MONROE, Conn. -- Constantin Crama found the inspiration for new his restaurant, Monroe Social, in his own kitchen. Now, he and partner Douglas Barrientos are hoping diners from all over Fairfield County find the appeal in their spin on an American favorite.
Constantin and Douglas, who have worked together for 15 years as employees of a Fairfield County restaurant group, opened Monroe Social in February at 494 Main St. They call the restaurant a New American bistro, and offer diverse entree options in a relaxed setting with reasonable prices.
- What : Monroe Social, a new American Bistro-style restaurant
- Where : 494 Main St. in Monroe
- Learn more: On the restaurant website (click here )
Constantin's creation that helped inspire the restaurant came about when he developed a tenderloin burger while cooking at his Stratford home.
“We bought a whole tenderloin, cut it and had filet mignon for three days,’’ he said. “We got tired of it and said what should we do with the rest?”
Crama made burgers out of the remaining portion and grilled them. “It was the best burger I ever had,’’ he said.
He and Douglas, a Stamford resident, set about creating a similar burger to offer as they put wheels in motion to open a restaurant.
“It couldn’t be all filet mignon because the price would be through the roof,’’ Constantin said. The burger they developed and offer at Monroe Social has parts of filet and chopped meat.
“We mixed it up with some fatty meat to give it some juice, and that gives it flavor,’’ Constantin said.
Monroe Social also offers lamb, turkey and veggie burgers. It also offers chicken, fish, pork and steak dishes, salads, a wide assortment of appetizers and a creative Sunday brunch menu. “We have something for everybody,’’ Constantin said.
The atmosphere and pricing add to the appeal of the restaurant. It offers happy hour drinks, but beer choices even during regular hours begin at $3 and wine choices are available for $4.
“We’re offering reasonable prices, a great happy hour and good times at a great price,’’ Constantin said. “It’s a place where people can come and hang around and socialize with neighbors, friends and co-workers and not break the bank. It’s a common sense approach to the whole dining experience. You can come here, have a glass of wine and a quick bite to eat for under $10.”
The restaurant is the first for Constantin and Douglas. They opened in the spot of the former Rustic Grille, which closed last spring.
They took seven months to completely renovate the interior. “We went all the way down to the studs,’’ Constantin said. “Now we can say it’s a brand new place.”
While the restaurant landscape is competitive, Constantin feels Monroe Social offers something different.
“We were looking at Monroe for a while,’’ he said. “There are a lot of good restaurants. We felt like there was room for one more, to serve bistro-style food. We play good music and have a nice staff. We’re doing all the right things to create a good atmosphere.”
Constantin said the early response has been overwhelmingly positive. People enjoy the atmosphere, reasonable prices and the food.
“We learned that in this industry price is a big factor in how many times people go out to eat,’’ he said. “If you offer good food at a reasonable price, people tend to go out more often. That makes people really happy at the end of the day.”