Maybe life is about giving second chances!
|Had this one gone wrong, this would have been me. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.|
If I’m really being honest, I gave the first Dishcrawl I attended in SoNo a pass. Sure, I pointed out some negatives but if I looked at it from a customer’s point of view I would have been pissed off. The SoNo edition consisted of barely any food (I actually made food when I went home), an impersonal host, a complete lack of chef speakers and an abrupt ending from one place to the next and a final quick goodbye by the host as if to say, “Got ya money, suckas! I’m outie!”
When Dishcrawlcontacted me again, this time for a Darien “Crawl,” I figured I should give this another shot. Even looking back at the first one I attended, I DID LIKE the social aspect a lot. This redo promised a lot more that did entice me to come out and give it another go.
So what was added/changed?
- One less stop, so three restaurants instead of four.
- Even though one stop was taken away…More time was added at each place.
- More food.
These three things alone made me happy. The “more food” part especially. Like I did a mental happy dance and everything.
First up was Scena Wine Bar, a restaurant I had not been to before. Scena is owned by the brotherly team of Vicente and Kleber Siguenza who also own Cava Wine Bar in New Canaan and 55 Degrees in Fairfield. The menu is mostly Italian with a few infusions, one of which was noticeable in the sampler they brought out. On the plate was a flaky, and perfectly cooked glazed salmon with red wine reduction on top of a fried risotto cake that wasn’t as creamy inside as it could have been. One of the stars on the plate was a crostini with caramelized pear slices and goat cheese that was the perfect marriage of sweet, creamy and crispy. And that infusion I talked about…A duck confit spring roll with apricot ginger dipping sauce.
Scena, while the lighting was bad for photos (too dim), was a hit and they served us a healthy portion of food. After one stop, Darien Dishcrawl already gave us a heartier portion than all of the stops in the SoNo Dishcrawl combined.
Second was a smaller restaurant that I was excited to try…Meatball & Co.!
At Meatball & Co., Chef/Owner Joe Criscuolo shut the place down just for us to pack in the small dining room where most ordered wine or one of the craft beers on tap. He easily served my favorite combination of foods of the night and was a hit with the folks at my table. It should be pretty obvious that we received meatballs, right? We got one chicken meatball (a first for me) and a spicy pork meatball that had mad flavor and spice that didn’t make you desperate for a glass of milk. Also on the plate were Bolognese raviolis that I would love to eat by the giant bowlfuls and eat every drop of the sauce, and charred Brussels sprouts with maple syrup and crispy bacon that were without a doubt some of the best I’ve had around here. Chef Joe was even nice enough to come out and speak and go to each table individually. I know I’ll be back, and probably for a spicy pork meatball grinder.
|Left to right: Dessert empanada, pork taco, tuna tartare.|
Our final destination on a cold, rainy night was Bodega Taco Bar. Sorry, but no review needed here except to say that I absolutely love this place, the Fairfield location and Valencia Luncheria (I was coming here before it was famous!).
I took the time at Bodega to have a few of their expertly made cocktails and mingle with a few local writers and the organizer of Darien Dishcrawl, Kelly, who was nice enough to have me back to show me, and everyone who paid for the experience a good time. Unlike her predecessor, she really delivered on all her promises. Sure, the food is important but Kelly talked to everyone and she didn’t feel like a host, but came across as a friend and in my book that means something. Nothing about her came across as phony and you could tell she really cared about the event and how good of a time the guests were having.
If it’s not clear by now, my Dishcrawl sequel was far and away better than the first.