An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
Nov 7, 2013
02:49 PMThe Connecticut Table
Connecticut's 'Secret' Culinary Wizards (Conan O'Brien, Cooking Light Know)
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They come for food that dazzles like that of the hottest urban four-star spots—paired with Ct’s carefully curated list of beers and wines by the bottle or glass—and for how such delicious results are anchored by restaurant’s mission and philosophy, summed up on the website: “The Community Table’s philosophy is rooted in a profound respect for nature and its seasons. Our restaurant is sustainably conceived, designed and operated. The cuisine is light and healthy, but bold and natural in feel and flavor. Our restaurant is for the community of Connecticut and we strive to make it available to all.” (Above, a white chocolate egg with pistachio, sheep's milk yogurt, golden raspberries, nasturtium and ice cream.)
The culinary magic and mastery that Viehland and Juliano dish up shouldn’t come as a surprise. Viehland has worked at Gramercy Tavern in New York City, along with Chez es Saada and Quilty’s in Soho, with Chef Katy Sparks, who, he says, taught him how to think and taste.
After that he was in New Orleans, working with chef Susan Spicer and chef Donald Link at Herbsaint, and then as a sous chef for Emeril Lagasse. Then he moved to Copenhagen, to work at NOMA, a two-star Michelin restaurant that was ranked third in the world by San Pellegrino's Top 50 Restaurants in the World while he was there. Cooking Light says he left a potential sous chef position at one of the best restaurants in the world in 2007 to start a family.
Juliano’s path was different, which is indicated when he says, “I come from a background of all over the place.” In each of those places, he grew and evolved, and the list includes stints working with and learning from the molecular gastronomy pioneer Wylie Dufrense at his restaurant wd~50 in Manhattan, where he started out as a savory chef, but one who kept gravitating to the pastry kitchen.
There were also stops at the acclaimed Arrows Restaurant in Ogunquit, Maine, (“I really matured with ingredients. I really learned that ingredients are more important than anything,” Juliano says), and a happy tenure as pastry chef at the Copper Beech Inn in Ivoryton when Anderson of Millwright's was the chef there.
When Anderson was moving on to open the highly-praised Millwrights, Juliano was supposed to go with him, but geography and family issues intervened and Juliano ended up working with chef Jeffrey Lizotte at ON20 in Hartford.
“That was an amazing experience,” Juliano said of the working with Anderson at the Copper Beech. “Tyler by far is one of my favorite chefs in Connecticut. … My food definitely progressed after working with Tyler.”
He has equal praise for Lizotte. (“I’m still great friends with Jeff. He’s an amazing chef”) and he appreciates how Connecticut’s best chefs have close friendships. “We all stay in touch and we all stay friends. It’s not like New York,” Juliano says.
In fact, Viehland and Anderson are halfway through a restaurant swap this fall. On Oct.16, Viehland presented “his wildly local cuisine” at Millwright’s, and on Nov. 11, Anderson will come to Ct with his signature inspired New England cuisine. (The dinner is sold out).
As for some other favorite places of Juliano's, who lived on the shoreline before moving to West Cornwall, he goes off the map of places in New Haven anointed by “pizza snobs” to praise Da Legna, he also loves Caseus Bistro in New Haven, and he prefers Hanami II in Branford for sushi, to name a few. (Below, Warm Nocino Cake with McIntosh apples, walnuts, sweet cicely and brown butter ice cream.)
Whether or not you try those places, get to Ct and experience the magic of Viehland and Juliano, who changes his desserts up every week, and sometimes every day, based on the available in-season ingredients sourced from local farmers.
"There’s nothing better in the fall in New England than pumpkins and apples," says Juliano, who on the phone was sketching out a dessert featuring sugar pumpkins and incorporating brown sugar, brown butter and Nocino, the bittersweet essence of black walnuts … .
The Community Table, located on Route 202 in the Woodville section of Washington, is open for dinner every night except Tuesday and Wednesday. Though it has an expertly curated list of wines and beers, Ct also allows patrons to bring their own wine, with a corkage fee of $25.
For more information and reservations, call the restaurant at 860-868-9354. The website is communitytablect.com.