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Dining Al Fresco in Darien

I friend and I just enjoyed a lovely lunch at Estia’s American at 1020 Post Road on the red brick walk-way. (parking in back).  She had a Little Kitchen Cobb Salad and I had a Chili Chicken Taco Salad—-both were presented well and very tasty.  On the way out, we saw another group of friends there who were enjoying the spring weather and dining al fresco.

Left to Right are:  Susan Morrison, Mary Flynn and Lisa Ioli enjoying Estia’s American outdoor dining.

According to the press release from Linda Kavanagh of Maxexposure, “For two decades, former Darien restaurateur Colin Ambrose has been at the forefront of the sustainable food movement, originally in Amaganset, and now in Sag Harbor, Long Island with his popular café, Estia’s Little Kitchen. Only, the practice of growing his own fruits and vegetables on the restaurant’s property, and obtaining the rest of the ingredients from local farmers whenever possible, was never a gimmick. It was simply how he chose to source his food in order to maintain the high standards he set for the restaurant.

The menu for Etsia’s American takes its cues from the tried and true favorites of the original Estia’s in Sag Harbor. Estia’s from-scratch approach starts with the aroma of fresh baked bread in the morning. With hot coffee and freshly squeezed juices to start your day, breakfast includes; the Cajun omelet with andouille, tomato, onion and peppers; buttermilk pancakes with banana, blueberry, or apple; Big Al’s Burrito with toasted flour tortilla rolled with egg whites, veggie burger, mixed vegetables and jack cheese; house made granola; and hearty breakfast bowls such as the spinach and mushroom hash with organic brown rice and two eggs.

Lunch specialties run the gamut from crab cakes with vida slaw and lemon to a grilled shrimp quesadilla with, cilantro, pepper and jack cheese, and the 8-grain BLT with avocado and cole slaw to “PRD’s” sliced steak sandwich with arugula, blue cheese, and grilled onion. Estia’s famous “A’s Pop Breakfast Bowl” consists of chicken, organic red quinoa, egg whites veggies and avocado. Salads are seasonal and fresh, with lots of textural and flavor contrasts. “Mary Ellen’s Salad” is a healthful mélange of avocado, beets, garbanzo beans, spinach and feta, and the chili chicken taco salad with greens, beans, corn, corn chips and sour cream is a customer favorite. There are always chalkboard specials, tacos of every kind, and soups for the soul.

Ambrose has taken great care to create a menu that’s never boring and that has a broad appeal. Early May will be the launch time for the dinner menu.  Dining between 5:30-6:30 PM brings with it a $28 three course prix fixe option that includes items directly off the menu. Enjoy any type of burger you want on Sundays including beef, lamb, turkey, veggie, even tuna. Go Mexican on Taco Tuesday or shellfishing on Wednesdays. There’s always something delicious coming out of the kitchen.

Dinner at Estia’s American is special. After 5 pm he petit space morphs into a cozy restaurant and intimate bar. American made beer, spirits and wine varietals make up the beverage program. Creative cocktails are chef centric and even the bottled water is filtered / carbonated in-house. The global dinner menu has an exceptional fondness for Mexican cuisine as seen with the local, free range pork tamale with chili sauce and sweet corn, the Mexican sweet corn soup with tortilla strips and touch of sour cream, and the mole lamb shank with fall greens and sweet potato puree. More mouthwatering dishes include: paella with andouille, chicken, shrimp, local fish and little necks; chicken Bolognese with fresh homemade pasta; and pan roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables. Sweet and savory pies include chicken and lobster pot pies, and seasonal fruit pies, all of which can be ordered to be enjoyed at home.”

Susan Cator