Nicholas Roberts, Norwalk
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Nicholas Roberts ★★ 1⁄2 (Very Good-Superior)
On Main Street, two minutes south of the intersection of the Post Road and the old Route 7 in Norwalk, Nicholas Roberts Gourmet Bistro couldn’t be more prominently located. Still, it’s amazingly easy to miss, in part because you have to enter the building through the parking lot, and because until recently there was no sign that you could see from the road. There’s a sign now, but the interior lighting is pleasantly subdued so what catches your eye as you drive by is the pizza place next door ablaze with light. Talk about hidden in plain sight!
But passionate foodies are intrepid and I had been hearing from them. They implored me to try the food, promising that I would be blown away by how fabulous it is for the price. They spoke of $20 entrées, chicken liver pâté as alluring as foie gras, garnishes of roasted fennel, pickled celery root, red onion marmalade, truffle sauce and yuzu aioli.
Then they read me the drill: no reservations, no seating until the whole party arrives, cash only, BYOB. Daunting? Perhaps, but oh, the thrill of the chase.
I chose my companions carefully. They came bearing wine. Glasses and a wine cooler were provided. For a small, unpretentious place where all the cooking is done behind what was once a luncheonette counter, the menu is surprisingly long and interesting. It was hard to choose but this group didn’t dither. Judy chose sea scallops, two plump beauties swathed in truffle sauce underlaid with cauliflower purée in a large, fan-shaped scallop shell. Attractive plating was not something I expected but it characterized everything that followed. Grilled shrimp, exceptionally good and sauced with garlic, lemon and white wine, were curled and skewered on twigs of fresh rosemary. We passed them around—a fun way to start a meal.