May 24, 2013
Thursday, 12 March 2009 12:25
Carlos Hernandez, new owner of the popular Meigas Spanish restaurant in Norwalk, feels he’s living the American Dream.
Born in Guatemala, Mr. Hernandez came to the United States as a college student planning to vacation for two months, return home and continue his studies to become a teacher. His parents own a large farm in Guatemala, and it was expected he would some day take over the farm.
Once in the United States, he met people who “took me in like family,” and he became fascinated with the restaurant business. He got a job as a dishwasher at a Westchester diner, told his parents he was not returning to Guatemala, and proceeded to work at every position available in restaurants, including short order cook at Curley’s Diner in Stamford. His father would not speak to him for a month, and when he visits his parents in Guatemala today, 24 years later, his father still asks him “When are you coming home?”
There were jobs at other restaurants, including bartender and manager, until Mr. Hernandez felt he knew enough to become a restaurateur. His long-term goal was to buy Meigas, formerly known as Meson Galicia, the name he is restoring. (The restaurant was opened as Meson Galicia in 1984 by Ignacio Blanco, who later changed the name.)
After two attempts, Mr. Hernandez bought Meigas from Mr. Blanco whom he had known and with whom he had worked on special events. He took over the restaurant on Sept. 2, 2008, with many changes in mind, including revising the menu every week, lower prices, and expanded serving hours.
Luis Bollo of Spain, the restaurant’s original executive chef, is menu consultant and Miguel Docampo from Spain is now executive chef, assisted by Joan Josep Tuduri as sous chef. Manager and soon-to-be partner is Mario Aguilar.
The Spanish wine list, $8 to $14 by the glass, starting at $28 by the bottle, is very impressive, and wine tastings and dinners are spectacular.
At lunch, tapas are from $5 to $11; appetizers from $9 to $13; sandwiches from $8 to $11; entrees from $15 to $18. There is an explosion of tapas temptations, $9 to $13, on the dinner menu, with entrees from $28, for grilled salmon, to $38, for a 20-ounce aged porterhouse steak.
The way to go at Meigas-Meson Galicia is a “tasting” menu, and my companion and I enjoyed the following: grilled sea scallops, avocado, orange and beet salad with lemon vinaigrette; crispy mushroom ravioli and Serrano ham sauce; marinated bluefin tuna with olive oil ice cream with crabmeat, tomato and scallions and black olives; grilled codfish, clams and shrimp sautéed in a Basque-style sauce; rabbit risotto and crispy spinach; Atlantic octopus carpaccio; and paella Valenciana.
A dessert (all $9.50) medley included Bailey’s liquor merengue, fresh mint sorbet and papaya; chocolate croquettes wrapped in almonds with coconut foam and lemon gelatin; and brochette of fresh fruit. Other dessert standouts are sautéed apples and nuts with honey and Pilsner beer ice cream and three-milk cake served with lemon merengue and banana ice cream.
Serving lunch from 11 to 3 Monday to Friday; dinner 5 to 9 Monday to Thursday and Sunday; 5 to 10 Friday and Saturday; a la carte Sunday brunch from 11 to 3.
Reservations preferred; handicap accessible; major credit cards; child-friendly; full bar; traditional Spanish cuisine; vegetarian selections; early bird three-course dinner, $24 on Monday and Tuesday; tapas tasting, $64 per couple; tasting menu, $65 per person; take-out; off-premises catering; smart, casual dress; wine dinners; private functions; occasional entertainment; seasonal outdoor dining; parking at two adjacent municipal lots.
From Monday to Thursday, Trips Restaurant, 348 Hope Street in Stamford, 203-324-2600, is offering a prime rib dinner special Monday through Thursday for $16.95, in addition to other popular entrees at $13.95. Hours Monday to Saturday are 11:30 to closing.
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