FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- If you're a foodie, you often count your year in terms of where you ate -- and what you tasted.
Which is why we went to the experts -- local food bloggers and Instagrammers who eat out for a living. What follows are their top picks of 2017 as well as where they're looking forward to sampling in 2018.
- The Cottage, Westport: Wagyu Brisket Steam Buns with Napa Kimchi & Duck Fat Potato Tempura.
- Antojos Columbian Restaurant, Norwalk: Papas Rellenas, a seasoned, deep fried potato ball, with a center that’s packed with tender, shredded beef. This is the ultimate comfort food.
- Ginkgo, Fairfield: Deep Fried Whole Sea Bass with Peas, Carrots & Pine Nuts in a Sweet & Sour Sauce.
- Kawa Ni, Westport: Miso Eggplant with Gruyere, Banana Peppers and Eel Sauce.
- EGGZ Food Truck, Bethel: "Crack Is Wack" breakfast sandwich with Soft Scrambled Eggz, Goat Cheese, Bacon, Fig Spread, Arugula, on a toasted Brioche.
Hope to Eat in 2018:
- I'm eagerly awaiting two exciting openings. The folks from Harlan Social are opening up a gorgeous Beer Hall called Harlan Haus in downtown Bridgeport on January 10th. The menu takes classic German beer hall dishes and folds in global flavors and the result is delicious.
- Also on the radar should be Chef Brian Lewis' new Japanese Izakaya spot in Westport. Counting the days....literally. "
"2017 was a scrumptious year for me, full of travel and good eats, both locally and abroad. Within Fairfield County, I thought Stamford had the newest milestones in terms of its culinary scene. The first ever Hey Stamford Food Festival was held this year and it was a huge success. In addition, quite a few restaurants popped up including Flinders Lane (Australian), Bar Zepoli (Italian), Pieology Pizzeria … just to name a few.
"On the national level, I thought Filipino cuisine was poised to take center stage in 2017, but it didn’t quite make it. Perhaps 2018 is its year. In 2018, I also hope to see more Israeli cuisine popping up. In my travels, I saw this to be the hottest cuisine. Nur in NYC is a good example of what to expect."2017 Faves
- Goat Biryani at Chutni Biryani & Noodle Bar in Stamford
- Ginger Lemon Scones at P astry Hideaway in Wilton
- Pain Au Chocolat by Flour Water Salt Bread Bakery in Norwalk
- Chili Oil Dumplings at Mecha in Norwalk
- Sausage Egg & Cheese sandwich by Eggz Kitchen Food Truck
- Flipside Burger in Fairfield. I love their chip and dip burger and the Mac n Cheese is fabulous too.
- Bodega Taco Bar, Fairfield: I especially love their elote and grilled veggies. I order them as a side to go with my tacos.
- Rodger Sherman Inn, New Cannon: Amazing bar and love their pear salad, grilled octopus and scallops.
- Humbled Coffee in Stamford: Open since October, they have amazing lattes! My favorite is the Salted Caramel.
- Elm Street Diner, Stamford: Love their sandwiches, and pancakes topped with massive toppings like Oreo. They are also known for their huge over the top milkshakes.
- El Segundo Sono, Norwalk. Unbelievably delish street food. Love the Italian arancini, Korean Bulgogi, Chinese fried noodles and the Singapore Sling drink.
- Bartaco in Westport n ot only has amazing tacos (my fav is the fish taco) and a great kids menu but I love their tamales.
Hope to Eat in 2018:
- Lorca , Stamford
- Cactus Rose , Wilton
- Romanacci , Norwalk
- Volta Gelateria Creperia , Stamford
- Italian Kitchen , Fairfield
- El Segundo, Norwalk: We love the funky graffiti vibe and the energy level. The guys from The Spread’s second restaurant focuses on street food from all over the world. So, we’ve ordered poutine with tacos with arancini with banh mi all in the same visit.
- Taproot, Bethel: Taproot takes more of a focused, farm to fork kind of approach. Chef Jeff Taibe also centers in on doing simple things right with some amazing touches. Cocktails there are also on point, so we’ll definitely be back soon.
Hope to Eat 2018:
- We’re interested in exploring the Stamford restaurant scene more and checking out Soul Tasty and Kyushu Ramen. Also, we can’t wait to get down to The Spread’s new spot in Greenwich.
- Taproot, Bethel: Hands down our favorite spot for 2017 was Taproot where, in a casual, inviting atmosphere Chef Jeff Taibe creates dishes with interesting and sophisticated flavor combinations using fresh, local ingredients.
- B.Good, Fairfield: I wish it was closer to our neck of the woods because I would be there often! The concept of fresh "fast casual" food made with real ingredients is fantastic. Salads, smoothie, burgers -- I enjoyed it all. Plus, they are involved with Food Rescue US. They are good people, who are genuinely trying to do good beyond just feeding people good food. It was definitely a highlight of 2017.
- Broken Symmetry Gastro Brewery, Bethel: I'm a craft beer aficionado and love the people behind this spot. (See our Fairfield County beer story HERE .)
- Knot Norm's, East Norwalk: Jay LeBlanc and crew are making some of the most incredible rolls -- think lobster, fried oysters, pork belly --but they're not ordinary. He's doing a little something extra to every protein he stuffs into a buttered, griddled New England hot dog bun. The meaty lobster roll from this Connecticut newbie is already one of the state's best, but don't sleep on the roasted oysters with a crispy panko crunch.
- Cricket Car Hop, Stratford: What's old is new again. Cricket returned to Stratford after a decade-plus hiatus, with new owners, but the same (or close enough) deep-fried foot long hot dogs with the works (mustard, kraut, ketchup, spicy red relish). Pair a couple of those bad boys with a thick milkshake and you'll be happy.
- Flour Water Salt Bread, Norwalk (formerly in Georgetown): Local baker Rob Van Keuren was one of my favorite writing assignments of the year. He's baking some of the best sourdough loaves, cinnamon swirl brioche, and croissants you'll have in Connecticut and beyond. Some swear his sourdough is the best they've had outside of San Francisco! His solo act is labor intensive so you can only catch him a few days per week (Friday and Saturday mornings starting at 10 a.m.) at Greybarns on the Silvermine River. Pro tip: Get there early because he sells out quite often.
Looking forward to 2018:
- Tough to say what I'm looking forward to, because we're spoiled with excellent restaurant choices all over Fairfield County. One thing I've been into lately are tastings and speciality dinners you can enjoy with a group of friends or family, like a whole roasted animal with a chef's choice of appetizers, sides, and desserts. There's a mystery that comes with not knowing what you're getting and I like to be surprised. Trust the chef, trust the restaurant, and you and your crew will enjoy yourselves.
- Locali Pizza Bar & Kitchen, New Canaan: I recently fell in love with Chef William Eschner and Mogan Anthony's collaboration at Locali Pizza Bar and Kitchen. The wood-fired chestnut bruschetta and crispy baby artichokes are both on the small plates menu, but could easily be a meal in themselves.
- El Segundo, Norwalk: Street food is all the trend and the team at El Segundo has serious street cred. Chef Carlos Baez presents authentic dishes from the Dominican Republic to Germany to Vietnam (and everything in between), but he also has fun with “American” food as well, creating this fried chicken and waffle cone topped with fries, coleslaw, and spicy aioli.
I'm on the meatless kick and am really into veggie-based dishes with a wow factor—a pop of flavor that may be unexpected. It's interesting to see what plant-based proteins chefs are working into the kitchen.
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