Sunday, August 26, 2012

It Only Took Seven Years...

Seemingly ages ago, I set up a reminder in Google to alert me when there were news items about Highgrove, the luxury condo complex a stone's throw from our place.

It seemed like a good idea at the time because in 2005, it seemed like only a matter of time before the fancy neighbors would be bringing in the big bucks. I'd like to be in the loop.

I'd long forgotten about the Google alert, so my eyebrows went up through my hairline when I got an alert this evening saying Highgrove would go up for rent starting next month! Wha...!!

I must say, I'm really happy it won't be an empty shell, but it's remarkable to think of how far it's fallen. Back in the day, circa 2006, there was a promotional for the condos - starting at $2.3 million - you could get your own puppy. I remember thinking, that better be a damned fine dog.

Fast forward to 2010 and delay after delay, there were at least four lawsuits pending. In 2011, the whole thing went into foreclosure and had a total of zero bidders. I'd nearly given up on it, and figured it was a pretty bookend to our block, but the Stamford Advocate tells me Starwood has since stepped in and there will be a grand opening in the late summer (which sounds about like right now).

Rental prices will be from $4,000 to $9,000 - downright cheap when compared to a multi-million dollar mortgage. The article's positive outlook on rentals in our area made me smile too. Rent, own - whatever - just come sustain downtown fun and games, and I'm happy.

Ok so they don't get a new puppy, but our new neighbors get a pretty nice little corner of the world - and if they bring their pocketbooks along with them - maybe they'll help make it even nicer.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Little Review of Bar Q

My fabulous friend, who wishes to remain a mystery, wrote up the following for your enjoyment. I love the okra comments especially. Made me want to check it out! Enjoy:

Unfortunately, I did not pay very close attention to the d├ęcor.  The layout is basically the same as Hula Hanks, with a new bar, furniture, flooring, etc., and without the swings.  Casual and rustic, with no sticky surfaces detected.

The service was prompt, attentive, and pleasant.  Our server answered all of our questions patiently, and even gave us a heads-up that the pulled pork did not come as a standard sandwich with bread, but rather just straight up pulled pork. Much appreciated.

We started with deviled eggs and meatball sliders. The deviled eggs were tangy and smooth with a slice of pickled okra on top. I am pleased to report there was no trace of slime on the okra. These were very good, but not a must-have if there are other items that catch your eye. The meatball sliders had great flavor, but the texture was a little mushy. We were sort of lukewarm on these.

For the next course we ordered the pulled pork, brisket, ribs, and sweet potatoes. The pulled pork was tender and juicy. It was an excellent vehicle for the sauce, which had a nice vinegar kick. The all-day smoked flavor really came through in the brisket, which was thinly sliced and tender. One member of our party thought it was a little dry, but others appreciated the fact that it was not as fatty as your typical Jewish grandma’s brisket.

The ribs were the favorite dish of the night all around: perfectly cooked and falling off the bone.

Finally, the sweet potatoes. While we appreciated that the sweet potatoes were topped with granola and brown sugar rather than marshmallows, one member of our party thought the extra brown sugar rendered them too sweet. The other gladly ate the entire bowl.

Overall, the food was very good. We particularly appreciated the fact that Bar Q offers small plates, priced appropriately. The majority of dishes on the menu were $4-$6. No surprises with a $20 morsel of nothing.

Bar Q seems to be reasonably kid-friendly. The service was fast, pleasant, and attentive. Two thumbs up for Bar Q, and we will be returning.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

President Obama is Coming to Stamford on Monday

Thought you'd like to know in case you (Obama)care.

Meat Your New Neighbor

I was the luckiest duck because I got invited to attend the opening of the newest addition to the local restaurant scene, Plan B Burger Bar. You know that empty spot between P.F. Chang's and the entrance to the mall? That's where they've set up shop. It's an odd sort of corner, but the perfect place to carve out a little piece of burger and bourbon heaven. In the interest of full disclosure, my husband and I got some great grub totally gratis, but I wouldn't say the following if it weren't true. Here's my take!

Opening night was a blast, featuring a red carpet and photographer to beef up (pun intended) the glam factor. We entered through a sleek, modern hallway. The shiny silver bull's head up top was the perfect metaphor for the menu: stick-to-your-ribs traditional fare with a trendy, modern twist. DJ Rachel played a quirky combination of Amy Winehouse and Billy Ocean. There were white roses in Mason jars on the tables, and a gracious appetizer table of meats and cheeses.  

So what else did I see? The furnishings are masculine and elegant in black leather and dark wood. The right side of the restaurant is dominated by a massive and impressive bar with red pendants and "meat hook" light fixtures. To the left, there's upscale (and sort of sexy...) seating under a clever neon (M)EAT sign. The floor is a combination of black and white tile and dark wood. Overhead there is a stamped silver ceiling in most of the space and a beautiful woven bronze colored ceiling over the bar. There is seating up and down the bar area including a little patio out front. 

More importantly, what did I eat? Although dinner was the burger bar equivalent of tapas, we did not go home hungry. One small gripe, which you won't have, was that we didn't have plates and utensils for most of the food. Still, making due with a napkin or two was a small price to pay for an excellent evening. We started out with chicken and waffles. Points to Plan B for something unique!  If someone said to me "I'd really like chicken and waffles" in Stamford, I would have had not one other suggestion. It was fun to eat, served sandwich style, with fried chicken and greens in between thick bready goodness. At the same time, we were served BBQ pork and jalapeno corn bread. The pork was well cooked, if a bit light on the sauce, but the cornbread was a real stunner - yum - moist and drool-inducing. 

One of my favorites was the jalapeno mac n' cheese. Served in charming, tiny, fluted and square shaped cups with itty bitty plastic spoons, it was far too delicate for my complete demolition of it. It was creamy with a kick that woke you up but didn't knock you down, and it came equipped with a crowd favorite: bacon! It coated every nerve ending I brought to the table. 

I felt a similar affection for the grits with corned beef hash and a pint sized fried egg (I'm guessing quail, but with loud music and no menus, it's hard to be sure). The corned beef was flavorful and decadent, the grits were a happy reminder of my Southern roots, and I'd love to duplicate the dish at home for brunch.  

We also sampled thick cut onion rings, delicious little hush puppy-like morsels (fried cheese polenta maybe?) and a scallop that didn't sway me (I've always thought of scallops as seafood flavored bubblegum, but maybe one day I'll be persuaded otherwise). 

Of course, burgers are the very literal name of the game here. The website touts their good practices: natural beef, no antibiotics, no hormones, certified humane and ground daily onsite. They were kind enough to let us bring our 7 month old along for the big event, and babies at night are sort of a ticking, crying time bomb, so we couldn't stay too long - but we didn't want to leave without sampling a burger. We were not disappointed! The Cuban slider featured mustard brimming with seeds and popping with flavor, and it was cooked to perfection. My husband snagged a second slider - perhaps sesame? hard to say - but whatever it was, it was delish! I wish we'd had more time to soak up the burger bliss, but we got a fantastic preview of what Plan B is all about. 

I was impressed, and my husband was too. Plan B would be a perfect after work or evening venue for drinks with unique and delicious food. I would go for a night out with friends or for a work event. I'd bring my family too - heck, I already did!  Upscale burgers are a welcome trend, and I'm thrilled to see it hit the Stamford mall. Well done (sorry...pun still intended...) Plan B!