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.