August 29, 2014

Little Chester Has Some Big Time Restaurants. Here’s What They Offer (Part 2)

Exterior of L & E restaurant on Main Street

Exterior of L & E restaurant on Main Street

As we mentioned in Part 1 of our review of Chester restaurants, it is truly a wonder that such a little town has so many fine restaurants. Part 1 profiled four of them, the Villager, Simons Marketplace, River Tavern and Pattaconk 1850. Here in Part 2 are four more Chester restaurants.

Cabo Tequila Grill

Karen Williams, the Manager of Cabo Tequila Grill, is virtually a one woman show. For instance, she personally squeezes one lime at a time to concoct, perhaps one should say to mastermind, the ten different kinds of margaritas that are offered at the Cabo Tequila Grill.

The eye catching sign of the Cabo restaurant on Water Street

The eye catching sign of the Cabo restaurant on Water Street

Williams says that the “Traditional” margarita is still the favorite at her Water Street restaurant. At Cabo its ingredients are: Milagro Silver Tequila, Agavero Orange Liquor and fresh limes (hand squeezed by the manager).  The runner up in popularity is the “Pomegranate” margarita, made from Don Julio Anejo Tequila, Stirrings Pomegranate Liquor and, again, fresh hand-squeezed lime juice.

Cabo Manager Karen Williams and daughter Karen

Cabo Manager Karen Williams and daughter Morgan

Price-Saving Specials at Cabo

There are regular weekday specials at Cabo Taquila Grill. They include: Margarita Monday,” when traditional margaritas are reduced to $6 each. In the same vein on Tequila Taco Tuesday, the special is three Street Tacos and a shot of Don Jula Silver for $7. Then, there’s Wine Wednesday, where you get a bottle of wine at half price, when purchased with an entrée, and finally on Thirsty Thursday, the price for top-ranked Sauze Hornitos Margaritas are $6, which is $2.50 off the regular price.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday the prices are as stated on the menu, but none of them would break the bank.  For example, the Appetizer, Cabos Nachos, which is made from refried beans, and no less than eight other ingredients, costs but $11.95.

As for Entrees the long list of selections includes, Chicken Enchiladas for $15.95; as well as a Pulled Pork Taco, accompanied by corn tortillas with queso fresco, pico de gallo, sour cream and sofrito rice and refried greens, also for $15.95.

For dessert Cabo Tequila Grill serves homemade flan and a chocolate Mexican cake from a “secret recipe,” among other the desert items.

Not a “Slop on the Plate” Tex Mex Restaurant!”

Speaking with emphasis Williams says that, “Cabo is not you’re run of the mill ‘slop on the plate’ Tex Mex restaurant.” “We only serve fresh ingredients,” she says, and “All of our margaritas have fresh squeezed lime juice.”

Williams is assisted by her daughter, Morgan, who her mother says, “is a cook herself.” Right now “mother” Williams says that she is working as much as seven days a week. Also, she has managed Cabo since it opened in Chester four years ago.

Williams is originally from Massachusetts, but she is now a big booster of her new hometown of Chester. She terms it, “a cute, quaint little town, which has some wonderful people in it.” She especially likes Chester’s, “comfortable at home atmosphere,” adding that she finds her customers to be “a lot of fun.”

Cabo is open seven days a week. Hours are: Monday through Thursday from 5 pm to 9 pm, and Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 5 pm to 10 pm. The restaurant is at 4 Water Street in Chester, and the telephone number is 860-526-8277.

Restaurant L & E

“We serve quality food in a comfortable and inviting atmosphere,” is how L & E co-owner Linda Reid describes the dining experience at her L & E Restaurant in downtown Chester. The “L” in the restaurant’s name, incidentally, stands for “Linda,” and the “E” is for Everett, the first names of the two, married owners of the restaurant.

Exterior of L & E restaurant on Main Street

Exterior of L & E restaurant on Main Street

The Reid’s opened their L & E restaurant close to four years ago, taking up the space that was previously Restaurant Du Village. The Reid’s have continued the French theme of their predecessor with a “French 75 Bar” on the first floor, and with many French styled selections on the menu. Also, a number of the staff, who once worked for Du Village, now work at L & E.

The “French 75 Bar” at L & E must takes its name, perhaps, from the French 75 field gun of World War 1. Also, in 1915 Harry’s bar in Paris created a “French 75” drink made from gin, champagne, lemon juice and sugar.

The French Food at L & E

There is also a strong French emphasis in the food that they serve at L & E. For example, Starters include a Salad of Duck Confit, an item which consists of Celery Root Puree, Gingered Figs and Red Wine Syrup.

A highlight on the Soup and Salad section on themenu is s French Onion Soup with Cherry Vinegar, Three Cheeses and Braised Oxtails, and one of the salads is Pan Fried Chicken Livers with Smoked Bacon Lardons, Frisee and Poached Egg.

Entrées include Venison “Osso Bucco” with Sweet Potato Sardalize Gratin and a Salad of Pears and Dried Black Cherries. Another entre is Pan Seared Atlantic Skate Wings with Brown Butter with Pancetta and Leek Confit with a salad of Arugula and Cranberry Beans.

A New Second Floor Restaurant

In additional to the downstairs that L & E took over from Du Village, the Reid’s have created an Upstairs L & E out of what was once an apartment on the floor above the restaurant.

Although it is a steep climb up the stairs to reach this second floor restaurant,   the upstairs space is billed as a perfect place for private functions. Also, it is open to the public on weekends, offering such fare as Hudson Valley Foie Gras and Golden Spotted Tilefish, which Linda Reid characterizes as “Beautiful.”

Prior to moving to Chester, Linda and Everett Reid for several decades owned the  American Seasons Restaurant on Nantucket Island, and, subsequently, a bistro, also on Nantucket.

Background of the Head Chef at L & E

Chef Everett G. Reid received his training at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and his ownership of earlier restaurants earned him considerable press attention. Chef Everett has also been publicly recognized as one of the “Great Chefs of the East.”

The Chef’s wife and partner, Linda Reid, has developed a passion and deep knowledge of American wines, and she has been recognized in the Wine Spectator magazine.

On Tuesdays L & E offers “Burger Nights,” which feature for $14 a “sumptuous” burger with fries and a glass of house wine or a beer. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, there is also a $25 Prix Fixe dinner.

The prices on the main menu range from $12 to $21 for Starters; $12 to $14 for Soups and Salads, and $26 to $32 for Entrees. Prices are similar at the Upstairs       L & E.  The restaurant is closed Monday and is open Tuesdays thru Sundays from 5:00 to 9:00. The Upstairs L & E is open Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30 to 9:00.

L & E is located at 59 Mains Street, and the telephone number is 860-526-5301.

The Wheatmarket

Most people think of The Wheatmarket down on Water Street, as a great place for lunch, and they are right. As co-owner Joan Welch says, “We do a brisk lunch business.”

Exterior of the popular Wheatmarket down on Water Street

Exterior of the popular Wheatmarket down on Water Street

The Wheatmarket at lunch time offers the following made-to-order sandwiches: (1) a chicken and grape salad sandwich, (2) a store roasted, top round of beef sandwich with horse radish and cheddar cheese, (3) a tuna works sandwich with sprouts, carrots, dill and Havarti cheese, (4) an old-fashioned bacon, lettuce and bacon sandwich, as well as other sandwich selections.

Also at lunch time The Wheatmarket features “made from scratch” soups, including a homemade baked potato soup; chicken rice and a chicken noodle soups; house made chili; and cream soups of asparagus, tomato or potato. Deserts feature slices of Deep Dish Apple pie and a selection of saucer-sized cookies, including a ginger cookie, which is close to habit forming.

As for beverages there is “Honest Tea,” which is low in sugar, plus an array of soft drinks, including root beer, birch beer and Sarsaparilla tea.

All of these items can be eaten at one of the tables at The Wheatmarket, or they can be taken out.

The Emphasis Is on Lunch Not Breakfast

Although The Wheatmarket opens at nine in the morning, it does not offer much of a breakfast. You can get a muffin and coffee to tide you over, but that is about it.

The owners of The Wheatmarket are Daniel and Joan Welch, who live in Essex. This coming spring they will have owned their business in Chester for 22 years. Over that time, Joan Welch observes, “We are going into another generation of our customers.”

She means that children that once came in with their parents are now parents themselves. As for the adults back then, well let’s just say they are now a bit older.

Over the years Joan Welch has listened to a number of life’s travails from her customers. “Sometimes I feel like a bartender,” she says of her role as a sympathetic ear. Friends are friends after all, and Joan Welch has many friends among her customers.

Another indication of the passage of time at the market is that one of the former young dishwashers is now a medical doctor. Also the Welch’s two boys are now grown men. In fact, the younger son, Mark, is the Manager of the Colonial Supermarket in Essex.

Selling Sandwiches Is Only Half the Story

Serving soup and sandwiches is all that many people know about The Wheatmarket. But it is only half the story. In the large kitchen in the backroom of the market, Chef-Owner Dennis L. Welch conducts a full blown catering business, and don’t think that this is a small operation.

Inside the busy, busy Wheatmarket, stacked for the season

Inside the busy, busy Wheatmarket, stacked for the season

Just before Christmas The Wheatmarket catered complete meals for a group 600 people. This order entailed making some 600 pounds of Lasagna, and 300 pounds of Sausage and Pepperoni, according to Chef Welch.

Chef Welsh, who is deeply involved in his catering business, also tells the story that once he was hired by a very successful business person to cater a dinner for literally hundreds of the host’s friends and clients. Then, shortly before the big event, the Chef received a call that the host had died.

Chef Daniel and Joan Welch, owners of the Wheatmarket

Chef Daniel and Joan Welch, owners of the Wheatmarket

This meant the cancellation of the big dinner. However, Welch says that he did cater the funeral of the departed host. In fact, these days Welch says catering funerals, “last suppers” you might call them, has become an important part of his  business.

Pattaconk River Flooding Could Be a Threat          

About the only event that could threaten the present success of The Wheatmarket could be major flooding of the Pattaconk River. The river is just across the parking lot from the market.

A few years ago, in fact, the river flooded over the entire parking lot, although the market was on high enough ground. With global warming the next big flood could be even higher. As Joan Welch puts it, “After all we are on Water Street.”

But now is not the time to think about such things as floods. The Wheatmarket is decked out for the season, and Joan Welch has put together a couple of monster gift baskets, which a customer can take home for $60. Also, one suspects that even in this happy season, she is prepared to offer a listening ear to a customer who wants to talk to her about private things.

Six Main Restaurant

On November 29, ValleyNewsNow.com published a review of the Six Main Restaurant in Chester, entitled, “New Chester Vegan Restaurant Receives Top Rating from the New York Times.” The headline of the Times’ article was, “Artistry at Work,” and the Timesgushed at the skills of the Six Main Restaurant’s Chef, Rachel Carr.

The ValleyNewsNow.com article about Six Main Restaurant, and the Times enthusiastic endorsement, can be easily found by scrolling down to Recent Articles by Jerome Wilson on the ValleyNewsNow.com. The New York Times review referred to in the article was published on November 16.

One new development at the Six Main Restaurant is that it has recently put in place new soundproofing on the interior ceiling of the restaurant. After all, the restaurant space was previously used by a bank, which clearly did have the sound levels of a busy restaurant.