The Jfoods returned to Basso Café on Route 123 in Norwalk recently to see how they were doing since their first and only visit many months ago. Jfood was impressed that they were able to weather the economic cycle giving their prices (entrees $25-35) and the timing of the restaurant’s opening last year. Upon entering, Jfood was very impressed with the changes. Gone were the paper table coverings and the revived ambience was much more conducive to the prices. There were also comfortable and cool-looking chairs, white tablecloths, mood lighting, all was very impressive and the old pizzeria feel was definitely a thing of the past. There were probably around 30-35 available seats in total.
The Jfoods were seated and the server brought them menus. (If you would like to see the choices, the menu on line is very accurate.) He had a big smile when he remembered that the server was the same young lady from his first visit and she was just as friendly and now had more professionalism in her demeanor.
The Jfoods ordered the warm goat cheese and mushroom tart with caramelized onions and herbs ($11) and the smoked Andouille sausage wrapped in paper thin sliced potato served with piquillo pepper sauce ($7) for appetizers and the braised Chilean sea bass served with stuffed mini pumpkin with roasted tomatoes, chanterelle mushrooms, and creamy lobster sauce ($32) and the Tuscan grilled chicken under a brick ($23) for entrees.
The presentation of the sausage was a 1” section of sausage wrapped ¾ the way with a thin slice of potato, held in place with a toothpick. This combination was then fried. The Andouille itself was not as spicy as Jfood would have liked and the potato wrap offered little additional flavor, but did add some crunchy texture. Jfood was expecting more. Why the toothpick was still present was a mystery.
The goat cheese tart was conceptually a nice idea but the flavors were primarily bland when they should have been more alive. The tart pastry (in the shape of a scone) was sliced in half; the caramelized onions and the cheese were sandwiched in between. The one positive note was that the onions were about as good a caramelized onion that Jfood has ever tasted in a restaurant. The goat cheese added nothing to the dish and the pastry was also a non-event.
The Bass arrived and the top was perfectly cooked to a crispy, golden brown. The texture throughout the fish was perfect for Jfood, it was still moist while fully cooked (exactly what is expected from a Chilean sea bass). Jfood would guess the size was about 4 oz. A nice sprinkling of salt sat atop the filet. The stuffed pumpkin was the size of a golf ball with the top removed. The tomato and mushroom filling was delicious but totaled about one tablespoon. The entire dish was a 4oz piece of bass and a tablespoon of mushrooms. (For disclosure, Jfood used the on-line menu for the description above and does not remember if the lobster sauce was on the actual menu. But if it was on the menu, it was missing from the dish.) Jfood was almost embarrassed with the price-quantity ratio.
Although Jfood did not taste the chicken, Mrs. Jfood told him it was very good.
Another item that should be mention was that the runner needed a bit of training. When Jfood's dish arrived he mentioned that the plate was “very hot.” Most of the time this is not an issue but the runner left Jfood with a difficult situation. The runner placed the plate with 1/3 of it dangling over the edge of the table. If Jfood tried to eat the food on the dish it would have fallen into his lap. So Jfood pushed the dish forward to be fully on the table. He discovered that the plate was >200 degrees. Jfood was glad it was he and not Mrs. Jfood that pushed his plate. Ouch.
Are the Jfoods glad they returned? Sure, the chef has a large selection of interesting choices on the menu that change regularly. Would the Jfoods rush back again? Probably not. The execution just was not in line with Jfood's expectations. It just did not have the wow factor in any of the dishes and for this the price there are several other options available.
124 New Canaan Ave. (Bartlett ave.), Norwalk, CT 06850