Galpal Review: Judy's Bar + Kitchen
Judy’s Bar + Kitchen, which opened in Stamford this June, is more than just a barbeque joint. Located in a small plaza on High Ridge Road just a couple of minutes off the Merritt Parkway (next to Ring’s End/Benjamin Moore), the exterior is colorful and fun. Inside, rustic chic and modern are combined to create a warm and welcoming space. A cool, reclaimed wooden partition separates the the front dining area from the rear bar. Dark wooden tables and lucite chairs dot the small anterior space, while a long, L-shaped bar topped with marble dominates the back.
Upon entry, we were greeted by a friendly hostess who offered both outdoor or indoor seating options. The outside patio sits to the side of the building and features a high stone wall and cheerful red umbrellas. It looked like rain, so we opted to sit inside. The restaurant was nearly full by 7pm on the weeknight we visited, and the demographic was diverse: several young 20-somethings, families, couples, and larger groups of women.
When ordering our drinks, my husband and I both chose to get a glass of Judy’s “premium draft wine”-- or wines on tap, which have become a huge trend. There are four domestic west coast wines on draft; rosé, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and a Cabernet Sauvignon. There are four additional wines by the glass, and about a dozen selections by the bottle. In addition to several speciality cocktails (including two interesting creations using Eddy Ruby Red vodka), there is, of course, beer. It is a barbeque restaurant, after all! Choose from a nice selection of bottled beer, including a number of craft varieties like Connecticut’s own Two Roads and Relic Brewing Company.
The menu is divided by dish size--”small plates”, “bigger plates”, and “biggest plates”. There are also salads and sides. We were intrigued by the Chili Lime & Garlic Edamame small plate, which the waitress promised sounded odd, but was delicious. She was spot on. A little heat, a lot of garlic, and a hint of lime on otherwise typical edamame brought them to a whole new level. We loved them! We also tried a wedge salad, which while a basic concept, was really better than most we’ve tried (the dressing was particularly flavorful).
The “bigger plates” were mainly burgers and sandwiches, including a veggie melt, pulled pork, bratwurst, and a crispy fish filet sandwich. These dishes all came with the choice of one side: mac n’ cheese, coleslaw, potato wedges, baked beans, corn, plantains, potato salad, or farro salad with tomato, basil and white beans. The “biggest plates” are entrée sized and include two sides. St. Louis Ribs, BBQ chicken, short ribs, or a combo of all three looked to be popular items. We both chose our dinners from the “biggest plates”--I had the sliced brisket and my husband tried the fried chicken. The brisket was extremely tender and had a sweet and spicy glaze which was delicious. I selected the plantains (sweet and soft with a little bit of a crispy outside--terrific!) and the farro salad as my sides. I was extremely pleased with both choices, particularly the farro salad because it seemed surprisingly and pleasantly out of the ordinary at a barbeque restaurant (plus it was excellent). The fried chicken was very juicy and the outside was perfectly crisped. My husband opted for the potato wedges (thick cut fries) and the mac n’ cheese. We both enjoyed them thoroughly. There is not a children’s menu listed, but when I inquired, the waitress told us they can do a kid-sized portion of a burger, hot dog, mac n’ cheese or chicken fingers.
When it came time for dessert, we were both completely stuffed (in fact, the portion sizes were so large, we took our leftovers to go). However, in the future we’ll be sure to save room since we later learned that owner Judy Roll (who also owns Tabouli Grill in both Stamford and Southport) is a former pastry chef from Wolfgang Puck’s Spago! Sweet endings like Rice Crispy Cookie Dough Ice Cream Cake or North Carolina Lemon Pie seem like a great way to end a great meal. There’s also a brownie sundae, banana cream pudding, carrot cake, and a few other mouthwatering options.
Judy’s Bar + Kitchen hit all the marks. Great ambiance which felt a little nicer than a typical barbeque joint (although certainly very casual and great for kids too), extremely friendly staff with good service (and not at all pushy about more drinks or dessert, which was refreshing), and most importantly, true to their tagline, “smoking. good. food.”
Tracy Holleran is a Fairfield based food writer.