DARIEN -- Surveying the ambiance of his newly opened Estia's American, chef and owner Colin Ambrose believes his grandmother, a Daughter of the American Revolution, would find comfort in his home-style restaurant.
The successful restaurateur, in the business for more than 20 years, brings his expertise of farm-to-table dining to his old stomping grounds of Darien. The owner of Estia's Little Kitchen in Sag Harbor, N.Y., Ambrose, whose father was a Darien commuter, is no stranger to Fairfield County, where he earned his chops in a number of restaurants gleaning the do's and don'ts to running a successful eatery.
Ambrose, who opened his first store -- a small coffee shop -- with an $8,000 investment -- has worked in or owned six restaurants. One of the hallmarks of Estia's Little Kitchen is the restaurant's garden, where Ambrose grows and harvests fruits and vegetables for the menu selections. He boasts that he was one of the first in the sustainable food movement, which he said is now the trend in restaurants.
"My grandfather taught me how to do it. He always had a big garden," he said.
The father of three girls decided it was time to bring the success of Estia's Little Kitchen to Fairfield County, renovating a former restaurant space at 1020 Post Road, Brick Walkway, into a general store-themed place. Housed in a brick building, Estia's American is decorated in soothing colors with original artwork on the walls, many of them by his good friend Jim Gingerich.
Opened in early April for breakfast and lunch, Estia's American will launch a dinner service once it is fully staffed with about 25 workers, Ambrose said. The restaurant can seat up to 38 people and another 16 when the patio opens.
The made-from-scratch menu items feature fresh ingredients including hormone-free beef from a Pennsylvania farm with Darien connections.
Many of the items have a Mexican flair, including Happy Harold's Breakfast Burrito, made with andouille sausage, eggs, onions, pepper and jack cheese, or grilled fish tacos with tequila sunrise salsa.
"We want to have a menu that's big enough so that someone who chooses to come here three times a week doesn't have the same kind of thing every time they come," he said.
Estia's American is open for breakfast and lunch and will start dinner service this month. For information, call 203-202-7051 or visit www.estiasamerican.com.