John Bourdeau’s Latest on Bank Street
By Charles Dubow
Photos by Ryan Lavine
What is it that makes a successful restaurateur constantly seek new challenges? Like any creative person, there is always the desire to find something new and fresh, to put behind you your last restaurant, your last book, your last painting, and start all over again. That is the case with one of Litchfield County’s (and Litchfield Magazine’s) favorite restaurateurs, John Bourdeau. Seven years after opening New Preston’s The Owl, he has set off on his next adventure. This time he has returned to his old stomping grounds on New Milford’s Bank Street—where he previously was co-owner of Lucia—and opened his latest, Sparrow.
Sparrow is located in the former Zaragoza and is open seven days a week. Bourdeau has reimagined the once-dark space as light and airy, exposing and smoothing the brick and using bright modern paintings to add energy to the room, a hip aesthetic that his customers will recognize from his previous establishments. “This will be my fifth restaurant. Each time I learn something,” he said. “When the opportunity to have this space came up, I knew I had to grab it.”
“I wanted to try something different,” says Bourdeau. “I’d done pizza. I’d done Italian. I wanted a bigger space where I could offer a wider menu.” To that end, he has teamed up with Mike Sorensen, the former chef at The Foundry Kitchen and Tavern in Newtown. The result is what Bourdeau calls a “world menu,” essentially cherry-picking popular dishes from around the world, such as Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches, Chinese bao buns, and Korean fried chicken.
“We want to introduce New Milford to all sorts of new tastes—not only in food but also in wine and spirits,” says Bourdeau. “Our wine list is a mix of traditional, a few organic, and some less familiar varietals. If a customer comes in and asks for a Chardonnay, I’d like to encourage them to try something like a Furmint, which is an amazing Hungarian white wine.” The same philosophy applies to his bar program, which will emphasize rum and tequila. “Rum is under-represented in the U.S.,” he says. “There are some amazing aged Solera rums that taste just like a fine bourbon.” Craft brewery aficionados won’t be disappointed with their selection of drafts from such local gems as Kent Falls and Watson Farmhouse.
What made him choose to name his new place after another bird species? Is he ornithologically inclined? “My father was in the navy and had many tattoos including several sparrows. I was designing a tattoo that included a sparrow encircled by an O to
represent my mothers maiden name of O’Conner when it occurred to me that Sparrow is a good name for the restaurant,” he says, pulling off his shirt. “The tattoo is also the restaurant’s logo.”
31 Bank Street, New Milford, 860-799-7111