An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
Jul 14, 2014
12:12 PMThe Connecticut Table
Celebrity Chef Aarón Sánchez of 'Chopped' Opens Paloma in Stamford
Editor's note: Paloma had a soft opening Saturday night for "friends and family," and officially opens tonight (July 21) to the public.
Hip, stylish, delicious new Latin sizzle has arrived at the high-energy Harbor Point urban redevelopment on Stamford’s industrial waterfront in the form of the new restaurant Paloma from chef Aarón Sánchez, the owner of Mestizo in Leawood, Kan., and co-star of Food Network’s hit series, "Chopped"—among many other credits—who recently appeared at The White House as a guest chef.
(Right, empanadas, and below, cactus fritters.)
“There’s something [especially] convivial and social about eating Latin-inspired food," Sánchez tells Connecticut Magazine. Dishes with nice acidity, great spice and influences from cuisines around the world are a hot culinary trend with time-tested appeal—while also particularly appealing to young food savvy people who “travel the world," Sánchez says.
At Paloma, Sánchez is presenting the flavors of Latin America (of “where I grew up”) and, he says, from “my travels.”
That translates into dishes like these:
Hamachi Tiradito with Passion Fruit Aji Rocoto Sauce and Crispy Hominy
Beef Heart and Sirloin Tostada with Quail Egg
Botanas (Small Plates):
Cactus Fritters with Chipotle Remoulade Sauce
Chorizo and Sweet Plantain Empanadas with Mole
Albondigas (Meatballs) with Chipotle Broth and Mint
Pan Seared Double Cut Pork Chop (right) with Grapefruit Mojo served with Yam Puree
Camarones Mojo de Ajo (Jumbo Shrimp with Chile de Arbol Butter)
Large Share Plates:
Pollo Pibil - Whole Roasted Chicken Marinated in Achiote Habanero Sauce served with Pickled Salad
Tomahawk Steak for Two with Chimichurri Sauce and Epazote Bearnaise served with a Wild Mushroom Salad and Bone Marrow and Short Rib Enchilada
Asked about favorite things and dishes, Sánchez says Paloma will delve into all the molés and “the traditional sauces,” and adds, “I look forward to making my grandmother’s meatball recipe, which is one of my favorite things on the menu."
(Left, tuna tostada.)
“I’m so excited to be here,” the chef says of Stamford and Harbor Point, which, its website explains, is “a transit-oriented, mixed use development along the Long Island Sound. Comprised of more than 1,500 new apartments, Stamford’s newest office space, and some of the region’s finest dining and shopping establishments, Harbor Point is a true ‘24/7’ location. Harbor Point (below) also boasts several marinas, a waterfront boardwalk, and acres of public parks.”
“We are thrilled to open such an exciting restaurant in an area that is in the middle of a re-birth, thanks to the commitment of the BLT group and the Harbor Point development teams,” Sánchez says in an opening statement. “I can’t wait to share my flavors and cuisine with the community. Paloma is all about bringing people together to enjoy great food and drinks in a beautiful setting.”
The 250-seat Paloma, the statement says, “will feature a range of offerings, from whole roasted meats from the restaurant's wood grill to an extensive raw bar, ceviche, grilled seafood, and a variety of shareable plates. Paloma will also offer a wide range of classic and contemporary cocktails that represent a wide selection of handcrafted spirits from Latin America, including tequila, mezcal, pisco, cachaca, and rum.”
The signature cocktails include:
Paloma (below right) - ruby red grapefruit and lime, sea salt, purified water, camarena reposado tequila and grapefruit crème brûlée nectar, carbonated.
Amor - jasmine flowers and orange, maté nectar, lavender tincture, carbonated.
Bee's & Honey - raw honey and lemon, ginger-tumeric nectar, el buho mezcal and makers mark bourbon
Grace - passion fruit and lemon, orange blossom, sugarcane, casamigo's silver tequila and champagne vollereaux
Alegre Hemingway - lime and ruby red grapefruit, maraschino liqueur, tapatio anejo tequila and atlantico reserve rum
Paloma is the first of several sequential launches for Sánchez, who will go on to open Alegre in New York City, and Johnny Sánchez with friend and colleague Chef John Besh in Baltimore. After that, Sanchez tells Connecticut Magazine, he’s looking at doing something in New Orleans.
“No one ever called me smart,” Sánchez jokes when asked about the challenges of multiple launches, adding more seriously, “We have a lot of real talented people around us.”
(Above right, Bee's & Honey: raw honey and lemon, ginger-tumeric nectar, el buho mezcal and makers mark bourbon. Below right, a Paloma Margarita.)
CHEF AARÓN SÁNCHEZ BIO