Saturday, October 22, 2011

10/17/11-J. Gilbert's, Glastonbury, CT

My favorite fine-dining partner, Sheri, came out with me tonight to J. Gilbert's because they sent me a coupon for my birthday--so excited to try this place out! This place is beautiful, from the landscaping to the power-lunch, romantically cozy interior.

Our server, who was helpful and charming, guided us in our first visit to an excellent dining experience. Sheri started with the Maryland Crab Bisque, while I had the Caesar Salad--both were nicely presented and portioned. Bread was also brought out for us to enjoy, which was crusty and soft. On to our entrees! I had the special--two 4 oz. filets with a red wine reduction demi glace, cooked to my choice of medium-rare, served with a grilled bbq shrip skewer, asparagus and white cheddar chipotle mashed potatoes--phew! Again, everything was beautifully presented, the filets were cooked to perfection with a slightly woodsy hint on both the filets and the shrimp. Asparagus was also nicely done. The mashed potatoes were only slightly disappointing--maybe they sat a bit longer than anticipated, but they just weren't as spectacular as I had hoped for. Sheri also had filet, cooked rare, with asparagus, lobster mac n'cheese and seared George's Bank scallops. Her dish was excellent also, with her filet cooked to her order--her downside with the lobster mac, which really only had one or two good sized pieces of lobster in it, but the taste was pretty good. My dinner was also nicely pared with a red zinfandel, which I enjoyed and thought was a nice compliment.

Dinner wouldn't be complete without a dessert (and I'm such a sucker for a dessert tray!) so we went with the Chocolate Velvet cake--moist chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, banana liqueur, chocolate ganache, crème anglaise--pure heave on a plate! Sheri also had a "Nutty Irishman" coffee, with frangelico and baileys--it smelled so good!

I know Tom was jealous he didn't get to come with us, so I'm sure that I'll return! Great place for a date night!

10/16/11-Valencia Luncheria, Norwalk, CT

Ethnically-based food always seems to be inexpensive and comes in large portions--Valencia Luncheria is no exception. A small, unassuming place along Main St. in Norwalk, you may not even give it a second look driving by if it wasn't for the yellow-painted exterior and blue awnings.

My partner and I were posted in the Norwalk area for the day and with the guidance of my smartphone was led to this place. It is very small with only a few tables that were all full, even at midday on a Sunday. I love good Spanish food and knew right away what I wanted to try. This place is known for their arepas (which is a Venezuelan handmade corn cake fried or skillet roasted stuffed with your choice of fillings)--my filling choices were easy--Pernil (Venezuelan pork roast) and the "Zach" (chicken and honey). My partner had the "Chef", filled with meat and jalapenos. We got our orders to go, as is the nature of the business I'm in and found a place to eat. First thing I noticed is how greasy it was--there was a small pool of grease in the bottom of the wax bag the arepa was wrapped in, so a little napkin-blotting was necessary. As I took a bite, the corn cake was soft and chewy with a slightly sweet taste--the pernil was delicious and moist, while the "Zach" was a perfect compliment to the arepa with the honey! These were so filling that I wasn't able to finish both of them!

An excellent place to stop for a quick and filling lunch, totally worth it--remember to bring cash, no credit accepted here.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

10/2/11-Merritt Canteen, Bridgeport, CT

This place is what America is all about--burgers, hot dogs, fried food and milkshakes.

My partner and I were instructed to post in the city so we decided to grab lunch while we could. While debating what to have for lunch today, I remembered that there was some place in Bridgeport that had been featured on the Food Network so after looking up the address, we decided to head over. Reading a few reviews, it was clear this place is a favorite for many people and I can see why now.

After waiting a short time in line, I stepped up to the counter and rattled off my order. Without typing anything up or writing anything down, the girl shouted my order to the kitchen and a few minutes later my order was bagged up, exactly as I ordered it--impressive! I had a bison cheeseburger (perfectly cooked, great flavor and how many places can you get bison?!), a chili dog (they are not kidding, folks, this dog has got some heat but don't let that deter you, it tastes great, too!), french fries (standard issue, a bit soggy and almost undercooked for me) and to wash it all down, a black and white milkshake. With a meal like that, I didn't eat anything the rest of the day! My partner followed suit, with a chili cheesedog, a bacon, egg and cheeseburger, onion rings and a chocolate milkshake. We were one well-fed happy ambulance crew today (and that truly is an unusual thing in this business!). We hope to be back here and I'd suggest it to anyone in the area--they've been around for decades, so they've gotta be doing something right!