Posts tagged ‘cafe’
The Classic Cup has always been one of my favorite restaurants, but it’s been ages since I had eaten there. As much as I love the outside deck, for quite a while the menu never changed and I grew tired of it. I had stopped ordering the Thai Chicken Pizza when the crust didn’t seem quite as fabulous as the original and I had mastered the recipe at home. Moving on, I hit upon the Magic Mushroom sandwich, a grilled Portobello with roasted peppers and goat cheese aioli, a meaty, messy stack of deliciousness, but chef Michael Turner is so talented, I wanted more from him.
I recently noticed some menu changes when I was surfing online and decided it was time for a return visit. So, on a gorgeous fall day, four of us went for lunch, sat outside and had dishes that were recent additions. I enjoyed a Tuscan tuna salad, with grilled romaine, ahi tuna and white bean salad. Though a bit heavy on the lemon caper dressing, the overall dish was solid. The crunchy texture of the grilled lettuce provided a nice contrast to the creamy beans and the tuna was prepared rare as requested.
The Cuban Muffaletta was a takeoff on two trendy sandwiches, the cuban, which pairs pork, ham and cheese, and a muffaletta which uses an olive salad as a sandwich topping. Thick and rich, it was very tasty. The lamb gyro used ground meat rather than shaved, it was spiced with harrissa, then wrapped in a thick pita and served with a cucumber salsa and tzatziki sauce. Again, another winner.
The Classic Cup is one of the few independent restaurants left on the Plaza. Given Highwood’s propensity to bringing in chain stores, it’s important to patronize each of them. And the Classic Cup been an institution for more than 20 years– we need to make sure it lives on for another twenty.
Westport Cafe and Bar is a new player on the Westport scene, but unlike most of its neighbors on the block, its emphasis is as much on the food as the drink. Blanc Burger’s orange and white motif is out– the space now has a distinct French cafe flair, with white subway tiles on the walls, Parisian fixtures and classic black and white floor tiles. Dark wood and mirrors complete the look.
The menu has been planned to complement the decor. Casual fare, something for everyone at any time of day. The choices are the same at lunch or dinner and range from salads and sandwiches to heartier bistro fare. The seared tuna nicoise was light and cooked to a satisfying medium rare. The roasted beet, goat cheese and arugula salad was resplendent with fresh and incredibly sweet beets. Hamburgers, steak sandwiches, green pea ravioli and even grilled octopus are other light options.
Steak frite, roast chicken, pasta champignons, slow cooked pork shoulder and roasted char round out the choices. The French fries don’t live up to their heritage (too bad Blanc Burger didn’t leave its recipe behind) but the steak was cooked exactly as ordered. The chicken was moist and flavorful and I liked having arugula salad on the plate to eat with it, in addition to some rather rich potatoes.
Don’t miss the profiteroles, whether or not you think you have room for dessert. The pastry is light, ice cream rather than custard fills the middle, and the drizzled dark chocolate sauce is spoon-licking good.
When winter arrives, the owner explained to our table that he expects to expand the menu. Beef bourguignon, coq au vin and other traditional dishes are natural additions at that time of year.
Though there’s an emphasis on the food side of the equation, the owners haven’t ignored the drink side. They brought in Ryan Maybee, bartender extraordinaire, to devise the cocktail list and, while he works on a new home for his shuttered Manifesto bar, he can often be found mixing drinks here.
Westport Cafe and Bar is unlike most restaurants in Westport. It’s upscale, food-focused and though it can be loud when the restaurant is full, it is not trying to be party central.Though twenty-somethings may occupy the bar stools, the over-thirty crowd will certainly be drawn to the attractive, friendly ambiance and pleasant cuisine.
I was delighted when Andy Atterbury and Gwyn Prentice took over Cafe Europa in the Crestwood shops last year. I love the location, and was excited to see what their chef Nathan Feldmiller would do with the menu. He had turned heads with Circe on 39th St., so I had high hopes.
The restaurant is off to a great start, and it may be the quintessential neighborhood cafe, but I don’t think it’s reached its potential. Since it’s crowded at all hours, I may be in the minority, but I’d like to see the menu reflect the same level of creativity that Feldmiller displayed at Circe. He’s shown flashes of it-carrot sauce and ginger relish on the roast salmon, for example, but most dishes are designed to satisfy not thrill. Comfort food is the thing here–Berkshire pork with farmer’s cheese mashed potatoes, duck with french lentils, roast chicken with mashed potatoes, scallops with risotto. These dishes are largely successful, as are the basic salads and sandwiches at lunch. But here again, it would be fun to see him elevate his game. As at dinner, everything is well-executed, but the standout? Definitely the French fries. I really think these are the best in town, or at least in the top three. Perfectly crisp, skins on, not too thick not too thin. I have been known to devour a bowl as my meal!
The pizza is the thin variety–our Margherita had generous portion of basil and mozzarella. But be sure to ask for it well done so it’s a bit charred. The bread is made in the same oven and is excellent. Buy a loaf to take home–Several varieties are sold every day in the front room bakery, along with cookies, pies and cupcakes.
Europa has quickly established itself as a player on the restaurant scene, and Dan Weber, formerly at Lidia’s was recently hired to be the new GM. Now it’s time to let Feldmiller’s talents shine.