Imagine a place that’s as cozy as your living room, with a roaring fire blazing in the stone fireplace, and someone cooking up all sorts of gussied-up comfort food in the kitchen. Sounds pretty sweet, right? Add a congenial bartender (or two) mixing up one interesting cocktail after another and drawing frosty craft beers. Right about now you should be tapping your heels together and repeating, “There’s no place like home.” This is not just a product of your imagination, this place exists in downtown Stamford – and it’s called Cask Republic.
If you’ve lived in Fairfield County for longer than a week, you’re probably familiar with owner Christian Burns other endeavors, The Gingerman restaurants in Greenwich and South Norwalk. And if you live north of Fairfield County, you’ve most likely heard about Burns’ first Cask outpost in New Haven. Consistently voted among the area’s top spots for a brew and a burger, Burns gets a little snazzier at his Cask restaurants, both in design and in the kitchen. Elegantly clubby, with paneled walls, wooden floors, and lounge-worthy leather chairs angled into a fireplace nook in the back room, the space feels both simultaneously fun for groups, yet intimate enough for a special date.
But let’s get to the food and drink, because they really shine under the watchful eye of executive chef, Juan Gonzalez. Gonzalez bold flavors nicely hold up to a cocktail, beer, and spirits list longer than your arm. What I love about this menu is the variety – you can stop in for a beer and a snack or indulge in a four-course dinner. Starting at just $3 for bacon popcorn (it’s popped in bacon fat!) the snack menu lists six happy-hour worthy nibbles. Got a bigger appetite, but not up for a full dinner – boards include cheese and charcuterie and more than a dozen shareable small plates (bar fries tasting board, short rib meatballs, marinated beet salad, mac & cheese, etc…).
Pub-grubby staples get a gastronomic makeover in Gonzalez’ kitchen that emphasizes local and sustainable farming; wood fired pizzas (the lamb confit pizza with goat cheese and arugula is outstanding), roasted wild salmon (on a bed of black bean risotto and topped with a bundle of shaved fennel), grilled grass-fed fillet mignon (with an elegant sweet potato hash and braised greens).
Of course, we can’t leave out the booze…this is, after all, a bar. Anyone who appreciates a really good beer or spirit (doesn’t that include just about everyone?) will be right at home here – numerous single malt scotches, whiskies, and bourbons from around the world are available for sampling. For those who are less familiar with whisky but game to try, the team in the front-of-the-house has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of brews and brown spirits and will happily assist you in selecting the ideal beverage to accompany your meal.
Cask Republic is spot-on with both food and drink…so much so, you’ll become a regular citizen.
Cask Republic Stamford 191 Summer Street