Monday, October 13, 2014

Gastro Bar: Tapas with a Twist in Stamford, CT

I recently had the pleasure of dining at Gastro Bar in Stamford, CT, and it proved to be a great new addition to Stamford's ever-expanding restaurant scene. The large interior maintains an intimate feeling for date night, and long raised tables would be perfect for a larger group. Gastro Bar also offers Happy Hour, which is always appreciated.

We began our evening with a few appetizers at the large, inviting bar. First, crispy oysters with avocado puree, grapefruit, and radish that were not only pretty to look at but a pleasing combination of hot crunch oysters and cool, smooth avocado. Next, fried calamari with smoked aioli was nice and tender, with plenty of tentacles, my favorite! A margherita pizza with heirloom tomato, buffalo mozzarella, and basil left us happily full before dinner had even begun, but upon seeing the tempting menu I knew room would have to be made.

If I see salmon tartare on a menu, I will always order it. I've had quite the range of experiences from heavenly to terrifying, but luckily Gastro Bar did it right with just a hint of jalapenos, shallots, crispy potato, and cilantro Their tartare is fresh, light, and the flavor of the salmon shines through - there's nothing worse than a heavy, strong dressing that obscures the salmon itself - what a waste!

Another favorite food, brussels sprouts, arrived next in the form of a shaved salad dressed with truffle oil and lemon juice and served atop a crispy risotto cake. If you are a brussels fan, this is the salad for you! If not, this will not be the dish to convert you, as it really lets the brussels sprouts be the star of the dish and does not drown them in dressing. 

My favorite dish of the night was the eggplant parmesan with prosciutto, mascarpone, and ricotta cheese. This dish was so flavorful and satisfying! I am not a fan of eggplant, and I do not particularly like cheesy dishes, but I absolutely devoured this!

Another favorite of the night was Cavatelli with short rib ragu, black truffle, and cream. The sauce was not too heavy, though it was very richly meaty. I thought, based on the menu, that it would be a cream sauce, but I was happy to see that it was really just a touch of cream to help bind the sauce to the pasta. 

Albondigas (lamb meatballs) with baby kale and tomato sauce were underwhelming, especially compared to the inventiveness and careful preparation of the other dishes. 

Our meal ended with paella, and while I was already too full to move, I couldn't resist a generous helping of clams, shrimp, mussels, chicken, calamari, peas, chorizo, and saffron rice. Gastro Bar does a solid job with their paella, but the shrimp and chicken were overcooked. I did appreciate the generous dose of saffron. This dish was fragrant and hearty, and well received by the whole group. 

Gastro Bar is conveniently located in downtown Stamford, and absolutely worth a visit, whether for cocktails and tapas at happy hour or a full dinner. 

78 West Park Place, Stamford, CT ‎06901
Phone: 203-817-0392
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