regard. Thoughts?

* Nessa - Port Chester. I'd never even heard of this place until a post a few weeks ago. Sounds great, but sounds expensive. In my price range? KarenNYC's description of the chicken shows they have good options, but at $28 for chicken, might be out of my range? Their site online has no menu or prices...

On the other hand, I'm perfectly fine going a step below these places in terns of fanciness... something along the lines of Kit's Thai Kitchen in Stamford (are there other good thai places out there? Both of us are thai fans...) if the food is good. These should be rolling off of my mind right now, but they aren't!

Anyhow, your thoughts are greatly, greatly appreciated!

- Adam

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  1. Don't know anything about the restaurants in Fairfield County, but if you decide to expand your horizons a bit into Westchester, I have a couple of suggestions not often mentioned here: Two favorites of ours are Halstead Bistro in Harrison (they definitely have beef on the menu, prices are reasonable and portions ample) and Meson los Espagnoles on Post Rd in White Plains (your wife would have to pick and choose a bit more there, but she would still have a choice.) Both have decent bread and salads. Both also serve rather large appetizers, and we sometimes stick just to those. Both, by the way, tend to have very good made-in-house soups. The sound level in both should make it possible for the two of you to converse with each other (if you choose.)

    9 Replies
    1. re: Westjanie

      Hmm. That Halstead Bistro looks good. found their site here:

      Anything in particular on their menu you'd recommend?

      1. re: adamclyde

        Here's my two cents...

        For Thai...The Little Thai Kitchen in Darien ain't too bad. Twice I've been there I've been satisfied with the curries. Green curry and jungle...both pretty good and reasonable pricing.

        Gaia in Greenwich is pretty good...and if you pick wisely you could easily do dinner within your budget without wine. The sous vide thing is kinda cool and not too gimmicky plus this place has the best dining room space in FFD's a beautiful split level dining room that used to be an old bank...get a quiet table on the mezzanine floor near the corner window and it is quite romantic...the missus will love you for it...:) My reccos are the braised short ribs done sous vide and that comes in about 19 bucks I think...their filet mignon ain't too bad either...for dessert you must not miss their signature cheesecake in a jar!! Fantastic.

        Finally - for something a bit different I recommend Coromandel for pretty authentic Indian I've had since I arrived in the NYC area 3 years ago. It's in a strip mall (!) but don't let that put you the Darien Goodwives shopping centre...

        1. re: Scotty100

          Thanks Scotty. I just checked the Gaia website. I think the prices you are thinking of must be for lunch - the short ribs are 28 bucks it looks like. Which wouldn't be that bad, but from what it looks like, any side is additional, ala steakhouse? so it adds up quickly, it seems.

          anyhow, thanks for the little thai kitchen nod. As for coromandel, my wife isn't much of an indian food fan (yes, we often question how we got married!), so that's probably out. But I've been meaning to get there for 5 years now. I need to get off of my rear and go sometime soon.

          1. re: adamclyde

            Not of help for the anniversary but when you do venture out for the Indian, I'd suggest Tandoori in Port Chester. Plus you can go to Paleteria for dessert.

            I read here that the Coromandel in CT is very good but I can't recommend the one in NR - bad experience there.

            What about Pantanal for the anniversary Adam? I haven't eaten there and I can't imagine you haven't as you are the Port Chester expert, but they have rodizio which could work for your wife. I realize the space isn't exceptional.

            F.I.S.H.? - they do have meat options even though primarily a seafood rest. Too pricey?

            Q? Too casual?

            1. re: laylag

              I've been to pantanal quite a few times, but it's been a while. OK, I may be totally, completely wrong, but did I read here that it was closing? I know Patrias just closed, but not sure why I'm thinking I've heard that about Pantanal too...

              Anyhow, yeah, Q is probably too casual from what I'm looking for tomorrow, unfortunately. Plus, my smoker has been in full rotation here at the house lately, so my wife would probably revolt if I suggested more BBQ!

              1. re: adamclyde

                Patrias has closed??? AND Pantanal? This is a disaster!

                1. re: Westjanie

                  patrias is confirmed closed, but pantanal... totally not sure about that. I'd hate to spread false info! Let me check...

          2. re: Scotty100

            Coromandel is good, but I'd recommend Thali in New Canaan over it. A bit more authentic (though I've noticed that Coromandel has modified it's menu to be a bit closer to Thali's), while being equally high end. Thali also has a great wine list BTW...clearly done with more care than the average "commerical list you see in ethnic places that don't seem to know or care about wine. Nice selection of Austrians (riesling, gruners), gwurtzes, etc, that go especially well with spicier cusine.

          3. re: adamclyde

            I like their mushroom soup a lot. Crab cake, steak sandwich and burger have been good. Don't know how you feel about calves liver, but theirs has been a hit with both my husband and me. They often have daily specials where you get either soup or salad and special entree of the day for a very good price. Last time we did that it was pepper crusted prime rib, and it fed us for a couple of days. I keep meaning to try the coconut crusted fish but always get waylaid by something else. Some of the dishes tend to be overelaborate to my taste, but they can make substitutions. The staff has always been professional and pleasant, and we've never had a disaster of any sort. Desserts aren't bad either.

        2. I would recommend ,La Paella Tapas Wine Bar & Restaurant on 44 Main Street
          (203) 831-8636
          It used to be called Mecca . It is around the corner from Meson Galicia, is less expensive and quieter.. I love the paella with rabbit and lima beans.
          I definately think the meal for two w/o alcohol would be under 70.There are plenty of Tapas and beef and chicken.

          2 Replies
          1. re: scharffenberger

            that's the tapas bar in downtown stamford, right?

            1. re: adamclyde

              No, schaffenberger is refering to a place in Norwalk (proper, not SoNo), near Fat Cat Pizza. Great place, BTW.

          2. I also like Cormandel in the Goodwives Plaza.

            1. jfood's comments on the list - plum tree is tempura and terriyaki so if not sushi, not great; surprised to see gaia on the list given the price point; never been to nessa.

              Jfood loves Baang and Barcelona and view both as a fun date (heck the jfoods went to Barc for New Year's Eve). both have a great steak entree for mrs clyde. and you can have a couple of tapas at Barc or another entree at Baang. Would recommend the mushrooms with goat cheese as a must have at Barc and for $70 you could probably get 3 tapas, a main and a nice bowl of sorbet to share (3 scoops at Barc). If SONO ask for a tabel in the wine fridge room or outside if a nice night. Mrs clyde may want to consider the tapas sized steak and something else to compliment it. So 5 apps and a sorbet is a full meal and should hit the $70 limit.

              2 Replies
              1. re: jfood

                yeah, realizing gaia is way too expensive, unfortunately.

                Thanks for the barcelona info. Food seem to be the same in Greenwich as SONO?

                1. re: adamclyde

                  never been to the gwich location but the atmosphere is sono is great and you are probably looking for a high energy place as well.

              2. If you like Thai, LTK in Darien is good, but not very anniversary-ish. You might consider Papaya Thai in SoNo, which has a nice atmosphere, and pretty good food.

                For Asian Fusion, another great place just opened in Goodwives, on the opposite end from Coromandel, called Tengda. Best sushi I've had around the area, and a nice selection of regular dishes, too. A bit pricer than LTK, but frankly, LTK ain't all that cheap, either...

                2 Replies
                1. re: ChefBoyAreMe

                  Papaya Thai is owned by the same owner as Plum Tree. Never been there but check the menuon line. If you have some allergies it was a tough menu for the jfoods.

                  1. re: jfood

                    Tengda is not a bad choice I suppose (I'm thinking of the one in Greenwich) but not amazing's also quite pricey and they are trying for that kinda trendy vibe...haven't eaten in the Darien one but I imagine its the same...the rolls are quite good but I think Kira sushi in greenwich is superior.