above: You can dine in or order takeout.
Landmarks die hard, but when they rise again, they can reach the spirit of the times. Take Dig, for example. It is flourishing in the site of Stamford’s old Bull’s Head Diner, which closed after twenty-five years in May 2021. The curved Art Deco façade still features glass bricks, but there’s a new pistachio-hued trim. And the dining room is now bright and open, with light streaming in through the windows. It’s a fitting setting for the tasty, ingredient-driven food that’s cooked at the contemporary, fast-casual eatery.
Over the past ten years the Dig brand—which offers an affordable, American homestyle menu—caught on in New York City, and then, with investment from Danny Meyer’s hospitality group, expanded to Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. After a pandemic setback, the brand is opening new locations again. Dig Stamford, which launched in April, is the first stand-alone, and offers eat-in, take-out and catering trays. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Dig also has a weekend brunch featuring favorites like waffles with fruit, avocado toast, steak and eggs, a farmers plate and mimosas.
This is component eating: that is, a bowl brimming with a protein and two vegetables over a better-for-you starch. Menus change with the seasons. During my visit, spring’s Lime Leaf Salmon with avocado had just given way to summer’s Salmon Marketplace, a seared filet of Alaskan salmon with roasted street corn, tomato and cucumber salad, and field greens over brown rice with pesto on the side. The night we tried the salmon, it was cooked medium but was moist and flavorful, and all the ingredients emanated freshness. Summer BBQ Chicken Marketplace featured charred and juicy boneless, skinless thighs, street corn, potato salad flecked with herbs and kale Caeasar salad.
Along with a Classic Vegan Bowl featuring baked maple-glazed tofu, there’s a build-your- own bowl, which offers many possibilities for every palate and diet. You can eschew protein for three vegetables or indulge in steak. Decisions are aided by detailed ingredient and nutrition information on Dig’s website. Calories, sugars, fats, carbs and fiber counts are listed for each dish. You can also feel good about what’s not listed on the restaurant’s nutrition facts: the health benefits of vitamin- and mineral-rich leafy greens, red- and orange-hued vegetables, and monounsaturated fats in avocados. If there’s one caveat, it’s that Dig’s dishes tend to run
on the sweet side. Each bowl comes with a sauce on the side, which we used sparingly because all the components of each bowl were so well-seasoned and prepared.
The fresh vegetable sides shine. Cherry tomatoes and Persian cucumbers were bright, refreshing and crisp. These dishes are great for sharing at a picnic or party. A year-round starch side, Jasper Hill Mac ‘n’ Cheese, is the most indulgent. Unfortunately on the night we tried it, the texture was gloppy and the main flavor was flour. Given it’s not the most healthful dish on Dig’s menu, next time we’ll choose brown rice or farro.
If bowls are not your thing, Dig also makes club sandwiches on homemade focaccia with any of the proteins. Focaccia can be ordered as a side, and we recommend it. It was light, fluffy, topped with sea salt and permeated with olive oil. We happily brought some home, and it didn’t last till morning. For dessert, brown butter chocolate chip cookies were our favorite because they tasted like butter and brown sugar. Dig’s cooks also bake flourless brownies and a very sweet Sticky Carrot Cake.
All day Happy Hour offers appealingly priced craft brews in cans ($4 to $8) and sealed mini milk bottles of house wine ($7) from a self-serve fridge. We also grabbed a bottle of Dig ginger mint lemonade, which was mildly carbonated and not overly sweet.
On a recent evening outside Dig, the umbrella-shaded picnic benches were filled, and inside the bright space, a line gathered at the order counter. The industrial feel of concrete floors and open ceilings was warmed by wood booths. The tables were filled with the spectrum of who digs Dig: all ages of busy people looking for a quick, well-prepared, healthful meal. There was a young couple in workout clothes; a doctor in scrubs; and a grandmother, son and grandson (who played with the toys from the children’s corner, which has crayons and an array of books). The kids menu offers pizza, pasta, grilled cheese, and for the adventurous and opinionated young eater, a make-your-own mini market plate.
The staff was busy in the open kitchen, searing salmon filets and assembling bowls. Front-of-the-house staff was ready to explain how Dig works—order at the counter and a server delivers the food to your table. When our food arrived, a customer intrigued by the sight of the salads asked us what we’d ordered. Like us, he was ready to dig in.