Saturday, August 15, 2009

8/14/09-Imperial Caribbean Restaurant, Cromwell, CT

Such an unassuming place in a strip mall off Rt. 3 in Cromwell, we were so pleasantly surprised at how damn good the food could be! We walked in to a small space with brightly colored paintings adorning the walls (all for sale, incidentally) and were told to choose a table. Dinner started with house salads for us, topped with plantains (I haven't had plaintains since Mexico! What a nice surprise!) We then had the festival dumplings which were served with a creole sauce and a jerk sauce--for us, the jerk sauce was the clear winner, though the creole was also excellent. The dumplings were golden-fried crisp on the outside and soft and bready in the middle--and so filling! For entrees, I had a hard time deciding what to try (that just means we'll have to go back!) but I ended up choosing the Zesty Curry Chicken-Tender pieces of chicken marinated in caribbean curry. The chicken was amazing--such flavor and so tender I barely touched my knife to it and it was falling apart in my plate. The rice and bean sides that my dish came with were excellent but I was envious of other diners who had the macaroni as their side (next time!). Tom ordered the Jumpin Jambalaya--a rice combination with shrimp, sausage and chicken tossed in creole sauce and spices--he got a huge dish full of this and it was amazing. I really wanted to try their rum cake for dessert, but sadly we did not get that far. So much food and all of it so good. You can tell that these recipes are tried and true and the restaurant is a labor of love. We'll be back, for sure.

8/12/09-Lao Sze Chuan, Milford, CT

Kirstin and I had an agenda for the evening that included going to Milford so she suggested that we go out for dinner (instead of me cooking!). This place has been highly recommended and now I know why.

Let me start by saying that I love Chinese food but it does have a habit of making me feel not-so-good. Imagine my surprise when I didn't have that feeling after eating here! That's a good start in my book.

This place sparked my interest because it is "authentic Szechuan" and the menu is wide and varied. To start, Kirstin ordered the sauteed minced chicken with peas, carrots and pine nuts with lettuce wraps--good, but it was kinda like eating the inside of a chicken pot pie. For my appetizer, I had Szechuan Dumplings in red chili oil--I cannot stop talking about these. These were clearly in-house made and the taste was phenomenal--not as hot as I thought but by the 4th one, the chili oil had coated the back of my throat and I was feeling it. For entree, Kirstin had Thai-style noodles--she got a huge portion for her money and it was quite tasty! I had ordered the orange beef but orange chicken arrived at the table--I wasn't gonna complain, I like orange chicken and this was no exception--good portion, served with a side of white rice. Overall, a great experience. I am already trying to come up with an excuse to go back to Milford.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

8/7/09-BAR, New Haven, CT

It has been a few years since Tom and I were last here and we were more than happy to give it another go-around. We grabbed our seats immediately at a booth in the bar area and drinks were brought a few minutes after we sat--a vast improvement on our night thus far! Dan's first time here and he loved the feel of the place and we do too--a raucous, loud, neighborhood bar/pizza joint with a great crowd of people. I had heard good things about their mashed potato pizza and was curious about it and was glad the boys were willing to give it a shot, too. We ordered our usual pepperoni pizza and the mashed potato pizza the way the waitress recommended it--white pizza with mashed potato (garlic already included) and bacon! I am happy to report that it was a fantastic choice. The pizzas were nice and thin, black charred in spots on the bottom, crispy and very good overall. Tom admits that he was hesitant in trying the potato but is very glad he did and it is on his favorites list. The prices are also very reasonable, which is good for a couple of people on a budget.

Overall, great experience (and good cold leftover pizza the next day!) BAR also brews their own beer and turns into a club at night.

8/7/09-Sally's Apizza, New Haven, CT

Dan flew in from his business trip and came right to our house so we could go get some good New Haven pizza. Sally's is the only one of the heavy hitters we had yet to try, so we decided to give it a shot. It was still relatively early (530ish) when we got there and there was a party of 6, 8, 2 and 4 waiting for tables when we arrived--not a bad line, not nearly as bad as Pepe's (or so we thought....). We are patient people, really. We waited 45 minutes and in that span of time, only the party of 6 made it inside (the party of 2 gave up). The only people coming in and out of the place were people with takeout--not a good sign. So the boys voted we leave and after waiting nearly an hour and seeing no movement, I was happy to follow.

I would like to try Sally's at some point. Really. Just not anytime soon. See BAR review for our actual dinner experience that night.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

8/1/09-Sweet Claude's Ice Cream, Cheshire, CT

On a quest for great homemade ice cream in the area, we were off to Sweet Claude's. A cute place packed with local kids, the blackboard was filled with ice cream, tofutti, frozen yogurt and sorbet in tons of creative flavors. Tom opted for his usual-Mint Chocolate Chip, while I tried their Dough-Si-Dough -vanilla and chocolate ice cream with chunks of cookie dough and brownies! What a fantastic combination with a nice big scoop packed on top of the cone with a great amount of cookie/brownie chunks. I can't wait to go back!

No website, located on South Main St. in Cheshire.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

7/31/09-O'Porto's, Hartford, CT

Hartford Restaurant Week 2009! I was excited to try something new and O'Porto's was recommended highly--we've never been to a Portugese restaurant, so that was another incentive to trying this place. Although the restaurant may not be in the greatest of neighborhoods, it was definitely worth visiting, especially with the $20.09pp price.

For starters, I had the house salad and Tom had the Camarão Alhinho-sautéed Brazilian shrimp in a garlic butter cream sauce--the shrimp were perfectly cooked and the sauce was thick and rich and great to dip the table bread in! For our entree, we shared the Paelha de Galina e Chouriço - (For Two) - Chicken, Chouriço, and Pork Combined with Saffron Rice--first time paelha for the both of us--the rice was perfectly cooked with a sweet, smoky flavor and juicy chunks of chicken, pork and nice slices of chorizo. The portion was huge, we ended up taking leftovers home. For dessert, Tom had the chocolate mousse and I had the Pudim flan-Chef De Sousa’s Family Recipe for Traditional Portuguese Egg custard with caramel sauce--the mousse was perfect and creamy and the flan was ok but not my favorite. Presentation on all the dishes was excellent and service was friendly and very quick! We would most likely return but I wouldn't pay the regular price for the paelha, as we felt it seemed to be a bit high priced.