noreservations's Profile

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trattoria lepri - ellington ct

Ah 'Trattoria Lepri'...it's so easy to get back to posting positive when you're speaking of such a clearly well regarded restaurant. Despite still having to work around that policy of "noooo reservations" and racking up the miles on the Chowmobile to land here it continues to be well worth our dining time. As a Chow-couple, Lepri made our 'Shared Top 5' rather easily and we're glad to have made it to this relative newcomer more than our fair share in rather short time. The tweaks and new additions to the menu are welcomed and hit the mark but we still find ourselves usually working in a menu standard or signature dish for good measure. Some good news which should serve them and their customers well: a handful of tables have been added in an area set behind and accessed at the far back wall of the main dining area. This should no doubt accommodate at least some of the parties that would otherwise have to crowd the outer bar/waiting area during their busiest hours.

Since the most recent stop fell on a prime night we found ourselves going through the same drill as the first visit to avoid a wait in this small capacity seater. With the cold weather there were fewer outdoor campers but still plenty awaiting the dinner bell in the comforts of their vehicles. My co-pilot rightfully sent me on my way to stand outside the door as I joined another couple(with the woman wearing a full-mask covering winter hat) as well as another gentleman waiting to give his dining companion the sign to to turn off the car and join the par-taay. My own sweetie waited only a minute or two to come out of hiding as Chef Frank's wife soon opened the doors when first seeing her gathering of anxious early-birds.

We both ordered and started to enjoy the first of three wines we each chose by the glass that evening while awaiting that standard-setting basket of breads which has come to define their offerings. She first went with the usual Chard/Viognier blend and moved to trying new juice throughout the meal with a different New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and then the winner of her bunch a White Bordeaux of Sauvignon/Semillon(hey-ooh to that chateau). I started with their Spanish Godello white before moving to featured glasses of a Cotes Du Rhone and then a Malbec from where else but Argentina baby. The individual ramekins of white bean puree with herbs and truffle oil, their triangular slice of fresh unsalted butter, and the herb infused oil were quite good but almost not needed as the choice of breads were downright delicious on their own(caramelized onion focaccia, "everything" bread twists, and parmesan rolls). The smiley lady across from me had to revisit the appetizer of 'Spiced Shrimp with a Sambuca "Glaze" over Field Greens and Red Onion Salad' but we also went to untried territory with the starters of 'Fig, Prosciutto, and Aged Provolone Flatbread' and the superb 'Herb Gnocchi with Sweet Peas in Pancetta Cream Sauce'(♫"...the best I ever had, the best I ever haaaad"♫).

With their entrees having remained so VERY reasonable for such quality we made a tasting of three with ulterior motives for leftovers, a midnight snack for moi or a more sensible next day lunch for her: the 'Seafood Risotto'(clams, scallop, shrimp, and crab with sweet peas and parmesan), the Lepri fan favorite of 'Slow Braised Beef Short Ribs'(with candied vidalia onions and their incredible gorgonzola gratin), and the 'Veal Duo'(a winter veal and vegetable stew plus a pancetta wrapped veal meatloaf with wild mushroom gravy and scallion mashed potatoes). All were at the level we've come to expect as the stock used to impart such flavor to the risotto impressed, the gratin pleased as much as the billed short ribs, and the plating of the stew in a mini-crock alongside the winter warming meatloaf and spuds made us forget the chill outside.

Desserts in the glass were a Passito di Pantelleria and an Elderton botrytis semillon while desserts on the plate were the 'Caramel Banana Bar'(with cookie crust, banana gelato, and fresh whipped cream) and the 'White Chocolate Bread Pudding'(with amaretto cherries and white chocolate liquor). Both were more subtle in flavor and "lighter" than the descriptions might indicate but we've certainly come to enjoy the desserts more with each time out. This place simply does everything that well and is among the most appreciated of our handful of favorites(with an added bonus of value)...they just plain hit the note: "♫Oh-oh say can you see..Trattoria Lepri♫" :) .

Show me the funny- "Test........":
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoraaf...

Feb 28, 2010
noreservations in Southern New England

Roseland Apizza: ambiance doesn't affect price. Warning: pizzas can cost $85!

Eventually disappointed with almost all facets of Roseland after many years I eventually just said "to each their own but I've personally seen all I care to see". There are a few who reposted here but if a particular entry is objectionable it certainly would be ideal if that specific post was deleted as opposed to an entire thread. That's already happened a couple of times this week so I'm assuming it's a bit much to respectfully ask for consistency in moderating but annnyway....I can plainly see where this poster was disappointed.

In speaking to their high end offerings....No, Roseland doesn't blindside you with their upfront and clearly announced prices but they instead do it with an almost ballsy lack of distinction in the food FOR those prices. Roseland offering these high end items isn't necessarily "a negative thing"(especially if they can in fact deliver a quality product)....but should someone else's experience be questioned if they feel Roseland falls short of the same expectations with the heavy hitters that their supporters have with their more modest offerings?

It would be one thing if the OP felt it was a bit much in the "price to play" at Roseland but that the food itself was great across the board. That wasn't the case in either attempt to post and it's there that I can agree. Yes, it was brought up that the bread is homemade but it's not such a high note to save for example their laughably priced and lacking "real"-veal grinder. That's surely a "basic" isn't it? As for what is on their board and supposedly special, most is priced to where you'd be convinced that it MUST be good and worth the cost or why would so many bother for as long as they have. Regrettably, after some time Roseland just left us wondering: "All prices aside, do they(operators and raving customers alike) actually believe it's that good period?". Obviously countless numbers still do but we concluded that it wasn't for us any longer so just moved on. For those that haven't been there I'd say it's one of those places where you can indeed have some luck with certain items for a while but with more regular visits the inconsistency across all of the various offerings is likely to become more apparent. Yeah, the antipastos are big...but so are the expectations.

We used to make a point to get to Roseland and most times thought pretty highly of their shucked clam pie with no mozz(can't forget that squirt of lemon at the table). At mid-twenties for a true large it was more often than not pretty good but occasionally inconsistent(to varying degrees... although not enough to dismiss them altogether). On what was to be our last visit they didn't have the clams for this somewhat safe-bet clam pie but they somehow had the clams for their embarrassingly inferior Zuppa Clams(red). Huh? We should have just called it a night there but I attempted to make the best of that evening for my darling DC who wanted to continue to like this once fairly favored spot of ours. Having experienced unevenness in some other previously enjoyed "basic" dishes that we had gotten leading up to this, we instead figured to try going to the drawing board one last time. Willing to pay for something extraordinary(of course you have to have that streak in you to be a regular here anyway), we always saw that "special" Lobster Borsa dish listed for Market Price. For what they wanted it had better be good, well it wasn't...
regardless of its price. I didn't list a dollar amount for that isn't the issue, it's a matter of quality which I firmly feel Roseland gets more credit in this area for than they deserve or at times even care to offer. In the case where their portions are larger than other spots: If the quality isn't there or the finished product isn't consistent- what good does it do to have any more on the plate? It's not as if EVERYTHING that appears on their menu and on that board is so plentiful in portion beyond compare to anywhere else like many are quick to have everyone believe.

In addition to the dishes that were supposed to have you recall Gram's cooking, we particularly used to enjoy those huge signature homemade Lobster Raviolis, the at times quite noteworthy weekend special of Fried Calamari, and the Broccoli Rabe with housemade Sausage(quite interesting with no casing). Unfortunately as time went by either the portions varied from one visit to the next(shrinking Rabe and disappearing Sausage), the dish just plain sucked("We actually once liked this Calamari?"), or items were less filled to the point of insult(as in the case of the Lobster Ravioli). More importantly the basics themselves suffered from marked inconsistency thus our overall experience diminished greatly. Couple that with their attitude that the food is somehow better than it really is(don't forget to throw in some less than lovely interactions with their largely indifferent staff of servers) and it got to the point where we just don't bother anymore. As with what actually counts which is what makes it to the table, there was just no reason to. To those who still enjoy, I'd say all the best meals to you and you can indeed have it "all to yourselves" because for us we had enough of their "family" experience to know we're not missing a thing.

Oh and the wine. Let's not forget it wasn't that long ago that Roseland only served plonk from a gun and/or jug for the same prices they're charging now for their modest but at least "not entirely insulting" list of by-the-glass options and bottles of usual suspects. I have to say they were at least receptive in agreeing that there was a happy medium which was that they'd still be making plenty by charging the exact same amount a glass but for something serviceable if not memorable. For those that are happy with "house" selections with "casual" meals I'm right there with you. Many of our favorite and most modest of "ethnic" spots these days offer the same...they've just had the decency to charge accordingly all along. It's one thing for Roseland to charge what they do for some of their food which is viewed by many as the best of its kind in the area but that same reasoning didn't necessarily translate to their stance on wine before they made the changes.

Feb 25, 2010
noreservations in Southern New England

Mama Mary's Soul Food New Haven - fka Sandra's Place

Just a quick thanks for such a nice job here with this thread's review and links. Must of missed it when first posted but luckily saw the add on to the more recent posting.

Happily working our way through 'Mama Mary's' quality menu of good food from good people so we appreciate you sharing the find.

Feb 23, 2010
noreservations in Southern New England

Departed CT Restaurants...Don't Look Back In Anger

It seems I still get attached...to restaurants I've grown fond
They're unlike the ex-wife....can't be replaced by a blonde ;) .

Right away in this New Year....a rather quick rocky start
A great market and good restaurant....were the first to depart

Early on it was 'Kari'....New Haven's other Malaysian
Then it was 'Feast'....a Deep River trail worth blazin'

Kari's roti canai....and that dish of stingray
Feast's gourmet goodies....why couldn't they stay?

I blame big-box slop stops....and CHAIN-wreck restaurants
If you go to either....you're deserving of taunts

So sorry to be angry....disappointment can be misguided
It's just that quality choices....and popular tastes have collided

So let's stick together....in search of good chow
Hounds avoid the sub par....I think we know how

Support locales of distinction....those which rise far above
Don't forget to post here....and share of their love

If you've made it this far....a toast from this broken heart
I wish you all the best eats....but f*** EVERY Walmart!

"I don't have to tell you things are bad........."
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dib2-H...

Feb 21, 2010
noreservations in Southern New England

Siam Orchids, Branford

It didn't take long to stop at 'Siam Orchids' after the couple of positive posts so I purposely set out early to have a meal before a visit with our nearby(but painfully un-Chowish) friends a few weeks back. Between going here for the first time with plans to return, the 'Lobster Shack' in warmer months, and the Camacho's soon to be opened restaurants...they're going to think I enjoy their company more than I truly do. If they only knew that they were merely a stop on a more important journey. I guess I'll tell them someday ;) .

After ordering a glass of the former 'Ca del Solo' winery's 'Big House White' I was kindly asked to show my identification. My what a fantastic start! It's been too long since that happened but I was more than happy about the confusion as I thanked the server and privately toasted the lighting designer :) . I knew Randall Grahm sold the 'Big House' and 'Cardinal Zin' labels a few years ago but as with his 'Bonny Doon Winery' bottlings recalled most of those wines favorably(though I hadn't tasted either since the sale). Always affordable and drinkable blends labeled with humor(yes, THAT "big house" since they're up the road from Soledad State Correctional Facility), it was nice to see 'Siam Orchids' offer both the red and white blends as an alternative to say the other wines owned by the same monstrous buying group...surely nothing groundbreaking but at least a passable by the glass option here. This version(Malvasia Bianca, Muscat Canelli, Viognier, and Roussanne) of the always changing varietals and blends was enjoyable enough with the food to follow but the glasses itself were somewhat slight in size. Think Riedel's Vinum Port glass...only narrower?...yikes.

I had to start with that 'Tom Yum Goong' soup but expecting more spiciness a few spoonfuls in I muttered "What was Mr. Don talking about?". Yep, spoke too soon: 'Hang On Sloopy'...THERE it is. It took a little while but the one-pepper symbol of spiciness joined the "Big House"-Party and delivered the promised amount of heat. I could see my less tolerant co-pilot finding it a bit spicier than myself if she comes out next time but my experience that day found it was the kind that complemented the soup without overwhelming the entire bowl, a good beginning.

In keeping with measuring-stick dishes I then moved to the 'Som Tam' Papaya Salad. When first trying this standard a while back I was braced for more of a raw, "green", or unripe bite of flavor but was surprised to be treated to a nicely balanced dish with the expected chile, garlic, beans, ground peanuts...though this one was with more lime juice than I'm accustomed to(as with Kate Winslet I'm used to seeing this salad hardly dressed). No harm done either way as I just tilted the plate. This so-called "tough guy of Thai" thought the one-pepper symbol was for show though as it was nowhere near the same indicated spiciness of the 'Tom Yum Goong' soup, still it was a good option for this middle course.

The finale was the 'Wild Boar' Basil which was prepared in a special curry(what looked to be a variation of their 'Red Curry') with peppers, perfectly sized thin green beans, and Thai basil. The wild boar was indeed tender, marinated as billed, and quite a change of pace for this Hound who's always game. I wouldn't hesitate to order this again if I was here more often...or if the several 'Duck Specialties' weren't calling my name for next time.

Bang a 'Goong':
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUc629OcQPo
Don't put my Sloopy down:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DO2Y2s...

Feb 21, 2010
noreservations in Southern New England

On20/Polytechnic (Hartford) opening for dinner

It's quite difficult to get to 'ON20' with my hardworking honey's work schedule so we were glad to have been able to take advantage of a rare weekend dinner opportunity on Valentine's Eve. Oh the haters will say any Valentine's related dining will suffer in quality or in course options but those familiar with the adept creations coming out of this exceptional kitchen know that it's simply an everybody wins opportunity to enjoy this "any occasion is special" treat. Adding to the evening was the the music in my head(!) caused by Chef Noel Jones' consummate skill as well as the romantic sounds of the Mass-Conn-Fusion Jazz Duo composed of a String (striped)Bass and (safe)Sax. A toast to that duo of Jim Healy and Liz Roberts as well as the other familiar faces who were on the same delicious page. Being such an unparalleled experience in many ways, if it took a "Hallmark holiday" to enjoy a long overdue meal here then I'm all for it Cupid!

'ON20' offered a beautifully presented five course tasting which we supplemented with an additional option(*) as well their wine pairings. Yet again I'm getting a little emotional just recalling it all, so check out the menu while I try to keep it together :) :

Lemongrass Chicken Consommé, Chicken Soy Scallion Dumpling, Thai Basil
paired with '08 Napa Cellars Sauvignon Blanc

Trio de Mer: Kushi Oyster on the Half Shell(Blood Orange Sabayon), Seared Diver Scallop(Leek Custard, American Sturgeon Caviar), Mint Wrapped Langoustine(Sudachi Rémoulade)
paired with '07 Desvignes Ainé and Fils Chablis

Wild Branzino a la Plancha, Clementine Gastrique Pipérade
paired with '07 Chateau Grande Cassagne Rosé Costieres de Nimes

Wagyu Filet Mignon, Truffle Pommes Purée, Foie Gras Maitre d'Hotel Butter, Bordelaise Syrup...(so good one of us "needed to be held" at this point)
'07 B.R. Cohn Cabernet

*Irish Cashel Blue Trifle, Pear Relish, Walnut Dacquoise

Milk Chocolate Bombe, Marcona Almond Croquant(♫"Muh-Muh-Muh..Myy Marcona"♫), Terrine of Strawberry Ice Cream...(yet again someone needed assistance here)
paired with Vinedo de Los Vientos 'Alcyone' dessert wine

Feb 14, 2010
noreservations in Southern New England

Fresh pasta at Feast Gourmet Market (Deep River, CT)

You've got to be freakin' kidding. We take the good with the bad on Chow...but to get heartbroken on Valentine's Day is a first! Went WELL out of the way to get to 'Feast' whenever possible but I was particularly happy around times of celebration to get their creative dishes, sides, sauces, etc. to supplement the Hound-worthy holiday spread. We can fill in the gaps as far as the pasta(although not nearly as creatively) but this is a major disappointment in a lot of ways. Sucks to find out any way you cut it but to digest this when at 'du Glace' makes that whole trip a little less rewarding.

Say it aint so!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENXvZ9...

Feb 14, 2010
noreservations in Southern New England

the Mill at 2T, Tariffville, Ct.

Lucky Tariffville. You locals(Tariff-"villains"!) get to enjoy this gem at will so I really don't feel that bad about having to compete for your seats here :) . Since we've only been able to set out in the Chowmobile on prime nights as of late we hadn't yet been able to enjoy a multiple course tasting opportunity at the 'Mill at 2T' prior to this week. As all of their daily changing menus have a way of doing, the New Year's Eve offerings certainly tempted but we couldn't attend- thus our determination in making arrangements for this much anticipated Chatom Vineyards Wine Dinner. Admirably talented, hospitable, gracious, and a plain joy to be dining with- 2T's team of Chef Ryan, Kelleanne, and staff again made for a memorable night with the Mill's highly held standard of inspired creative fare along with an in-depth tasting of a winery whose bottlings they serve some selections of and introduced us to on our first pre-holiday visit. What a way to start any week and a fine excuse to stay up a tad later than usual....excluding of course any rockstars, vinophiles, or foodies used to partaking in such indulgences- of which I saw a few ;) .

We again found ourselves quite impressed and talking afterwards of the setting Ryan and Kelleanne have created as they've quickly made '2T' a shared favorite of this Chow-couple who see it refreshing that their recent accolades are in fact so well deserved. The food speaks for itself but it's also rewarding in experience and interactions which makes '2T' so memorable and worthwhile.

Check out that night's menu while I attempt to gather myself :) :

Butter Poached Lobster
Hudson Valley Foie Gras, Saffron Vanilla Sauce
paired with Chatom Vineyards 2007 Sauvignon Blanc

Sautéed Black Cod
Forbidden Rice("Oh behave!"), Pickled Hedgehog Mushrooms, Preserved “Lemonade”
paired with Chatom Vineyards 2007 Chardonnay

Duck and Butternut Ravioli
Confit of Duck Leg, Butternut Squash, Soft Hen Egg, Sage Brown Butter
paired with Chatom Vineyards 2006 Merlot

Pan Roasted Squab Breast
Caramelized Parsnips, Savoy Cabbage Kraut
paired with Chatom Vineyards 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon

Veal Short Rib “Stroganoff”
Carrot Parpadalle, Parmesan Velouté, Parisian Vegetables
paired with Chatom Vineyards 2005 Esmeralda Syrah

Tasting of Colorado Lamb
Roasted Loin and Slow Cooked Breast, Homemade Potato Gnocchi, Smashed Minted Peas
paired with Chatom Vineyards 2006 Zinfandel

Chocolate and Cheese
Chocolate Cake with Ganache
Coach Farm Goat / le Delice du Jura / Piave
Crusty Baguette and Truffle Honey
paired with Chatom Vineyards 2004 Vintage Port

"We've changed a lot and then some...some
You know that we've always been down...down
If I didn't ever thank you...you
Then just let me do it now"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rne6c0...

-----
Mill at 2T
2 Tunxis Rd, Tariffville, CT 06081-9686

Feb 11, 2010
noreservations in Southern New England

Carson's--formerly Hops--on the Pike (Newington, CT)

No suds for this Super Sunday! The wait continues. Crossed paths and had the opportunity to speak with a very informed, courteous, and enthusiastic key at Carsons and was told that they're now roughly looking at next week instead for their own beer. With that, they're expecting to initially start with only their Lager then the four others as soon as they can offer them(Brewhouse Porter, a Seasonal, an Amber Ale, and a Red). Same brewmaster(as in the one before the 'Hops' closing) but I'd be encouraged with new ownership and an all around focus on quality that they can produce better beer than what was served under corporate constraints.

While the departure times for sampler "flights" has thus been delayed...do enjoy the Bowl!

Raising a gametime Muffuleta with Big Easy beverages/Crescent City cocktails to the most deserving city and team:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyLjbMBpGDA&feature=related

The Carson brew kettles say: "Someone better slap me before I start to rust":
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ain70A...

Feb 07, 2010
noreservations in Southern New England

Wine Fest

I appreciate that link to a site I was not aware of...THANKS triggs! This will be the perfect supplement to the wine dinners at restaurants I have previously gone to and have a rapport with(which thus keeps me informed as to their own upcoming events). I already see a few of interest as well a sponsor that I could have a field day with in their shop based on their site's selections...it's you're fault if I go too crazy :) .

After they removed a post of mine attempting to share an event that could be of interest to my fellow board's members(it was within an existing thread of a particular restaurant), our moderators explained: While Chow doesn't allow
"promoting" of events or wine dinners, one can "share upcoming food/wine occasions of interest with your fellow Hounds"(as in wording posts "I received an E-mail/saw in the paper that XXXX is having a XXXX that might be Chow-worthy and of interest to you, etc.). I certainly hope this can continue on our new Southern New England board.

Feb 02, 2010
noreservations in Southern New England

Wine Fest

Thanks to all for their take on the Winefest and for Jim on speaking specifically to this year's "Elite Cru"...seems this is the only way left to go. I've also previously heard of the hectic atmosphere, a past element of unruliness(especially back when they had the spirits!), and the difficulty in learning or speaking to engaged reps given the setting and large public turnout.

Although I would have liked to take advantage of a most appreciated and kindly offered opportunity to attend, it's the feedback stating that the selections themselves at the Grand Tasting are not especially worthwhile that really leaves me wondering.

I'm left to ask: Besides the wine dinners or game dinners with pairings at noteworthy restaurants and the distributor tastings for the trade, are there any other quality wine events that are worthwhile here in CT?

Now that's a line up:
http://www.sunwinefest.com/images/Cru...

Feb 01, 2010
noreservations in Southern New England

'Thai Food Express'...Wallingford, CT

Just after the holidays I was in the area masquerading as a good son who actually sees his folks so I stopped for visit number two. I stand by my original conclusion that if nearby or convenient to you 'TFE' would suit a day or night where "take out with a twist" is in order given their reasonably priced menu and location. I'd imagine that you talented cooks out there probably stop, shop, and get out of dodge or go down the road to 'Taqueria Mexico' before or after visiting 'Chef's Equipment Emporium' but on this night I just needed some good eats after being cross-examined by family: "How come you don't call or visit more often?". Gotta love em'.

A note of good news, this visit I recognized 'TFE' as "The Glenn Frey of Thai" for I proclaimed 'The Heat Is On'....hey-oooh. Unlike last time, the establishment itself was warm and toasty AND the dishes of supposed spiciness were as promised(but to somewhat of an extreme in the other direction). Wanting to try a variation of the 'Crispy Spring Rolls' I had on the first visit, I ordered one of two other options offered that night...not a good move(we'll leave it at that). Same for the 'Tom Ka Kai' soup. Hoping for a taste of what interested me on the 'Son Siam East' menu(which is 'Tom-Kha Gai' and described as "a zesty, spicy, and sour soup blended with chicken, coconut milk, mushrooms, lemon grass" etc.), this singular-note hitting soup might have given me a slight taste of what the ingredients could deliver in a proper sit down meal but not much more. I'd likely go with the first visit's 'Tom Yum' soup with shrimp here or 'Tom-Yum Goong' elsewhere. For an alternate selection to the 'Waterfall Salad' described in the first post I wanted to try the 'Somtum Salad'(as they spell it), the Papaya salad with fresh chiles, crushed peanuts, and lime juice which I assumed would be a good indicator dish of a benchmark Thai offering. Despite being listed on their board of specials I was told after ordering it wasn't available. The "Glen Frey of Thai" quickly turned into one of Tom Petty's "Heartbreakers". Let a guy down easier next time could you please? :) .

For take-away mains I chose the 'Green Curry'(same primary ingredients as the 'Red Curry' the first time out but instead of duck I chose pork), the 'South Sea Noodles' prepared with Squid(which were "Mama" or Thai egg noodles with celery, onion, carrots, mushroom, egg, and spicy sauce), the 'Pad Kaprow' prepared with Duck(mushrooms, onions, and attractively sliced carrots stir-fried with hot basil, fresh chile, and garlic), and finally the 'Running Lamb'(I opted for the hot basil sauce instead of the curry sauce which I tried before ). With the last two dishes the lack of spiciness I noted my first visit would be far different on trip two.

With both the 'Pad Kaprow'(two "warning pepper" symbols of spiciness) and the 'Running Lamb'(three symbol)...holy freakin' Chowhound they were HOT. I tolerate and welcome spiciness- in food and all else in life ;) ...but goodness Graceland, even my limits were tested. When the menu says "Hot" basil they're certainly not referring to serving temperature! Just a warning that when ordering anything with this here you might need a "safe word" when your sensory "boundaries" have been crossed("Giggity-giggity" says Glenn "Just Say When" Quagmire). As mentioned before, if you should happen to try 'TFE' just be specific as to what you expect on either side of the spiciness spectrum in any dish but particularly that "Bastard-Basil". The 'South Sea Noodles' were a nice option since I also enjoyed their 'Drunken Noodles' the first time here and as with that initial stop I ordered this dish with beautifully scored large pieces of squid(from the mantle of the animal baby). While I'm as 'Green' in Thai cuisine as the curry sauce I tried this time around, I find I generally prefer 'Red Curry' more but it was certainly worth testing the waters and trying something quite different.

Aside from the squid, the actual pieces of the other meats weren't as generous and carefully cut like the nice slices of duck with skin and the crispy pork on my first sampling a little while back(there was a different younger lady cooking this night). Still worth it in the end, these two visits will likely see me return in time but more importantly they renewed and peeked an interest in exploring other Thai restaurants and eventually going back to the couple of others outside this area which I had rather nice meals at in the past.

"Warning-peppers" of spiciness? My poor burning mouth: "The roof, the roof was on fire":
(as with much else in life the last two minutes are best)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGvd-C...

Jan 31, 2010
noreservations in Southern New England

'Hidden Vine' Wine Bar and Lounge...Newington, CT

What's newwww(ington)? Any newfound places to share with your fellow posters on Chow? Either you're hiding a worthwhile local spot, you haven't experienced much there to post about, or you somehow didn't get around to stopping yet. I'm suspecting the first but would always welcome your "final answer"...we've heard it all before :) . The Chowmobile(it's like Knight Rider with a taste for food and wine) was passing through your neck of the woods thanks to another visit to 'Veggie World' for some Polish specialties and Turkish pantry-essentials when its shameless driver stopped for a meal even though his co-pilot and dining companion was hard at work and unaware of his ulterior food motives.

Open for a little more than a year now, this newly built-up spot situated in Market Square set back from Main St is surely not that difficult to find but for us directionally challenged aimless wanderers(I somehow still landed). The menu is a nice mix of starters, samplers, panini, soup, salad, and entrees- just enough selections of each to be focused yet plenty to experiment with for variation. The daily additions/specials are big with the regulars so that they go very quick on prime nights, a rather positive sign that there are many who'll happily defer to the kitchen for whatever is new and assumed to be as good as what they've enjoyed before. The wine list delivers the needed mix to be suited for a wine-bar and changes often enough so that a glimpse of what is now on their site could very well be some of what used to be served.

One scoping-out stop began with a white 'Cortese di Gavi' while starting with a sliced 'Cured Meat Sampler'. The generous "single-order" version of this plate sported a handful of different meats, sliced bread, and was served with marinated olives and a mixed-fruit compote like mixture whose Italian name escapes me. Would you happen to know what this is called? Man oh man the memory certainly fades when starting to slip(or sip) into a Chow-content state...clink. After resisting the urge to take advantage of the seemingly rare option of having 'Barolo' by the glass(here-here) I instead moved to a 'Montepulciano' and then a Super-Tuscan Rosso blend to go with the 'Polenta Triangles over Cognac Sauce' and one of several creative 'Bruschettas', this one a Hanger Steak version("Lombatello"!) with a couple of hints of small-cubed semi-melted cheese. The two wedges of polenta were indeed a pleasant break from what is often prepared(see article below) and was served with their Cognac sauce that also comes with the 'Homemade Gnocchi'(the full entree has sauteed shrimp, prosciutto, and asparagus). Clearly proud of what his kitchen turns out, owner Sal kindly offered a taste of this excellent Gnocchi as well as a 'Gorgonzola Stuffed Date wrapped in Maple Smoked Bacon' my first time out...a gesture most appreciated as I would no doubt order either again and be confident that my co-pilot would enjoy these as much as her scheming dining companion. Sal proved to be quite the host and his staff was enthusiastic, friendly, and informed. Is it safe to mention the regularly scheduled limited seating wine dinners? Oh like you'd tell me if it was anyway :) .

A site siting:
http://www.hiddenvinewinebar.com/
No secrets Newington:
http://www.hartfordadvocate.com/artic...

-----
Hidden Vine Wine Bar & Lounge
1052 Main St Ste 2B, Newington, CT 06111

Jan 31, 2010
noreservations in Southern New England

Northern Galapagos...Torrington, CT

The Galapagos were calling so my co-pilot and I recently took our time to enjoy a meal here before a show at the Warner. Aside from enthusiasm by Chow-poster MagnumWino and a few other praises(mostly for their weekend breakfast), we were seeking feedback for their dinner service since the menu offered some items of interest and tempting wines to boot. The setting had been described as "sterile" and "not big on atmosphere" perhaps lending itself more in appearance to the weekday breakfasts they once served(agreed). As far as what awaits on the plate: there's much to like with some selective choosing..
an "understated asset to Torrington dining" as best summarized elsewhere.

There are touches of Eucadorian influence from Chef/Owner Pedro Rivera that appear on the 'Northern Galapagos' menu but it is no doubt balanced with other Spanish-infuenced food for more widespread appeal. I would have liked to see more of his own country's inspired creations(even if for specials) but we made do nonetheless. Is a Hound's only chance to try some 'Cuy' a spooky Halloween game-dinner at Foster's?!? ;) . Chips and salsa were brought to the table as we looked through the well chosen list of very reasonably priced wines. Mostly focused on reds, the list emphasized the high quality to price ratio of several bottlings from Argentina, Chile, and Spain. Since we were camping out for a while it was different bottles for each in our party of two(woo-hoo): a Chilean reserve Chard for her and a VERY special 'Quimera Malbec' for me. Admittedly I've done nothing to deserve such a treat but come on..you go around but once.

The 'Eucador Sampler' included a Tamale(made of corn slightly sweet and topped with cheese consistency enough to be drizzled) that grew on this guy with each bite, an Empanada filled with chicken and vegetables(though entirely different I need 'Ola's' again instead), and no fail grilled plantains. Although another appetizer we were eyeing wasn't available we lucked out that the back-up and almost afterthought of a choice was the superb 'Lamb Stuffed Mushrooms'. A few to a serving thus plenty to share, these larger overfilled beauties delivered in taste what at first did not tempt in description. Each was filled with lots of seasoned lamb and perfect amounts of a surprisingly balanced pairing of Feta cheese and Marsala wine. This was the hands down winner here and an obvious choice for a first appetizer on a return visit. To put it kindly, a cup of 'Lobster Bisque' was not in this same area of quality. Soup(that night an Escarole and White Bean with Tomato) or salad(a fairly-sizeable House version) was also given as part of the meal and both were enjoyed before the mains.

After a long break my dining companion predictably chose the 'Paella'(from the menu: "Fresh pepper and onion sauteed with garlic in extra-virgin olive oil and Spanish chorizo sausage then brought to a simmer with risotto, clams, mussels, shrimp, chicken and combined in a seafood saffron broth and finished with fresh tomato, scallions & fresh peas). It was "good" but unspectacular and I got the sense she wanted to kick herself for not ordering the 'Eucador-style Roasted Pork' with cumin and garlic..Hey, for once we agreed :) . Be sure to see the excellent thread "Paella near New Haven, CT" on the old New England board for more memorable options and other opinions with discussion. After hearing the Chef proudly turned out a great 'House Roasted Duckling' I had to accept. "Vote For Pedro!" I exclaimed as it was that good. He must enjoy preparing this dish because it would be tough to not order again, definitely among the best I've had recently. Plated with a tastefully balanced and impressively subtle Dried-Cranberry/Orange sauce, this crispy skinned motherducker was served with killer Scalloped Potatoes and Roasted Root vegetables(both thicker-cut)...yes this one was mine oh mine. I'll always share during the meal but the woman with no shame seated across from me actually wanted these leftovers for herself. Sorry dear, in the words of CT's own Marvin Lee Aday..."I Would Do Anything For Love(But I Won't Do That)".

We're looking to see what a soon to be scheduled wine-dinner has in store but we'd definitely return in due time when in the area since they're conveniently just up the road from the theatre.

From sky to table?:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pWOzJ...

-----
Northern Galapagos
281 Winsted Rd Ste 3, Torrington, CT 06790

Jan 28, 2010
noreservations in Southern New England

Good Girls Night Out Restaurant in CT

Hey come on now. You're the ones that have to pretend this arrangement isn't less than ideal for Fairfield County! :)

We do our welcoming in song and since we're joined on one board now...you be the Peaches & we'll be the Herb?:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZOhm7qS-AI&feature=related

For those nearby: Unfortunately it's not one of the $50 or $100 deals but this one for Sakura can at least be used on different visits:
http://connecticut.dininghalfoff.com/...

Jan 28, 2010
noreservations in Southern New England

Good Girls Night Out Restaurant in CT

Whoops, excuse me to the ladies. Nothing to add here but I guess there's a difference between "Good Girls" Night Out and A good "Girls Night Out". Alllllrrrighty then :)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3xVrx...

Cowboy hibachi chefs and scorpion bowls? Ha-ha, oh boy I should have known.

How about them upcoming changes to the boards? Yeah, CT is CT but I can really understand where Fairfield County posters preferred the Tristate arrangement. Did you see their debate on Ching's Table? Jeesh, a compact disc will skip but there lies a couple of posters I mistook for a "broken record". Rough crowd I tell ya :) . I've might have vented about why there's such love for Lenny and Joe's but there are some cranks that have nothing positive to say about almost anywhere. Get ready for one big happy reunion!

Jan 25, 2010
noreservations in Southern New England

Want to help move threads? Check in here.

(In an Arnold Horshack/Welcome Back Kotter-like response): "Ooh-ooh-ooh, pick me, pick me". It would be a pleasure to be chosen...but not last like some kid in gym class. :)

Together we can keep the New England/Southern New England board from becoming one 'Hot Mess'. ;)

Jan 25, 2010
noreservations in Site Talk

Maine Sweet Shrimp - In CT - Norwalk & Naugatuck

Quite nice of you to post this cheery(and for passing along yet another link) so I must share too...as long as fellow Hounds promise to save some of the head-on shrimp! Mr. Tom does indeed stop in Naugatuck on Fridays and gets set up around 9:30 or so on Rubber Ave(right next to Monro).

The weather's been trying but these fingers are crossed for a generous Wednesday 'Pemaquid Seafood' catch. They're pretty aggressive in bringing our state a share whenever possible...but so am I in that line so let's all be nice O.K.? :) .

Sharing IS caring:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orEhUE...

Jan 19, 2010
noreservations in Southern New England

'Thai Food Express'...Wallingford, CT

Hello Ms j~ On a "quest" for good nearby-Thai these days huh?!? Right there with you both :) .

Will post soon about the last stop a couple of weeks ago but on both visits I did not get the corn/bean mixture you describe. Now I'm curious too.

Jan 19, 2010
noreservations in Southern New England

Siam Orchids, Branford

Thanks to the Prius for choosing 'Siam Orchids' and to Mr. DonShirer for the post and the nudge I needed to go here! Our own Chowmobile passes through the area quite often as a friend lives just around the bend so there's no longer good reason to continue to drive by. We'll have to try some "indicator" dishes to compare to other spots but the 'Wild Boar Basil' and the handful of different 'Duck' Specials will keep things interesting here.

Decisions, decisions:
http://www.culinarymenus.com/siamorchids1.htm#Menus

Siam Orchids & Som Siam..New York Times "It Takes Two":
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/04/nyregion/dining-sampling-thai-cuisines.html?scp=1&sq=siam%20orchid%20branford&st=cse

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/18/nyr...

Jan 17, 2010
noreservations in Southern New England

Cavos, Newington, CT

Nothing but praise for the Thursday "Meze" menu of small-plates at 'Cavos'. We stumbled upon this menu for the first time when stopping in for take-away 'Gyro' and 'Spanakopita' before the holidays and boy they got me good after that :) . The last time through I had the charbroiled 'Lamb Chops'(rather nice of them to plate more 'Tzatziki' and 'Pita' with this tasting portion), the 'Roast Greek Lemon Potatoes', plus two that philbkr mentioned above..the 'Bakaliaros'(pan fried battered salt-cod with Skordalia sauce), and the 'Saligaria Stifado'(stewed snails with onions, tomato, garlic).

As for the Greek wines: Hey, you don't have to ask me to dance twice I'm game. I don't mind defending the better examples of our local wines nor drinking what suits the food from elsewhere so while not jaw-dropping "stand alone" wines, I'll mix it up and have the Greek glasses at 'Cavos' whenever we land there. On Thursdays they offer a white 'Roditis' by the glass that's not regularly served but surprisingly decent with the food as well as a red 'Agiorgitiko/St George' (less noteworthy but at least worth a single try by the glass this same night). The winner though is their red 'Mavrodaphne' dessert-wine. At the end of the meal maybe it's just all the enjoyable food talking..but this one(like our last server) is quite the nice Greek-"sweetie".

Even though I assumed it was no longer available I was surprised to still see the
'Taramosalata' offered on the menu. When asked later, the server confirmed it was in fact still being made and that we could order some. Wish I questioned before I ordered but I'll remember the good news for next time. Another Kudos to the family!

Jan 17, 2010
noreservations in Southern New England

Sharpe Hill Vineyard (Pomfret, CT): Destination Dining in Connecticut's Quiet Corner

It's hard not to heart Sharpe Hill isn't it? :) . Definitely agree that the 'Pontefract' is a winner there. This was already an eye-opener in the tasting room the last time out but I enjoyed our purchased bottles poured with friends some time later even more. Estate grown St. Croix in a Port style? Oh mercy me...get a hold of yourself already.

The runner-up for us was the 'Select Late Harvest' made from estate grown Vignoles...my what a botrytised baby you have! Although our bottles are already gone, I can see myself most enjoying this one at the vineyard on a warm day along with that plate of fruit and cheese...and then letting those wonderful Chow-emotions get the best of me. The other wines were fair enough(not a bad 'Dry Riesling') but these two just took it this time around. Perhaps I was unfairly expecting to be blown away by the others-particularly the 'Cuvee Ammi Philips'-on the last visit?

Either way, there's no doubt beauty is in the glass AND on the plate at Sharpe Hill. Is it spring yet? "Emotionally uncontrollable vinophile wandering a CT vineyard in the dead of winter...News at 11:00".

Jan 12, 2010
noreservations in Southern New England

'Meigas Restaurant'...Norwalk, CT

Hey 'triggs'~ No doubt about the 'Ibiza' and 'Ibiza Tapas'-like elements here..now that's one "marriage" I can subscribe to :) . The menus we saw and the food we enjoyed were certainly interesting enough that 'Meigas' belongs in the conversation with the others and we'll look forward to returning again in due time. It's almost unfair when I tend to compare them "against" each other but they all have their place(with that said I'm thrilled the best in New Haven and Hamden are nearby this Hound). The wine deal in Norwalk was nice but mark-ups were healthy(as they are elsewhere) so I appreciated the opportunity to have their food with discounted wine.

Perhaps this belongs in the 'Ibiza Tapas' thread but I'm reminded of their own wine prices being a nice gesture for offering in that setting(Ondarre Reserva for $25 less than another restaurant's list? Whew). Again, to compare a tapas-centered restaurant versus a full-scale establishment such as one in Fairfield County that extends different dining options isn't fair(and 'Meigas' does indeed do it all quite well).

For 'Meigas' to incorporate that Tapas Tasting Menu, the Pre-Fixe offering, and (even like 'Ibiza')Paella nights- this seems worthy of attention in itself. Gotta love them all though...if only there were more meals in the day and unlimited reservations on my slate.

Jan 12, 2010
noreservations in Southern New England

Veggie World Eastern European Deli - Newington, CT

'shaogo': A BIG thanks to you for this post! The Chowmobile was going through Newington and I stopped here before a gathering at 'Cavos' for a taste of their Thursday "Meze" menu of small plates. Knowing the plan afterwards I didn't pick up any of the Polish-styled cheeses(or meats)...but could you share any that you've particularly liked? I'd like to eventually sample my way through them all but a far more informed recommendation from you and a starting point for narrowing down their many choices would truly be appreciated.

Overjoyed with my Polish/Eastern European grocery purchases and then the Greek food/wine tasting that followed, the only appropriate finale was to keep driving past the Stew Leonard's on the way home while displaying the "one fingered victory salute". This made me feel even better...at least I could somehow express that this "bird" thinks Stew's is really "number one" after all. Happily taking in the first two worthy spots and then blowing by the last: What more could I ask for in such a Chow-worthy excursion? Ah, it's these simple joys in life that move me so. :) .

Even this clown knows the one fingered victory salute to Stew's:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0IJkD0znCQ
The "bird" IS the word:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vgmp4...

Jan 10, 2010
noreservations in Southern New England

'Meigas Restaurant'...Norwalk, CT

Our first meal as a couple in the New Year was an overdue visit to 'Meigas' in Norwalk last week. Many will recall the days(while revealing their age!) of the original 'Mesón Galicia' which would eventually become 'Meigas' as well as the connection to Ignacio Blanco and Luis Bollo who would also later bring us 'Café Pika Tapas' which then became 'Ibiza'. How much more spoiled can our state be with the dining options of 'Meigas', 'Barcelona', 'Ibiza', and 'Ibiza Tapas'? I'm thankful for the choices but it was time to experience the new 'Meigas' which is certainly making a noticeable effort to provide several dining options and more of an accessibility that wasn't present before new owner Carlos Hernandez. The Monday to Wednesday Pre-Fixe menu($24 for an appetizer, main, and dessert tasting) tempted and will have to wait for next time but a Tapas Tasting Menu($64 a couple) on Sundays and Thursdays along with offering all Spanish wines by the bottle(that are under $100) for half-price on these same two nights sealed the deal. Tuck me in already...the wine opportunity alone got me emotional before the first flippin' glass.

During the messy driving-unfriendly weather that Sunday night(with a bitch of a wind to make a little bit of snow quite the hassle) I swept up my co-pilot to get reacquainted with this restaurant I somehow hadn't made it back to since the changes. After a ride where we tacked on considerably more time than my poor passenger anticipated(you can always just stop reading but she's forced to listen when stuck in a moving automobile).. :) ..we arrived to a fresher looking space than I remember from visits in the past. No wine by the glass tonight baby. Since we're both loving the Verdejo grape these days we chose an 'Oro de Castilla' Rueda for her and after having my heart broken by not being able to get my first choice(a 'Isaral' Priorat), I settled on a 'Valserrano' Rioja Reserva. Both were good for the tasting to follow.

Crusty bread and olive oil were brought to the table before demitasses of soup to get us started. An "amuse-bouche" if you will? I'm forced to contain my need for senseless juvenile humor whenever I say those words...ah, I'll grow up someday I suppose. The Tapas Tasting came in three courses, each one containing three different tasting-portions. We were each served our own elongated narrow plate that had three separated sections for the items and as each course arrived our server explained what was plated from left to right. Throughout the tasting we still referred back to a copy of the menu as I needed to anyway because my already fading short-term memory is compromised when in such a Chow-happy state :) . This was followed by a dessert course which also consisted of three different tasting-portions. In all that made for a total of twelve individual tastes so we were obviously quite pleased to have tried a mix of chef's whim, specials, and items off their regular menu in one sitting. Owner Carlos couldn't have been nicer and more accommodating throughout the entire meal as we took our time with both food and wine(we were also offered a taste of one of their 'Port' selections and their 'Moscatel'- a nice gesture). We'll no doubt return in due time to this, HIS 'Meigas'.

First:
~Wild Salmon 'Escabeche' marinated with Sesame Oil, Tomato, Olives, Scallions, Crabmeat, Olive Oil "Ice Cream", and Caviar
~Black Angus Beef Tartare "de Ternera" with Capers, Baby Arugula Salad, and Truffle Vinaigrette
~Crispy Mushroom Ravioli "de Zetas" with Serrano Ham Sauce

Second:
~Grilled Baby Squid "a la Plancha" with Peppers and Mango Vinaigrette
~Seafood Croquettes "de la Abuela" with Aioli
~Grilled Wild Salmon in a mild Cinammon Sauce

Third:
~Roasted Suckling Pig "a la Segoviana" with Apricot Puree and Sherry-Honey Sauce(the crispiest skin imaginable.."What a noble animal" as Bourdain says)
~Wood Roasted Piquillo Pepper "de Rabo" stuffed with Braised Oxtail and Red Wine Sauce
~'Costilla al Fuego' Braised Short Ribs in a Ginger-Infused Soy and Dark Beer Sauce

Dessert tasting:
~'Arroz con Leche' Rice Pudding with Vanilla Infusion
~'Pastel de Pan Viejo' Old Style Bread Pudding Cake with Goat Cheese Ice Cream
~Toasted and chopped almond covered Chocolate Croquettes(with warmed dark chocolate inside) served with coconut foam and a square of lemon gelatin on a spoon

~ Here's their site, check out all the menus:
http://www.meigasrestaurant.com/

Links gone wild:
~ The beginning(Older article from Wine Spectator):
http://www.winespectator.com/webfeature/show/id/Spain-Comes-to-Connecticut_1737
~ A recent NY Times article:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/22/nyregion/connecticut/22dinect.html?_r=1
~ Of course there's 'RestaurantsCT' on a recent wine dinner(as always click on each pic for great shots of each course):
http://www.restaurantsct.com/blog/grapes-of-norwalk-holds-bodegas-olarra-wine-dinner-at-meigas/
~ A recently added 'RestaurantsCT' post on a November game dinner(Which is saucier: the food, the dancer, or Frank's photos of them both?!?):
http://www.restaurantsct.com/blog/meigas-entertains-guests-with-a-wild-game-wine-dinner-a-hot-cuban-dancer/
~ Another on new ownership:
http://www.acorn-online.com/joomla15/...

-----
Meigas
10 Wall St, Norwalk, CT 06850

Jan 10, 2010
noreservations in Southern New England

STONE NOW IN CT!!

Wish I saw this earlier. Third paragraph down in the link there's the upcoming beer dinner featuring five of Stone's brews. Can't even keep up with all the various wine dinners around(not to mention these) but what fun trying:
http://newhavenadvocate.com/article.c...

Jan 06, 2010
noreservations in Southern New England

Illiano's on South Main St./Rt. 17 (Middletown, CT): THE CHEESEBURGER PIZZA!

Which is crazier: The original poster or the pizza itself? :)

It's a close one but my answer is the.........
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkMvKe...

Jan 04, 2010
noreservations in Southern New England

'Assaggio Ristorante On The Harbor' ...Stratford, CT

Happy 2010 Hounds. Our last meal of '09 was a visit to 'Assaggio Ristorante On The Harbor' on New Year's Eve before a great laugh-filled show nearby. This post has defected to the New England board rather than Tristate. Supposedly it all depends on where in our state the restaurant is(as if anyone knows who belongs where anyway!) but I say CT is CT so let it be. Thanks in advance for having me...but please be gentle for I can tell when I'm not wanted :) . This was the first visit which was part of that original Tristate board thread:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/665196#5245110

Given their number of creative offerings we made sure in advance that we'd be choosing from the considerably sized everyday menu and not one with limited selections as is frequently the restricting case on "holidays". Those that have been here before know it is quite a nice space and perfectly suitable for clean-casual which was certainly us given our plans afterwards. We were seated in a smaller area with a handful of tables that is on the right as you first enter the dining room. I would state a preference to not be here in future visits when the comedy shows are calling across the street as the attractiveness of the seatings is in the larger and more open areas further inside(these are the better booths and tables that can be seen in the 'RestaurantsCT' link).

I first had a VERY nice 'Nero d'Avola' red wine by the glass and my co-pilot tried an equally pleasing German 'Riesling' while we browsed about the menu. Both glasses were the lowest priced(and the most enjoyable) of the different wines we each had throughout the meal so they made for a rather fine sipping-start. I later moved to one of their Italian 'Rosso' blends before a 'Pinot Noir' while she switched to a 'Terre di Tufi' white Tuscan blend and then a Jordan 'Chardonnay'.

We started with the 'Grigliatina Di Mare'(grilled fresh calamari and a head-on Maya shrimp..both with a spicy roasted pepper tarragon sauce) and the 'Insalata Di Mare'(baby shrimp, New Zealand mussels, calamari, extra virgin olive oil, herbs and lemon dressing served in a martini glass). While the 'Insalata Di Mare' was worth a try, we missed having the addition of modest amounts of scungilli that appear in other chilled mixes of fresh seafood similar to this. We both agreed this sets apart the better examples from the rest in different preparations and felt it would have improved this one too(certainly just a personal preference in all). The fresh calamari was perfectly grilled(as in very lightly) with an appropriate amount of the described sauce on alternating pieces among the several mantle portions given. The head-on shrimp was simply how we should all be enjoying these buggers but too often don't("I want BRAINS" as they say in 'Return Of The Living Dead'). To think places like 'Ibiza Tapas' took them off their menu says we pass more than venture and are reluctant to order them in restaurants that wish to serve them...a crustacean nation are we? Hardly. If we all had our "thinking caps" on we'd know that there's no "Bad Brains" in the head-on enjoyment of shrimp. So let's get it together and eat em' properly! Who's with me? :
)
We then created our own second course by choosing the 'Arezzo' Salad(mache topped with goat cheese, green apple, artichoke, and an Italian citrus dressing) and the 'Valentina'
(bresaola or air-dried beef with a bed of wild arugula, shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, extra virgin olive oil and lemon). I would have preferred that the 'Arezzo' Salad was less dressed
..hey, just like my date ;) ....but it was still good. We both gave the nod to the 'Valentina' as an appetizer we wouldn't hesitate to order again. All its ingredients were singing more than my poor woman's flighty dining companion...."Do-re-mi-fa-so"!

For an entree I had the 'Costoletto Di Vitello Al Campari', a lovely medium-rare pan roasted veal chop sautéed with shitake mushrooms, caper berries, fresh thyme, hot cherry peppers, a "touch of Campari", and demi-glace. This honkin' sized chop was a winner and unexpectedly came with welcomed portions of pan-fried and seasoned chopped potatoes and sautéed escarole in addition to the listed ingredients. The plump caper berries were quite olive-like in appearance, certainly similar in size and with their stems still attached, and a somewhat recent discovery for us(they can be seen in the pictures in the 'RestaurantsCT' link too). I again accused her of ordering a bit boring by going with the 'Cacciucco Di Pesce In Úmido'(the fish of the day sautéed with mussels, clams, shrimp, garlic, and herbs in a white white and spicy tomato sauce). This was a rather pleasant surprise in flavor though as it was served atop squid-ink pasta. The absolute kicker was that you are given the choice of having head-on shrimp in this dish as well, "More brains.......
BRRRAINS"! Alright that's enough(it's almost over if you've made it this far). Of course we went with these when asked, so thanks much 'Assaggio' for giving several to enjoy. I have to say that this option was a rather nice touch to the dish even though I took the ingredients out of the "swan" shaped foil it was served in(for the only swan I can tolerate is a cooked one on my plate!). You think I'm kidding? Oh, lighten up already. I haven't tried one yet. :)

Check My Brain:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBcADQziQWY

As posted on Tristate board:
Some great pics from Frank Cohen at RestaurantsCT.com("food porn" as he often jokes!). Be sure to click on each one for a nice close-up/enhanced shot as you scroll down.."Bow Chika Bow Bow".. :)
http://www.restaurantsct.com/blog/assaggio-ristorante-brings-fine-italian-dining-harborside-in-stratford/

An article with a bit of owner and chef history from Todd Lyon at the New Haven Register:
http://nhregister.com/articles/2009/1...

Jan 04, 2010
noreservations in Southern New England

Cafe Giulia in Lakeville CT

Hello NW CT Hounds. Looks like they've only been open a couple of months but we'd really like to hear your scoop on this newcomer. The wheels are turning for a CT Wine Trail outing at the first sign of spring('Miranda' to 'Sunset Meadow' to 'Land of Nod' then 'Cafe Giulia' at the finish line) so we'll eventually see them anyway but what's the scoop? Any chef that uses guanciale has got me curious.

Has anyone made it yet or are you just hiding something good from us? :) . We already have a "Quiet Corner" so be heard and share your feedback(we're all ears). Did I mention there's not enough love here for 'Pastorale' either? Please post more often and "Don't make me come up there" already! :)

Dec 30, 2009
noreservations in Southern New England

Departed CT Restaurants...Don't Look Back In Anger

Here I sit...lonely hearted
Recalling restaurants that are now departed

Restaurant Du Village...oh that fine French-country food
Only duGlace and Petit remain..when this Hound's in that mood

Jack's Saybrook Steak...isn't it a pity?
We've still got Central in the lucky Elm City

Ambassador of India...what a disappointing day
You think I'll go quietly...no freakin' way

There's love for some food and I don't know why
Lenny and Joe's......you say worth a try?

I enjoy your thoughts, those posts, and the linking
But with their overrated fare.....what the hell are some of you thinking?!?

Happy New Year and all the best eats in 2010 :)

Chorus: "So at Sally's you'll wait, you know it's too late...as their faves are walkin' on by.
At Roseland the soul slid away, Pepe's aint that great, so let's go to Modern...I heard you say":
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGHy5I...

Dec 30, 2009
noreservations in Southern New England