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Nov 16, 2009 10:57 AM

Jfood returns to Basso Cafe - Norwalk CT

The Jfoods returned to Basso Café on Route 123 in Norwalk recently to see how they were doing since their first and only visit many months ago. Jfood was impressed that they were able to weather the economic cycle giving their prices (entrees $25-35) and the timing of the restaurant’s opening last year. Upon entering, Jfood was very impressed with the changes. Gone were the paper table coverings and the revived ambience was much more conducive to the prices. There were also comfortable and cool-looking chairs, white tablecloths, mood lighting, all was very impressive and the old pizzeria feel was definitely a thing of the past. There were probably around 30-35 available seats in total.

The Jfoods were seated and the server brought them menus. (If you would like to see the choices, the menu on line is very accurate.) He had a big smile when he remembered that the server was the same young lady from his first visit and she was just as friendly and now had more professionalism in her demeanor.

The Jfoods ordered the warm goat cheese and mushroom tart with caramelized onions and herbs ($11) and the smoked Andouille sausage wrapped in paper thin sliced potato served with piquillo pepper sauce ($7) for appetizers and the braised Chilean sea bass served with stuffed mini pumpkin with roasted tomatoes, chanterelle mushrooms, and creamy lobster sauce ($32) and the Tuscan grilled chicken under a brick ($23) for entrees.

The presentation of the sausage was a 1” section of sausage wrapped ¾ the way with a thin slice of potato, held in place with a toothpick. This combination was then fried. The Andouille itself was not as spicy as Jfood would have liked and the potato wrap offered little additional flavor, but did add some crunchy texture. Jfood was expecting more. Why the toothpick was still present was a mystery.

The goat cheese tart was conceptually a nice idea but the flavors were primarily bland when they should have been more alive. The tart pastry (in the shape of a scone) was sliced in half; the caramelized onions and the cheese were sandwiched in between. The one positive note was that the onions were about as good a caramelized onion that Jfood has ever tasted in a restaurant. The goat cheese added nothing to the dish and the pastry was also a non-event.

The Bass arrived and the top was perfectly cooked to a crispy, golden brown. The texture throughout the fish was perfect for Jfood, it was still moist while fully cooked (exactly what is expected from a Chilean sea bass). Jfood would guess the size was about 4 oz. A nice sprinkling of salt sat atop the filet. The stuffed pumpkin was the size of a golf ball with the top removed. The tomato and mushroom filling was delicious but totaled about one tablespoon. The entire dish was a 4oz piece of bass and a tablespoon of mushrooms. (For disclosure, Jfood used the on-line menu for the description above and does not remember if the lobster sauce was on the actual menu. But if it was on the menu, it was missing from the dish.) Jfood was almost embarrassed with the price-quantity ratio.

Although Jfood did not taste the chicken, Mrs. Jfood told him it was very good.

Another item that should be mention was that the runner needed a bit of training. When Jfood's dish arrived he mentioned that the plate was “very hot.” Most of the time this is not an issue but the runner left Jfood with a difficult situation. The runner placed the plate with 1/3 of it dangling over the edge of the table. If Jfood tried to eat the food on the dish it would have fallen into his lap. So Jfood pushed the dish forward to be fully on the table. He discovered that the plate was >200 degrees. Jfood was glad it was he and not Mrs. Jfood that pushed his plate. Ouch.

Are the Jfoods glad they returned? Sure, the chef has a large selection of interesting choices on the menu that change regularly. Would the Jfoods rush back again? Probably not. The execution just was not in line with Jfood's expectations. It just did not have the wow factor in any of the dishes and for this the price there are several other options available.

Basso Cafe
124 New Canaan Ave. (Bartlett ave.), Norwalk, CT 06850

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  1. JFOOD - I walked in here once and walked out as they menu didn't appeal to me that night. What I am interested in learning however is whether you've eaten at any of the other places in that immediate area? Behind Basso is some sort of Spanish type place and then in the plaza next to it is an Italian place which looks promising to me. Also, I always an intrigued to go into that kitschy Italian club, or whatever it is that serves dinner on the weekends.

    4 Replies
    1. re: MasterofLightChick

      Costa Bravo or something like that is the name, but nope, not gone there.

      That is a great stretch:

      Jfood goes to the A&S for his sausage and their fennel sausage is fantastic. Cut into sections, throw into some homemade marinara for 45 minutes and over some pasta. great winter grub.

      The Liz Su bagels in this mall is not as good as it's partner in STM and jfood gets his bagels up 123 over the NY border in Vista at Word of Mouth in the same mini-mall as Greenwich Produce. If you go there and the have the crumb cake, buy a piece for $2. It is over the top fantastic.

      Once had a pizza from across the street and jfood needed tissues to wipe the oil coming through his pores, it was soooo oily. The Double D across the street makes a very good BEC sandwich and they have a triple BEC wrap if your arteries can handle it.

      The Asian market a little further down on the other side of he street is great as well. When jfood was making sushi rolls, he bought his seaweed there.

      Jfood is not sure he has the guts to try that Italian place up the road a little. Be his guest and please report back.

      Then you get the lower half after you cross under Route 7 and you get all kinds of greatness from the Italian all the way to Wall Street, this stretch rival Summer St in Stm.

      1. re: jfood

        I like the Indian place across the street from Basso too.

        How about the little Italian cafe in the shopping plaza with the deli - maybe that is where the Double D is? I think that cafe looks promising and not as scary as the Knights of Columbus place or whatever it is.

        1. re: MasterofLightChick

          La Taverna. Little jfood went there on a date and thought it was very good. Jfood has not tried it. Go to Mikes first, down near Megas and La Paella. has a cretificate for the three of them.

          La Taverna
          130 New Canaan Ave Ste 2, Norwalk, CT 06850

          La Paella Restaurant
          44 Main St, Norwalk, CT 06851

          1. re: jfood

            yes, I have been wanting to go to Mikes but it seems every time I attempt to go, it is closed or filled up for a private party. I'm no good at planning ahead and making a reservation - much too spontaneous for that but I look forward to having it synch up for my dining enjoyment one day.

    2. btw, I like La Paella. They have a sister restaurant in Bridgeport too.

      La Paella Restaurant
      44 Main St, Norwalk, CT 06851

      4 Replies
      1. re: MasterofLightChick

        yes - Taberna is their sister restaurant, and it's really good.

        1. re: shark_attack

          Having moved from Stamford to West Norwalk a couple years ago we where desperately looking for a neighborhood type of place that you go to and have a drink at a bar, decent food and conversation with with fellow patrons (locals)and the owners (two brothers) and we found it @ Uncle Joe's!
          My take on Uncles Joe's
          FOOD.......... My mother used to say when in Rome do as the Romans do. That being said, since Greeks own it,eat Greek food,not veal parm, most of the Greek food we have had is a solid 7 sometimes an even an 8! The Greek salad pizza is very good. And I love there homemade bread.
          STAFF.........."Amateurish" Perhaps,maybe a better term would be a second job to make ends meet kinda staff that go out of there way to make you feel welcomed and maybe not as polished as one would like they do try and care about your dinning experience.
          The OWNERS............... They care and are always there behind the bar and they remember you and thank you for coming in.We where there during the power outages from the storm in march and they lost there phone for credit card transactions, what did they do,they told people to come back in the next day or two to pay there bill, regardless if they knew them or not.
          MY SUGGESTION...............Go one night,sit at the bar, order a Greek dish and interact with your fellow neighbors and the staff and you might just realize that sometimes is not just about the food and the service and maybe just maybe you will realize that the term sub- standard is not fair assessment for Uncle Joe's

          1. re: tgseaver

            Yeah. i kind of like Uncle Joes too. their salads are decent and i actually don't mind some of their italian dishes. it has the homey vibe you want from a place sometimes. It's not gourmet and not for everyone, but it has a place and a market and they clearly get a lot of repeat business so they must be doing something right.

            1. re: LW1

              tgseaver you make good points.

              Thing is, it IS an Italian restaurant, and was historically; they offer Italian food I didn't suggest they make it, therefore responsibility for the outcome lies with them, not with me.

              "2nd job to make ends meet" is a fine concept. It does not excuse the individual from performing the job tasks at the expected level, however. Do I moolight as a brain surgeon?

              Your suggestion that the appeal of Uncle Joes may lie elsewhere than in a hard nosed assessment of the food quality is, no doubt, an accurate one.

              and LWI I agree the salads are fact, the Greek salad that accompanies entrees is the best thing they make.