We had heard so many good things about Restaurant L’Ostal in Darien, we knew we needed to give it a try. Tucked away off the main drag, L’Ostal is a hidden gem in a town that hasn’t always been known for its food. There is a lovely patio if the weather cooperates, and inside all the tables are amply spaced for privacy (and health concerns). There are two seatings, we opted for the latter, so once we were settled in, we were able to really relax and enjoy.
The restaurant highlights the food of Provence, and Southern France- the perfect cuisine for a hot summer night. Both Chef Jared Sippel and General Manager Joe Cracco have spent time at some of the best establishments around the world, so it was good luck for all of us that the turmoil of Covid led them to open a restaurant in downtown Darien.
The menu is concise, and changes according to the seasons. We were dining with another couple, so we had a chance to try a large percentage of the dishes on the menu.
The wine offerings lean towards France, and as with the food, the cocktail choices are well curated.
Our server was VERY enthusiastic, at times crossing the line into too gung-ho, but I believe she was sincere in her excitement. This proved to be the only negative aspect of the evening.
As the driver, I went the non alcoholic route and tried the Oui Canne Deux (or put another way “we can do”).
The drink was thirst quenching, and a perfect way to start the evening.
The cheese and charcuterie at L’Ostal is from the Darien Cheese Shop, which is also a gem. The Prosciutto San Daniele was melt in your mouth delicious.
I indulged in the “three cheeses of the moment” which were all at their peak of deliciousness. The accoutrements that went alongside were also perfect complements.
Next up was L’Ostal’s take on Gazpacho, with the addition of strawberries to give it a unique twist. It was a winning combination.
The highlight of the meal for me was the pasta course. L’Ostal was able to substitute absolutely delicious gluten-free tagliolini in the chanterelle and garlic scape pasta.
Additionally, the potato gnocchi was gluten-free as well! It was outstanding. Gorgonzola, hazelnuts and honey made this dish unforgettable.
Following the pasta and gnocchi, I was pretty stuffed, so I asked for the Provençal garden salad as my main. Dressed with Barolo vinegar and black truffles it was simple yet sophisticated.
My husband seemed to have some room left, and enjoyed the shaved Niman Ranch Pork leg with Yukon potatoes, onions, peaches and pancetta. He declared this dish a home run. He was glad he didn’t have to share!
Dessert was a homemade olive oil cake with rich vanilla ice cream, strawberries, and a bit of crumble. Alas, this was not gluten-free, but every one else seemed to love it.
After dinner the Sommelier/GM comes by with an old-fashioned drinks cart. This was a terrific touch, and if we weren’t all over-stuffed we would have taken advantage of it.
I don’t often have reason to gush about restaurants in Fairfield County, but L’Ostal is an exception. It was such a wonderful surprise to discover this special spot in Darien. It is not easy to get a reservation (walk-ins are accommodated at the inviting Bar), so I would recommend just taking the next available time that works with your schedule and find a reason to go out for a memorable meal.