Thursday, December 30, 2010

12/28/10-Big Country's Hickory Pit BBQ, Wallingford, CT

I drive by this little wood structure in the Chef's Emporium parking lot as I'm going to and from work--yet I never get out of work in time to try it! Good thing for vacation time this week, finally got to give it a shot.

Tom took a short drive down to get us lunch--he was hoping for brisket, I was hoping for pulled pork. Unfortunately for him, they hadn't had a chance to smoke any brisket, so he came home with pulled pork sandwiches for the both of us. I was so pleasantly surprised--the pork was tender, flavorful and not dried out! A generous helping of BBQ sauce from our fridge topped it off (they do not have their own BBQ sauce, instead using a national brand sauce for those who want it). This was truly a great lunch--hope to be trying more of their BBQ soon!

(Winter hours are Mon-Sat 11am-4pm.)

12/19/10-Lao SzeChuan, Milford, CT

It has been far too long since I've last had authentic Szechuan and I was glad to finally return (and Tom has been dying to try this place too). Again, just as the last time I was here, 3/4 of the clientele was Asian--that's the sign of good things to come.

I couldn't resist but ordering the item that made me fall in love with this place--Szechuan dumplings in red chili oil--sweet in the beginning, growing hotter as you go, beyond amazing. I also had the spicy dan dan noodles with minced pork--I think this had more heat than the dumplings! Amazingly tangy and spicy, priced right, really happy with my selections. Tom went for the brisket of beef with green bean and noodles--it arrived bubbling hot over a heat source sitting in a slightly spicy red sauce. Funny--Tom thought that the waitress had asked if he wanted tenderloin, he said yes. Turns out, she was saying "tendon"--brisket of beef that came with the tendons. As surprised as he was, he actually really enjoyed his dish.

The menu is extensive, from americanized classics to the unusual, such as frogs legs, eel and tripe. You are truly in for an experience coming here, one you will want to take your friends to just so you can dine again. Anyone want to go with me?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

12/12/10-Uno's Chicago Grill, Milford, CT

The last time I was at an Uno's was when they were in the Westfarms Mall.....remember how long ago that was? Easily 10 years ago.....Kirstin, didn't we go there when we first started working together? Tom has never been and after seeing enough Travel Channel specials on the best pizzas and knowing that we're not going to Chicago anytime soon to get the original stuff, this'll have to do.

Oh god. I just looked at the nutrition information AFTER dining there. Don't look.

Although they surprisingly have a very extensive menu, we came for one reason--deep dish pizza. We started with the Wings 3 Ways--asian, honey bbq and Wowza sauce--nice flavors on the boneless wings (a surprising hint of peanut with the asian wing sauce!) but they might have been a bit overdone (very tough on the outside and yes I know, probably pre-cooked). For our deep dish experience, we shared a pepperoni and sausage pie. It came out piping hot and cheesy goodness. The best part (and the only reason, in my opinion, why you should ever stray from New Haven style pizza) is the crust--it has a buttery, pastry like taste and texture to it. This is one pizza crust I guarantee you won't leave on the plate when you're done.

Overall, a nice lunch outing on a rainy day. Our waitress was attentive and pleasant and the manager even came over to see how everything was--a rarity these days. Don't worry, I'm not straying from my roots--Wooster St. will always have my heart.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

11/26/10-Leon's, New Haven, CT

Tom mentions that he's in the mood for Italian--finally, not Thai! After hearing many mixed reviews about this New Haven Italian restaurant, I wasn't quite sure what to expect but I was ready to give it a whirl.

We were promptly seated in the back of the restaurant where large glass windows give you a great view of New Haven's harbor area--they also have seating outside, which has got to be lovely in the summer. Our waiter greeted us, brought us our beverages and a basket of fresh bread--crusty on the outside, soft on the inside. Tom and I shared the fried calamari for an appetizer--lightly fried, big pieces, nice portion size and accompanied by a spicy eugene sauce. Our entrees were not far behind--I ordered one of the specials, Penne Bolognese--the sauce was described as "bangin" bolognese with italian sausage and a dollop of ricotta. This was a great bolognese sauce, very nicely presented with the ricotta giving each bite a cooling sensation and it was such a nice portion, I enjoyed the other half as leftovers the next day. Although my dish was great, Tom's dish was the clear winner--Veal Chops, served with roasted potatoes, broccoli rabe and a delicious sauce that had hints of balsamic vinegar, horseradish and mustard. The two chops had an absolutely beautiful presentation on the plate and were perfectly cooked, with the sauce being unique and complimentary at the same time.

Too stuffed for dessert, we threw in the towel after our entrees. This atmospheric restaurant was classy and comfortable at the same time, service was prompt and delightful and the food was excellent with no complaints from either of us. I would be more than happy to return to celebrate any of life's occasions.

Monday, November 22, 2010

11/21/10- Wood-n-Tap, Southington, CT

Met up with Kirstin to get a bite since I didn't get a chance at work! I've been avoiding Wood-n-Tap because last time I was here years ago, the menu was very limited (and also, because of crappy bar service at their other restaurant TD Homer's for my little sister's birthday). I am happy to say, they have definitely expanded their dining options. However, I wasn't able to try some of their more intriguing dishes as it was very late and they were only serving appetizers. Tom and I both had chicken tenders (I know, how original) and it was a good portion, with fries, for a decent price. Kirstin suggested that we also get the Tap Room Fries--Light and crisp sweet potato fries topped with sugar maple icing and served with a honey dijon dipping sauce--I was skeptical, but they were so good! The contrast of the sweet icing and the savory taste of the honey dijon worked for me. She also enjoyed the Oven-Roasted Butternut Squash Ravioli--wrapped in sage pasta with parmesan cheese, served in a brown butter and sage cream--it looked good!

Alright, Wood-n-Tap, you have my attention. I'll be back again

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

10/30/10-Sebago Brewing Company, Portland, Maine

To say that Tom was hungry would be the understatement of the year. I owed him big time after being such a trooper all day, watching me taste dishes and him not even getting a bite! So wherever he wanted to go for dinner, we would go. After talking to a few people at the hotel, we got a suggestion for a brewhouse within walking distance, so we trekked down to Sebago Brewing Company.

Great cozy bar with a nice casual atmosphere. We got a seat at a high table in the bar area and got down to business. Tom tried two of their beers, the Boathouse Brown ale and the Saddleback ale--both were well received. Tom ordered the Classic Reuben--Our extra lean corned beef sliced thin and piled high on grilled marble rye bread with russian dressing, sauerkraut, and melted swiss cheese--he devoured it, with the only comment being that it could have used more dressing. I ordered the Paradise Cheeseburger Wrap--Black angus beef, lettuce, diced tomatoes, american cheese, pickles, mayo, mustard, and ketchup in a wheat tortilla--it tasted EXACTLY like what I remember McD's cheeseburgers tasted like (I haven't had McD's in years, so I can't totally vouch for that! Tom had my leftovers a day later and agreed, but he hasn't had McD's in a long time either!) but it was very good and filling. Both of our plates had french fries piled high and a pickle on the side. Overall, a nice ending to a great day!

10/30/10-Duckfat, Portland, Maine

When you hear a name like Duckfat, it kinda sticks with when I found out that I would be going to Portland, this is the only place I truly wanted to try while on our trip. Coincidentally, it was withing walking distance from our hotel!

Upon arriving in Maine, we had plenty of time to grab lunch before the competition got started, so we stopped before checking into the hotel. Duckfat is a tiny little place with cozy seating and a fresh atmosphere. When you come here, you absolutely must get the hand-cut Belgian fries, cooked in duckfat--I know, it sounds weird, almost gross but I swear, these are the best french fries I have EVER had. Crispy, salty and delicious, they were only made better by the exquisite dipping sauces that you can choose from--we had the garlic aioli and the Thai chili mayo, both yummy! Not wanting to fill up too much before the competition, we split the roasted turkey panini with brie and cranberry fennel relish--no complaints here! To finish, we had beignets dusted with cinnamon sugar--c'mon, would you really pass up the opportunity to have beignets? So soft and hot on the inside, it was the perfect ending to our lunch. Can they ship the fries to CT??

10/30/10-Hood Dairy Cook-Off and Chef's Challenge! Portland, Maine

Welcome to the review of the 2nd annual Hood Dairy Cook-Off Challenge and 1st annual Chef's Challenge in beautiful Portland, Maine!

As you can see, it was an amazing weekend!

Early Saturday morning, Tom and I packed our bag and got in the truck, headed to Portland for such a great opportunity--because of this blog, I was asked to be a judge in Hood's Dairy Cook-Off and Chef's Challenge!

We arrived at the Ocean Gateway Terminal in Portland around 230 in the afternoon and was greeted by CJ, a PR rep for Hood. He showed to my seat at the judge's table along with 9 other judges, all food bloggers from across New England. We were going to be tasting and rating a dish by professional chefs with the theme "Thanksgiving with a Twist." The chef's had 60 minutes to create their dishes with the one stipulation that they must use at least one Hood product in their dish. The results? Absolutely incredible!

From the state of Maine, Chef Gary Cartwright of Stripers
Fall Harvest Bread Pudding with Bacon Brittle and Sour Cream Maple Ice Cream

From the state of Massachusettes, Chef Josh Ziskin of La Morra
Chicken Breast stuffed with Braised Kale and Sopressata atop Mushroom Polenta

From the State of New Hampshire, Chef Evan Mallet of Black Trumpet Bistro
Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Pancetta Chestnut Hash and Arugula Salad

From the state of Rhode Island, Chef Matt Jennings of La Laiterie Bistro
Deconstructed Thanksgiving Leftover Pot Pie with Biscuits, Pickled Autumn Vegetables & Turkey Sausage

From the state of Vermont, Chef Steve Atkins of the Kitchen Table Bistro
Turkey Tetrazzini with a Free Form Ravioli (the noodles were made with sour cream!)

And the winnner is......

Representing from the GREAT state of CT, Chef Red Keith Lamphear of the Black Rock Tavern in Thomaston, with his creation Stuffed Chicken Breast with Pumpkin Spaetzle

Words and pictures really cannot describe the smells, the taste and the incredible feeling in the room during the competition. My wonderful husband, Tom, sat behind me the whole time--he was starving by the end of it all! It was great to meet fellow bloggers from across New England who have the same passion for great food. Thanks so much to Hood for the incredible honor of judging this competition! (And thank you to funandfearlessinbeantown for her awesome close-up pictures of these dishes! Maybe Santa will bring me a great camera like hers?)

We also stayed for the taping of the Hood Dairy Cook-Off where home cooks from across New England competed for $10,000! It was great to be a part of the audience, sit back and relax and watch more amazing dishes being created in front of us. I met the competitor from Connecticut, Linda, who's semi-finalist dish was Sassy Shrimp Court Bouillon with Asiago Crostini--it looked delicious! If you live in New England, check out TV Diner on NECN, where this program will be airing.

It truly was a wonderful weekend, nice to get away for a night, even if we couldn't stay for long
(I had a huge exam to study for and I'm happy to report that I did very well!)--it is very hard for us to do much of anything lately, even going out for dinner because of my schooling. I hope to be able to come back to Portland to experience more of what this foodie town has to offer!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Upcoming event!

Big changes happening here!

First off, I changed the web address--makes sense, ya know?

Secondly, I am preparing for my debut as a food critic! Hood (dairy product company for those not living in the northeast) has asked ME to be a judge for their New England Dairy Cook-Off Challenge! This is happening on Saturday, October 30th in Portland, Maine. I am very excited for this opportunity! If you would like more information on the contest, please visit

I will be back with lots of pictures and experiences to share (just not the food!)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

10/24/10-Confetti's, Plainville, CT

Out with my parents tonight for a better-late-than-never birthday dinner. In choosing a restaurant to dine at with my parents, I need to be careful--most ethnics foods are out and anything more than a few miles away can be frowned upon, but I am easily bored with the usual Southington dining options. In trying to think outside of the Southington box, but not too far, I remember that I've passed Confetti's on a number of occasions and always thought to myself, "I wonder how that place is....?" Luckily for me, tonight we got to find out.

Dinner started with our lovely waitress bringing our drinks and some fresh bread from the oven--nice and crusty, perfectly done. Salads then accompanied our dinners (mine with a nice house balsamic vinaigrette) and soon thereafter, the entrees arrived. Mom ordered the crab stuffed sole with a lobster sauce, served with rice and veggies--she said she enjoyed it. Dad had the filet mignon with an onion tower, served with mashed potatoes and veggies--he commented that his filet was cooked perfectly as ordered (medium rare) and that even the vegetables were nicely cooked with a nice light sauce on them, not neglected as they sometimes are in restaurants (Mom then commented that she would have liked more vegetables, but then again, my mom would eat veggies for dessert if you let her). Tom ordered one of the evening's specials, the prime rib, served with mashed potatoes and veggies--when his plate arrived, he was excited to see that he had been given an end cut and a very large portion, also mentioned that it was cooked to his liking (medium). I had the penne vodka salsiccia--very nice taste to this dish, I enjoyed the addition of the sausage and this was also a very large portion!

Overall, dinner was enjoyed by everyone. Collectively, we agreed that we were pleasantly surprised by the nice atmosphere, service and good food. I'd say that we'll be back for another occasion in the future.

Monday, October 18, 2010

10/16/10-Tata's Restaurant, Wallingford, CT

This just wasn't a great culinary weekend for me. Tom and I just could not decide what to have for dinner, so we decided to finally give this place a try. I've heard both bad and good things, so I can't say that I had crazy-high expectations, but I was hoping for a good experience.

This is a small, family run place that recently expanded to include a nice dining room. Unfortunately, service is very slow, inattentive at times, which can really put a damper on the entire experience. Tom and I started with a beef and cheese empanada and sweet plantains. Both of our apps were delish, with the exception of the dipping sauce, a garlic sauce. Tom enjoyed the sauce and how it gave the plantains a completely different taste, but I thought that the two tastes completely clashed, ruining the natural sweetness of the plantains--I would much have rather enjoyed a slightly sweet dipping sauce to complement the sweet plantains.

After our apps, small salads pre dressed with Italian dressing were brought out and then our entrees. Tom ordered the pan seared pork tenderloin-marinated in fresh garlic and herbs, topped with a black bean and chorizo sauce, stuffed with roasted red pepper, spinach and bleu cheese, with a side of spanish rice and beans--the bite that I snagged was so robust and flavorful, a very surprising dish, he definitely picked a good one. My dish, on the other hand, did nothing for me. I had the pork mofongo with fried pork medallions- "Fried plantain mashed and stuffed with pulled pork and served with fried pork medallions and finished with a garlic sauce. " The fried pork cubes I found to be very fatty, and while I do realize that fat equal flavor, the fat content was way too much for my taste. These fried pieces were served over sauteed onions, though it seemed to be missing the garlic sauce that the description mentioned. The mashed plantain mound was made with fresh garlic--so much that it was beyond overwhelming-- but the pulled pork underneath was incredibly moist and flavorful, I so wish my dish had way more of that over the fried pork cubes.

After this dinner experience, I can't say that I'm gonna rush to come back but maybe next time, I'll come for lunch and get a sandwich full of that pulled pork.

10/15/10-Margaritaville @ Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, CT

Ohh Jimmy, as much as I am a huge parrothead, I was disappointed on this trip to your namesake restaurant. I ordered the 25th anniversary items that were not on the menu--first the "1985" margarita-"A timeless classic! 12 oz. margarita made with Margaritaville Gold and Silver Tequila, Gran Gala, Cointreau, simple syrup, and fresh lime juice. Served with salted rim, and a lime."--holy liquor Batman, this thing was STRONG. It really didn't taste anything like what you would hope a margarita would taste like, unfortunately, so I hoped for better luck with the burger. "Not too Particular Not too Precise Cheeseburger--A special Cheeseburger in Paradise for sure. A handmade patty of 100% fresh ground chuck, cooked to order with Margaritaville Seasoning Salt topped with American cheese, red onion, lettuce and tomato (Heinz 57 available on the side) on a toasted bun. Served with French fried potatoes and big kosher pickle." I highly doubt this was a "handmade patty" because it was too perfect in shape and texture to be handmade. Tom ordered the "Cheeseburger in Paradise" and our burgers were exactly the same. I was disappointed, thinking that if you were going to create something special, not on the menu, that it would be just that--special! I guess I forgot that overall, this is a chain restaurant--I wouldn't go here expecting a culinary experience, go for the good tunes, the ambiance, the entertainment value and the drinks--just not the 1985.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

9/25/10-Bellini's, South Windsor, CT

Took a drive up to meet Dave and Colleen for dinner. This place has a very classy yet casual feel, perfect for the 4 of us to catch up over a nice meal. To start our evening off right, Col ordered a glass of moscato, I had a glass of pinot grigio and Tom had a blue moon. Dave and Col had spent the day at the Big E so they weren't very hungry, so they stuck with lighter meals; Dave had the Di Casa salad with grilled chicken--while he may have enjoyed it, we all found it quite strange that it came already dressed with italian dressing, yet he was not asked what kind of dressing he wanted, nor did the menu state that the salad came pre-dressed. That was kind of a negative point, especially because it was over dressed and Dave does not care for that (not sure if this was a mistake of our waitress or if the menu neglected to state it came with dressing.) Colleen had the "stack" of eggplant cutlets, roasted tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella--very nicely presented, good portion size and Col said it was very tasty. Tom had the supper club: Sausage and Lentil soup and mozzarella garlic bread to start, Cioppino--which was chock full of seafood, all perfectly done, along with a mini chocolate mousse in a homemade chocolate cup; he really felt that everything he had was very good and that was evident by the cleaned plates! For myself, I had the supper club as well: Chicken Florentine soup, Veal Rollatini with a white chocolate cupcake for dessert; my soup was creamy, filled with spinach, mushrooms and chicken (Tom and Col liked it as well!), the veal was incredibly tightly rolled, yet very delicious, with a sauce filled with mushrooms. The cupcake was the big letdown for me--I ordered white chocolate and I guess that was just the icing, which didn't have that defined white chocolate taste for me. The cake was chocolate and dry, so overall, not what I had hoped for.

In all, great time catching up with friends--we closed the restaurant down!

9/24/10-Balladino's, Madison, CT

On the long haul 16-hour shift this lovely Friday. I swear, if my partner didn't know about this place, I would have driven right by. A very unassuming place with a small sign, you wouldn't know there was a sandwich shop inside. When you walk in the doors, you are attacked with the amazing smell of an Italian deli and that for me is always a good sign! However, the front cases are empty and the shelves are sparsely stocked with a few imported italian items; I guess I was hoping for something more like Angelo's in New Britain (if you've been there, you know what I'm talking about!) With that point behind us, I got in line to order my lunch. I chose the #29, The Suraci--grilled chicken topped with bacon, romaine lettuce, plum tomatoes and honey mustard on a hard roll--bacon was crisped up fresh, nice piece of grilled chicken and the bread was very good. Service was relatively quick, which is essential when I'm working on the road and the staff was friendly. Clearly this place is no secret in Madison because there was quite a line the entire time I was there! Stop by and give it a shot if you're in the area.

No website, located on Boston Post Rd. in Madison.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

9/20/10-Local Burger, Northampton, MA

A breath of fresh air.

What a wonderful family place to go! First time in downtown Northampton MA, what a bustling little town! It was nice to see a lot of people walking around enjoying the weather. There were a ton of choices for food and we definitely struck gold. Walked right up to the counter where the young girl was more than happy to explain the menu to us. They use as many local ingredients as they can, which is refreshing to see. I ordered the Farmhouse Turkey Burger-cheddar cheese, bacon, and honey-dijon maple mayo-very moist and tasty, very very good. Tom ordered the dry-aged beef (which was only available on the weekends, so we were lucky!) and it was delicious, very juicy. We also shared the sweet potato fries with a side of their maple mayo--yummy!

I hope to come here again-great family run burger joint!

9/18/10-Main Garden, New Haven, CT

If you are looking for a satisfying, cheap lunch and you like Americanized chinese food, this is the place to go. My coworker and I both got lunch plates, for $4.95 each. Nothing out of the ordinary about this little takeout chinese joint--close proximity to Yale (and Yalies can order online from campusfood) and perfect prices for college students. Good place to stop for a cheap, filling lunch but nothing to write home about.

9/10/10-Besito, West Hartford, CT

Although it was not my first visit to Besito, it was Tom's. We decided to come here for our anniversary dinner since we were married in Mexico and we wanted that cool, classy Mexican feel for our celebration. I placed a reservation earlier in the week to ensure that we could get a booth for dinner and when we arrived promptly on time, we were seated quickly. Our waiter came over and enticed us into their signature Patron margarita, which was quite delicious. A bowl of house made salsa and chips were also brought over and we were all too happy to devour them. The salsa had a sweet and smoky flavor with a nice thin consistency and the chips weren't oversalted like they are at other places.

We decided on our appetizer--I ordered the sopa de tortilla and Tom had the Tamale de Elote. The soup was very very similar to what they called Azteca soup while we were in Mexico, so it was nice to relive that experience. Tom's appetizer was described as "ok", only because he expected it to have a spicy, smoky flavor because of the chipotle but that didn't come across as described.

Onto our entrees! I had such an excellent experience with the enchiladas de mole poblano that I ordered it again and once again, I very much enjoyed it. Tom had the Filete de Res al chipotle, which was perfectly cooked, perfectly sauced and had amazing flavor. Small bowls of refried beans and white rice were also placed on our table to share.

We were both pleasantly full by the end of our dinner....but that wasn't the end! The staff had heard that it was our anniversary and surprised us with a citrus tres leche cake to share--it was unbelieveably moist and sweet with a hint of citrus, nothing overpowering. To top it all off, we were given warm churros and our worry dolls. A wonderful evening to celebrate a one-year old anniversary!

Monday, August 23, 2010

8/17/10-Cheesecake Factory, West Hartford, CT

Reunion dinner of the four chickies!

I wish I could remember what everyone had but if you've been to this restaurant, you know how extensive the menu is! All I know is that everyone seemed to really enjoy their dishes (and drinks!)

I had the Jamaican Black Pepper Shrimp & Chicken--Sautéed Shrimp with a Very Spicy Jamaican Black Pepper Sauce. Served with Rice, Black Beans, Plantains and Cool Mango Salsa. It wasn't that spicy, but it did have a nice kick to it! I enjoyed this very much.

You don't go to the Cheesecake Factory and not talk about dessert! I strayed from my usual and tried the Ultimate Red Velvet Cheesecake--Moist layers of Red Velvet Cake and our Original Cheesecake covered with our special Cheesecake Factory cream cheese frosting--this was divine. My birthday is coming up if anyone needs an idea of what I'd like for my cake.....just saying.

Glad that I got together with all these girls, it's been far too long.

8/6-8/8/10-Blairstown, NJ

Little mini vaca after 10 weeks of intense summer classes! Went to Jill's dad's house and had a great time!

The highlights:

Breakfast sandwiches from The Dog House in Blairstown--our first experience with Taylor ham/pork roll. It's like a cross between ham and sausage, good stuff (it's probably still in my arteries).

Thai food in Warren County, PA. I wish I could remember the name of the damn place--it was tiny, but the food was good!

NJ State Fair. Semi-scary people, awful petting zoo (poor animals!) and fair food galore. Jill insisted we try the ribbon chips (or as she called them, spiral spuds. I think that's got a better ring to it). If they weren't soggy, I would have enjoyed them more.

White Castle. Clearly this was Tom's highlight of the trip. Those little burgers are still taking up room in my freezer.

It was a fun trip, overall. Got sunburned, made s'mores over the fire pit, listened to the cicadas and wolves at night and remembered what it was like to have a life and relax for a bit.....then back to reality!

8/1/10-Morton's Steakhouse, Hartford, CT

Welcome back, Taste of Hartford! A great time of the year in which I am able to try places in the city I normally wouldn't dine at, all for a fantastic price! This year, Sheri joined me and we went to Morton's--didn't think I'd ever have the opportunity to eat at this pricey joint, but soooo glad I did!

The original plan was to go with the $20.10 menu but Morton's was smart--they had another great deal going for two people, which we ended up doing. Both Sheri and I started with the classic caesar salad--a perfectly dressed salad, not too heavy or too light, with a prominent peppery bite to it; we also were given a huge loaf of their house baked bread to enjoy, which was crusty and warm. For our entrees, we both enjoyed a single cut filet mignon (rare for Sheri, medium for myself--and both cooked expertly to our liking) and we also got to share a few sides--grilled jumbo asparagus with a balsamic glaze (why haven't I tried roasting asparagus before?! excellent!); colossal shrimp alexander (with a delicate lemon butter sauce, these things were HUGE! and quite good); broiled sea scallops wrapped in bacon (who doesn't like things wrapped in bacon?); and our favorite--lyonnaise potatoes (cooked with onions in bacon grease, which coincidentally I believe is Sheri's new favorite cooking ingredient! haha).

As if all of this wasn't enough, this deal also came with excellent dessert selections. Sheri chose the key lime pie--tart and sweet at the same time and a great portion size! I chose the Morton's legendary hot chocolate cake--oh my heavens, if I could have bathed in this cake, I think I would have--moist, warm and so delectable, this is a must try. The only thing remotely disappointing about this meal was the coffee--nothing special! Other than that, everything was as amazing as described--well worth every bite. Sheri--can we go back soon? Even if it's just dessert!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

7/25/10-J.P. Dempsey's, New Haven, CT

The summer for Tom and I, thus far, has been filled with repeat visits of some of our favorite places which has really been great! Today we decided to take a drive to look for something new for lunch. What is up with every place in New Haven being closed for lunch? I digress.

An old coworker of mine had suggested that the next time I was in New Haven to check out JP Dempsey's and I'm glad we did. Tom and I love places like this--kind of a dark rustic feel, great bar area and peanuts all over the place! Tom had the reuben sandwich with curly fries, which he commented was one of the better reuben sandwiches he's had. I had one of their newer menu items, the Vermont chicken wrap--chicken, cheddar cheese, green apples, bacon and onions--it was decent, but next time I'll ask for it without the onions because they completely overwhelmed the rest of the ingredients. I've had a similar dish elsewhere and it had a touch of maple syrup for that Vermont feel--I could see that working with this wrap, minus the onions!

In all, we had a nice lunch. Our waitress was very pleasant, prices were decent and our food came out piping hot and plentiful! By the looks of the place, it's probably packed on the weekends and a great place to hang out with your friends and we'd love to hang out here too!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

6/5/10-Thai Food Express, Wallingford, CT

I don't typically like to write 2 reviews for a place but this is warranted. We've been patronizing this establishment for about 6 moths now and we've had our ups and downs with it. Saturday night after a long day of work, I came home hungry and tired. We decided to get Thai because it was getting late and its close and quick. I think we've discovered the secret--when the older woman is there, the food is phenomenal. I had my usual, drunken noodles and Tom had South Sea noodles and they were both unbelievably good. Also, to our surprise, they have expanded their menu! Everything is still reasonably priced and after the great experience we had Saturday night, this may work its way back into our Saturday night routine! We feel so lucky to have such good food so close to our home!

6/5/10-New Haven Taco Trucks, New Haven, CT

It is no secret that I love Mexican food. I was so lucky that my partner for today is also a fan and happens to like the food on the taco trucks down on Long Wharf! So, it was like a dream come true when we actually got time today to stop and enjoy some lunch.

We both got 3 tacos at $1.50 each--I had chorizo, carnitas and adobada--all topped with fresh chopped onions, cilantro and a bit of tomatillo sauce. I was stuffed after that! A nice filling lunch for under $5? You betcha.

My tip? Watch how they package it up for ya. Our 6 tacos came on one paper plate so they were all over on top of eachother. Also, I missed getting the red sauce like I can get off the Stamford taco truck! Maybe it is something you need to ask for? Either way, you can't go wrong. Head down to Long Wharf drive and dig in!

6/4/10-Wilson's Barbeque, Fairfield, CT

If you think posting has gotten a bit far and few in between, you would be right. Our lives have gone through quite the transformation in the past few weeks and we're still adjusting. If we have gone out, it has been to some of our old favorites. Tonight, on the other hand, was a different story. Tom said he wanted to each a bunch of things, not just one dish. What better to do that with than BBQ? Off to Fairfield to try Wilson's. This place has been featured on the Food Network, so it's gotta be good.....right?

Tom and I both decide to get mixed platters so we can try a bit of everything. Tom get the pulled pork, brisket and the St. Louis style ribs, with collard greens, mac and cheese and cornbread. I get the brisket and the baby back ribs with mac and cheese, french fries and cornbread. First off, let me explain--this isn't much of a sit-down restaurant. You walk up to the register, place your order, then if you're lucky, find a seat inside or outside. There aren't many tables, but the wait isn't terrible. We got a table outside and the staff brings you the order on a large metal baking sheet.

The verdict? Although the pulled pork was very tender, it was also pretty bland. Thankfully, on the table are Wilson's 3 signature sauces and the vinegar sauce really helped the pork. The brisket was perfect, especially with the sweet tomato-based sauce. The baby back ribs had an overpowering taste of smoke but Tom enjoyed them (I didn't care for them) and the St. Louis ribs had more flavor from the dry rub and were quite good. The mac and cheese sides were cold, but decent. The collard greens were fresh and spicy and delicious. The fries were hand cut and very nicely done. The cornbread was moist, slightly sweet and absolutely amazing. So overall, a pretty decent dinner--a bit on the pricey side but you do get great quality.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

5/15/10-Chinese Mirch, Stamford, CT

I was excited at the prospect of a new, buzzed-about restaurant to try while working in the city, so I stopped by to grab a takeout menu during the day. Their tagline is "Chinese Food, Indian Flavors", so I was definitely intrigued.

I called in my order--Chicken Hot Garlic (chicken in a crushed garlic & chili sauce). This was an a la carte item so it came just as it said, no rice or noodles to accompany it. The dish came in a plastic takeout container--for the listed price of $12.50, it was not worth the price. The portion did not match the price, the dish was not that hot and spicy (menu listed it at 3 out of 3 stars) and it was basically just diced chicken in a soupy orange colored sauce. They included a baggie of fried noodles and 3 sauce containers, but no utensils.

Understanding that this place is brand new, I understand they will have kinks to work out (the credit card machine was not working, forcing me to go to the ATM, take cash out, get charged a $4.25 withdrawl fee and then come back to only have their machine working--at least they gave me 25% off the bill). I would say that maybe in the future if a coworker wanted to try it, I'd tag along, but there are a ton of other restaurants in the Stamford area that deserve my attention.

Monday, May 3, 2010

5/2/10-Time Out Taverne, Durham, CT

What a beautiful afternoon! Tom and I went out on the bike for a while and he decided to be spontaneous and stop here for dinner. We sat outside on the patio for dinner and it was a beautiful evening to be dining outside--I wish we could more often!

The menu had a large seafood selection, with all of the evenings specials being seafood based. The also had steaks ($19-$29), chicken and pastas. Tom decided on clams over linguine with a white wine garlic broth--his go-to seafood dish and he enjoyed it. My interested wasn't sparked by much on the menu (and I wasn't looking to spend that kind of money on a steak) so I went with the Cobb salad and it was actually the perfect decision. The creamy balsamic dressing over the greens with walnuts, bacon, grilled chicken and avocado really made for a light, refreshing meal.

In all, service was prompt and efficient but not exactly friendly (but Jay the bartender is awesome!). I think that the prices on some of the dishes was a bit high but there aren't many dining choices in this area. We both enjoyed our evening and if we're hungry in the area again, I'd say we'd come back.

5/1/10-Super Duper Weenie, Fairfield, CT

I love working in the opposite end of the state on Saturdays, if only for my eating adventures! Our schedule didn't allow us to get dinner until late, so I was very lucky that we got to Super Duper Weenie 5 minutes before they closed! I didn't feel rushed at all and if anything, the nice girl that helped me was sympathetic to my profession, which is always nice. I have always wanted to try this place out and I was very glad I did!

Although the menu implies hot dogs, they do more than that--burgers, chicken, sausage, french fries and soups! It is always nice to see a place that takes pride in what they make and does as much as they can from scratch instead of frozen--kudos to that! I knew that whatever I decided to get, I needed to bring home part of it for the hubby. I chose the Californian--Homemade Meat Chili, Freshly Chopped Onion, American Cheese & Hot Relish (so messy! but good--and the relish isn't that hot, really) and I also had the Cincinnattian--Cincinnati Style Chili, Cheddar Cheese & Chopped Onions (this was good also, but I wish the cheddar was melted on the dog instead of shredded). I also got a small order of french fries--she put them in their own bag--this was not a "small" portion by any means, but it was delicious! And of course, Tom enjoyed every bite of my leftovers--boy, is he spoiled! I hope to be back in the area soon to try something new!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

4/24/10-Tacos Mi Nacho, Meriden, CT

We returned from our lovely afternoon on the shoreline without a plan for dinner. My hubby is always in the mood for Mexican (I'm so proud of him!) and I had heard from Yelp about this place in Meriden. Not in the greatest of neighborhoods, but I didn't think it was as bad as some were making it out to be. It's in a strip mall and has a automatic sliding door like a grocery store with the counter and kitchen right ahead of you and a few tables off to the side, with the music pumping.

We sat right down and were brought chips and 3 different types of salsas--all delicious. I went with tacos for my dinner--one chorizo, one carne asada and one pork and also had a quesadilla with shredded pork--absolutely everything was delicious. Tom had one taco and a carne asada burrito--this thing was a monster. Everything was delicious, prices were amazingly cheap and the food came out fast. Can't get much better than this!

No website, located at 550 Broad St. in Meriden.

4/24/10-Aqua, Clinton, CT

Yay for a Saturday off! We decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and head to the shoreline for the afternoon. Without a plan for lunch, I let my phone guide us and I chose Aqua. What a nice location! Right on the Clinton marina, with a nice breeze coming in off the sound. We were seated immediately outside on the patio (a little chilly in the shade!). I decided to keep it fresh and simple for lunch and ordered the barbequed shrimp wrap--with bacon, avocado, lettuce and mayo, it was delish! It came with either fries or coleslaw on the side--I was mistakenly given coleslaw, but that was quickly rectified and a fresh plate of fries were brought out. Tom had the broiled seafood plate, which was good, but disappointing--only 2 shrimp, 2 scallops and a small piece of filet of sole.

We would definitely return, but next time we'd be careful about what we ordered, especially considering we expected more out of Tom's dish for the price! Very nice location, food was tasty and service was friendly, fast & efficient.

4/23/10-East West Grille, West Hartford, CT

Jill was all alone for the evening and asked Tom and I to go out with her to her new favorite Thai restaurant--can't turn that down! East West Grille is in an old diner, which is strange but kinda kitchy, with the decorations and whatnot. Speaking of the decorations--there were hats that were atop the posts of the booths and they were covered in cobwebs--it was gross and creepy. Also, they could use some real shades because we were absolutely blinded by the setting sun!

We were all starving so we started with a few appetizers--thai calamari, which was absolutely deliciously different, basted in a sweet chili sauce; we also had the crispy spring rolls, which had a nice crunch and dipping sauce with it. For our entrees, we waited quite a while, almost too long. I had the drunken noodles, my go to dish when trying any new Thai place--the dish was very nicely presented, not too spicy (I wouldn't have minded it hotter) but the portions were smaller than I expected. Tom had the pad radna, which he enjoyed--it had an almost soup-like presentation. Jill had the pad thai which she always enjoys. Overall, for Tom and I, not a terrible experience, certainly better than a few places we've been to, but can't say we're clamoring to go back.

4/17/10-El Charrito Taco Truck, Stamford, CT

I know, I'm a bit behind on blogging. I have been so swamped with work and school that I barely have time to breathe! I digress.....

So, on this lovely Saturday, I was working in Stamford and my partner mentioned that he was looking for some good Mexican food. After doing a little investigating, I was pointed towards the El Charrito truck. Having a few minutes of downtime right around lunch, we headed to that side of town. The truck is pretty easy to spot, considering it's bright yellow and there's usually a few people milling around, eating their lunch or waiting for their orders. A lovely woman took my order and said it would be a few minutes. They have all the basics--tacos, burritos, tortas, hamburgers and hotdogs (but why would you want those when you can have authentic Mexican food?!). My partner ordered a steak burrito (huge!) and 2 steak tacos. I had 3 tacos--one chorizo, one pollo, one carne adobada--they were all fresh and delicious, double tortillas, garnished with onion and cilantro and a lime wedge to squeeze over it. We also got a few sides of their hot sauce which wasn't too bad, but the heat did sneak up on you after a while! The food came out pretty fast, which is important to us when we are working on the road, transporting patients--most restaurant personnel are aware of that when we stop to get food somewhere in uniform that we need it fairly quickly, never know when our next call is coming!

I implore you, do not be scared or hesitant to eat food off of a truck. A few people have made comments about this when I mentioned where I had lunch and the stereotypes about it are just incorrect, especially in this case. Give this a shot! You won't find nicer people or better authentic Mexican in Stamford, guaranteed.

The truck parks on Richmond Hill Ave. across from Beamer's Cafe in Stamford

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

4/13/10-Les' Dairy Bar, Meriden, CT

To top off our mid-week dinner outing, we stopped at Les' for some small hot fudge sundaes. I am not the biggest fan of soft serve but I don't mind coming here! It can get quite crowded in the summer but on a cool, spring evening, there was nothing to worry about. This place is pure nostalgia for Tom, with memories of his childhood, driving down here with the neighborhood piled into his dad's pickup truck so when it comes to ice cream, I am more than happy to oblige a trip down memory lane for him. Nice, creamy vanilla soft serve with a generous coating of hot fudge sauce--heavenly! Oh, and remember--cash only!

No website, located on East Main St. in Meriden.

4/13/10-Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Middletown, CT

Mid-week out to dinner treat! Tom had been talking about having burgers at some point this week so when he mentioned going out for dinner, I was happy to oblige his burger craving and his curiosity about this new chain. Very bright on the inside with the red and white theme playing through the whole space, accented with huge bags of potatoes by the entrance and boxes of peanuts for self-service.

We got in the line to order and we both ordered one burger and fries--mine were Cajun, his were regular fries. I found an open table and snagged it while Tom waited for our number to be called. Your food comes in a brown paper bag, regardless of whether or not you eat in or take out. Service was very quick and efficient. Burgers came as double patties, which we didn't expect, but it wasn't a bad surprise--unfortunately, they only cook the burgers well-done. I understand that is done for health reasons, but I do prefer mine pink in the middle. I would say that it is a better fast food burger than other national chains, but it was just as greasy and bad for me, I'm sure of that. In the bag was a cup that held our fries but there almost wasn't a point of even having a cup for them since the servers just took a handful and chucked it into the bag on top of filling the cup, leaving the grease from the fries to come right through the bag. We agreed that my cajun fries were good but it would have been nice if the seasoning was distributed more evenly.

I understand that they grind the meat fresh everyday and they use fresh cut potatoes, not frozen--while I applaud them for that, it translates to high prices for mediocre food (my stomach is not liking me this morning). It was a decent quick stop and I'm glad we gave it a shot but ultimately, I'll stick with the non-chain restaurants for our burger fixes.

4/10/10-Fu Ji Japanese-Chinese Restaurant, Stamford, CT

At work for a very long shift on Saturday, this place was recommended by a coworker when I said I could go for some Thai food. Hmmm. Needless to say, I didn't get Thai food, but my partner was more than happy with where we ended up! This place is small-ish but nice and clean looking. For a Saturday night, it was surprising that while we were there waiting for our takeout, not one other person came in.

I seem to always get General Tso's when trying out a new chinese place--I know it's over ordered but if it's done well, its great. The dish I got here was plentiful but uninspired. It was not "spicy" as designated on the menu, which I was looking forward to, but I did have a filling dinner! My partner ordered a few sushi rolls and gyoza, which he really seemed to enjoy. While I don't have any major complaints about this place, I am going to do more research on places to eat in the area, instead of taking my coworkers advice for a good "thai" restaurant in town :)

No website, located on Bedford St. in Stamford.

Monday, April 5, 2010

4/2/10-Bentara, New Haven, CT

I had the pleasure of working in the city on a beautiful day in April and one of my crew members wanted to go to Bentara for lunch, which was fine with me since I've been looking forward to trying this place! We arrived about 1130 and not a soul was in the place yet. It is a lovely space with minimalist decorations but with a cool modern-ish feel. If I was coming here for dinner, I would definitely want to look nice but we were just grabbing takeout for lunch, so my uniform was completely acceptable!

Never having been there, I felt somewhat daunted by their menu. Thankfully, a woman who works there was more than happy to point me in a direction of something I would enjoy. I had the Mee Hoon Goreng with chicken and it was fantastically different--such fresh flavors and what a nice portion for lunch! I ordered it at a medium heat level after hearing my coworker say that the heat was worse than thai but I did not find that to be true at all--the medium had a slight kick, but it was nothing to worry about, I would defintely get it "hot" next time. It was filled with noodles, chicken, sprouts, cabbage, carrots and had slices of tofu on top (I ignored just weirds me out). My coworkers both enjoyed the kerutuck--slices of beef/chicken or vegetables (tofu, chinese egg plants, carrots and slivered roasted red peppers) simmered in a mixture of spices (coriander, fennel seed, cinnamon, cardamom, star anise and chilies) with potatoes and coconut milk reduction--it looked interesting, I wish I had a chance to try it! I did get the opportunity to try the Roti Chanai-griddle fried unleavened ghee (clarified butter) thin bread with curry sauce--it was so good!

I made sure to save half of my dish for Tom to try--now he wants to go there too! I do hope to get back there soon!

4/1/10-Thai Hut, Southington, CT

As if I need an excuse to eat Thai food, I met up with Beth and Gorski for dinner tonight--it was so nice to catch up with the both of them! Gorski suggested Southington's newest Thai restaurant and it was very quiet for 7pm on a Thursday night but our servers were nice and we had a great time!

It was Beth's first time having Thai food, so we helped her out the best we could and she selected the Pad See Ew, which she said she enjoyed. Gorski and I both ordered the drunken noodles-hot. For me, it wasn't as hot as I was expecting but it did the job. I am undecided if I liked Somewhere in Bangkok better or not. Thai Hut definitely had them beat in prices but for ambiance and decor, Somewhere in Bangkok wins that one. Anytime I can get a cheap, good dinner, I'm there! I'd say it's worth a try if you're in the area looking for Thai.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

3/26/10-La Fonda Colombian Cuisine, Hartford, CT

We were in the mood for something different before the Wolfpack game on Friday night, so we went through our certificates and decided on La Fonda--so glad we did!

The neighborhoods of Hartford leave lots to be desired, but this south end location isn't too bad (at least I wasn't scurrrrred). It is a little place--blink and you'll miss it! We found some on the street parking and went inside. Our waitress spoke a little English, I spoke a little Spanish and soon we had our drinks and we ordered one beef and one chicken empanada to start. The empanadas arrived piping hot with a spicy tomato-based dipping sauce to try--they were fantastic! We wished we ordered more of them--and at $1.25 each, it's a steal. We had a bit of a language barrier when I asked what an "arepa" was, but the waitress sent over a gentleman who was more than happy to help out. We decided we were definitely going to try one, so we picked one with shredded chicken--the arepa was, hands down, the best part of the meal--it is a flatbread made of a different style of corn, topped with the shredded chicken, diced tomatoes and peppers. It was unbelieveably flavorful and we are so glad we tried it!

For our entrees, I tried the typical La Fonda plate--red beans, white rice, chopped ground beef, grilled pork, sausage, grilled plaintains, all topped with a fried egg. I enjoyed being able to try a bit of everything, but it was a bit dry unfortunately, with the exception of the sausage with the flavors of cumin--excellent. Tom had the churrasco, which came with rice and beans and the chimichurri sauce--a huge piece of steak! The chimichurri sauce gave the steak an incredible flavor.

Overall, we had a good experience. Our waitress was pleasant and we were glad to try something much different than the norm. We hope to come back soon!

No website, located on Franklin Ave. in Hartford.

Monday, March 15, 2010

3/13/10-Big Daddy's Diner, NYC, NY

Road Trip to NYC!

We probably came to the city on the worst weather day of the year, really, especially considering the way the buildings funnel the wind and rain! At any rate, we had a few hours to kill before going to our final destination so we decided to grab dinner after snagging a parking spot a few blocks away. There was a bit of construction outside of the building (go figure) but inside was a retro-feel diner with tons of corporate logos adorning the walls.

Even if we don't plan on it, Tom and I usually end up splitting our dishes and today was no exception. As soon as he saw my order, he wanted half and I was more than happy to oblige when I saw what he got! I had the Jackie Brown-roast beef, melted Vermont cheddar, caramelized onions and bbq sauce on rustic ciabatta--I am pretty sure this was one of the messiest sandwiches ever but overall it wasn't bad, a bit too salty for my taste and didn't really care for the bbq sauce that was used. Tom had the Join the Club-roasted turkey, thick bacon, lettuce, tomatoes & herb mayo on toasted ciabatta--his sandwich was the clear winner for us. Dan had the Texas Tommy hot dog, covered in bacon and melted cheddar and spicy ketchup--it was huge! (that's what she said.) Jill had a burger with tater tots and coleslaw and a side of cheese for dipping--we're pretty sure the cheese was made with plastic by the looks of it. Everyone seemed pretty satisfied after our meal and we were ready for our trip back out in the rain to our destination. The unfortunate thing about the diner was the NYC prices--in CT, the same dishes would have been about $3-$4 cheaper. (we were at the East Side location)

3/13/10-Savin Rock Roasting Company, Stratford, CT

We were out in Stratford getting my car looked at and we decided to grab a quick lunch before getting our other errands done. Savin Rock Roasting Company has an excellent location on Ferry Rd. right before the bridge in Stratford with lovely views of the water and nice outdoor deck--not too nice for the constant downpour we had on Saturday! It was very large inside, with 2 bars and plenty of tables and the decor was quite nice--would be a nice place to come hang out in the summertime!

Our server was pleasant and helpful--I couldn't decide what to order between the Chicken Monte or the Beef & Cheddar sandwiches (such a large menu!) and she recommended the Chicken Monte--grilled chicken layered with ham, cheese, tomato and honey mustard, griddled. Her choice was excellent and with the added side of their french fries, it rounded it all out--you could tell their fries were freshly made, even better with a side of the honey mustard that graced my sandwich. Tom was in the mood for fish and chips, so he had a half order of the fresh scrod--he very much enjoyed the fact that there was a very nice portion, served with both tartar sauce and cocktail sauce and a side of coleslaw and french fries.

We both enjoyed our lunches and agreed that we'd like to return, especially when the weather is nicer! (For those who know Stratford, this is the old Harborside--they have a big Grand Opening sign on the building--check 'em out!)

Monday, March 8, 2010

3/6/10-Carson's, Newington, CT

We were a bit sad to see Hops go (love their honey drizzled croissants!) but we were very happy to see how well Carson's is doing. We arrived fairly late, due to my work schedule and were seated promptly. Tom was excited to try their in-house brewed beers and ordered the Carson's Light--said that it had a great flavor and went down smooth. I am not a beer person, but my Tropical Breeze was fruity.

For an appetizer, we had the calamari and it was hot and plentiful--got a really nice portion for the price. As for our entrees, I was really hoping to have their baby back ribs, but they were out of them, so I went with the Pulled Pork Sandwich, topped with french fried onions and a side of garlic fries--the sandwich was excellent, not over-sauced like some places but my fries must have been the bottom of a batch because, while they were VERY garlicky, they were also soggy. Tom had the petite sirloin and shrimp with a side of garlic fries. He was very happy with everything he had (and incidentally, his garlic fries were not soggy like mine).

We were far too stuffed to have desserts, especially since we had leftovers to take home! Service was friendly and everything went well. I can safely say we will be more than happy to return!

No website, located on the Berlin Tpke. in Newington.

Monday, March 1, 2010

2/28/10-MJ Dukes, Wallingford, CT

A new place opened up a few weeks ago and we've been curious to try it. MJ Dukes is touting "Philly-Style Cheesesteaks" that are the real deal--having been to Philly a few times and never having stopped at the originals, I couldn't compare. With that, we were off to grab some lunch. Tom decided on the original with grilled onion and cheese whiz and I had the chicken philly with grilled onions and american cheese--both of ours were 9" for $6.95 each. The roll was good and the meat/cheese/onions all worked together nicely--that being said, it was pretty skimpy on the meat for the price we paid. It was nice to see that most things on the menu were made in-house and your sandwiches were cooked to order. Tom agrees-we'll probably return at a later date, if only because we live in town but we feel that you get more for your money at D'Angelo's.

No website, located on Rt. 5 in Wallingford.

2/27/10-Crown Fried Chicken, Bridgeport, CT

The advantages of working outside of the area where I live is being able to try places I wouldn't necessarily go out of my way for. Crown was the place one of my crew members wanted to stop for lunch while in the area. I honestly can say if I was by myself, this wouldn't have been a choice on the list--that being said, the food wasn't all that bad. A KFC-like competitor, it took about 5-10 minutes for us all to get our food--spicy chicken sandwich for me, not too bad! My crew seemed to enjoy what they had as well, since they polished their meals. Not a very attractive place, decently clean, a bit outdated but to be expected considering the area. I can't say I'd return under my own will but it did the job for that day.

No website, located on Boston St. in Bridgeport.

2/27/10-Donut Delight, Stamford, CT

It is really nice to see a DD competitor that seems to do quite well! Stopped here mid-morning with my crew and got a sausage, egg & cheese on a toasted bagel--it has been forever since I've had a bagel sandwich! It was hot, tasty and filling--all you could hope for in the morning! Can't comment on the coffee since I'm not a coffee drinker, but my coworkers all seem to enjoy it. Very fast & efficient service, which are both very important points with a job like mine.

No website, located on Elm St. in Stamford.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

2/20/10-Rick's on 5, Wallingford, CT

Whoops! Forgot to post this earlier, been too busy for my own good!

Came here for breakfast over the weekend with the husband, which was a nice treat since we never get out for breakfast (mainly because I never want to get out of bed on the weekends at a decent time....). Tom is always happy to get one of their overstuffed omelettes--this time he chose the Country Omelette--bacon, tomato and cheese--very large and tasty, came with home fries and toast (plus ordered a side of bacon). I haven't had french toast in forever, so I had that with whipped cream and a side of sausage. Next time I will try it with pecan praline, but I did give up sweets for lent, so not this time (french toast isn't a sweet! I swear!). Service was very friendly and fast, love that about this place. The prices are more than reasonable, which explains why it is always packed on the weekends--be prepared to wait for a table, but it is worth the wait.

Monday, February 15, 2010

2/13/10-China Gourmet, Southington, CT

Admittedly, it has been years since I've had dinner here. When we were kids, Chinese food was a treat that we would only have once, maybe twice a year. I met Sheri in high school and her family restaurant, China Gourmet, became the go-to place for us to get takeout--back then, it was just the standards that you would expect on a Chinese takeout menu. I am happy to say that this place has evolved so much over time, now incorporating authentic, traditional dishes and a line of gourmet teas.

The dining room opens about 7pm (before then, it is only takeout business) and while it is tiny, it is worth the wait. Sheri talked us through the menu, offering suggestions and answering any questions we had. Tom and I both opted to try their specialty teas. Turns out that one of the owners, Annie, has a friend back in China who is a Tea Professor (who knew there was such a thing?!) and Annie has been putting together loose tea creations for a while now and they are something that anyone who enjoys tea should try.

Onto our meal--fried noodles and a sweet sauce for dipping were brought to the table for us to enjoy while perusing the menu. We started with the fried dumplings--to compare to any other place we've had, it was so fresh, you could tell by the loosely packed meat on the inside--it was not some mysterious looking meat mix that you can get other places. For our entrees, we tried some of the newer, authentic dishes--Tom had the Water-Braised Beef over veggies, with a sauce that gave it a nice bite of heat without being overpowering--nicely presented in a covered saute pan over a tea light warmer. I had the Peking Pork--when it arrived at the table, I was instructed to make sure that I got a bite of all three layers in one-the pork, julienned scallions and the slaw underneath-I understood why as soon as I took a bite, the sweetness of the sauce balanced with the crunch of the slaw and the slight bite of the onion all worked together nicely. It is impressive to find such innovative and authentic cuisine in such an off-the-beaten-path place. Tom is now hooked and it is safe to say we'll return especially since the prices are more than reasonable for something other than your typical takeout place.

No website, located in the Rochambeau plaza on the Meriden-Waterbury Tpke. in Southington.

2/12/10-Black Eyed Sally's, Hartford, CT

Kirstin and I headed out to dinner before taking in the Lion King at the Bushnell (which was so visually STUNNING!) and we decided on Black Eyed Sally's--it has been a while since our last visit.

Two pieces of their cornbread with honey butter on the side was brought to us, so good I wished we had more! We started with the Pulled Chicken Quesadilla, which was just the right amount of heat, courtesy of the cherry peppers in it. For our entrees--Kirstin had the Blackened Chicken Penne-Blackened chicken with broccoli and cherry tomatoes in a white wine garlic sauce-very garlicky, but she loved it and polished it all! I had the Pork ribs, beef and chicken--the ribs were HUGE (I think I am more of a baby back ribs person), the Burnt Endz of beef were few, and not burnt, fatty if anything--go figure--and the chicken was juicy and delish. I subbed in a side of their "down-home" mashed potatoes. The best part for me was their BBQ sauce--pleasantly sweet, tomato-based sauce. Kirstin ordered the Southern Slam drink to round it all out--great meal, quick service and a nice laid-back bluesy atmosphere.

Monday, February 1, 2010

1/31/10-Blackie's Hot Dog Stand, Cheshire, CT

This is a CT landmark for hot dogs. I can't say I've ever stopped by in the winter but I was happy to make a return visit. This is a very casual place, perfect for the whole family. Tom and I stopped in on our way home--2 dogs for him, 1 for me. Great tasting hummel dogs, forgettable buns but it is not about the buns--it's about the relish. Their secret-recipe hot pepper relish is what keeps patrons coming back year after year since 1928. Tom and I are not really relish people but this is an exception because it is so different than the traditional. A quick, cheap lunch and we were back on the road. Visit here in the summer when the garage doors are open and people flock from miles around for a taste.

1/31/10-Belgique Patisserie, Kent, CT

Oh. My. Goodness. I think I've died and gone to chocolate heaven.

We really haven't had the opportunity to go anywhere or do much of anything since the wedding, so it was a nice change of pace to take a drive through the beautiful Litchfield Hills. We put our destination in the GPS and off we went in search of great chocolate--let me tell you, we were not disappointed. We arrived at this cute little yellow building and walked into a chocolate lover's delight. Display cases were filled with artistic dessert creations--all which looked too amazing for words! We were pleasantly greeted by two ladies behind the counter and told to take our time. Tom and I both got croissants and we shared a large hot chocolate--I implore you, get the hot chocolate--it was rich, velvety and topped with a generous dollop of fresh whipped cream. Hands down, this was the best hot chocolate I've ever had. Onto the chocolates--they sell them by the piece (or pound). We got about a 1/4 lb. to take home with us--it was so hard to choose them! I hope I can come up with enough excuses to return here--I am definitely planning on it!

No website, located on Bridge St. in Kent

1/30/10-Michael's Trattoria, Wallingford, CT

Out to dinner with my parents after a show at the Oakdale and they wanted to try something new in our town so we took them to Michael's. Word for the wise--make reservations! We got there super early, so we were able to take a high table in the bar area since all other tables were reserved for later in the evening. The decor is tuscan-ish with small dining rooms but it looks as if they have expanded a bit since our last visit a few years ago.

After a quick perusal of the menu, and a few nibbles on some nice crusty bread, we were ready--Tom and I had the special soup for starters, which was potato, leek and bacon--excellent, especially when served with shredded cheese on top. My parents had salads to start, no complaints there. For our entrees: Dad had Veal Parmigiana, which he enjoyed; Mom had seafood linguine in a white sauce-she commented that the clams were a bit too salty but that the oysters were perfect; Tom had linguine and clams in a white sauce (his favorite pasta seafood dish); I had Veal Saltimbocca, which to me seemed a bit salty as well but that was probably because of the prosciutto. Overall, we had a good experience. This is definitely one of the nicest restaurants and one of the better ones in town. If you're taking guests out in Wallingford, this would be my suggestion.

Friday, January 29, 2010

1/28/10-Hometown Pizza, Wallingford, CT

Tom said to me, "I just need a break, something new", so he suggested we go out for pizza tonight for dinner instead of cooking (translation: me cooking, him doing dishes). We had heard that Hometown Pizza had a great buffalo chicken pizza, so out in the snow we went. We were both pleasantly surprised at how nice it was inside and it wasn't too busy considering the weather. We decided to start with the mozzarella triangles so we could sample some of their marinara sauce (which was pretty good) and it was pretty neat--it was 4 very large triangles of mozzarella sandwiched in between 2 pieces of bread and fried--amazing! Is it wrong that I just want to go back and eat that?

On to the pizza--chunks of white chicken coated with buffalo wing sauce (most likely Frank's) with a light layer of the sauce over the pizza, covered in mozzarella and then globs of blue cheese sauce over all that. I am not a fan of blue cheese, so my half was without it (I'm tough, I can take the heat!). The pizza was different--not greasy at all and Tom commented that we got our pizza fix and our wing fix in one! Service was very fast and friendly and we had a lovely mid-week dinner out. It is nice to know that we have more decent pizza places in Wallingford than we originally anticipated--Hometown also offers a full italian dinner menu, so I'm sure we'll return to try something new (and get more mozzarella triangles).

No website, located on Rt. 150 in Wallingford.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

1/23/10-Max Burger, West Hartford, CT

After a few hours of work, Tom and I went to get lunch at Max Burger after hearing pretty good recommendations from a co-worker. Its a nice space with western themed decor and bubbly waitresses (at least ours was!). We were seated and immediately brought glasses of ice water while our waitress told us the specials for the day. Tom decided to try the embarrassingly-named Fatty Melt-8 oz., sandwiched between two grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato, applewood smoked bacon. There is just something so wrong about this burger, but Tom did enjoy it--he felt that the grilled cheese part of the sandwich could have been melted a bit more and that the bacon wasn't necessary but otherwise it was pretty good. I tried the Miss Daisy-8 oz., brie cheese, applewood smoked bacon, apple honey Dijonaise, toasted brioche, lettuce, tomato--Although I ordered my burger medium, it came medium-rare and the burger itself was dripping with blood and grease, so much so that the toasted brioche became soggy before half of the burger was finished. The brie was wonderful and creamy and the dijonaise was a nice touch with the burger. I had the regular fries and Tom ordered sweet potato fries and they both came in round containers served with a garlic aioli dipping sauce on the side--very good taste. The menu did claim that all burgers came with house-made pickles but we both did not receive them.

Overall it was a decent experience but I wouldn't anticipate coming back and the prices have a lot to do with that call--I understand that it's West Hartford and all but we both felt that the burgers were overpriced and quite honestly, we've had better burgers for less.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

1/18/10-Brio Tuscan Grille, West Hartford, CT

Out to lunch on this very busy MLK day with my lunch partner-in-crime (and shopping!) Sheri. At 2pm, there was about a 15 minute wait and they held true to their timing. When seated, our waiter quickly came over and introduced himself, asked if we had ever been before--we both had not, and he proceeded to tell us about the specials for the day and also about some of their more popular menu choices. When drinks arrived, we placed an order for the calamari appetizer--it arrived nicely presented with two dipping sauces, marinara and a mustard-based sauce; the marinara was the clear winner for us. For our entrees, Sheri had the Shrimp and Scallop Linguine "Tossed with sauteed shrimp and Bay scallops, Shiitake mushrooms, garlic, pepper relish, black pepper cream sauce and fresh basil"--she commented that the pasta seemed very fresh but was very surprised by the spiciness of her dish and the asian influence the dish seemed to take on. I had the Pasta alla Vodka "Delicate handmade pasta filled with Ricotta cheese, tossed with crispy pancetta, garlic, basil and a Tomato Parmesan cream sauce"--pasta was cooked al dente and the sauce was very enjoyable and I loved the little bit of pancetta, though I wish there was more (it's given me inspiration on how to tweak my vodka sauce!).

Our waiter was attentive and pleasant and even shook our hands after dropping the check! Overall it was a nice experience and although I am not privy to dining at chain restaurants, I would return.

1/16/10-Thai Food Express, Wallingford, CT

I know--I feel like all we've had lately is Thai food too! It's like we've been on a quest to find the best Thai in our area. This little place is a stone's throw away from us, so we got takeout for lunch and were pleasantly surprised. It is in a very nondescript building on Rt. 5--if you blink, you'll pass it--and inside, there are about 3 tables, though I don't think I would sit down inside to eat. Also, they are somehow related to the owners of Som Siam East, which I've heard very good things about, just haven't been (yet).

The menu has all the basics, with a few different items we haven't seen before. We started with the shumai--small purses of chicken and shrimp with a ginger dipping sauce--nice and tender. For our lunches, I had the drunken noodles (it's my go-to dish, as well as my barometer as to how good a place is) and I found it to have a good level of heat without being overpowering. Tom had the pad see ew, which he very much enjoyed-to me, it was just like the drunken noodles, minus the heat. In our takeout bag, there were 2 small containers that had an opaque mixture with corn and beans in it, never seen anything like it--it sorta tasted sweet, kinda indescribable, not sure what it was--if you have any idea, let us know!

The prices were very reasonable--with chicken in both our meals, it was $6.95 each and the portions were excellent for the price. We would both be more than happy to return--hopefully to try many more dishes that we would otherwise be apprehensive to try at higher prices.

No website, located on Rt. 5 in Wallingford.

Monday, January 4, 2010

1/2/10-Thai Gardens, Middletown, CT

Jill and Dan weren't thrilled with our last choice for Thai (Somewhere in Bangkok in Southington) so she suggested we try a place they usually go--Thai Gardens in Middletown. Although the food was ok, there was quite a few things that made it an undesirable experience.

First off, service seems a bit slow. It took a while for someone to come over and take our orders. For appetizers, Tom and I split the fried wontons, which were small but tasty. Jill and Dan split the crab rangoon, which they also enjoyed. Entree service was also slow and spotty-one dish at a time with a few minutes in between each one. Dan ordered the drunken noodles at a heat level of 3--it was unbelievably hot for a 3 and he sweat through the entire meal. Jill ordered the pad thai at a heat level of 2--while hers was not as hot as Dan's, it still seemed a bit more than is typical. Tom and I tried new dishes--Tom had the Basil Chicken, which he said took on an interesting flavor from the holy basil but overall he wasn't thrilled with the dish. I had the Oc Gai Dang-Deep fried chicken sliced and sautéed with hot and spicy sauce--I expected hot and got sweet with this dish--nearly no heat at all.

Overall, I found this place to be inconsistent and undesirable. There are better Thai places in the area, Tom and I don't plan on returning.

No website, located on Main & College St., Middletown. You can view the menu here.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

1/1/10-Dish, Hartford, CT

No better way to start the new year than by having a new restaurant experience! Original plans were to go to Feng's--had a reservation and all--come to find out they were closed. I called the next day and found out that the hostess had screwed up and put it under New Year's eve. Although I was disappointed in their mistakes and how it was just brushed aside, we had a way better dinner at Dish!

Myself, Tom and his cousin Alicia and her husband Mike went down the street to eat here for dinner--Alicia and Mike have been here before and highly recommended it. We were quickly seated upon entering and Alicia and Mike ordered a bottle of Falling Star Merlot of the 20 bottles/$20 wine list--they didn't particularly care for it, noting that it was a tough bottle to drink. Mike suggested we place an order for the Dish Bread, with garlic herb oil and boursin cheese--it was hot and gooey when it arrived and was quickly devoured. Our server was also kind enough to bring over a complimentary loaf of the house bread with whipped butter, which was also delicious. For a starter, Alicia ordered the lobster bisque--although she thought it was good, she also found it strange that apple was incorporated in the bisque.

Onto the entrees: Alicia had the Surf n Turf--6oz filet mignon, butter poached lobster, carrot puree and a side of the loaded mashed potatoes (Tom took the remainder of her filet home, he said it was excellent); Mike had the special--Fulton Fish Market Cioppino, pasta full with fish, clams, baby octopus, etc.; Tom had the Long Island Duck Breast with the duck confit hash and I had the Crispy Pork Shank with the bacon apple risotto--Tom and I also split a side of the loaded mashed potatoes. Dinners were devoured all across the table, we all thought it was excellent. No dessert for us, as we all left stuffed! We had a great time and would not hesitate to return--the atmosphere, service and food were all desirable and exceeded our expectations.