Wednesday, December 28, 2011

12/27/11-Jim's Deli, Brighton, MA

This place is incredible. If this place was in CT, I swear I would eat here all the time.

We walked in to a cafeteria-like setup--grab a tray, place your order, wait for it to be done then slide down to the register. The menu is amazing--ridiculous, actually. So many sandwich and wrap choices, all creative and even breakfast and dinner options! I really didn't even know where to start but then I saw the "Cuban wrap"--not exactly authentic but so good--turkey, ham, cheese, pickles, lettuce and a spicy mayo, grilled in a wrap and served with a pickle spear--so good, the mayo totally made this wrap! Kirstin had the Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwich, which came with a pickle spear and french fries--the sandwich was so big--it had 3 pieces of chicken on it, you couldn't even fit this in your mouth without getting it all over your face!

I really cannot express how awesome this place is--the staff is super friendly and efficient, which is amazing considering how many menu choices there are and how fast they get the orders out to you. The food is tasty and plentiful and all for a good price--this is everything you want in a local joint, and more. It was no wonder that shortly after we arrived, the line was practically out the door. Jim's--can you please open a location in CT??

12/26/11-Smoken' Joe's, Brighton, MA

Came up to Boston to visit Kirstin in her new digs. After fighting all the post-holiday traffic up here, we were starved so I consulted the phone to find a place in her area to get some dinner. I didn't know what I was in the mood for until I happened upon this place--so glad we came here!

A small place with a nice vibe and live music every night of the week, this BBQ joint is definitely a cool place to hang out. We walked in and grabbed a table and menus were brought over. I went with the sliced beef brisket platter, with sides of mac and cheese and fries and cornbread. The brisket was great and the BBQ sauce that our waitress picked for me was an excellent companion--sweet and smoky with a ton of flavor! The brisket was nice and moist, french fries were average and the mac and cheese was ok, but nothing special (I would get different sides next time!). The cornbread was great, wish I had more of that! Kirstin ordered the Turkey Tips, which surprisingly were so good! They had a teryaki flavor to them, were nice and moist as well. The dishes were plentiful, the music was rockin and the service was fun and friendly. A great place for good food, music and hanging with friends!

12/22/11-The Chestnut Grille @ The Bee & Thistle Inn, Old Lyme, CT

What a lovely place to visit at the holidays! We arrived at this gorgeous house for dinner (I wish it was light outside so we could explore the property!) and walked inside to a beautifully decorated house. There were garlands, ornaments, gingerbread houses and other accents throughout the rooms surrounding the foyer. The hostess was so pleasant, taking our coats and showing us to the dining room.

Tom ordered a beer while I had a glass of white wine and bread with a herb butter was brought over. The butter had a very strong garlic and parsley taste so only a little bit was needed on the bread to get the flavor. For an appetizer, we ordered the Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio with Truffle Oil and Aged Gouda--nicely presented and the gouda slices were a nice touch, however the serving was quite small for the price (comparatively to the carpaccio we had at La Tavola, which we liked better than this one). For our entrees, Tom had the Tenderloin of Beef with Wild Mushroom Risotto and Caramelized Onions--the beef was cooked to his liking and the onions were spectacular, giving the meat this sweet and smoky flavor. I had the Braised All Natural Pork Shank with Smoked Garden Chili Peppers, Grilled Asparagus and Poached Fingerling Potatoes-- The pork was not on the bone as I had thought it would have been, but was in small slices (small-ish portion again) with a nice serving of asparagus and a few potatoes around the plate, no chili peppers to be found in this dish, so maybe just used for flavoring--everything tasted good, just kind of an oddly presented dish.

We were heading home to make cookies for the holiday so no dessert for us! Overall, we had a lovely meal together, in a nice romantic setting. Definitely worth a visit if you are out this way!

Monday, December 12, 2011

12/2/11-Pagliacci's, Plainville, CT

I couldn't even make a guess at how many times I've been to this establishment over the years. When I was a kid, this was the go-to place for our family when we went out for dinner, which was fairly rare. I haven't been here in a number of years, but I was glad to see that everything was just as I remembered it.

A popular local Italian joint, the portions are big enough to feel a small army, while staying delicious and lovingly crafted at the same time. Dinner started with their fresh baked bread and garlic sticks--lucky for us, they'll bring you more so you don't have to fight over them! Then came our salads--house for Tom, caesar for me. For our entrees, I stressed to Tom that Pagiliacci's makes some of their own cuts of pasta in house (a rarity!) and suggested that whatever he order, he have their housemade pasta; with that in mind, he went for his usual standby, white clam sauce over housemade spaghetti--he couldn't even come close to finishing this dish, but he enjoyed every bite he put down! I always seem to get a "baked" dish here, so I went with the Baked Ravioli with a side of sausage--the raviolis are no joke! They are the size of a small paperback book, made in house and covered in sauce and cheese--soooo good.

It was good to be back and see that they are just as busy as ever! I won't wait as long for our next visit!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

11/18/11-Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, Newington, CT

I truly am a sucker for a classy dinner.

Tom and I got to have a lovely evening out for dinner since we haven't had much time to see eachother. An absolutely lovely romantic dinner setting, there were couples around us celebrating anniversaries and other small parties for birthdays--I guess the two of us don't need a celebratory reason to come here!

Service was impeccable, as it should be in a restaurant such as this, however I felt that our waitress was a little brash at times, such as not even greeting us when she came over to the table. Bread came over quickly, which was soft and warm. Next, our caesar salads arrived, perfectly dressed. Onto our main event--we both had filets cooked to medium-rare and the dishes were served with asparagus and mashed potatoes and one extra addition--I chose BBQ shrimp while Tom chose the baked stuffed shrimp, both were excellent. Everything was delicious and filling, presented nicely as well, with the plates coming out of the kitchen screaming hot! We would definitely make a return visit, however, I think I liked David Burke and Morton's better--but absolutely nothing against Ruth's!

11/18/11-Jake's Wayback Burgers, Stratford, CT

In a 27-hour intensive 3-day class, the only perk was my lunchbreak! Ran over to this mini-franchise right down the street from the firehouse to grab a quick bite. The setup is very much like 5 Guys, but cleaner looking and much less busy. I tried their turkey burger, fries and an iced tea--the burger was on the smaller side, but was tasty and moist. The fries are nothing special (I prefer 5 Guys in comparison). The service was friendly, helpful and relatively quick. Definitely a nice place to stop in for lunch!

11/12/11-Pond House Grille (fka Tango Creative Eatery), Glastonbury, CT

After two visits to the original Tango restaurant, this had quickly become a favorite of ours and we told all our friends to go here. We came here after they changed their name, figuring that we'd have the same great experience--sadly, good things never last. The decor has changed, the menu changed and they got rid of all the elements that made them stand out from the pack.

I'm not saying that what we ate was bad--it wasn't--it just wasn't as good as it used to be. We found the menu lost its creative touch, not to mention that it also had odd pricing and not a decent appetizer selection. I had the pan-seared duck with mashed sweet potatoes, asparagus, cracklings and a cherry chili demiglace--duck was cooked nicely with no fatty or stringy quality as can be the case. I would have liked more cracklings or something else crunchy to balance out the mushy sweetness of the dish, however overall it was good. Tom had the cabernet braised lamb shank with big fat onion rings and caramelized root vegetables--the lamb was cooked to his liking and the dish was nicely presented.

Ok, so overall, it wasn't bad--service was friendly and the food was decent (I was glad to see they kept the delicious bread and butter at least!) but we were just so underwhelmed by the changeover (c'mon, no aromatics course?!). What used to be a romantic yet exciting place to go to dinner has turned into nothing special. Back on our quest for our new favorite restaurant!