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DrTomG's Profile

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New Place in the old Jessie's Restaurant in Old Lyme?

There is a "coming soon" sign in the window of the closed Jessies. Might have said "The Public House," but I could be wrong on the name. Anybody have any information?

Aug 04, 2014
DrTomG in Southern New England

Scary Dessert at the Old Lyme Inn

My wife and I had dinner last night at the Old Lyme Inn.
They serve an abbreviated summer menu with no specials – at least last night.
As always, it’s a beautiful setting with very good service.
We had crab cakes, a mixed greens salad, neet root risotto, and lobster mac & cheese Each was respectable and very reasonably priced.
Now the scary part: The dessert menu is fairly broad and also reasonably priced.
We settled on the strawberry Shortcake with fresh whipped cream, based on our server’s assurance that the berries are absolutely fresh.
The strawberries were great and indeed fresh. However, after a few mouthfuls into our dessert my wife cut into the shortcake and gasped. She signaled the server to view the thick, furry, green mold (petri dish quality) that had colonized the interior of the shortcake. The waiter said something like “sacre bleu and brought over the hostess. She was very gracious and re-ran our bill.
I can’t imagine what could have happened in the kitchen to result in a dish like that. Perhaps a little more attention to fundamental storage principles is the answer.

Jul 23, 2014
DrTomG in Southern New England

Yankee Clipper in Niantic, CT Gone?

Anybody know what happened to the Yankee Clipper? I drove by the site last week and all that remained was a pile of rubble. Wasn't my favorite place, but it did seem to usually have cars in the lot.

Jul 12, 2014
DrTomG in Southern New England

Old Lyme, CT Changes

Jessie's Bistro in the old Lyme Marketplace just announced that it is closing almost immediately. They are number 3 to close in that spot in the recent past: Sherlock's 221; The Boom Restaurant; and now Jessie's Bistro. Like real estate, it's location, location, location. The Old Lyme Marketplace is an older strip mall and it's tough to try upscale in a location like that. There's just too much competition from stand-alone restaurants in beautiful settings nearby. I hope that it doesn't stay empty.

Jul 01, 2014
DrTomG in Southern New England

Terra Nostra Ristorante Italiano and Steak House Old Saybrook

Anybody know what's happened to Terra Nostra ? It moved into the Pat's Kountry Kitchen site several months ago and I'm not certain that it ever opened, Never saw many cars in the parking lot and yesterday I noticed a "For Lease " sign in the window.

Feb 27, 2014
DrTomG in Southern New England

Christys in Westbrook, CT

Christys in Westbrook, CT looks closed.

Anybody know what's going on? I hope that it's not a permanent shutdown.

Oct 15, 2013
DrTomG in Southern New England

Excellent Lunch at The Brazen Hen in Westerly, RI

My wife and I stopped in Westerly, RI for lunch yesterday on our way to Watch Hill. This was our first time actually stopping and checking out the city. In the past, Westerly had only been a highway pass-by on a trip to something further down the road.
We didn’t have a specific restaurant in mind, but had heard great things over the past few years about Westerly’s new restaurants. So, we drove around seeing the sites and looking for a lunch spot. We were very impressed with Westerly’s majestic public buildings. The post office was breathtaking. I am very curious about the city’s history and maybe another trip will include their historical society.
Going past the post office we ended up at the intersection of High and Canal Streets. The neighborhood looked promising with lots of restaurants, antiques shops, and galleries. We walked up Canal Street until we were drawn to the folky sign of The Brazen Hen. We liked the menu and got seated at a window table. The ambiance was traditional Irish Pub and the décor was well done and comfortable. Their ceiling plan was cool, too.
Their pub-style lunch menu was broad with a few soups, entrée salads, burgers, sandwiches, and Irish dishes like shepherd’s pie and bangers and mash. Prices were very reasonable.
My wife had a roasted vegetable wrap with fries. I had a Reuben and took advantage of the upgrade to onion rings. My wife’s grilled vegetables were excellent. My pastrami was lean and not salty at all (I hate it when the first taste of a dish is salt.) The onion rings had a nice crunchy beer batter coating and had certainly been onions that same day.
The Brazen Hen was excellent. Unfortunately we didn’t ask to see the dinner menu.

Sep 13, 2013
DrTomG in Southern New England

Dinner at the Common Loon in East Lyme, CT

My wife and I had dinner last Monday at The Common Loon in East Lyme, CT The restaurant is only a few months old and located in a strip mall in the space vacated a while ago by Frank’s Place.
We were there early on a Monday evening and it was not busy. The décor was clean and contemporary – not fancy! Had an open kitchen, small tables and booths.
The menu was fairly broad with a variety of fresh seafood, steaks, chicken, pastas, and small pizzas
We started with wine and their kitchen sink calamari appetizer – fried calamari tossed with calamata olives, caramelized onions, hot peppers, tomato, and garlic. The appetizer was very good and really enough for four.

My wife had grilled Berber rib eye steak as her entree. (The berber rub is a blend of aromatic spices and cayenne). The steak was accompanied by fresh cut fries and grilled asparagus. The beef was grilled exactly as ordered, the sides were great, and she was very satisfied with her choice - and brought some home.
I had stuffed flounder with lobster sauce accompanied by a vegetable mélange and grilled potato wedges. There was lots of lobster in the sauce. My dinner was very good and I couldn’t finish the large portion.
We didn’t order dessert, but they served complimentary cookies with our coffee. Definitely a nice, hospitable lagniappe.
The prices at the Common Loon were super reasonable. Service was very good, and the food was excellent. We’ll certainly return and will recommend it to friends. The staff was friendly, welcoming, and attentive, too.

Jul 25, 2013
DrTomG in Southern New England

Unacceptable Sunday brunch at the Black Sheep Tavern in Niantic, CT

Four of us went to the Black Sheep Tavern on Mother’s Day for brunch. We had reservations for their 12:30 p.m. seating (they offer three seatings). At $15.00 the Black Sheep has what is probably the least expensive brunch on the southeast CT shoreline. Well, I guess you get what you pay for.
Although we had made reservations well in advance, - the hostess said that the only available table was a hightop in the bar. The table had backless stools and, as I already noted, it was in the bar.- loud music and all.
They had to have overbooked reservations and accommodated any and all walk-in traffic – because the place had the atmosphere of an airline terminal.
So, we decided to try to make the best of it. Our waitress assured us that she’d be by to take our drink order and get us place settings as soon as possible.
Well, we waited over 30 minutes, but still had nothing in front of us. Couldn’t even get the server’s attention.
I’ve walked out of movies before, but never a restaurant. So, I can’ speak to the quality of the food.
Bye, Bye Black Sheep! Will never be back.
We did salvage lunch at another restaurant.

May 13, 2013
DrTomG in Southern New England

The SeaHorse Tavern Noank, CT

We went to the SeaHorse Tavern in Noank last Saturday night - Hadn’t been there in over a year. Last year I was a little disappointed in the gentrification of what had always been my favorite less-than-no frills restaurant. But I’d been holding on to a Christmas gift certificate and it was time to use it.
It was the end of an absolutely gorgeous spring day and Spicer’s Marina was full of people. Many of them probably in from a day on the water. The SeaHorse was full, but we had only a short wait.
My wife splurged and had seared scallops with two small beef filet mignons. She thought that the scallops were super sweet and the beef was grilled exactly as ordered. Her dish was accompanied by fresh green beans, which were also very good. I had shrimp scampi over linguini. The shrimp were gigantic and the sauce was very garlicky. I enjoyed my dinner, too. We’ll return.

May 05, 2013
DrTomG in Southern New England

Haywire Burger Bar Westbrook, CT

My burger was about 6 to 8 ounces. I don't recall what the menu said. Choices were "pink", or "no pink". Mine was ordered "pink", which was about medium rare.

May 01, 2013
DrTomG in Southern New England

Haywire Burger Bar Westbrook, CT

My wife and I went to the Haywire Burger Bar in Westbrook for a quick dinner after an early movie last Saturday night.
We arrived at about 7:00 pm and the place was packed. The parking lot is unusual and has an absolutely crazy traffic flow. If you have a compact car option, you’d be wise to use it. If you ever go, you’ll understand my description
As I said above, the place was jammed. The crowd was very age-diverse. Lots of families, teens and, a bar that seemed to cater to single seniors. We waited about 30 mins before being seated.
The menu had a great selection of burgers and other non- beef selections. There was a good selection of appetizers. I had the Frico burger, which featured an 8 inch ring of crispy provolone and other condiments. My burger was served with fries. The burger was excellent, but a little unwieldy. My wife had the chicken Caesar salad burger, which she also liked, and a side salad instead of fries. The service was friendly and very good.
We’ll return.

Apr 28, 2013
DrTomG in Southern New England

Buckwheat pancakes in CT?

O'Rourke's Diner in Middletown, CT has buckwheat pancakes on the menu.

Mar 23, 2013
DrTomG in Southern New England

Outstanding Dinner at S & P Oyster Company in Mystic, CT

We had dinner last night at the S & P Oyster Company in Mystic, CT My oldest son was home with our future daughter-in –law, and her parents – who my family had not yet met. Two of my other children also joined us and we ended up with a party of nine.
I selected S&P because its menu was very broad and included plenty of non-seafood offerings which, as it turned out were unnecessary as our entire party enjoyed seafood.

S&P does not offer reservations, but call- ahead priority seating as an alternative – which serves the same purpose.
We were seated at a long table on the second deck, which afforded great views.
We started with beers and wine, bread, and a shared appetizers: excellent fried calamari, and excellent spinach and artichoke dip which was done with fresh guacamole rather than cream cheese. Our entrees included seafood pastas, grilled salmon, seafood pastas, and crab cakes.

The service was excellent and very efficient - good teamwork among the staff. The staff was attentive and water glasses were kept filled and used plates removed on time.
The manager frequently passed through the dining room.
All tables in the dining room were filled and the room was quite noisy. I don’t know whether this was a regular Saturday evening crowd or was just a little lively because it was St Patrick’s Day. Prices were moderate.

In summary, S&P provides excellent food and great service at reasonable prices - and we will certainly return.

Mar 18, 2012
DrTomG in Southern New England

Dinner at Kit Kat’s Barbeque in Pawcatuck, CT.

My wife and I had dinner a few nights ago at Kit Kat’s Barbeque in Pawcatuck, CT.
The restaurant occupies a storefront in “downtown” Pawcatuck; the smoker resides in the restaurant’s back yard. The interior – while small – is really quite pleasant.

The restaurant is run by a husband and wife team - Tracy and Hilbert Gibbs. Both native New Englanders, Hilbert is a retired Marine and gained his skills in Florida, where he eventually owned a small chain of barbeque joints. Gibbs and his family moved back to New England to be closer to family. The Gibbs are gracious hosts. Hilbert is a real raconteur and certainly enjoys speaking with his patrons. Kit Kat is their daughter’s nickname.

Kit Kats’ menu includes smoked/chopped pork, beef brisket, chicken, and chicken wings. They offer sandwiches, combination plates, and sides.

Sides include homemade baked beans, vinegar-based cole slaw, potato salad, collards, corn bread and corn on the cob. Most of the sides were Hilbert’s grandmother’s recipes. The sides were all very good.

Four sauces are available tableside: sweet & sour, honey mustard, and sweet and tangy. An additional sauce was kept behind the counter and available on request – fiery - hot, but still tasty.
They offer several different platters and bulk packages to bring home.

My wife had the chicken platter; ; I had the beef brisket with onions and banana peppers. Between the two of us, we sampled all the sides, except the corn on the cob, and all the sauces, we were both very satisfied.

We brought a dozen smoked chicken wings with sweet and tangy sauce home for our son, who agreed with our assessment.

Kit Kat's has excellent food in a welcoming atmosphere .We will certainly visit again.

Jan 04, 2012
DrTomG in Southern New England

Weeknight Dinner at Al Forno Trattoria [Old Saybrook, CT]

Al Forno has racked up favorable reviews from Zagat, the New York Times, the New London Day, the Hartford Courant, Connecticut Magazine, and the New Haven Register!

The restaurant sits in an older strip mall adjacent to a discount store. We stopped in for dinner last night after an early movie.

The restaurant is deep and narrow with an upscale décor. Tables are arranged close together, so private conversations are impossible.

Business was booming and my impression is that most diners are local regulars.

My wife had penne arrabbiatta, which was well-spiced and enjoyable. I ordered spaghetti and meatballs. The meatballs were made of ground veal and ricotta and were good, although lacking in any spice (ie, perhaps a little bland); the sauce was too thin and also lacked spice. Salads or bread did not accompany meals.
Prices were moderate to pricy, mitigated somewhat by the option to order smaller portions.
We graded our meals as just average. However, their pizzas looked great, so I left Al Forno with buyer’s remorse.

Dec 28, 2011
DrTomG in Southern New England

Augie's Branford, CT

Anybody know what the deal is with Augie's? I've seen several positive reviews, but after doing a little research, I'm uncertain that it really exists. Was it ever open? If so, what happened?

Dec 06, 2011
DrTomG in Southern New England

Dinner at NuNu’s Bistro in Colchester, CT

My wife and I took houseguests to NuNu’s Bistro in Colchester for dinner last Saturday night. This was our first NuNu’s experience and we selected it on the basis of a review that I recalled reading a few years past.
Nu Nu's is located in a nicely restored 1850 Victorian carriage house on the Colchester Green.

NuNu’s is BYOB with a $2.00 per glass corkage fee; the menu is Sicilian Italian. Bread and salad are included with entrees.

The bread is well below average and served with butter pats. Extra Virgin Olive Oil for dipping is available for $1.95.

We all shared a bowl of imported Italian mixed olives – definitely worth the $5.50 tariff and a good way to kick off dinner.
The menu was very homey and rustic – ie, Sucilian comfort food. Our guests ordered Sicilian top round Veal Cutlet (ie, topped with Italian cheese), and Italian Sausage & Peas -- w/ marinara sauce seasoned with basil and garlic. My wife and I enjoyed shrimp and seafood fra diavololo over penne, which were very nicely seasoned -- a bit hot and spicy. Servings were large and very satisfying. Prices were reasonable.
Although allegedly haunted, we had no paranormal visitors during our visit. The restaurant’s main dining room is on the first floor and a large dining/function room fills the second. A trip upstairs during dinner to view the historic turn-of-the-century stenciling is certainly worthwhile.

Oct 25, 2011
DrTomG in Southern New England

Good Food, but Lackadaisical Service at Thai One On in Mystic, CT

My wife and I spent several nights in a hotel through the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. One evening we had dinner at Thai One On in Mystic.
Thai One On is perhaps the largest Asian Restaurant that I’ve ever seen – somewhat evocative of a small gymnasium. The bar is separated from the dining room by a three-quarters high wall, which results in the racket from the bar area spilling out into the dining room. The bar crowd was raucous that evening and a bit distracting to diners.
Although the dining room was empty when we arrived, service was very slow and we had to signal the server in order to place our order. Throughout dinner water glasses were never re-filled unless requested. (when we could get the server’s attention!).
We ordered the vegetarian summer rolls to start and they were quite good, accompanied by a peanut sauce. I had a bowl of Tom Yum Goong , which was quite good and very hot and spicy (their “adventurous” designation) – just as I requested.
We ordered their special noodle dish which was nicely seasoned and a bit hot and spicy, although not packing the heat of the soup.
There are many entrees on the menu that I’d usually want to return to try – but there are many other Thai restaurants in southeast CT where service is much better – and with great food, too.

Sep 02, 2011
DrTomG in Southern New England

Anybody Know What's Become of La Cantina Mexican in New London?

We stopped by several weeks ago and a sign on the door said that they were closed for vacation.

We stopped by again a few nights ago for dinner and it looked abandoned - closed. No sign, just dark.

We always enjoyed their tex-mex and will miss them.

Aug 30, 2011
DrTomG in Southern New England

Mediocre Dinner at The Grille in Old Lyme, CT

We took the family to The Grille on a really rainy Tuesday night. Open about two months, my wife wanted to give it a try.

We were seated quickly, although the parking lot was jammed when we arrived - turned out to be mostly their bar crowd.

The server brought over a basket of soft bread sticks, which were good, but unremarkable. We ordered the fried calamari as a shared appetizer and it was also fine. We order this starter so frequently that we’ve become the CT shoreline experts on the dish.

My wife and daughter ordered Caesar salads with grilled chicken for entrees. Unfortunately the romaine was very gritty and the salads were sent back. The kitchen replaced the salads without argument and the new salads were without grit. The dressing was jarred and only average.
My son ordered fish and chips and he enjoyed the fish. The fries were soggy.
I ordered pasta with Bolognese sauce and it was fine.We did not order coffee or dessert.

The Grille seems to be focused primarily on the bar business. This spot has been home to a half dozen earlier restaurants which all closed quickly. Maybe The Grille formula (i.e., focus on the booze crowd and serve only average fare from the kitchen) will work.

Aug 16, 2011
DrTomG in Southern New England

Business is Booming at Noah’s in Stonington, CT

We had guests in from the Midwest (ex-pat New Englanders) last week and we went to Stonington to poke around and have lunch. The day was beautiful and we enjoyed the shops, homes, and marinas; and finally looped back to Noah’s.
Noah’s lunch business was booming and all tables remained filled throughout our lunch. We were seated quickly and service was good, despite the crowd.
We started with a basket of popovers, which were quite good.
Our guest ordered a big bowl of steamers, which he enjoyed. His partner had the charcoal grilled pizza and finished it all.
My wife enjoyed her Asian salad with pan-seared sea scallops
I started with a cup of RI (ie, clear) chowder and it was briny and first-rate. My entrée was fresh sautéed flounder in panko and it was excellent.
The seafood was local and absolutely fresh.
Noah’s offers an amazing array of desserts and my wife and I shared the peach & nectarine crisp with a scoop of Buck’s French vanilla ice cream. It was excellent.
Noah’s has gotten great reviews in the press and I agree that it is top-notch – one of the best on the CT Shoreline!

Aug 08, 2011
DrTomG in Southern New England

Dinner at the Bee and Thistle Inn Old Lyme, CT

My wife and I had dinner on Wednesday evening at the Bee and Thistle Inn in Old Lyme, CT
The B&T was built in 1756 and had undergone a stunning restoration with nine rooms for travelers.
The grounds are really beautiful with wonderful gardens and some amazing ancient trees. Sculptures from local galleries and artists dot the landscape. The rear grounds slope to the Lieutenant River
We were seated in a pretty enclosed porch which provided good views of the gardens and grounds.
On Wednesdays the B & T offers a prix fixe menu which is a bargain at $28. Their alacarte Grille menu and a small plates menu are also available.
We opted for prix fixe and my wife stated with a salad of mixed greens with raspberries, candied walnuts, and Great Hill Blue Cheese. I started with heirloom tomato gazpacho made with veg from their garden. The appetizers were accompanied by fresh, warm bread with herbed butter. All in all a great start to dinner.
Entrée choices that evening were summer berry barbequed pork tenderloin with nd grilled asparagus and roasted fingerling potatoes and pan seared salmon nicoise with French Beans, Eggs, Roasted Tomato, a White balsamic dressing.
We both opted for the pork tenderloin and enjoyed our choices.
My wife selected Chocolate Pot de Crème with sugar cookies and whipped cream for dessert. I went with fresh peach fritters with butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream.
My wife described the evening as “ lovely.” I should mention that service was attentive and friendly throughout dinner.
The B&T will become our first choice for exceptional dining on the southeast CT shoreline.

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Bee and Thistle Inn
100 Lyme St, Old Lyme, CT 06371

Jul 30, 2011
DrTomG in Southern New England

Good Dinner at Costa's Mexican Grill in Branford, CT

My wife and I had dinner after an early movie on Sunday at Costa's MG&B.
We started with house-prepared chips and salsa, which were good - and then even better after we requested that they punch it up a bit.
Costa's has both a small dining room (ie,15 tables max) and a larger outdoor covered patio wuth a great view of the pretty Indian Neck marsh.

Their menu is broad and includes all the standards.

My wife ordered their veggie burrito, which was really only fair to good.
I ordered the combination fajita - ie, beef, chicken, and shrimp and all the usual acompaniments.
The tortillas arrived fresh and warm.
I graded the fajitas A+; they were excellent.

The portion was quite large, so I shared with my wife.
We both felt that Costa's was worthy a return trip.

Jul 25, 2011
DrTomG in Southern New England

Birthday Dinner at Dog Watch Café in Stonington, CT

My daughters treated my wife and me last Sunday evening (ie, my birthday) to dinner at the Dog Watch Café in Stonington. For those not facile with naval terminology, a dog watch is a watch (a period of work duty or a work shift) between 1600 and 2000 (4 p.m. and 8 p.m.) It is split into two, first and last dog watches. Compared to a normal watch, each of these dog watches is curtailed (cur-tailed). DWC is located right on the Dodson Boatyard, so the restaurant’s atmosphere is influenced by sea views and sailors coming in from their boats.
As is now our tradition, we started with a basket of fried calamari for the table, served with chunks of chorizo and pepper rings, the calamari was excellent. I, on the other hand, started with a plate of fresh oysters on the half shell – also excellent and accompanied by good cocktail sauce and some of the most awesomely hot horseradish along the shoreline. The oysters were ultra-fresh and briny and I ate with relish. My daughters shared a large chopped cavatappi salad – which got good grades.
For entrees, my wife enjoyed a Caesar salad, which she’s labeled as the best on the shoreline. I had the seafood fra diavolo, which was chock full of large shrimp, scallops, mussels, and clams. The tomato sauce was spicy and I enjoyed it immensely. I even shared some shrimp with the spouse, whose glances were almost pleading. First daughter ordered roasted cod with double veg (steamed ie, broccoli) and no starch. Her beau enjoyed his open- faced steak sandwich. Second daughter ordered linguini with alfredo sauce. All entrees were deemed excellent and dinner was a success!
We drove to first daughter’s Stonington apartment for birthday raspberry apple pie.
The Dog Watch gets my high grades for atmosphere and food quality.

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Dog Watch Cafe
194 Water St, Stonington, CT 06378

Jul 19, 2011
DrTomG in Southern New England

Excellent Dinner at the Gentrified SeaHorse Tavern in Noank, CT

My wife and I had dinner last night (ie, Saturday) at the recently reopened SeaHorse Tavern.
The renovation was attractive and comfortable.
As usual, we ate in the bar area, which, in the past, was raucous and funky. Alas, the funky atmosphere was gone, replaced by a much more gentrified ambiance.
We shared a great appetizer of fried calamari, covered by a spicy batter. My wife ordered crabcakes for her entrée and they were outstanding, accompanied by some perfectly cooked jaricots verts, dressed lightly with butter, and some lackluster steak fries.
It turned out to be a calamari night for me and I ordered calamari sautéed in olive oil with pepperoncini and garlic (lots), served over angel hair spaghetti, which was recommended by my daughter. I really enjoyed my entree, but the portion was enormous and much more than I could finish. We did not have dessert.

Jul 03, 2011
DrTomG in Southern New England

The SeaHorse in Noank Re-Opens June 22 !

The SeaHorse in Noank reopens Wed, June 22 after a complete renovation and with new ownership and management.
My quest for excellent fish and chips ends on that day.

Jun 13, 2011
DrTomG in Southern New England

Terrible Fish and Chips at Yankee Clipper, Niantic, CT

You're correct. Weather has kept us away so far. Also waiting for the return of SeaHorse.

May 27, 2011
DrTomG in Southern New England

Terrible Fish and Chips at Yankee Clipper, Niantic, CT

My wife and I had the taste for fish and chips last night - ie, the old fashioned batter-dipped and deep-fried kind. Found a menu online offering batter-dipped and we were off to the Yankee Clipper.

We ordered and were served quickly.

Unfortunately, the fish was virtually inedible. The batter crust was super- thick and soggy. The fish inside was certainly not fresh and was probably frozen. The fries were soggy and wet with oil.

Our guess was that the fish had been cooked at some earlier date and frozen - then maybe a quick dip with the fries into a hot oil bath.

So, Yankee Clipper gets four thumbs down and we will never visit again.

Yucch!

May 21, 2011
DrTomG in Southern New England

Outstanding Lunch at the Turtle Cafe

My wife and I had lunch last week at the newly opened Turtle Cafe in Westbrook, CT. The Turtle is in the spot formerly occupied by the Muffin Corner.

Lunch was superb! I had the vegetarian falafel with cilantro pesto (they also have chicken falafel on the menu. They were moist and nicely spiced - ie, a little "hot& spicy. " My wife enjoyed her Thai chicken wrap which was also seasoned well - a little hot & spicy, too.

The menu is broad and adventurous, and allows for a nice trip through world cuisine.

The rumor is that the chef, Sharma, has been professionally trained.

All four of our thumbs up!

May 16, 2011
DrTomG in Southern New England