First Taste: Elm in New Canaan, CT
Plus: Westchester Magazine’s Burger Bash; Cola-braised short ribs at NoMa Social
Like EDP? Then Westchester Magazine’s Wine & Food Weekend on Facebook, where every week until our festival (June 6-9), we’ll be giving away $50 gift certificates redeemable for free wine and spirits at our event partner, Zachys Wine and Liquor. You heard us right—that means free booze, folks! Only on Facebook (and only if you “like” us)!
Day Trip: Elm in New Canaan, CT
Do you remember when Bedford Post opened? Actually, just the Barn opened because the Farmhouse took so long to build that the Barn was serving Farmhouse dinners for about a year and so everyone had already eaten Farmhouse dinners at the Barn so when the Farmhouse finally opened, it was already, like, over?
Yeah, that thing.
But, when the Farmhouse actually did open, the food was even better than it was at the Barn (and that was good). Plus, it was fancier and tastier and the wine was really great. And behind all those amazing dishes—like the miraculous deconstructed ravioli which, when opened, yielded a perfect, warm, running egg yolk—was Chef Brian Lewis, a Westchester boy who was raised not too far away from the Barn and Farmhouse and who was now chumming around with Richard Gere and Martha Stewart, and so we were all sort of ennobled.
Well, Chef Brian Lewis moved on to the money-soaked fields of New Canaan to open his own spot, the very high-toned Elm. Folks, we’re still fans of this Westchester chef who still hobnobs with celebrities but still cooks his a** off when it counts, which is the most important thing. He’s killing it over there in New Canaan, and so we checked it out. You should, too.
Here’s what we love. Lewis’s food can be thoughtful without going into the realm of pretentious. Take his dish of Flying Pig Farms porchetta and testa di maiale with “five lilies,” or five ingredients from the allium (onion) family. We loved that different onions/onion-like items were all treated differently so that they had widely varying flavors and textures. It was an education offered in contorno, because, after all, this dish was supposed to be about pork and pig’s head. The sticky stripe of charred leek purée was my particular favorite. The dish managed to be thought- provoking (I’ll be writing about the use of char in food next month) without being eye-rolling. Lewis’ food is always carefully composed; often, it’s locally sourced; and, mostly, it’s delicious.
Then there is the actual restaurant, which is both intimate and stylish. I’m glad that Lewis wasn’t tempted by greed or ego to open a 200-seat restaurant. Elm is fairly small, and much of its footprint is taken by an open kitchen and chef’s table. The message in this layout is that the food comes way before the numbers. Plus, if that open kitchen and chef’s table don’t offer enough intense, diner-on-chef contact, Lewis is also frequently in the dining room. He presents many of his dishes, fields questions, adds info, etc. This is important because Elm’s dishes are quite detailed.
Here’s a quick photo gallery. Check out Elm’s online menu, though, to be honest, Elm’s menu is transitioning from spring to fall. It’s kind of got the best of both worlds right now (don’t miss the sticky toffee pudding to end).
Westchester Magazine’s Wine & Food Weekend: Burger Bash, June 6
Believe it or not, we are already selling tickets to this sucker, which will be bigger and better than last year’s event. Here’s the deal. Last year, we held the Bash on the streets of White Plains, which was great, but for one thing: We had to limit the size of the party because of all sorts of niggling official concerns. Apparently, the Powers that Be needed to satisfy official regs about fire, insurance, tents, police, and yadda yadda. (Seriously, there were meetings about Port-O-Sans.) Three weeks before Burger Bash, we literally ran out of the 1,200 or so tickets and could sell no more without exceeding the top capacities stated in our various permits. That meant that there were huge numbers of potential Bashers who were shut out of the party almost as soon as they heard about it (from all of their friends who had the foresight to buy tickets). Folks, people went nuts for these tickets. We all had to deal with it—and we all endured a lot of unseemly begging and ineffective wielding of influence. The result was that a lot of people simply didn’t get into the Bash.
This year, the Burger Bash will be about one-third larger and will be held at the Kensico Dam. We’re thrilled that there will be a few hundred more tickets available, but here’s a warning: This Bash is still expected to sell out. Here’s what’s on offer: Along with multiple bars serving Captain Lawrence, Blue Moon, and others in the Manhattan Beer roster, we’ll have Zachys slinging their cool new wine- delivery device—it’s a single portion that magically turns into a glass. There will be live music and food—and, this year, we’re talking miles of burgers. Except for the DoughNation pizza truck and Coffee Labs Roasters, everyone else will be offering patties. You won’t want to be caught without a napkin.
Here’s a partial list of who you’ll see on June 6: 42 The Restaurant, Benjamin Steakhouse, BGR The Burger Joint, Birdsall House, BUtterfield8, Cellar 49, Crabtree's Kittle House, Craftsman Ale House, Dan Rooney's Café & Bar, Emma’s Ale House, Fire Pit Tavern, Fortina, Harper's Restaurant, Le Jardin du Roi, Memphis Mae's, MP Taverna, Restaurant North, Rye Roadhouse, The Peekskill Brewery, The Ritz-Carlton, Westchester, Westchester Burger Co and, last year’s winner, X2O Xaviars on the Hudson. It’s going to be an all-out burger hoedown (but, take our word for it—this sucker will sell out).
Keep checking EDP for more updates. This event and all of the events at Westchester Magazine’s Wine & Food Weekend are still developing. PS: Check out our festival’s Facebook page for weekly Zachy’s gift card giveaways—and soon, look for free event tix!
Cola-Braised Short Ribs at NoMa Social
What’s the most demonized substance on the planet right now? That’s right: Coke! Like methamphetamine, heroin, and its namesake, cocaine, Coca-Cola (or, actually, giant single-serve tankers of it) was very nearly outlawed in New York City. And so it was with some sense of sinful titillation that we tucked into this dish, which offered a hint of the soda pop’s rooty herbality, plus a lot of the gooey, slippery collagen so remarkable in that cut of beef. And, just to knock it out of the park, there was some truffled root-vegetable risotto underneath. Oh, it was sinful…and so much better than sucking on that can of Coke.