Sunday, January 30, 2011

1/29/11-Black Rock Tavern, Thomaston, CT

I had high hopes for this place. I was truly hoping for something above average, especially after meeting the chef and being a part of judging his dish at the Hood Dairy Cook-Off back in October. Don't get me wrong--our food was good, there was nothing wrong with it--but after seeing his creativity at the cook-off, I just thought maybe we'd experience something different.

We got to the restaurant around 530--it was relatively full, but the hostess said we could have a table if we thought we'd be done by 630--the offer was very nice, so we agreed. When we were seated, olive oil and marinara dipping sauces were already on the table and a basket of good bread was brought over--the marinara was cold, making it unappetizing for us, so we stuck with the olive oil.

Our waitress came by to take our orders--to start our meals, I had a caesar salad and Tom had the New England chowder. I went with "Red's Smokin Ribs"--1/2 rack with french fries and coleslaw. Tom ordered the frenched pork chop topped with frizzled onions, with mashed potatoes and veg medley. My ribs were good, nice and tender, with the 1/2 rack size being more than enough for me! Tom's pork chop may have been a bit overcooked, but was still tasty, quite large in size also. The veg medley, however, left something to be desired, as he didn't get much of anything and it seemed as if it was quickly tossed in oil and a few pieces were put on the plate.

We knew we were getting close to our deadline, so we ordered a piece of carrot cake to go. The best part of carrot cake for me is the cream cheese frosting and unfortunately there was the tiniest dollop right on the center of this circular piece of cake--not enough to cover any of the cake, or even share! The cake also had way too many walnuts in it, which was weird.

The most off-putting part of the dinner was the service. Our waitress was nice, but she forgot about us for long spans of time, leaving the hostess to do a lot of her work (refilling glasses, clearing plates, even wrapping my leftovers). Maybe they were short-staffed, I'm not sure--all I know is that she didn't seem to be able to handle her tables. With this occurring, we got out a bit later than the 630 deadline, but there was no one else waiting for a table when we left so I guess it all worked out in the end.

1/22/11-Cuckoo's Nest, Old Saybrook, CT

Stopped here for lunch with Jill, Leigh and their mom on our way to do some outlet shopping. I was the only one who'd never been here before out of the group. To start, we were given a basket of chips and a bowl of the house salsa--really good salsa! For lunch, I had a grilled chicken quesadilla, which was very filling. It came with a good sized cup of sour cream, but it had green onions or something mixed into it, which I felt was unnecessary. The other 3 ladies started out with the soup of the day--artichoke--which had mixed reviews. Jill had the Santa Fe steak roll up, which she enjoyed, Leigh also had a grilled chicken quesadilla and Jill's mom had a dish off the mexican ala carte menu. Prices were reasonable and we all left full. I was kinda disappointed with the lunch menu in comparison with the dinner menu, so I'd like to come back maybe for dinner sometime to make a more informed judgment decision on this quirky shoreline joint.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

1/15/11-Louis' Lunch, New Haven, CT

Louis' Lunch is just one of those places that, if you live in CT, you have to go to at some point--it is the birthplace of the hamburger! I was here quite a few years ago when the Palace Theatre in New Haven was still open and me and my fellow stagehands were working backstage for a show all day--when we finally got a break, this is where we went. It was much less busy then--thanks to the Travel Channel, Louis' is on many people's radars now--good for their business, not good for a quick lunch.

Tom and I finally stopped in today, at the peak of the lunch crowd. Plan on waiting--we waited nearly 45 minutes for our burgers. Also, as you've seen from pictures, the place is tiny so plan on standing and waiting. When our name was finally called, we headed to the truck to eat more comfortably. The burgers are handmade, ground fresh everyday, served on toasted white bread with your choice of these three toppings--tomato, onion and cheese (canned and spreadable cheese, mind you)--that's it. Don't bother asking for anything else, especially ketchup, because you will not get it. The burgers are cooked in vertical ovens dating back to the beginning of this restaurant--1898. All burgers are cooked medium-rare unless you specify well-done (which I don't recommend)--I can attest to this because out of the burgers we got, 2 were regular and one was well-done (possibly a mixup with another customer's order). The regulars are impossibly juicy and tasty, with the juice soaking into the toast, the taste of the freshly ground meat shining through in each bite; the well-done burger had a nice charred taste but lacked the flavor of the regulars. The simplicity of the burger combined with the history and tried-and-true nature of this place gives way to an excellent lunch experience. Grab a locally produced Foxon Park soda, chips or the house-made potato salad to round out your lunch and you'll leave a happy customer.

Monday, January 10, 2011

1/9/11-Anthony Jack's, Southington, CT

Out to dinner this evening with Tom's cousin Alicia and her husband Mike--both of which love good food and new dining experiences as much as we do! Known for their wood-fired steaks and seafood, this is a popular dining establishment in the ever-growing town of Southington--it has a classy, dimly-lit interior, a very chic feel. We thought ahead and made reservations and were promptly seated upon arrival.

Shortly after sitting down, drinks were brought along with fresh rolls right out of the oven. Next was the salad course--Caesar for all of us. Then came the entrees--Alicia had a pasta dish that she frequently enjoys when she gets lunch in town--rigatoni with mushrooms in a cream sauce. Mike had filet oscar, cooked to his liking with the house vegetables and a side of mashed potatoes which he enjoyed. Tom had the prime rib with rice and house vegetables--Tom found his prime rib to be a bit on the thinner side than is typical and also a bit overcooked for his liking. I had the NY strip steak with asparagus and a side of mashed potatoes--the steak was charred nicely and seasoned, although mine was also cooked a bit more than I would have liked (medium-well instead of medium).

In all, we left happy and satisfied. Stay tuned for this foursome's next adventure in March!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

1/8/11-Nardelli's, Waterbury, CT

With nothing special planned for this wintry Saturday afternoon, Tom and I decided to take a drive out to the Plank Rd. location of the local Nardelli's Grinder Shoppe chain. I've always wanted to try their deli creations, especially because they are continually ranked #1 in the CT Magazine polls.

First off, the whole sandwiches are HUGE. I don't know if they make their own bread or have it sent in, but it is soft and delicious. I ordered an italian combo (pruzitini, capicola, salami, provolone) and loved every bit of it. Tom ordered the Buffalo Chicken (Bleu Cheese, L & T, Cheese, Classic Mix (diced veggies) & Hot Sauce, Olives)--the wide bread made for an excellent surface to hold the bleu cheese, therefore causing much less of a mess than usually happens when Tom orders a sandwich like this. We both grabbed chips and drinks to round out our lunch and tried like hell to finish the sandwiches but a whole really is too much--a half will definitely suffice. Our sandwiches were well-made, tasty and filling and the staff was friendly and fast--we can see why this place is loved by so many.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

1/4/11-Katz's Deli, Woodbridge, CT

Working out on the road today, finally got a chance to stop for a late lunch and was right around the corner from this deli with a famous name, so my partner and I stopped in. The selection is huge--lots of great creations to choose from, it was hard to decide! I chose the fresh turkey and brie wrap with romaine, craisins, candied walnuts with a raspberry mayo--the wrap was a great size, nicely made with a good taste combination but I wish the brie was melted instead of in chunks. Lunch was also accompanied by a pickle slice, nice touch. The thing that grabbed my and my partner's attention was the price--sticker shock! Don't get me wrong, the wrap was fresh, inventive and delicious but damn, really? Ohh well, still worth a try if you're in the area and have a couple extra bucks in your pocket.