Sunday, May 20, 2012

5/20/12-The Stone House Restaurant, Guilford, CT

Tom and I decided to have brunch today after I got up from my "nap" this morning--and what a beautiful day for it! The Stone House is in a great location, so we were hoping that the quality of the food was on par with the view.

For starters, I had a French cheese plate with a few sliced apples, crackers and a strawberry, all nicely presented. The plate came with four different types of cheeses, but unfortunately no explanation as to what the selection was. Tom had sliced tomato and mozzarella with drizzled basil oil over the top--his appetizer looked great, he appreciated the shaved parmesan that was atop the dish as well. For our meal, I had the French sausage and brie omelet, which came with potatoes and a small salad--I've never had French sausage, which I would describe as a thick salami almost, but the omelet itself was a nice portion and the brie made it super creamy. Tom went with the marinated skirt steak with scrambled eggs and potatoes--steak portion was small unfortunately but had a nice flavor to it, eggs were good and the potatoes were ok. For dessert, we both went with vanilla ice cream, served in a martini glass--2 small scoops but a nice finish to our meal.

Overall, we had a nice brunch but nothing to rush back down there for--we prefer the laid-back buffet style brunches. The staff was pleasant, but maybe slightly overwhelmed, as there were two private parties going on in the restaurant at the same time along with the brunch crowd. I'd give this place another shot--I could definitely see us coming back down here for a drink and a small bite at the bar, while enjoying the nice weather.

5/19/12-Luna Pizza, West Hartford, CT

Hubby was nice enough to grab takeout and bring it to my workplace so we could have dinner together after he got out of work. He ordered a BBQ chicken pizza and a dozen of the Italian wings. Pizza was ok, not great--I think that the BBQ chicken pizza I make at home is better than this! It would have been nice if the chicken was coated in the BBQ sauce, instead of plain breaded chicken chunks.Wings were good, nice touch with the side of hot sauce and blue cheese. I was glad we had a coupon, otherwise I felt like it was overpriced. I guess we're just spoiled having great New Haven pizza nearby!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

5/15/12-Miya's Sushi, New Haven, CT

Let me preface this review by saying that I do not like sushi--I don't do raw fish, it grosses me out. Sorry to those who love it (and yes, I've tried it--bad results!). Tom enjoys sushi, so I feel bad from time to time when he wants it and the thought turns my stomach. That being said, I knew from reading the menu that there were items at Miya's that I could enjoy!

We came down here around 6pm on a Tuesday night and was instructed to choose a two-top along the wall. Water glasses were filled and small novels....uhh, I mean menus....were placed in front of us. No joke, the menu is 30-something pages long, so it can get a bit overwhelming. As first timers, our server suggested the blue-plate special, where the kitchen makes up ten of the most popular menu items, but this won't work for us, considering I wouldn't eat most of what was brought out. We also had a gift card to use up so we perused the menu for what felt like forever before we made our decisions.

To start, we got the Tokyo Fro--thin potato strips fried up with a special sauce drizzled over the top--so good! Tom got a drink--the Kama Sutra--pureed berries, sake and beer all mixed together, which was surprisingly good! Now onto our sushi choices! "A Roll of a Lifetime" (roll of baked arctic char skin with asparagus)--this was Tom's favorite fish sushi, saying he'd definitely order it again; Ooh La La Mitzvah (tempura arctic char, brie cheese, avocado)--also just Tom's, but he enjoyed this one as well; "Italian Stallion" (fried calamari, new york mascarpone cheese, pistachios and orange marmalade)--what an incredible, surprising combination of flavors, we both enjoyed this one; "Dr. Zhivago's" (squid, caspian  seaweed, avocado, and roasted garlic in a whole grain roll, fried whole and served with a tangy sesame soy)--hands down, our favorite roll of the evening, just amazing; "Chicken Teriyaki Roll" (whole grain teriyaki roll, the contrapuntal ingredients plus sprouted brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, amaranth, millet and oats, resulting in a stormy symphony of flavors and textures. animal welfare approved organic connecticut pasteur raised chicken, broccoli, mushroom, pineapple, cranberries, almonds, burdock root and homemade sake teriyaki sauce)--crunchy, delightful and complimented nicely by the sauce, beautiful presentation; "Mishima Sonata" (a roll of catfish, peanut butter, banana, avocado, honey, goat cheese, tempura fried in its entirety in a whole grain roll)--Tom also enjoyed this one, nice sweetness to it.

Overall, the two of us had a very enjoyable evening, with lots of leftovers to take home! Service was very helpful for us first-timers and made us feel at ease and the atmosphere definitely has a college town vibe.  I also enjoyed that the menu focuses on sustainable seafood and ingredients (spend a few minutes reading the menu, you'll learn something!). By the time we were ready to leave, the place had totally filled up, surprising for any place on a Tuesday night. Glad we found a place that is safe for those of us who don't enjoy raw fish but have that twinge of guilt when our significant others do!

5/14/12-La Via Del Gusto, Manchester, CT

I have to thank Karin D. for pointing me in the direction of this place--it is a bit far for me to travel to all the time, but completely worth it if you're in the area.

Met Colleen for lunch at this little place and was so excited to give this place a go. The lovely man behind the counter was both charming and helpful and I trusted his judgement when building my combo sandwich, while Tom opted for the sopressata. We split the sandwiches, as is typical for us, and dived right in. The sopressata and a special italian cheese tasted absolutely amazing, nicely complimented by the light red pepper spread that they make in house; same with my combo, made with sopressata, ham and salami. Both grinders came out nicely warmed on a great bread and were quickly devoured. The sandwiches are a bit on the pricey side, but the top-shelf ingredients and special touches make it totally worth it. Colleen decided on sweets for her lunch, having two chocolate-dipped strawberries and a lobster tail. After Tom and I finished our sandwiches, we definitely couldn't fit dessert too, so we opted to get lobster tails and cannolis to go (the cannolis may not be in the case--that is because they make them FRESH while you are waiting! The lady behind the counter gave us a taste of the cannoli cream before we ordered ours--it is heavenly!) Even though I didn't have room for the lovely desserts, I had room for Italian Ice--strawberry for Colleen, lemon for me--at $1.50 for a small, the price is perfect for such a delicate treat.

I waited a few days to write this review so I could tell you about the cannolis and lobster tails that we brought home--ohhhh my goodness. I am glad I live far, else I would want to stop here way too often for these desserts. Trust me--they taste as amazing as they look!

This place is set back from the road and is easy to pass right by, so keep an eye out for it! There isn't a big sign that says the name, look for Strano's instead. Stop in next time you're in the area, you'll love it--the staff makes you feel right at home!

Monday, May 7, 2012

5/5/12-First and Last Tavern, Middletown, CT

Prime location in downtown Middletown, make sure you bring some quarters for the meters! We decided to come here on this Saturday night to avoid the Cinco de Mayo crowd down the street and we had a nice dinner.

We were seated quickly and the host brought over their signature bread to start--I could just eat this and be happy, the spices on it are amazing. Our waitress wasn't friendly at all--it was early, so she wasn't super busy or anything like that. When she came over to the table, she didn't introduce herself, just mentioned that she'd bring some water and asked what we wanted to order--OK then, no specials or small talk, I guess. Right down to business, we ordered a pizza with meatball and bacon and the First and Last wings to share. The wings came out first--they are described as being tossed in garlic and Italian spices, but the wings have a dry rub on it and it is much much spicier than anticipated! We do enjoy hot and spicy, so we enjoyed the wings. The pizza came out shortly after that--I am glad we went with the meatball, it arrived piping hot and was so tasty (it made for great leftovers cold the next day!). Service was quick and we were out of there in no time. My big complaint is that they packaged the half leftover pizza in a paper bag--they can't spare a pizza box? Not the most convenient way to transport leftover pizza, but it made the trip home nonetheless. Great place to bring the family for standard Italian fare--the pizza is good too, just a bit pricey compared to your local pizza shop.

5/4/12-Crown and Hammer, Collinsville, CT

Out tonight for a little dinner celebration with Jill and Cory. They frequently come out this way and have been here before. This restaurant is located in a beautiful location, very close to the Farmington river trail, Nepaug state forest and reservoir, so it is a perfect place to stop in the area. A very historic section of Canton, this building is very deceiving from the outside--once you get inside, it is a nicely decorated space, successfully marrying old and new, giving it a comfortable feel. They offer call-ahead seating, which we took advantage of, and we were seated right away.

We went with an appetizer to start--Jill chose the JW's Nachos--holy mess on a plate! The chips were buried under a mountain of guacamole, cheese, chili and jalapenos--a very messy dish. Shortly thereafter, warm bread was brought out to share. Then came our entrees--Cory had a salad with grilled chicken, Jill had the fish and chips (nice large pieces of fish battered and fried--it looked good!), Tom had the Bison burger with lettuce and tomato (it is on the pub menu, which you have to ask for when dining in for dinner) and I had the Stuffed Chicken with spinach, VT cheddar cheese and apples with an apple cider reduction, served with mashed potatoes and house veggies. My dish was nicely presented and well-priced, with the cider reduction being the star of the meal.

A very nice meal--the service was pleasant and the food was timely and filling. Tom and I agree that if we were in the area, we'd stop by but we wouldn't go out of our way to get here. Overall, a lovely evening with friends!

5/4/12-Arch Street Tavern, Hartford, CT

Came here for lunch with my clinical group to celebrate the last day of school EVER! I've never been here before but it was relatively easy to find with on and off street free parking (in Hartford? awesome!). Walking in, one of my classmates commented that it smelled like church--I wouldn't know, but it definitely has a worn and broken in feel to it--according to the website, the building was originally the Hartford Brick Carriage Factory, built in 1895, so yeah, it has some years on it. We sat at a big long wooden table in the middle of the restaurant and drinks all around were ordered--the Cabana for me--as we toasted to our final semester coming to an end.

The menu is a limited, no fuss, bar menu with the usual suspects--burgers, salads, sandwiches and wings. I went with the chicken caesar wrap--the waitress mentioned that it came with potato chips but for an additional $1.75, I could swap to french fries. For me, this was kinda off-putting, but I went with the fries so I could share with a classmate (they were nothing exciting, save your money and stick with the chips!). The wrap itself was good, especially because I asked to have mine with the cajun chicken to give it a little extra kick. Karolina had the buffalo chicken salad--at first glance, she was disappointed that the chicken just had a bit of buffalo sauce poured on it instead of the chicken being coated in it, but after a few bites, she said it was enjoyable. A cup of house chili, an apple gorgonzola salad and a burger were among some of the dishes ordered at the rest of our table, with no major complaints noted.

Overall, it was a nice lunch with the girls and a great way to end the semester, as this was one of the last times I'll see some of them--thanks for a great clinical experience! As a side note, considering the other choices that Hartford has to offer, and the fact that the food here just isn't that exciting, I'd go somewhere else first. This is more of a place to hang out at the bar after work and drink or to go hear some live music on the weekends, and there's nothing wrong with that.