May 25, 2013
Written by Fran Sikorski
Thursday, 09 September 2010 13:00
It isn’t easy to find Manolo on the first visit. The large commercial building in Westport center housed retail stores and a former bank, and the restaurant is located below ground level across from the Westport “Y” on a narrow street that translates to “no parking.” A large municipal lot and street parking nearby solve this problem.
Reaching your destination, you will be happy to find a low price point menu designed by chef-owner Pedro Garzon, satisfying every taste and wallet size.Cafe Manolo is Pedro Garzon’s first restaurant, named after his great grand uncle who introduced him to the cuisines of Spain, Portugal, and France.
Before opening Cafe Manolo in June, 2009, Chef Garzon was executive chef for the Barcelona Restaurant Group. His menus at Cafe Manolo pay homage to classical Mediterranean dishes and are designed to give clientele control over their dining experience.
The noise level problem at Zest Restaurant, previous tenant of the space, caused by lack of baffling, has been overcome by carpeted floors and art work on the walls, with warm tones of pale yellow and brushed earth tones surrounding the interior.
All dishes on the Manolo menu are offered in tapas and full portions. First courses, $5 to $15, are a sampler of seafood with scallop crudo, octopus and celery, Gulf shrimp, lemon and tarragon; crisp veal sweetbreads with frisée lettuce, smoked bacon, red wine, shallots and soft poached egg; and a selection of vegetables, carrot and chervil, roasted beets and hazelnuts, celery root and capers.
For the second course, $10 to $29, it is a pleasure to find pan-seared Atlantic cod with Basque piquillo peppers, chorizo and cockle broth; jumbo sea scallops with roasted cauliflower, capers and sherry jus; whole roasted bronzino with shaved fennel, preserved lemons, sweet onions and virgin olive oil; grilled hanger steak with whole roasted garlic, Café de Paris butter and wine demi glaze; and grilled double cut lamb chops with black olive, rosemary and garlic jus.
Don’t miss out ordering a side, $8, or two: truffled soft golden polenta; chive and crème fraîche potato puree; and grilled asparagus with olive oil and Grana Padano Cheese.
Wines served in an 8-1/2 ounce quartino. The list includes six reds, six whites and sparking wines.Wine collectors may bring their own bottle for a corkage fee, and there are wine lockers to be rented with no corkage on a monthly basis.
It’s not easy to select a Cafe Manolo dessert ($8) like Tahitian vanilla and champagne poached peaches with toasted almonds, raspberry sorbet; Granny Smith apple tart with vanilla ice cream; Mom’s pecan tassies, espresso gelato with milk chocolate sauce; and classic crème brûlée with Grand Marnier-spiked local strawberries.
There’s both a liveliness and touch of class at the well-defined Cafe Manolo.
8 Church Street
Serving lunch (fall) Tuesday to Saturday 11:30 to 2:30; afternoon menu, with charcuterie of cured meats and artisanal cheeses, 2:30 to 5 Tuesday to Saturday; dinner, Tuesday-Thursday, 5-10; Friday-Saturday 5 to 11; closed Sunday and Monday.
Reservations accepted; handicap accessible; major credit cards; full bar, global wines, $7 to $12 by the quartino; $20 to $80 full bottle; Mediterranean fare; take-out, off-premises catering; smart casual dress; private functions; street and municipal parking.
Upcoming events at Bernard’s in Ridgefield include an end-of summer wine-tasting dinner Sept. 12 starting at 6 p.m. for $75 per person plus tax and gratuity; cooking classes, $75 per session, on Sept. 24, Oct. 19, and Nov. 9 with each including a food demonstration and dinner. The author luncheon series continues Sept. 23 with Martha McPhea, author of Dear Money. Cost of the three-course luncheon, author discussion and book signing is $25. Bernard’s is at 20 West Lane in Ridgefield. Reservations, 203-438-8282.
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