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SoNo's Match Reopens With New Menu, Decor

By ELIZABETH KEYSER

Special To CTNow

1:00 PM EDT, April 3, 2014

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That was quick. After a farewell cocktail party, Match in South Norwalk closed its doors and reopened two weeks later with a new look and a refreshed menu. The New American restaurant has been a foodie stronghold in SoNo for 14 years, and the place was buzzing the day the doors reopened with a new purple-draped, white-leather-chaired, industrial-urban design.

The new menu will vary daily, but these are already classics: The "Nibbles" section offers China Wings ($9). Tossed in Vietnamese-inspired caramel sauce and sprinkled with white and black sesame seeds, the plump wings were sweet, salty and rich with umami flavor and a mild tingling heat.

From the "New School Raw Bar" selection, Las Ventanas-style ceviche, with its reference of "poolside in Cabos," was attractively served in a jar, easy to dip the small spoon into and place onto the long, wide, curled, crisp house-made chips, which were excellent. The sea bass, chopped and mixed with onion and herbs, lime and orange juice and a dash of tequila, was cooling and refreshing. It came with a wedge of lime, which we squirted into the ceviche, brightening the flavor. We wished for a touch more hot pepper.

"Classic Cravings" created a desire. Fettuccine, fresh house-made noodles, were coated with the most luscious, buttery sauce of lobster and sea urchin. The uni lent its mild sea flavor and added to the richness of this plate-mopping sauce, brightened by lemon zest and exquisitely minced chives. I have been craving those tangled, textured ribbons of pasta ever since.

"Delicacies" featured a play on bagels-and-lox and caviar (a one-ounce jar of American fish roe), completed with a soft, sous-vide cooked chicken egg ($36). Foie gras ($17) is "hard-seared" – a caramelized slice with a meltingly soft pink center. But pairing it with a "parfait" of yogurt, granola and dried fruit? The acid and textures made no connection to the liver. I'd rather have the beet salad, "ash roasted and tossed with pomegranate molasses, blood oranges, mint and pistachios."

Which brings us to the wood oven. The new pizza at the new Match is bacon-potato-egg, A playful take on breakfast.

Yes, the oven-roasted half chicken is still on the menu. And what else is new? A $25 bowl of pho, featuring oxtails – poor food no longer – and microgreens.

Mixologist Adam Patrick, lately of Warlus & Carpenter, has divided cocktails into the categories of Up and Rocks. The Rathbone (up), is smooth, cool, and refreshing, a blend of cucumber-basil juice, lime and green tea with Uncle Val's Botanical Gin (infused with cucumber, lemon, sage, lavender and juniper, $12). Pear Snap went down less easily. The sweet, syrupy mixture of special rum, pear liqueur and Licor 43, a sweet, citrus-vanilla flavored liqueur, was served up, but needed to be lightened with ice and something fresh to cut the excessive sweetness.

>>Match Restaurant, 98 Washington St., South Norwalk, serves dinner Sunday through Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 5 to 11 p.m. Reservations suggested: 203-852-1088, www.matchsono.com.