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Brasserie Pip (Ivoryton, CT): Oo-la-la-la, c'est magnifique!

kattyeyes Jul 6, 2009 06:23 PM

BIG THANKS to rbailin for recommending Brasserie Pip for steak tartare. We went for dinner on the 4th of July and had a truly stellar experience from beginning to end.

We sat out on the porch overlooking the gardens--what a picture-perfect setting. I chose the seasonal fruit caipirinha and would highly recommend this very tasty adult beverage! My dining partner had a Dark & Stormy. Bien sûr, we shared steak tartare to start. I cannot compare it to others I have enjoyed because it's not so readily available I can compare it from place to place. I can only say it was delectable and the toasted baguette slices they brought to accompany it were just right. Their housemade fresh baguettes and butter are simply wonderful.

Next, we shared "THE Macaroni gratin with crispy pork." Imagine the creamiest, most flavorful, cheddar-loaded mac and cheese you have ever eaten, replete with peas, chunks of pork and crispy breadcrumbs on top. It was mindbendingly wonderful and left me wishing I could replicate this dish at home. I sopped up every last cheesy bite of sauce with the remaining baguette slices.

For the main course, I ordered the duck confit. It goes without saying it was fall-off-the-bone tender and no knife was necessary. It was rich and flavorful, served over white beans and Swiss chard and topped with a bit of fennel slaw.

My dining partner, who ranked this among the best meals he has ever eaten, enjoyed the fresh local fluke amandine with potatoes, capers, whole almonds and green beans. I had a taste and agreed the fish was supremely fresh, very light and perfectly seasoned.

I couldn't get my mind off the menu and the duck fat pommes frîtes. I just had to try them, so rather than dessert, we ordered them midway through our meal and enjoyed them last. Served with aïoli, these hand-cut fries were superb. I can't honestly say I could taste the difference that they had been prepared with duck fat. Perhaps I'd have to try them side by side with "regular" frîtes to see the difference, but they were fabulous as well.

Clearly, we hadn't saved room for dessert, so I only had a cappucino. But I can't help thinking about NEXT TIME. This restaurant is only about a half hour away and I definitely want to get back there again this summer (with friends next time) to try their charcuterie and have more tartare and...and...and...

Our server was very pleasant and helpful. When I asked for his help between a couple of dishes, he steered me to both the duck and the macaroni gratin and I am very grateful for his recommendations. He also helped my dining companion decide between two of his dinner choices.

One more thing! We arrived VERY early for our 6:15 reservation. As it was such a beautiful day, I wanted to head toward the shore and get outside before our meal. What luck--as we drove up Main St. in Ivoryton, we noticed several sculptures displayed on people's lawns. We learned that these sculptures will be on display (for a year?), so bring walking shoes and arrive early. A leisurely walk for 15 minutes in either direction of Brasserie Pip will give you a chance to take in a variety of interesting sculptures. My personal favorite is the moose!

http://brasseriepip.com/

Pictures as follows:
- outdoor seating
- view from porch where we dined
- seasonal fruit caipirinha
- steak tartare

-----
Brasserie Pip
46 Main Street, Ivoryton, CT 06442

 
 
 
 
  1. kattyeyes Jul 6, 2009 06:28 PM

    More pics:
    - macaroni gratin
    - duck confit
    - fluke amandine

     
     
     
    1. kattyeyes Jul 6, 2009 06:39 PM

      Last, but not least:
      - duck fat pommes frîtes (don't they even LOOK like something special?!)
      - moose!
      - lady

      More info about the sculptures here:
      http://www.hollycroft.org/

      I don't know if we were just lucky to get a reservation on a holiday night on our first try, but this will definitely NOT be our last visit to Brasserie Pip. It was truly an outstanding and unforgettable meal. Once again, thank you, rbailin!

       
       
       
      1. Scargod Jul 7, 2009 03:14 AM

        I've read that the French bistro style food at Brasserie Pip is supposed to be very good. The Copper Beech Inn's restaurant is four-star rated by AAA. On their list of top 100 hotel restaurants in the US!
        I must say the review and pictures are over the top. Great job! I'm jealous of your experience. It sure does give you food for thought about what to try cooking next at home, doesn't it? Potatoes au gratin with squirrel bits?

        1. f
          few Jul 7, 2009 08:43 AM

          Glad to know others are discovering this spot _ I first chatted about it 2 years ago....http://tinyurl.com/mx9yxy

          BTW -- The Outdoor Sculpture exhibit is actually a mile long - starts at Ivoryton playhouse and runs on the lawns up into Centerbrook

          When I get a chance this week I will post a few pics since I live in the neighborhood - only if you promise to eat at Pips or Du Glace if you decide to come down to visit.

          Make a day of it at the Playhouse !

          1 Reply
          1. re: few
            kattyeyes Jul 7, 2009 09:09 AM

            Hey, thanks for sharing your writeup! I searched for other reviews so I could add on, but didn't find yours because it was labeled "Bistro PIPS." It's hard to imagine a restaurant this good hasn't been mentioned more.

            I see from your profile you enjoy a caipirinha also--have you tried their seasonal fruit one? I asked if it was made from rhubarb as I made a rhubarb syrup this summer, but our waiter explained it was maybe a flavored rum? In any case, it was quite wonderful (and strong)! I would go broke if I lived down the street from Brasserie Pip. ;)

            And to any other readers, check out the thread below on Bistro du Glace for more info. You can go for lunch or dinner...or just stop in the Patisserie for out-of-this-world pastries. Need another excuse to visit the area besides these restaurants, the pastry shop and the sculptures? Bring a cooler and pick up some fresh pasta at Feast Gourmet Market (across the street from Bistro du Glace)! They also sell fresh ricotta and other cheeses. Don't forget, the killer frîtes are at BRASSERIE PIP. If you go to BISTRO DU GLACE, opt for garlic mashed. ;) Lots of wonderful food to be found--dig in!

            FEAST:
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/619704

            BISTRO/PATISSERIE DU GLACE:
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/482520

            P.S. to few: We got as far as Ivoryton Playhouse in one direction and the Hollycroft Foundation building (where I thought the exhibit started) on the other--just past the Mazda dealership. Was there more?

          2. f
            few Jul 17, 2009 05:56 AM

            Just saw that Tyler Anderson -- the chef at Copper Beech Inn won his night at bat on Chopped - - walked away with $10k - CONGRATS to Tyler !!!

            Mayeb time to go back and see if his success got to his head ? hahahahaha

            1. kattyeyes Aug 2, 2009 08:26 AM

              Second visit. I assure you, the "Chopped" win didn't change a thing and success hasn't gone to anyone's head.

              It's hard to imagine a meal here being less than perfect. Round two, just as lovely. The one special of the evening was heirloom tomato salad with burrata. Couldn't resist and am glad we didn't--I run out of ways to spell delicious.

              We tried the corn chowder--it was unlike any other corn chowder I've ever eaten. For starters, it was pureed, and it was topped with a swirl of blended herbs. Another winner.

              Now, everyone has had mashed potatoes and I confess to loving them more than I should, but I'd never had pommes puree. Check the picture to see the texture; these were quite different. And, as usual, the presentation is artful. It's like golden waves of pommes in the pan.

              Pictures:
              - heirloom tomato salad with burrata
              - corn chowder
              - pommes puree

               
               
               
              1. kattyeyes Aug 2, 2009 08:31 AM

                Remaining pics:
                - sole amandine
                - steak tartare (double appetizer portion as a meal) - more meat than I needed to eat in one sitting, but every bite was delectable!

                 
                 
                1. Scargod Oct 4, 2009 09:43 AM

                  The meal last night is in my top ten meals of the last ten years. There was hardly a mis-step and the food was superb. I usually am restrained about hyperbole and perfection; it was close. We ate at six and it was still half empty and quiet. Even as it almost filled we were still able to converse easily. That's worth a star!
                  Service was spectacular throughout the evening from all the staff. Our waitress, Eddie was very good and quite professional. I think her pronunciation of Lagavulin was beautiful, even if not correct. A sign of a classy exceptional restaurant is professionalism in service. Part of this is attentiveness and timing. Last night Eddie, the kitchen and all the staff was spot on.
                  We had scotch, a dark and Stormy, a Caipirinha and a glass of malbec to start with. Our appetizers were 10 Wellfleets for me (for the price of six), a charcuterie plate of Spam-like meat, liver baby food and steak tartare. I did not care for the liver. It was too much like what I ate as a baby. The Mignonette Sauce was way too strong for my taste. I think they need to tone it down. It overpowered the wonderful Wellfleets.
                  We had a bottle of Frog's Feet Chardonnay since three of us were doing sea creatures. Katty's scallops were sweet, sublime and perfectly cooked. Thank you for a whole one! The raisin, onion chutney it was on was very good.
                  Her SO had fluke. It was so flukin' good! My favorite of all the dishes, though I did not taste my SO's duck. The fluke had a flavor and crunch from the pan frying that was divine. It was incredibly flakey-tender and not overcooked. I almost ordered it. I had fluke envy.
                  Happily, instead I had haddock. It was more subtle in flavor, but had almost crisp chunks of rich bacon underneath. SO's duck was proclaimed wonderful by all and I will try it in a few minutes for part of my lunch.
                  We had cheese doodles and plain, unadorned, wavy mashed potato soup for sides. The waves of potatoes were suspended in motion.... Both very rich. The doodles had pork belly in it.
                  We had peanut butter cheesecake. This had a very hard base and was just delicious. The carrot cake was very dense and moist. Heavy compared to what I am normally used to. It came with a rich (probably homemade), rum-raisin ice cream. Kat had a cappuccino and I had nothing, since I was driving. Perhaps Kat can remember all the details I left out...
                  The place, the food, the service and the company was more than I could have asked for. Oh, you want a negative? My fork was a little rough. I quickly forgot.

                  -----
                  Brasserie Pip
                  46 Main Street, Ivoryton, CT 06442

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Scargod
                    kattyeyes Oct 5, 2009 05:53 PM

                    And now....Point/Counterpoint!

                    << charcuterie plate of Spam-like meat, liver baby food >>
                    Holy smokes, man--do you not LIKE terrine? If you don't, that's cool, but PLEASE DON'T CALL IT SPAM. The terrine was quite nice--with sage and chunks of apple, and was served with a lovely, grainy mustard. Thanks for not liking it--it left more for ME! I liked the terrine here even better than Le Petit Cafe, and that's not a knock on LPC whatsoever; merely a star next to the plate at Pip as it was just a little bit better! And as to the liver, that was chicken liver mousse. I will speak for me and my guy here (though your SO appeared to feel the same way)--we thought it was delicious!

                    I don't know if you were tired or being funny when you wrote this--We had Frog's LEAP Chardonnay. It paired excellently with all our sea creatures. My scallop dish was served over a cauliflower gratin with raisins and almonds, which I LOVED and have since added to my list of best dishes in New England on this board. Great thread--where are your votes, by the way?!

                    <<We had cheese doodles and plain, unadorned, wavy mashed potato soup for sides.>>
                    Let me translate. We had "THE macaroni gratin"--and I stand by my original description above on Jul 6, 2009 above. And no way are pommes puree "wavy mashed potato soup"--they were incredible and of a consistency of creamy polenta. Blissful. Who would you trust--a snail or a kat? ;) Differences aside, these are the friends we had in mind to come here since our first visit, and I'm glad to know this meal made Scargod's top 10 in the past 10 years. God knows that's saying something!

                    1. re: kattyeyes
                      Scargod Oct 6, 2009 06:20 AM

                      Oooh! Ouch! Don't know if I'm trying to be funny?

                      I love whipped, soft, almost liquidy mashed potatoes. These were a puree and a very plain looking, but rich. They could have had chicken stock along with the butter, for all I know. To me their granular and almost runny consistency seemed more like a mistake one would make. Not my "perfect" style of potato... but they were delicious.
                      I'm glad you fulled in the blanks on the bed for your scallops. Really good with plump raisins! The whole, moist and swollen almonds were quite an extravagant addition.
                      The country style mustard with whole mustard seed was delicious and upstaged the Tony Spam.
                      Macaroni gratin= Mac & Cheese, however you swing it. It had finely juliened carrot over it.
                      The Cuervo Gold... Say it again, make tonight a wonderful thing, say it again! Can I have some more of your fried pork belly? Ga-ga-unctuously delicious combo! My new drug of choice.
                      Kats are bigger than Snails, so you win... Please stop swatting me around like a play toy!

                      1. re: Scargod
                        f
                        few Oct 11, 2009 03:23 PM

                        Next time you guys go - give me a heads up would love to meet you all there - I live so close !!!!

                        1. re: few
                          Scargod Oct 11, 2009 08:31 PM

                          email me. I am assembling a contact list of local people. Kattyeyes is closer to you than me.
                          EDIT: look again.

                          1. re: Scargod
                            f
                            few Oct 11, 2009 08:51 PM

                            well I tried scargod in gmail - no luck.....

                  2. bushwickgirl Oct 11, 2009 08:35 PM

                    katty, I just found this post, I'm glad you had a great meal, I have to say you wrote a stellar review. And, as always, great photos. Really good comeback, as well, for saving the sanctity of terrrine and chicken liver mousse.
                    Please check out the poster that currently needs recommends for Norwich, maybe you have some ideas for him/her for that area? I hope you don't mind me recommending your knowledge and expertise.
                    Eat on...

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: bushwickgirl
                      Scargod Oct 11, 2009 08:42 PM

                      Kattyeyes, I think you have just found my replacement. Another woman with a black cat!

                      1. re: Scargod
                        bushwickgirl Oct 11, 2009 09:11 PM

                        Black cats abound and they eat well.
                        That's my Cocoa.

                      2. re: bushwickgirl
                        kattyeyes Oct 12, 2009 05:38 AM

                        Thanks kindly. The terrine and mousse were quite lovely and definitely needed to be defended from the snail's wrath!

                        I did see that thread, but am not familiar with Norwich proper. The poster is probably there on business, needs a local bite and won't want to make the jaunt to Heritage Trail or to New London. I appreciate your vote of confidence. It's a black cat thing, no doubt. ;) Sending you a high five paw....

                        1. re: kattyeyes
                          dennisl Jan 31, 2010 03:48 AM

                          After reading such great reviews I decided to pick Pip for a Ladies Night this past Friday. Mixed reviews. First, for 8 people I had made a 7:00 reservation (just in case, as it was a Friday.) We were running a little late, and at 7:04, not only did they call my cell phone, they left me a message to see if we were coming. What was more odd was that we got 'Oh, we were worried about you, since you were late.' ?! Am I unusual to think this is odd? I always will call if I am running 10 minutes late or more, but they weren't full, and no one was even waiting for a table! Set the evening off to an odd start.
                          We were put out in a dark, cold area by ourselves, but the waitress was very friendly and turned the heat up for us after asking if we were cold, but it was so dark that we could barely read our menus. We started with the charcuterie, accompanied with baguette. We enjoyed it very much (2 types of prosciutto, one house-cured, pate, and foie gras, with some nice condiments and additions.) We all chose to have drinks instead of wine, and everyone really enjoyed them, especially the Shot Heard Round the World, made with some exotic liquers.
                          We were hoping for more small plates or appetizers to choose from, there were only about 5 on the menu, so several of us split some main courses. I split the short ribs with a friend, and they were very good. The waitress had told us that it was a small portion, we ordered 1 anyway and were fine. The duck fat french fries were good, but I've had better, so the great build-up from reviews were a let down (of sorts.) We also shared some profiteroles for dessert, which were good, but typical. We were handed the check after dessert without being asked (and we would have stayed and had more drinks, and spent more money.) Also, the tip was added to our check, but we weren't told. I have no problem with it being added for a large group such as ours, but we should have been informed.
                          Overall, we agreed it was a good experience, not great, but wouldn't return. No one felt the expense of the evening was worth it. Some of our party did notice that they have a night with half price martinis and food specials, which we would possibly try.

                          1. re: dennisl
                            eodell Jan 31, 2010 07:16 AM

                            Well, I have dined here a couple of times; my first two experiences were so-so, but the most recent (a couple of weeks ago) was superb. The service was particularly improved from my earlier visits.

                            I think Pip strikes a good balance on what I look for in a typical Brasserie, oysters, charcuterie, frites, and a balance of well executed entrees, including the ubiquitous steak, duck, mussels, etc. As they share space with the Copper Beech, they have a particularly extensive wine list with some great by the glass offerings, which I consider a plus.

                            dennisl, not to get down too much on your observations, but I think it's reasonable for a maitre'd to want to keep close tabs on a large party. Especially so if that party is running late, because that ties up of a lot of seats, at prime time in a small place. A courtesy call doesn't strike me as offensive. Most upscale places will call to confirm 24 hours out.

                            As far as the tip being included, that's customary for parties of 6 or more pretty much everywhere.

                            1. re: eodell
                              dennisl Feb 2, 2010 06:56 AM

                              I do understand wanting to keep tabs on a large party, I agree. However, I HAD spoken to him the day before and confirmed, and they were never full the entire evening, there were plenty of empty seats.

                              I agree it's customary for the tip,also, and as someone who has waited tables I think it's great for the waitstaff. I would just like the courtesy of it being pointed out to us. As I said, we were in an extremely dark area (we could barely see the menus), so the check was very hard to read as well.

                              I may try again in the future, as it seems you had some so-so experiences and then were happy. Thanks!

                      3. DonShirer Jun 16, 2010 05:30 PM

                        Although I hadn't been back to the Copper Beech in several years, I persuaded DW to have our anniversary dinner at Brasserie Pip, and we are both glad we did.

                        The pork terrine from the charcuterie board made a nice appetizer. Though a little blander than I expected, the grainy mustard added a nice tang. (Someone told me once that the chef does his own butchering and runs through at least one pig a week.) The bread was so good my wife asked to take home a loaf. There was a fairly large and impressive wine list--I had a glass of a nice French white which I can't pronounce and whose spelling I won't attempt here! My wife enjoyed her buckwheat crepes with spring vegetables, mushrooms and cheese, and my tastebuds were quite happy with the scallops, prettily presented with baby peapods and carrots (sorry, Kattyeyes, I didn't bring a camera.) I had the macaroni gratin with pork as a side, and although it was scrumptious, I had to take half home with me. For dessert we shared the chocolate mousse which was rather unusual. It was solid, not soft, and looked like two chocolate brownies layered on a hazelnut crust. While the lighter brown one was quite tasty in itself, we both preferred the darker chocolate sample.

                        Although we came by 5:30, the place filled up quite rapidly for a weeknight, so reservations are recommended. It was a little chilly to sit on the porch overlooking the pleasant garden, so we sat inside where the tables are rather close together. We enjoyed some banter with the people at the next table about the dessert and menu, but I also was a little embarrassed to overhear their private conversation about an operation. Still, we intend to go back much more often from now on.

                        -----
                        Brasserie Pip
                        46 Main Street, Ivoryton, CT 06442

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: DonShirer
                          kattyeyes Jun 16, 2010 07:03 PM

                          Happy anniversary, Mr. & Mrs. Shirer! I can see your meal in my mind's eye, so glad you enjoyed. And I literally laughed out loud at your next-to-last sentence. :) Nice report!

                        2. l
                          LorenV Dec 13, 2010 08:38 AM

                          Wife and I celebrated our 10th Anniversary here for dinner last week based on all the recommendations.

                          Was surprised to see a decent beer list as well. 3 taps- Cisco Sankaty, Arch IPA and "Sam Adams Celebration", I informed the waiter it was "Sierra Nevada". OK bottle list too and for decent prices.

                          Wife had onion soup with braised beef and lobster gnocchi for her main course.

                          I went with the deconstructed BLT of pork belly, pickled green tomatoes and lettuce foam as an appetizer and tandoori spiced duck with fois gras as the main course.

                          All the food was spectacular and the service was warmly stellar. Considering this is Essex the bill wasn't over the top exorbitant either.

                          Highly recommended.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: LorenV
                            dennisl Jan 11, 2011 06:00 AM

                            So, I braved the place again, and again (to me) the wonderful food is not worth it.

                            Do they not like a large group of ladies for a Ladies Night out? Not sure. It was a Wednesday, 5 of us. Host gave my girlfriend a hard time because she did not have reservations (never more than 6 tables full all night.) Waitress was friendly and efficient, food was very nice (I had 2 items from the charcuterie menu, can't remember exactly what, it was a month ago.) I had also ordered the lobster gnocchi, which was delicious, but about 1/2 cup of food.) My friend had the tuna nicoise, same amount of food, though she enjoyed it. She and I then ordered and split a burger and duck fat pommes frites (which are amazing.) Again, we were given the check without being asked if we wanted it.

                            We easily spent $350+, and were basically kicked out. The food is very, very good, but if I want attitude I will actually GO to France. (Glad I gave it another try, though, as per kattyeyes!)

                            1. re: dennisl
                              kattyeyes Jan 11, 2011 06:40 AM

                              Oh, that's a bummer, dennisl...good question. I never went with girlfriends, though that shouldn't matter. Whattashame. Glad you enjoyed the food, though!

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