When going out with friends our wants are fairly simple. Give us fun, shareable dishes, and great cocktails. Not necessarily in that order. In Danbury, that means Mezon on Mill Plain Road is pretty high on our list. Late last year they changed a few menu items, and I’ve got to tell ya, we have some new favorites.
I love it when a restaurant changes things up. Maybe it’s a simple tweak to a menu staple or it’s a completely new dish. It keeps things interesting and keeps me coming back. Mezon offers an eclectic variety of mainly small plates, fusing Spanish, Latin American and Caribbean cultures. They try to feature local and seasonal ingredients. The vibe is rustic yet modern, with a hoppin’ bar, and cozy patio in the warmer months.
The Stargazer cocktail with gin, grapefruit, honey and star anise and the seasonal mai tai with passionfruit and winter spices like cinnamon were a nice way to start our meal paired with goat cheese rolled in walnuts and dried figs, on guava spread atop a crispy toast.
Up next, because, of course, were a pair of whiskey cocktails. Apple of My Rye is a play on an old-fashioned. It has rye, applejack, and bitters with a lemon twist. Blood New York is a take on a whiskey sour with chai, lemon, Amaro Montenegro and a float of pinot noir.
This next small plate seems so simple, but trust me, it’s anything but basic. I like it so much, I want to recreate it at home. Charred broccoli florets are served with sliced, pickled jalapenos in a thick garlic sauce.
The broccoli maintains it’s integrity (aka not mushy) with a light char around the edges. The spicy, vinegary jalapeno slices offer balance to the rich garlic sauce. Like I said, so simple but it’s so darn delicious.
Our favorite seafood dish of the evening was a twist on the “usual” mussels and clams combo. They’ve paired Prince Edward Island mussels and littleneck clams with fideo, a type of pasta common in Latin cultures, in sherry, ginger, piquillo pepper sauce. It’s creamy with a hint of spice. I did not expect this combination to work as well as it did. We finished off this dish in no time. It is comfort food. It is my new favorite.
While on the topic of pasta, I would be remiss if I didn’t also tell you about the bucatini with chorizo, guanciale, and spicy soffrito. It’s smokey, fatty, stick to your ribs goodness. I am a good pasta eater and this take on an Italian classic is simply delicious.
We rounded out our feast with a meat dish. What I like about Mezon’s Lomo Saltado is that they use better cuts of beef so it’s inherently more tender, and they don’t overcook it. Plus, they serve the stir-fried beef with fingerling potatoes and aji peppers. It’s a hearty combo that’s pretty filling, even for a “small plate”.
Renato and I have gotten into the world of amaro, an Italian herbal liqueur that is commonly consumed as an after-dinner digestif. As you linger at the table it really does help you digest after a big meal. They gave us the perfect ending to our meal – a piece of pumpkin bread pudding paired with a cocktail combining amaro Averna, amaro nocino, rye, and Lillet.
It’s so easy for me to go into a post-holiday hibernation. Meeting friends on a Friday night for a drink and a small bite to eat is a great way to avoid becoming a winter recluse, so we’ll definitely be hitting up Mezon again soon.
Mezon Tapas Bar & Restaurant
56 Mill Plain Road, Danbury