Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Stamford Restaurant Review: Twenty

I finally went to Twenty, the new resto/bar/lounge on the corner across the street from Black Bear. It's where the old Park Place Diner used to be. I was dubious; I don’t know many people who have been, and I had heard only vague and confusing things on Chowhound. The one short discussion thread about Twenty contained a mixed brunch review and an exchange about whether or not Elvis pancakes were on the menu and if a chef had or had not returned. I went, though, in the name of Stamford Talk research. Happily, the food was pretty good. Even my picky-eater husband said, “I’d go there again.”

When we arrived at 7pm on a Wednesday and the place was totally empty, I felt even more scared about the food, but we sat down. The place is really lounge-y and cool looking. We got two appetizers: the mozzarella in crust was better than the coconut chicken, which was a bit burnt and dry.

The menu is very creative. It’s American food with exotic twists. For example, one entree is pan-roasted Atlantic salmon in an apple cider gastrique over herbed couscous and wilted spinach. Entrees are $19-29, but we only did apps, salads and burgers.

The food was not great, but it was good. I got a delicious latina salad with avocado and a cilantro vinaigrette. My husband’s ho dad burger was on a huge brioche with bacon, and my friend’s bourbon burger was on an English muffin and definitely tasted like bourbon. Each burger came with a choice of parmesan or sweet potato fries. On this first initial visit, I’d rate the food as good. It was tasty and original, American while still being interesting. If you want a burger, it’s certainly worth skipping Black Bear and giving Twenty a try. You can see the menu at Twenty’s incredibly annoying website. Click "music off" to get rid of that awful, awful squeaking sound.

We were the only people in the restaurant for a good 30 minutes before a young couple came in. I’ve heard the place is hopping on the weekends, so I’ll go back on a busier night to check out the crowd and try more food. I feel a little gypped that I only got to see the food and not the crowd. (I just had to spellcheck ‘gipped’ and realized it’s spelled with a y. It must come from the word gypsies, right, because of the stereotype that gypsies steal? Funny how I have used that word and never known where it came from. My Apple dictionary widget says the word is of unknown origin, but Dictionary.com tactfully tells me, “[Probably short for Gypsy.]")

I’m happy because I knocked one more place off my “Eat at Every Place in Stamford” list. I still need to try Monster B’s and go back to Bella Luna on Hope St., because I’ve only been there once about 8 years ago. We ate at Market again last weekend. Food was OK but not flawless. We laughed when our ‘fried squash blossoms’ app arrived as one blossom that we had to cut in half! I give that meal at Market a “pretty good,” just like I gave Twenty. I finally ate at Dragonfly with a friend last night, and I'll give that a "very good" so far. Overall, Market gets a "very good," because the other two meals I've had there were great. My "excellent" ratings go to Duo and Napa.

10 comments:

Always Home and Uncool said...

Don't fret. Twenty will be gone within 24 months. For whatever reason, that corner changes every two years or so. It's been the diner, an Italian place (where Bill Clinton ate at once), a Cajun restarant (which I do miss) and three or four other restaurants in the last 15 years.

Anonymous said...

Lets be real. The only place I'm eating a "ho dad burger" is, well, at Hodad's Burgers in Ocean Beach. Westside!

Whitemist said...

I will add more to this later, but first remember it is still owned by the diner people who have had it 6 years plus - they brought in my friend to make it a club and actually successful. The Food portion of the place has been the most difficult for many reasons, including the fact that Friday and Saturdays it is uncomfortably packed with drinkers and people dancing to the DJ music.

To see a crowd -10 PM Friday and Saturday.

No doubt it will be something else when my friend finishes his contract and at that point, I wouldn't go there.

Stamford Talk said...

I can imagine that it is VERY difficult to eat when it's crowded. Do they somehow separate the dining from the dancing? I'll have to check it out.

Anonymous, what is "Westside" and where is Ocean Beach? New Jersey?

JR said...

I also don't get why nothing lasts at that spot. Maybe it's the lack of visibility when you drive or walk down Summer St.

Stamford Talk: I have the same goal, and I've eaten at almost 90 of Stamford's 220 or so restaurants. Eclisse and Siena are my next two targets. I'm sad that I missed out on Dunn's Loft.

Manager Mom said...

Bella Luna is not too far from my house. I've heard great things but never been there. Wanna try to meet for dinner there sometime? Spouses optional?

And, um, what is a "ho dad" burger?

P.P.S. if you don't come up with a recco soon for our Blogger meetup place we are going to have to declare Monster B's the location...

Ali said...

I went once for brunch and wasn't impressed. It just wasn't that great. I went in the evening once and it was sort of fun. It was strange though, since some people were seated around the edges of the dance floor while lots of people were getting their dance on on the dance floor. Maybe it was the night I went, but it seemed like the crowd was just barely 21...

Whitemist said...

JR - Some of the issue is its very prominence, it gets noticed when it changes - How many new restaurants are in Stamford now in locations that housed old ones? - Lots. here are some that have stayed and those are impressive - but many many have changed hands.
Stamford Talk - Eating when its crowded is a fun feat, they keep the tables around the edge for that - but it does get loud.
ali - as someone who knows brunch has been as close to a disaster as any restaurant can have with staff not showing up and managers making decisions about having/not having it without good communication.
At this point i they have it - it would be good - but it has still been a difficult issue for the creator of the 'Twenty concept' to have executed properly (The diner people still run the show). And as far as I can see the crowds age is all over the place - there is a strict dress code, so you won't see any hoodies, but the girls do turn my head most of the time and early on there seem to be more of them there(you might be able to tell I am a male).
And for my friend Stamfordtalk -this is info you will never get from Chow cause I am in the middle of it with a very objective view. You called the food very accurately, the food is not great, but I would call it fun and as long as they are able to keep the chiefs they have there it will continue to improve, but I will keep you informed of that!

Whitemist said...

Sorry Guys - while I was away in VA - the two chefs couldn't deal with the diner manager and left - Do Not Go to Twenty for Food until I give an undate

Whitemist said...

and now for another issue of as the restaurant turns...
The soap continues - I guess the two decided they were making a point to not be mistreated .. one returned for good for now, the other is training a replacement, but has an offer to go to a new place in Norwalk and will leave.
With fear and trepidation this food tester went last night to find out the damage done and was pleasantly surprised that thing were fairly normal save that the server was brand new and nervous as all get out and left the soup in the kitchen to get lukewarm (which was corrected when we spoke up, its or job man)and they had to tell me that the last mango got eaten and the mango crab stack had to have cantaloupe instead (it was still good, but they comped us for that mistake). StamfordTalk asked me if I like the food their, and generally I do - it is as she put it good, and I would add with some sparks of brilliance - but it is not great - I will leave that to Nappa and some of the items are very good - the seared tuna and the mussels dish.
Okay thanks for the time and we return you now to your normal life.