STAMFORD, Conn. -- Eric Monte, a longtime restaurateur, used to be in the music business, making him keenly aware of what drives -- and keeps -- guests entertained.
Good food, good wine, a "wow" presentation factor and, keeping his background in mind, live music.
All four "ingredients," if you will, are on display at his new restaurant, Tavern 489 in Stamford.
Monte, along with Partner/Executive Chef Regis Saget have created an Adirondack-lodge ambiance (complete with hanging river canoe!) meets rural reading den meets cozy coffeehouse where a small stage highlights local acts. It's a place Ernest Hemingway and Robert Frost would feel comfortable in, and, in fact, their images hang on the walls.
The focal points of this neighborhood bar and restaurant, open since March, are its large 18-seat mahogany bar with an antiqued backdrop mirror and an imposing stone hearth.
The menu takes its cues from Monte’s love for French cuisine and from Saget’s French upbringing. "I want dining here to instill a sense of adventure," said Monte, "A combination of France meets Africa meets the American Midwest."
The menu tends to emphasize game-y dishes like a Seasoned Hunter Bison Burger (beef burger with lettuce, tomato, garlic parsley butter, house seasoning topped with truffle pesto), Seared Duck Breast (porcini sauce with wilted napa cabbage, faro medley with diced pancetta, shaved garlic, sweet peas) and a Flintstone-sized 36 ounce Tomahawk steak that is Instagram-worthy.
Everything is made with a unique blend of spices, often mixing items you wouldn't necessarily think go well together but, under Chef Saget's hand, do. Of particular note: the charred octopus with kidney bean, tomato, shallots, garlic, parsley, and pomegrante chimichurri dressing.
And the surprises don't stop at the food. The robust beverage program complements the menu’s rich flavor profiles with an impressive brown spirits program, creative cocktails, house-made infusions, handpicked wines and draught craft beers. Guests will even find Moosehead bear on tap -- the only place in Connecticut that serves it.
Local musicians round out the entertainment factor with a rotating list of nightly performers and Monte's wife hosts a medley of music from the Emerald Isle during “Sunday Irish Sessions."
And, oh yeah, the restaurant shares a kitchen with adjoining Indian restaurant, Tawa , leading to yet another interesting innovation.
Tavern 489 is at 489 Glenbrook Rd., (203) 355-0360, www.tavern489.com/ .