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Oak Haven Table & Bar (New Haven)

Attributing our less than stellar dining experience on our last visit to the confluence of a change in both seasonal menus and chefs, we decided to give this restaurant another chance. Reservations for 6PM on Thursday evening were held and upon entering we were offered a choice of seating, selecting a table for 4 next to a window overlooking State Street. The restaurant initially seemed less busy than on our earlier visit, but we subsequently noticed that 3 parties had chosen tables on the outside patio. We started off with glasses of the house red wine, a medium bodied cabernet sauvignon that we previously enjoyed. We were told the kitchen would be sending out dishes as prepared, yet we found the pacing throughout was on target. The first plate to arrive was an order of ham and cheese filled arancini, accompanied by a well balanced tomato sauce, that had a crunchy exterior while remaining moist inside. This was followed by a harvest salad, a bountiful helping of fresh mixed greens, carrots, and dried cranberries tossed with a tangy lemon vinaigrette and topped by an impressive portion of blue cheese crumbles. The next dishes to arrive were a large portion of mussels diablo (devil) and day boat scallops that were accompanied by a basket of bread. The mussels had been steamed in a spicy red wine and tomato sauce that I felt was a little too robust given the delicate flavor of the mussels, but your taste buds may disagree. Meanwhile the scallops, served over seasonal vegetables, were complimented by a bacon beurre blanc. Almost satiated at this point, I was prepared to toss in my napkin, but our exuberant server brought menus while highlighting the dessert section. My dining companion, aka The Queen of Creme Brulee, took one look and asked "would you" (that's me), "care to share one (that's creme brulee)"? Unwilling to risk neither life nor limb, I responded "of course my queenship". Neither of us noticed, or maybe it was not listed, but the crème brulee was prepared with porter beer and accompanied by a pair of cookies. This dessert, served in a tea cup, was both sizable and delicious while enjoyment of the cookies has been temporarily postponed. Overall, this evening's meal proved to be a delightful experience.

May 01, 2015
westie in Southern New England

Costa del Sol (Hartford)

The passage of time invariably brings changes, some for the better and some for the worse. Though we have been frequenting this Spanish-inspired restaurant for approximately 25 years, it has been almost 4 years since we last crossed its threshold. The small parking lot was nearly filled to capacity at 12:30PM on a Wednesday afternoon while the dining room continues to be bright and inviting (no change). We were soon led to a table for 2 and, after a minimal wait, our server provided menus and recited the day's specials. In short order a busser delivered ice water and a basket of very unremarkable bread and a saucer of olive oil (no change). As I scanned the appetizer list, piquillos rellenos de ensalada de txanguro caught my eye, if not my tongue. After receiving the required approval from my wife, I pointed to its menu location while simultaneously nodding my head up and down. Who says I cannot do more than one thing at the same time? The piquillo pepper, filled with Basque style crab salad over an avocado, chistora (dried sausage) bean salad, was refreshing both to the palate and eye. We also ordered paella de la casa as an entree that was cooked to order in approximately 30 minutes. The rice, cooked in a saffron and seafood broth, was both tender and delicious (good change) as was the chicken, mussels, chorizo, little necks and shrimp. Though menu prices are high (bad change), so to was the quality of our meal (better change).

Apr 30, 2015
westie in Southern New England

Hen House Bar-B-Que (Southington, CT)

Maybe the cook was having an off day, maybe it was because I ordered takeout or maybe it was just bad karma, but our recent meal was not quite as good as anticipated. I stopped by to order our meals and was told it would be 15-20 minutes. 15 minutes later on my return, our food was in process of being packaged to go - okay! Fast forward 8 minutes and we were seated at the dining room table with 2 orders of fried chicken: #2 white = 2 chicken breasts and #2 dark = a leg and thigh. The coating was a tad darker and less crispy than on my prior visit and the meat was notably drier. Each order included a small container of ground up coleslaw, an abundance of previously frozen French fries and an unneeded dinner roll. I am not inclined to rush back for another helping so maybe I will return in 2016 - just maybe.
2.5 Forks out of a possible 5.

Apr 29, 2015
westie in Southern New England

Mae Kong Thai

I apologize, I meant to include New Britain (CT) in the title.

http://www.maekongthairestaurant.com/

Apr 17, 2015
westie in Southern New England

Mae Kong Thai

Like the Frank Sinatra song about love, sometimes a dining experience is better the second time around. It certainly was for us at this small, informal restaurant early on a recent (yesterday) Thursday evening. We parked nearby and on entering found only 3 tables occupied. We again took advantage of the free corkage policy by bringing a bottle of chilled white wine with glasses and cork screw provided by management. Deciding to skip both appetizers and salads, we shared shared orders of #71 and #72 from the Specialties section of the menu. The former is stir-fried crispy chicken with chili peppers, garlic, red and green bell peppers, cashew nuts and crispy holy basil while the latter is Mae Kong Noodle - stir-fried flat rice noodles with pork, lettuce, scallion, sprinkles of crispy noodles, cilantro and topped with in-house sauce. The crispy chicken was vibrant in both flavor and eye appeal while the noodle dish a little less so. Our personable server, most likely the owner, highlighted the 18% gratuity added to the bill when using a Groupon and the $10 minimum charge card policy. I kept it simple by leaving a 25% tip and paid in cash.

Apr 17, 2015
westie in Southern New England

Andrea's Pizza (Meriden)

Andrea's is my go to pizzeria for a weekly (or more often) pizza fix due, in no small part, to the bargain priced ($3.50) luncheon special that includes 2 slices of cheese pizza and a 12-ounce soda. Until last evening, we had never ordered a full pizza, but that itch has now been scratched. After reviewing the take-out menu, of which I have a few scattered around the house, we settled on a large Ortalana (vegetable) specialty pizza that included spinach, roasted red peppers, garlic, ricotta cheese and a copious amount of eggplant. Like wine, offered as either a red or white, we were undecided so 1⁄2 and 1⁄2 was requested. The crust was slightly thicker than usual, but with a desirable crunch, and the toppings were garden fresh. Which side, red or white, won the “best of award” in secret balloting conducted at the conclusion of the meal? Red, 2-0.

Apr 11, 2015
westie in Southern New England

Oak Haven Table & Bar (New Haven)

My wife and I arrived in New Haven on a chilly Thursday evening at around 6PM and circled the immediate area once before locating a parking space less than a ½ block away. On entering we were surprised to discover the bar fully occupied as were several tables. Since we did not have reservations, we were directed to a 2-seat table top. I had a Groupon, confirmed it could be applied toward the happy hour wine specials, and ordered glasses of cabernet sauvignon that proved to be quite good.

The winter menu is/was quite limited, not particularly appealing, and excluded 2 dishes from the online menu that I planned on ordering – butternut squash risotto and blue crab cakes. Sheesh! Of the remaining items, Maghan, our server, advised us that neither the arancini nor clams diablo were available. Double sheesh!! She said the spring menu was being introduced tomorrow so the kitchen was out of several ingredients. Yikes! Had we lived closer and/or the Groupon not set to expire in a few days, I would have been out the door and over to Modern Pizza in a NY minute. Instead, we ordered mussels in beer broth, herbs and garlic. There were small pebbles attached to 3 of the mussels so these were obviously wild plus the beer broth overwhelmed, rather complimented, the delicate flavor of these mollusks.

Our next order was a local beet and turnip salad with mixed greens. Since the kitchen was out of goat cheese, it was topped with blue cheese crumbles. The beets might as well have originated in a can and the small pieces of turnip added little to nothing to the dish. Lastly we ordered an entree of (4) small, seared sea scallops over a vegetable hash that turned out to be very good though on the pricey side. Overall, it was a less than stellar dining experience. 2 Forks out of a possible 5.

Apr 10, 2015
westie in Southern New England

Bonefish Grill (Newington) - brunch

I am not a fan of chains, but dangle a coupon in front of me and I can occasionally be had, in this case it was on consecutive Sundays.

Part I

I found a $10 online coupon for Bonefish Grill and emailed the restaurant asking if it could be used for brunch. Affirmative my man came the response so to the turnpike we did travel on a recent Sunday. This was our first visit and, though we were duly impressed by the bar area, we chose to be seated in a booth in the expansive dining room. My wife chose the crème brulee French toast, not surprising given her penchant for both crème brulee and French toast. Meanwhile, my decision was far from a foregone conclusion - a Benedict, omelet or the French toast? Not wishing to cover the same culinary turf, I settled on the Oscar omelet - asparagus, smoked mozzarella, basil, and lemon butter that was topped by a small portion of lump crab meat and a side of potatoes au gratin that were slap ya momma good. Meanwhile, my companion on the other side of the table was feasting on her French toast that had been prepared using Grand Mariner and orange zest. Sharing the plate were whipped cream and strawberries as well as 2 slices of thick, crisp bacon. My entree fell somewhere between very good and excellent while the French toast expert felt hers was a life altering experience. Service throughout was both friendly and reasonably proficient. Will we be back next Sunday? As they used to say on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, you can bet your sweet bippy on it.

Part II

As promised, we returned on Easter Sunday while brandishing yet another $10 online coupon. We held advance reservations expecting a full house though, on entering, we realized none were required. Initially we were offered a booth adjacent to the bar area, but requested one offering better lighting (see photos). Our server, Jennifer, soon arrived at our table to take our drink orders with both of us initially requesting ice water. After perusing the menu, my wife decided to jump start the meal with a Bloody Mary which was kicked up Emeril style by the addition of horseradish - BAM! I opted to give my liver a break so I ordered the soup du jour, red pepper and tomato, that was quite good though the temperature was barely north of tepid.

Her choice of an entree was once again (not a surprise) crème brulee French toast, however, the plate included 3 slices of toast rather than the 2 received the week prior. Also, there was a noticeably larger helping of strawberries and whipped cream. The only negative note was the bread had not spent enough time bathing in the custard so the flavor notes were muted and texture less pudding-like. Over on my side of the table, my Western omelet's list of ingredients included turkey chorizo, cheddar cheese, cilantro, onions, a dash of ranchero sauce and lime sour cream. It proved to be light and fluffy though the flavor profile was, IMHO, unbalanced, your flavor buds may disagree, principally due to the bold flavors provided by both the chorizo and lime sour cream. Though we were generally happy with both the service and food, I would probably not order the Western omelet again.

Apr 07, 2015
westie in Southern New England

CT food finds 2014: our year in review

After dropping off my car in Meriden for a detail, my wife and I made a short detour for Bavarian cream donuts at Neil's and they were as good as ever. I also spotted 3 trays of zeppoles and could not resist taking home a pair of the ones filled with ricotta. It was not until we opened the box that we realized they were super-sized and should really have been shared, though I was never tempted. Like the Bavarian cream donuts, these had been sliced in half and overloaded, that is good, with ricotta.

Los Sarapes (Manchester, CT): What's the scoop?

We went last August - here are my notes with a few photos included:

Unbeknownst to us, we scheduled a Sunday brunch at this restaurant for the same day as Cruisin' On Main Street was held. We were fortunate in securing a parking space in a private lot on south end of Main Street which was closed to traffic. Los Serapes is a small restaurant that has been nicely decorated with wall murals though the furnishings and table settings are inexpensive (cheap). Our pleasant server eventually made her way to our table and provided menus. We were served a bowl of chips accompanied by a pair or salsas. The salsas were on the watery side, but that is fairly typical for a Mexican restaurant serving authentic cuisine. My wife chose huevos rancheros ($9.99) while I settled on a chicken tacos ($12.99) plate with tomatillo sauce, Spanish rice, refried beans and a little lettuce/tomatoes. The beans were richly flavored and the rice was at least moist though basically flavorless. On the negative side, the trio of enchiladas were dry and almost flavorless without copious amounts of sauce. My wife's huevos rancheros were very disappointing as the eggs were way overdone. Given the humble fare and décor, menu prices were anything but authentic. Service throughout was cheerful, but very slow though the restaurant was almost empty.

Mar 18, 2015
westie in Southern New England

Dinner recs for a Monday and Tuesday (3/23-3/24)

FYI - David Clawson is closed on Mondays

Mar 15, 2015
westie in Las Vegas

BYOB in Portland

Saeng Thai House is BYOB

Mar 08, 2015
westie in Northern New England

Desyree leaving Art of Flavors

The business will be closing on 2/28.

http://www.lasvegasweekly.com/dining/...

Feb 25, 2015
westie in Las Vegas

Chada Street

According to Eater Las Vegas, Bank is opening up a new restaurant sometime this spring that will feature street food.

http://vegas.eater.com/2015/2/6/79929...

Feb 07, 2015
westie in Las Vegas

Mint Thai Cuisine (Wethersfield, CT)

On Monday night, as the "blizzard of 2015" was just beginning, we dropped in for takeout. This time ordering Chinese broccoli and pad ped with chicken. Each featured high quality fresh vegetables, tender chicken breast and a portion size such that we ended up having the leftovers for dinner the following evening.

Jan 28, 2015
westie in Southern New England

Pot Liquor Contemporary American Smokehouse

Las Vegas Grille also closed.

Jan 26, 2015
westie in Las Vegas

Urban Turban?

Uhockey did a recent review

http://endoedibles.com/?p=26395

Jan 23, 2015
westie in Las Vegas

70th Birthday Dinner (max $75 per person)

If Charlie Palmer's cut of the week does not appeal to some of your group, a 2nd 3-course prix fix is offered. The Tribute to Michael Jackson menu is offers more variety and includes wine pairings with the 1st 2 courses - priced at an affordable $49 pp.
http://www.charliepalmer.com/charlie-...

Jan 20, 2015
westie in Las Vegas
1

Wishing and hoping for this in CT

chefstu - I think you may be referring to Tortilleria La Michoacana which closed last year.

Jan 19, 2015
westie in Southern New England

Wanting to eat good without breaking the bank

Here are a few ideas.

Think lunch for your main meal. As previously mentioned, Milos has a $23 3-course lunch that is excellent.

Ellis Island is a short walk behind Ballys. There is steak special that is hardly gourmet, but it comes in at a $7.99 price tag and includes sides. You will need to sign up for a free slot card and then play $1 through a slot machine. Then go to one of the kiosks and print our a coupon for a $1 off. Draft beers are only $2 each, $1 during NFL games. Their in-house brewed root beer is also very good. Breakfasts are great.

There is also a popular BBQ restaurant in Ellis that offers a full rack of ribs with sides for $13.99 while a 1/2 rack with 1/2 a chicken comes in at $11.99. Once again, you will need a slot card and swipe at a kiosk.

Happy Hour @ Julian Serrano @ Aria, 4-5:30P Sun-Thur for tapas that run $4-$7.

Hop on the shuttle to the Gold Coast. It operates from 9:30AM to 12:30AM - pick up is at Ballys.

At the Gold Coast you will find reasonably priced Chinese at either Ping Pang Pong or Noodle Exchange. The Cortez Room offers a 10-ounce prime rib which includes a house salad or soup plus a choice of potato for $18.

Using the Gold Coast shuttle, you could walk across the street to the Palms. Lao Sze Chuan is more upscale, but still offers affordable Chinese in a nicer setting. We enjoyed our 2 entrees of sole filet w/black bean sauce ($15.95) and chef's special dry chili chicken ($13.95).

Don't discount using either the bus system or monorail which will open up many additional options for affordable dining.

Happy anniversary. I am sure you will enjoy your trip.

Jan 16, 2015
westie in Las Vegas
1

Best value upscale dining in LV

Travelzoo has an offer for Andre's: a 5-course dinner for 2 for $135 (regularly $220). Offer must be used by April 3rd.
http://www.travelzoo.com/local-deals/...

Based on the reviews by Uhockey and others), you may want to include David Clawson Restaurant in the mix.

Jan 10, 2015
westie in Las Vegas

Mint Thai Cuisine (Wethersfield, CT)

My last comment should have read I have not dined at Puket so I cannot compare the restaurants.

Jan 09, 2015
westie in Southern New England

Mint Thai Cuisine (Wethersfield, CT)

I have dined at Puket so I cannot compare the restaurants.

geminigirl - don't fret - Puket is not closed, it has relocated to 945 Cromwell Avenue in Rocky Hill.
http://www.puketcafe.com/

Jan 08, 2015
westie in Southern New England

Move over Ronalds - Ace Donuts just upped the ante for the west side of Las Vegas

It's unfair - you had me salivating on your first visit.

Jan 03, 2015
westie in Las Vegas

Salsa's Southwest Grill (Plantsville, CT)

It took me more than a year following its opening to discover this small, hole-in-the wall restaurant that serves authentic Mexican fare, but, find it, I did. On entering I was warmly greeted by the friendly staff and ordered 3 street tacos - al pastor, chorizo and chicken tinga at the counter. I grabbed a soda from the cooler and sat at one of the tables and in short order a large basket of chips and fresh, in-house made salsa made its way to my table. Each of the double tortillas were amply filled with meat and topped with fresh cilantro and onions. A squeeze of fresh lime followed by a drizzle of either or both of the tomatillo or chipolte salsas and I was flying high. You can try twisting my arm, but I won't reveal which of the tacos I favored because, like children, each was unique and worthy of unconditional love.

Dec 30, 2014
westie in Southern New England

Mint Thai Cuisine (Wethersfield, CT)

The size of the restaurant is deceptive because of its small frontage, but the dining room extends back to a small bar and the kitchen.  The room was largely empty on the Monday night of our visit and the room itself was bordering on cold.  We were soon welcomed by our waiter and presented with glasses of ice water and menus.  Vegetarian steamed dumplings were ordered as a starter and entrees of sauteed eggplant with shrimp and kai soi with chicken.  The latter is not included in the restaurant's online menu so I was happy to discover it under the noodles section of the printed version.  After a reasonable wait, we received both entrees and our appetizer which was cold, but otherwise excellent.  We asked for extra plates in order to share our entrees and the waiter thoughtfully brought both plates and small bowls for the kai soi.  Both entrees were well executed using high quality ingredients so I suspect we will be returning in the not too distant future.

Dec 30, 2014
westie in Southern New England

Breakfast at jean Philippe at aria?

My wife and I have enjoyed the souffle mixed berry crepes on two different occasions - highly recommended.

Dec 26, 2014
westie in Las Vegas

Any great hummus in Vegas?

Cleo in SLS Las Vegas may be your best bet. Both Michael U and John Curtas were highly complimentary of the restaurant and Curtas specifically recommended the hummus with tahini.
http://cdn.slslasvegas.com/db/content...

Dec 19, 2014
westie in Las Vegas

Cheap Eats for Teen Foodies

To clarify the requirements for the Ellis Island steak special. As previously mentioned, it requires 2 coupons to get the $7.99 price, but the first coupon is valid for the entire party. It is the 2nd coupon that requires you to play at least $1 on your club card so the 2 adults would have to pay $7.99 each and the children would be charged $8.99.

Dec 15, 2014
westie in Las Vegas

CT food finds 2014: our year in review

I think the dough at Passions may be a bit thicker and it looks like theirs has more filling than Zieleniak. I was planning on stopping in at Zieleniak the next time I visit Kashia's Bakery & Passions.

I have never tried the chocolate topped Bavarian cream donut at Neil's, but it looks scrumptious.

Dec 15, 2014
westie in Southern New England