FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- Few pleasures compare to a crackling fire on a cold winter's night. Add a crisp, white tablecloth to the equation, accompanied by a glass of wine and a slab of steak, and you’re in restaurant nirvana.
The fire doesn’t have to be wood-burning to entice; all kinds of fireplaces up the ambiance factor, adding warmth and romance to what normally would be a simple meal. Ready to turn up the heat? A sampling of Fairfield County eateries follow. Feel free to add to our list by commenting on our Facebook pages.
- Artisan, Southport: Farm to table dining is the hallmark of this sophisticated restaurant where, in the Tavern section, you'll find couches and a roaring fire. Get Toasty: 275 Old Post Rd., (203) 307-4222.
- Bernard’s Inn & Sarah’s Wine Bar, Ridgefield: There are three (gas) fireplaces at this French-inspired eatery with a jazzy wine bar upstairs and fine dining downstairs. The fact that it's all housed in an old inn (circa 1875) makes it that much more attractive. Get Toasty: 20 West Lane, (203) 438-8282.
- Cask Republic, Stamford: It's twice as nice at Cask's Stamford location with two (gas) fireplaces and lots of sharable plates, both of which make cold nights that much more bearable. Get Toasty : 191 Summer St., (203) 348-2275.
- Chuck's Steakhouse, Danbury: This Danbury icon -- one of the finalists in our DVlicious "Best Steakhouses" contest -- is known as much for its steaks as it is for its extensive salad bar and two gas fireplaces. See link under Gabriele's to vote. Get Toasty : 20 Segar St., (203) 792-5555.
- Gabriele's Italian Steakhouse, Greenwich: It's always toasty at this clubby eatery where you'll find four fireplaces; two wood; two gas. Fans rave over the steak, the pasta, the raw bar, the gorgeous setting and the stellar service. This restaurant is also a finalist in our DVlicious "Best Steakhouses in the County" contest. Go HERE to vote. Get Toasty: 35 Church St., (203) 622-4223.
- Geronimo Tequila Bar and Southwestern Grill, Fairfield: Indulge in the taste of Santa Fe with an assortment of tacos, quesadillas, Navajo frybread, tamales and more. Don't forget the cocktails! The restaurant features the largest selection of tequila on the East Coast. All the better to enjoy the two fireplaces, one gas, one wood. Get Toasty: 2070 Post Rd., (203) 955-1643.
- L'Escale, Greenwich: Escape to Provence, if only in your mind with the serene decor and gourmet cuisine complete with gorgeous fireplace. From now through Jan. 31, the restaurant is offering "Restaurant Week" prices of a three-course lunch for $20.17; dinner for $35.17. Get Toasty: 500 Steamboat Rd., (203) 661-4600.
- Little Pub, Ridgefield, Wilton, Fairfield, Greenwich: Casual with a side of cozy is how one could define the Little Pub empire. Each has its own tavernesque British charm served up in a compact convivial setting. And each has its own (gas) fireplace which up's the allure (the one in Fairfield is the largest and a focal point of the restaurant). Get Toasty: 59 Ethan Allen Highway, Ridgefield, (203) 544-9222; 26 Danbury Rd., Wilton, (203) 762-1122; 531 East Putnam Ave., Greenwich, (203) 717-1147; 2133 Black Rock Turnpike, Fairfield, (203) 612-4567.
- O'Neill's Pub & Restaurant, Norwalk: Get your Irish fix - and warm the cockles of your heart - at this beloved alehouse where the beer flows and the friendly "across the pond" vibe makes you want to return again and again. Get Toasty: 93 N Main St., (203) 838-0222.
- Redding Roadhouse : Take your pick of where to sit. There are three fireplaces; two gas and one wood; each one equally inviting. Locals rave about the restaurant's huge portions and attentive staff. Get Toasty: 406 Redding Rd., (203) 938-3388.
- Spotted Horse Tavern, Westport: Huddle by the (gas) fireplace with a freshly muddled mojito or a liquid tiramisu and settle in for an evening of fun. Get Toasty: 26 Church Ln, (203) 557-9393.
- The Ginger Man, Greenwich: Ask for a spot in the back room where a (gas) fireplace awaits in all its flickering glory. Get Toasty: 64 Greenwich Ave., (203) 861-6400.
- The Goose American Bistro & Bar, Darien : Enjoy the welcoming tavern environment while getting your fireplace fix . Get Toasty: 972 Boston Post Rd., (203) 656-2600.
- The Grey Goose Cafe, Southport: A gas fireplace adds to the charm of this rustic country cottage known for its killer cocktails and warm atmosphere. Get Toasty : 246 Old Post Rd., (203) 292-8779.
- The Restaurant at Rowayton Seafood, Norwalk : Dine on fresh delights from the sea -- most of it local and sustainable -- and enjoy the glow from the gas-lit fireplace. The water view is an added bonus. Get Toasty: 89 Rowayton Ave., (203) 866-4488.