Monday, June 20, 2011

6/19/11-Illiano's, Middletown, CT

Had a lovely Sunday off from work (finally!) and enjoyed it with Tom, touring a few wineries and then ended up here. This local Italian pizza joint has a few locations throughout the state and seems to be quite popular. When we walked in, a good majority of the tables were full and there was a steady stream of people coming in for takeout. One of the first things we noticed when we sat was that everyone who was coming in for an order for pickup was being served a bite of pizza while waiting--we were no exception, also being brought a small plate to wet our appetites.

We decided on having dinners instead of pizza this time around--Tom went with his favorite--Linguini with clams in a white sauce; I went with my favorite--Veal Parmigiana. Both of our dinners came with small side salads and warm garlic bread. We were both happy with our selections and in typical Italian fashion, there was too much food to finish, so we had leftovers to pack up and bring home to enjoy another day. Overall, a lovely, quick dinner in a welcoming atmosphere with a friendly staff--glad we live close so we can enjoy again!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

6/4/11-Fat & Happy Bar and Restaurant, Newington, CT

Out to dinner with Jill and Cory to this semi-new restaurant (it is the old 99 house....and if you've ever been to a 99, when you step inside you'll say "Oh yeah...."). They have tried to mask the 99 look by changing a few things around to make it look more modern, still a comfortable atmosphere.

We decided to start with "Robin's Queso Dip"--ground sausage, jalapeños, tomatoes and cheese served with seasoned tortilla chip--I think we were all disappointed by this. It tasted just like jarred queso you get at the store with a few things added into it and if by "seasoned" tortilla chips they mean with salt, then yes, otherwise nothing remarkable. Although it was a large portion, it should not have been priced so high--maybe $4-5 would have made more sense to us.

On to our entrees! Cory had the Shepard's Pie-ground beef and lamb mixed with carrots, onions, peas and gravy topped with whipped potatoes, Vermont aged cheddar baked to a golden brown--the cheese baked over the top made this dish look great and it must have been good because it disappeared! Jill had a build your own burger, which she seemed satisfied with. Tom had Fish and Chips--traditional pub-style beer-battered white fish (fresh catch of the day) house-made French fries and fresh tartar sauce--he had actual good sized portions of fish, nicely fried, and he polished his plate as well. I had the Open-faced Steak Sandwich-caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, beef gravy and Vermont aged cheddar cheese.--slightly too overcooked for my liking, but really nice flavor from the onions and the beef gravy (I omitted the mushrooms). I would have preferred if the bread underneath had been toasted first to give my sandwich a fighting chance from getting too soggy and next time would probably request that. The fries were "hand cut" and pretty good.

Overall, average experience. I'm glad to see another non-chain restaurant in this town, giving the residents even more options. I hope that they grow and improve--they have some tough competition in the area. It is good for a quick bite but I wouldn't go out of my way if I wasn't in the area.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

5/27/11-Leunig's Bistro, Burlington, VT

Made it to Burlington, VT for the night--cute town!

We had reservations for a nice dinner date at this cute, upscale bistro and what's the first thing that happens? Soon after we sat, Tom reached for the wine list and knocked his water glass all over the table and his pants! Can't take us anywhere :)  Luckily for us, our waitress was very nice and helpful and got us a dry tablecloth and new utensils.

After all that, she brought us bread with a small log of butter from a local farm--nice touch! We started with the calamari fritti--lightly fried with a nice spice to it. We then asked our waitress for a few recommendations on our entrees and she led us in the right direction! Tom had the Beef Bourguignon-Beef Tips Braised in Red Wine, with Smoked Bacon, Pearl Onions, Carrots, Celery & Button Mushrooms, Garlic
Mashed Potatoes & Haricots Verts--served as a one-pot meal, the beef was a bit on the dry side, but the overall flavors of the dish were very nice. For myself, the waitress suggested the Filet Mignon--Grilled Beef Tenderloin, “VT Loaded” Red Bliss Mashed Potatoes with Peppered Bacon, Cabot Cheddar, Crème Fraîche & Scallions Served with Asparagus & Creamy Mushroom Ragout--the filet was cooked to medium and was tender (but I've had better). The VT loaded mashed potatoes were my favorite part of the dish--strong cheddar flavor, with bacon and scallions mixed in, they were beyond delicious. My dish did not come with asparagus as was noted in the description (maybe they were out??); instead it came with baby spinach leaves, which were nice. No room for dessert for us tonight! In all, we had a nice date night dinner and I would recommend this place to anyone looking for a place to take their special someone; however, if and when we return to Burlington, we'll be exploring the other places and cuisines this town has to offer!

5/27/11-Cider House BBQ, Waterbury, VT

Road Trip!

School prevents us from being able to take a real vacation, so a getaway in Vermont will do just fine. We were spending a day doing the touristy things--Cabot Cheese, Ben and Jerry's, Cold Hollow Cider Mill--and on the way, we stopped to get a proper lunch. This place was quiet, with only one other couple enjoying the weather out on the covered patio. This place has such a relaxed, rustic feel and the smells of the food coming out of the kitchen was amazing. Since we were at a BBQ joint, I had to try their pulled pork, with my choice of their bourbon sauce--the pork was moist with a nice smoky taste, the sauce was sweet, thick and complimented the sandwich nicely. I chose fries as my side--cut fresh in house, nicely salted. Tom had the Cider House Local Beef Burger--  home made BBQ sauce lightly mixed with Vermont Highland Cattle beef, topped with chipotle mayo, mixed greens, blue cheese with a side of hush puppies--juicy, cooked to his liking, and the hush puppies were also pretty good. Overall, food was good, our server was friendly, funny and helpful and their focus on using local farmers and producers whenever possible led to us having a nice lunch.