Georgetown, CT update
Some updated info - and some more questions - for the Georgetown handful here on Chowhound...
1. It looks like we will NOT get a replacement restaurant at Caraluzzi's. Chase Bank is taking over the end spot and expanding into the space that was East. The supermarket is expanding into the space formerly leased to Yankee Doodle. They will apparently increase the produce and deli sections, plus add a 'cafe' (and based on their other locations that might not mean much more than a few tables for coffee, etc.). We'll be left with the cleaners in between the market and the bank and no new restaurant.
2. La Piazza - in the space formerly known as Amici's et al - continues to take shape as an Italian restaurant and wine bar. Anyone have info about projected opening date? Looks like they still have some construction to do, but may be getting close.
3. Toozy Patza Pizza will be opening a second restaurant in the same plaza - apparently in the space currently occupied by Cafe Cogolulu (as near as I can tell). We received this email (below) from them, along with the news that there is a contest to name the new restaurant (winner gets a $50 gift certificate to their restaurants). No word on whether the new bistro will continue the jazz theme...
Thank you so much for the massive response to our email requesting ideas for our new restaurant! Based on your input, we are working on a very special concept that we are sure you will love. This new location will be open in the end of April and will be located at the corner of the Toozy Plaza near the Georgetown entrance.
THE STYLE: Restaurant & Bar - Bistro Style. Definition of 'Bistro': "a small restaurant serving moderately priced simple meals in a modest and cozy setting".
Our Comment to the Style: We will kick it up a bit and add a modern and trendy touch to the place. We are also going to have an awesome bar and huge windows to oversee route seven.
THE CUISINE: The evolutionary form of Bistro cuisine is called New American. Definition of 'New American' cuisine: "upscale, contemporary cooking combining flavors from America's melting pot with traditional techniques. New American cuisine includes ethnic twists on old standbys, Old World peasant dishes made from luxury American ingredients and molecular gastronomy. It developed in the 1980s and features significant creative use of in-season produce and sauces. It is somewhat related to the French Nouvelle cuisine and often incorporates influences from Latin American, Mediterranean and Asian cuisine.“
Our comment to the Cuisine: Our prospective chef is a CIA grad with vast experience with New American cuisine and creative cooking. Our menu will tend towards the Spanish culture with its cheeses, meats and wine. We will fully incorporate the farm-to-table style and seasonal cooking with organic ingredients as often as possible.
I saw the sign up yesterday but did not see cars (wrong time of day?). Also saw in The Redding Pilot that a SECOND Italian/wine bar combo place is opening on Main Street in Georgetown (Luca) and that Black Cat Grille is getting closer to opening around the corner on Route 107. We might actually have decent dining choices this summer...my fingers are crossed.
Without a doubt, Bistro 7 is the best thing to happen to Georgetown since, well, I don't even have a since... RUN RUN as fast as you can to grab a table and a bite to eat! Seriously. I don't think we've EVER seen food like this around here. I'm so excited I can barely type!
So we went for dinner tonight. The space is small (seats about 50, including the bar) but beautiful. It's hard to believe it's the same place that so recently housed Cafe Cogolulu.
The concept is small plates meets farm-to-table with lots of organic, locally sourced food (although branzino was on the menu and I'm pretty sure that's a Meditteranean fish...). Vegetarian and vegan items on the menu sounded delicious even to us meat-eaters.
They brought "bread" to the table: two warm, mini-pitas topped with za'atar (a middle eastern spice blend that we love and which is not common around here - a happy surprise for us!) cleverly served in a lined flowerpot with a little olive oil on the side.
We ordered two "small plates" to share as starters: chorizo empanadas with a cilantro-lime dipping sauce and soft-shell crab served on an edamame puree. Both were delicious. But when they say "soft-shell crab" on the menu, they really mean "crab" - singular - as in, we cut it in half and shared the one crab between us. Not that it wasn't wonderful, but it definitely left me wanting more.
We moved on to a salad course, described on the menu as 'black-eyed pea fritters, watercress, cucumber, feta, worcestershire syrup." It was a divine combination and the "fritters" reminded us of falafel - both in taste AND in shape. When I read "fritter" I expect something flatter than what I was served, which looked like it had been scooped with a melon baller and then fried. Also I would say that while I appreciated the artistic plating, I would have appreciated a larger portion even more. We saw other, more traditional, salads being served at nearby tables and those portions were clearly larger and might have been better choices for sharing.
We shared a main course, too: lobster bolognese on black sepia pasta. Again, the food was delicious. The ratio of lobster to pasta was generous and the bolognese was a delightful tomato-based sauce that could have, but didn't, overwhelm the lobster. Again, it was almost a little too small a portion to share (well, maybe only because it was so good we both wanted more).
We couldn't leave without dessert and, here, the timing of the meal fell apart a little bit. The dessert took significantly longer to arrive than we thought it would, based on the pace of the other courses. I'm not sure what happened, exactly (although we got an apology for the wait when they brought us the dessert). And once again the description on the menu and the food on the plate didn't quite match... We ordered the "chocolate and cherries" which was described as "chocolate doughnuts, panna cotta, tarragon cherry compote." I think "chocolate doughnut HOLES" would have been a more appropriate description (see photo - the "doughnuts" are barely bigger than the cherries). And my biggest complaint of the evening: two of the cherries still had pits.
But, I have to say, two pits and a quibble about naming foods fritter or doughnut is a small price to pay for what is surely the best food we've seen on this stretch of Route 7 in the more than 15 years we've lived in the area.
This is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. At this price point it's not likely to be my everyday go-to restaurant (although I asked my SO if we could return every day until we've worked our way through the entire menu....) but it is likely to be my go-to restaurant for any excuse I can come up with for a celebration or a nicer-than-normal meal with friends.
Oh - and there are three "kid's menu" items as an option for the younger set. Since the hungrykids are away for the summer we didn't have to worry about it.
Can't wait to hear what our fellow Georgetown Chowhounds have to say...
I thought the panna cotta was good, not too pudding-like, but maybe not the best panna cotta I've ever tasted.
Here's a link to the menus (which I should have thought to post yesterday):
Lots of chicken, beef, and vegetarian options for you! Can't wait to hear if you like it as much as we did. (And OT - did you ever make it to La Piazza?)
I'm trying not to panic, but... friends of ours went to Bistro 7 last night after hearing us rave about our experience, and they called today to say their experience couldn't have been more the opposite of ours, both in terms of food and service. Apparently the restaurant was out of four items on the menu (the cod, the lobster bolgnese that we loved, and two of the appetizers). One complaint was the coffee-rubbed pork chop which they said was dry as a bone. The other complaint had to do with wait staff unfamiliar with the menu (and therefore unable to answer critical questions) and food not arriving as ordered (for example, with the cheese on the side of one of the salads). They said their experience was bad enough that they will not even give the restaurant a second chance. I'm hoping it was a fluke. And I'm willing to try again, since we had such an overwhelmingly positive experience. But I'm definitely bummed that they were so unhappy, especially since they are generally reliable sources of food information.
Sigh... after all the waiting, it looks like we are in for another disappointment in Georgetown. The long-awaited Black Cat Grille is now open for business. If our experience there tonight is any indication, it won't be open for very long.
Black Cat is located - both geographically and metaphorically - closer to Lumberyard Pub than to The Little Pub. So perhaps that should have been our cue to stick to bar food...nearby we saw nachos that looked good and a bowl of chili went past our table looking warm and tasty...but we opted for healthier fare, ordering the chicken satay appetizer, a shrimp Caesar salad, and the special of the day: broiled salmon served with rice pilaf and a vegetable side dish.
We waited an inordinately long time for our food. In fact, a couple who arrived at the restaurant after us was able to order, eat, and pay for their meal while we waited. They were leaving the restaurant as our food arrived. We weren't expecting five star service (especially since the place is still new) - and we would have been happy to overlook a few growing pains - but I'm not sure they can overcome the problems we noted tonight.
The chicken satay turned out to be some grilled chicken strips on a plate with two dipping sauces, only one of which resembled satay (the other seemed to be a citrusy vinaigrette). Both sauces were tasty. Presentation was only fair.
The Caesar salad was delivered to our table with grilled chicken instead of the shrimp we ordered. The waitstaff took the dish back to the kitchen, promising a quick turnaround.
As for the salmon...it was disappointing to say the least. First, it was surely the smallest piece of salmon we've ever seen served as a main course in a restaurant. I'd be shocked if it weighed in at a 1/4 pound. It was completely bland - no seasoning whatsover - and, frankly, a little watery, making me wonder if it had really been broiled. Accompanying my fairly tasteless fish was an equally bland side of veggies: a zucchini and squash combination that was also a little watered down and lacking any seasoning, except for the one bite in which I bit down on a peppercorn! (At my request, they doubled up on the veggies and skipped the rice. I have a food allergy and they could not confirm the rice pilaf ingredients did not include the allergen...which makes me wonder how they made the rice pilaf? If they don't know what's in it because perhaps it was a prepared mix of some sort, didn't it arrive in the kitchen with some sort of box printed with a list of ingredients? Okay...whatever...)
Adding (admittedly minor) insult to injury: I wanted brewed unsweetened iced tea...and they don't have it. Really? How difficult is it to brew tea? (Given the amount of time we waited for food, I should have ordered hot tea. It would have cooled and I could have dumped it over a glass of ice myself. It would have been ready long before our meal arrived.)
REALLY I wanted to love this place. I wanted another delicious go-to restaurant in the neighborhood. And maybe if I just want a burger or a plate of nachos then Black Cat Grille will be an option.
The bar was busy...and loud...since it's all one big room with nothing but brick and wood to soak up the sound. Not a place for a romantic dinner (not to say we were looking for one). For folks looking mainly to socialize, enjoy a drink, and eat bar food it will probably serve the same niche, more or less, that Lumberyard serves. But for those of us who want our food to be better than average, Black Cat Grille will have a long way to go.
In the meantime, we will wait for other Chowhound locals to check it out and chime in before we give it a second chance...
We went to the Black Cat tonight for the first time and had a very different experience.
I grew up in Westport, and remember the days of the Clam Box, Maneros, Arrow and the Big Top, and I too wanted to like the Black Cat, as I now live in Weston, and have seen work on this place going on for years.
The Black Cat is indeed one big room (with a large outdoor patio that looks like it will be very nice in the warmer months) but I found it warm and inviting, not barn-like. No, it's probably not right for a quiet proposal dinner, but few places are. I loved the fireplace way up where the second floor would be, and I'd like to see it when it's lit.
I found the menu a tick above Little Pub/Lumberyard food. I ordered the filet mignon bites wrapped in prosciutto, stuffed with cream cheese and I could have been happy with a huge plate of them. I would go there just for that dish, they were that good. I followed with the ribs which were about as good as ribs get. The fries were (and I am a fry maniac) were double fried and flawless. Perfect.
My daughter's salmon with crab sauce was very nice, my son had a huge plate of nachos to start, and the filet mignon bites as a main (I stole two.) My wife had the calamari as a starter which were great, and a very, very nice burger with blue cheese, bacon, Gruyere and onions. I'm a foodie, and a picky one at that, and I couldn't complain about anything. The service was excellent, and for a place open all of a week, I could find nothing wanting.
No, it's not Thomas Henklemann, but it's not trying to be. I'll be back, no question.
BTW I'm not sure what you meant about the iced tea, but I only drink unsweetened iced tea, and they had no problem serving it. Perhaps they were out?
We have been to the Black Cat Grille three times since it opened just a couple of weeks ago, and know that it will be our go-to place. Our experience has been nothing near that reported by Hungrykids. The food is decent, and we especially liked the salad with seared scallops. Delish! Wine and beer selections are also good. The ambiance is fantastic, particularly the acoustics. Even with a packed house, my husband and I were able to talk with each other without shouting. The Black Cat Grille is exactly what we have been waiting for--a comfortable restaurant with good food at decent prices