@ the Barn Restaurant, Granby, CT

@ the Barn Restaurant, Granby, CT

If you live or happen to be traveling in Granby or East Granby, CT you’ll notice several smaller-sized casual restaurants mostly serving pizza, grinders and salads. So when “@ the Barn” restaurant opened in Granby on September 2015, I was anxious to try the new local place. I’m glad I did!

@ the Barn” restaurant opened in Granby on September 2015

@ the Barn” restaurant opened in Granby on September 2015

@ The Barn is located on East Granby Road (Route 20) very close to Granby Center (intersection of Routes 20 and 202), next to the Bank of America. The restaurant has a nice modern décor (notice the glass-blown overhead lights upon entry), despite it’s exterior barn look to match the restaurant’s name.

The restaurant has a nice modern interior décor.

The restaurant has a nice modern interior décor.

 

The restaurant features new American upscale cuisine, offering the first true fine dining restaurant option to Granby. Within the restaurant, you’ll find several comfortable dining areas, as well as a full service bar, upstairs lounge raw bar and a three-season outdoor patio.

I’ve now been to this restaurant three times, all for lunch. Each time, the restaurant’s service is attentive and extremely courteous. You’ll notice your water glass is continually filled.

At each lunch, I’ve tried different dishes to gain a broad menu experience. I have not been disappointed. Everything is delicious.

Here’s what I’ve tried during my dining experiences:

Visit #1 – Girlfriend’s lunch. We shared the margarita pesto flatbread and the braised short rib tacos with red rice. While we enjoyed both, I think it’s fair to say that we preferred the tacos. The combination of flavors is spot on!

Short Rib Tacos

Short Rib Tacos

Margarita pesto flatbread

Margarita pesto flatbread

After seeing several delicious desserts go by, we decided to share the chocolate torte garnished with dark chocolate, cranberry and pistachio bark. It was decadent and the presentation beautiful too.

Chocolate torte garnished with dark chocolate, cranberry and pistachio bark

Chocolate torte garnished with dark chocolate, cranberry and pistachio bark

 

Visit #2 – Lunch date with Hubby. After a busy Saturday morning of running errands, we decided to take a break, catch our breath and enjoy a few moments together over a nice lunch. My husband heard me rave about the short rib tacos so there was no “arm twisting” needed. He ordered them and loved them as much as I had on my first visit.

Short rib tacos - no sharing this time!

Short rib tacos – no sharing this time!

I continued on my menu exploration and ordered the grilled cheese with side salad. They taken a classic ordinary comfort food to extraordinary levels with ingredients of fig jam, Brie, arugula, caramelized onion on a crispy focaccia bread. It was another hit in my opinion.

Grilled cheese with side salad.

Grilled cheese with side salad.

We finished our date lunch by sharing the brownie sundae. It was a delicious sweet ending to a perfect lunch.

Brownie sundae

Brownie sundae

Visit #3 – Lunch catching up with a long-time friend and former boss

Upon my most recent visit, I was meeting my friend Kim whom I hadn’t seen in a while. I suggested eating @ The Barn as one of our options. She had heard about it and was excited to try it. She took my recommendation and ordered the grilled cheese. Once she saw that it contained fig jam and Brie, there was very little convincing needed. She loved it. While I was tempted to order it again – yes it is that good – I decided to continue on the menu exploration and ordered the hazelnut-crusted chicken sandwich with side salad. The combination of flavors derived from the crusting, cranberry chutney and baby spinach is a huge hit on the delicious brioche roll. This choice was another home run!

Hazelnut-crusted chicken sandwich with side salad

Hazelnut-crusted chicken sandwich with side salad

Kim enjoyed our meal so much; she made a dinner reservation for the following week before leaving our lunch.

I am very glad to see more and more fine dining establishments moving to suburbs. This way we don’t always have to travel to Hartford or West Hartford to experience this fine dining caliber. I am excited to go back to @ The Barn restaurant; maybe I’ll try it for dinner next or Sunday Brunch.

 

Have you ever eaten at @ The Barn restaurant?

What’s your favorite extraordinary lunch spot?

 

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La Creperie, Key West, FL

La Creperie, Key West, FL

Key West, FL has a rich culinary scene. With over 200 restaurants on the 4 x 5 mile island, foodies like myself are quick to discover an amazing assortment of great restaurants to tempt your taste buds, many with incredible atmospheres.

When traveling, I like to find those gems on quiet, “off the beaten path” streets, serving something extraordinary and unique to the destination. Before leaving, we made a list of the island’s specialties, which included conch fritters, pink shrimp and key lime pie. Little did I know we would find the closest thing you can to a French street café, serving up the most amazing crepes you’ve ever had!

La Creperie, Key West, FL

La Creperie, Key West, FL

La Creperie is a “must visit” restaurant when in Key West. The owners are French and the food is authentic. They understand what a crepe should look and taste like. The menu includes a range of sweet, fruit-filled crepes; a savory counterpart of galettes made from organic buckwheat stuffed with cheese, veggies, protein and amazing sauces; omelets; French plates like croque monsieur and Madame; Paninis and cold sandwiches; and salads.

Upon our first visit – yes we went twice over our six-day trip – I ordered an omelet with bacon, chives, potatoes and cheddar cheese. It was one of the best omelets I’ve ever had!

An omelet with bacon, chives, potatoes and cheddar cheese - it was the best I've ever had!

An omelet with bacon, chives, potatoes and cheddar cheese – it was the best I’ve ever had!

They serve the omelets with a side of French bread toast. It was so good that I ordered the same thing the second time we visited.

At our first visit, my husband opted for a sweet crepe that was filled with Nutella and fresh strawberries, topped with gelato ice cream. The crepes are large and you are able to share, if you are willing to give up a bite. Of course, I had to taste it – oh my – how good it was!

A sweet crepe that was filled with Nutella and fresh strawberries, topped with gelato ice cream.

A sweet crepe that was filled with Nutella and fresh strawberries, topped with gelato ice cream.

 

At our second visit, he again selected one of the sweet crepes, but this time it was filled with fresh pineapple chunks, coconut and caramel – and of course topped with the vanilla gelato ice cream. It was another big hit!

Another sweet crepe, but this time it was filled with fresh pineapple chunks, coconut and caramel – and of course topped with the vanilla gelato ice cream!

Another sweet crepe, but this time it was filled with fresh pineapple chunks, coconut and caramel – and of course topped with the vanilla gelato ice cream!

Our friends tried one of the savory buckwheat galettes that was filled with chicken, béchamel sauce, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and melted Swiss cheese. The combination of flavors was amazing and the organic buckwheat was crispy and light.

One of the savory buckwheat galettes that was filled with chicken, béchamel sauce, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and melted Swiss cheese.

One of the savory buckwheat galettes that was filled with chicken, béchamel sauce, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and melted Swiss cheese.

One of the cool features to this restaurant is that you can sit inside at the counter and watch two French women making the crepes right before your eyes!

You can sit inside at the counter and watch two French women making the crepes right before your eyes!

You can sit inside at the counter and watch two French women making the crepes right before your eyes!

We were mesmerized watching them in action making 30 different kinds of crepes on the circular griddles. I couldn’t believe how they flipped the crepes so effortlessly without tearing them.

We were mesmerized watching them in action making 30 different kinds of crepes on the circular griddles.

We were mesmerized watching them in action making 30 different kinds of crepes on the circular griddles.

La Creperie is open daily for breakfast and lunch only. It is located at 300 Petronia Street, across from Blue Heaven restaurant, in the Bahamian section of Key West – away from the hustle and bustle of Duval Street, but not a long walk from it. Be forewarned that the restaurant is usually quite busy on the weekends so you may have a short wait but totally worth it. We found the crowd to be thinner on the weekdays. Also, the restaurant only takes cash payments – no debit or credit cards.

La Creperie - a “must visit” restaurant when in Key West!

La Creperie – a “must visit” restaurant when in Key West!

Ooh La La C’est Magnifique! Bon Appetit!

 

Have you ever been to Key West, FL?

Have you ever eaten at a French creperie restaurant?

Madison Beach Hotel, Madison, CT

Madison Beach Hotel, Madison, CT

Madison Beach Hotel is the only boutique beachfront resort in Connecticut.

Madison Beach Hotel is the only boutique beachfront resort in Connecticut.

Madison Beach Hotel is the only boutique beachfront resort in Connecticut.

It boasts 32 guest rooms each overlooking the Long Island Sound.

Each guest room overlooks the Long Island Sound.

Each guest room overlooks the Long Island Sound.

In addition, the hotel has casual and fine dining, event space perfect for weddings and special occasions, and a spa and fitness center all with a comfortable, elegant style.

The hotel has a restaurant, event space and spa.

The hotel has a restaurant, event space and spa.

Recently, I attended a “Meet the Chef” event as the hotel was introducing their new chef, Leo Bushey.

I attended a “Meet the Chef” event as the hotel was introducing their new chef, Leo Bushey.

I attended a “Meet the Chef” event as the hotel was introducing their new chef, Leo Bushey.

Since he was 13 years old, Chef Bushey has been passionately involved in the restaurant industry, raising the bar in Connecticut’s culinary scene. Starting with his humble beginnings at family style restaurants, he quickly progressed through the culinary landscape where his talents were recognized and nurtured by the country’s leading chefs, including James Boyce, Alex Statta, Peter Hoefler and Edward Flattery.

Chef Bushey has been in the food industry since he was 13 years old.

Chef Bushey has been in the food industry since he was 13 years old.

Chef Bushey’s past experience in Connecticut includes executive chef positions at Acqua Oyster Bar, Hartford Club, Country Club of Farmington and The Willows at Doubletree Bristol before being named the executive chef at Madison Beach Hotel.

We had an opportunity to enjoy the fresh flavors of the spring season as Chef Bushey prepared a preview of the upcoming items from the spring menu.

We made our way up the staircase to the pre-dinner cocktail reception.

We made our way up the staircase to the pre-dinner cocktail reception.

We made our way up the staircase to the pre-dinner cocktail reception.

Immediately upon entering the room for cocktails and hors d’oevres, a glass of La Petite Perrier Pinot Noir 2012 was waiting for us. It was mentioned that this wine goes well with the earthy flavors forthcoming from the appetizers.

A glass of La Petite Perrier Pinot Noir 2012 was waiting for us!

A glass of La Petite Perrier Pinot Noir 2012 was waiting for us!

As we mingled and enjoyed the view of Long Island Sound, a round of hors d’oevres began circulating. First, were tried fried Rhode Island clam fritters with a pepper aioli. The aioli was a nice compliment to the perfectly fried fritter and had a little spice kick to it.

Fried Rhode Island clam fritters with a pepper aioli.

Fried Rhode Island clam fritters with a pepper aioli.

Next was a fish cake with heirloom tomato remoulade.

Fish cake with heirloom tomato remoulade.

Fish cake with heirloom tomato remoulade.

It was delicious. I also loved the presentation.

The fish cake was delicious and had a beautiful presentation.

The fish cake was delicious and had a beautiful presentation.

Our third hors d’oevre was cream of mushroom soup shooters finished with truffle crème fraiche. I loved the richness of the soup paired with the light cream.

Cream of mushroom soup shooters finished with truffle crème fraiche.

Cream of mushroom soup shooters finished with truffle crème fraiche.

To round out the cocktail reception was the final appetizer, which consisted of pan flamed beef tenderloin paired with celeriac pomme puree and tomato confit. It was delicious – the perfect bite.

Pan flamed beef tenderloin paired with celeriac pomme puree and tomato confit.

Pan flamed beef tenderloin paired with celeriac pomme puree and tomato confit.

Then, the hotel’s general manager, John Mathers, invited us into the dining room where we were warmly greeting. As it turns out, we were assigned to John’s table for the dinner. He and his wife were wonderful company.

The tables were elegantly set with white and blue linens and simply adored with pansies wrapped in burlap. It was the perfect juxtaposition of rustic flair and sheer elegance. I loved it and might use it for an upcoming dinner party.

The tables were elegantly set with white and blue linens and simply adored with pansies wrapped in burlap.

The tables were elegantly set with white and blue linens and simply adored with pansies wrapped in burlap.

Chef Bushey and a representative from Worldwide Wine introduced us to each menu course, along with the accompanying wine.

Chef Bushey introduced us to each menu course.

Chef Bushey introduced us to each menu course.

The appetizer course consisted of fried Chesapeake Bay oysters with frisee and maple pancetta lardons. Seared diver sea scallops with roasted bacon, heirloom potatoes and apple gastrique accompanied it. The plate was paired with a deliciously fruity white wine called Ca Dei Frati Lungua 2013. We were told that it’s from a vineyard just south of Lake Garda and has nice acidity from the tartness of apple. While I am not an oyster fan, I did appreciate the combination of flavors on the plate and absolutely loved the perfectly seared scallops and baby potatoes.

The appetizer course consisted of fried Chesapeake Bay oysters and seared diver sea scallops with roasted bacon, heirloom potatoes and apple gastrique.

The appetizer course consisted of fried Chesapeake Bay oysters and seared diver sea scallops with roasted bacon, heirloom potatoes and apple gastrique.

The entrée course consisted of two plates covering a selection from the sea and one from the land. From the sea, we had grilled mahi mahi paired with coconut basmati rice, limed mango and passion fruit essence. It was nicely paired with “Butter” Chardonnay 2013 that had a rich flavoring and picked up on the tropical fruit accents. The fish was nicely grilled and was flavorful and flakey.

Grilled mahi mahi paired with coconut basmati rice, limed mango and passion fruit essence.

Grilled mahi mahi paired with coconut basmati rice, limed mango and passion fruit essence.

From the land, we were served pan roasted lamb loin chops with spring pea puree and organic mushrooms. It was not only a beautifully presented plate but also delicious to the palate. The lamb was paired with Vincent Girardin Rouge Cuvee St. Vincent 2012. We were told that this burgundy wine had a hint of black cherries and pairs well with red meats.

Pan roasted lamb loin chops with spring pea puree and organic mushrooms.

Pan roasted lamb loin chops with spring pea puree and organic mushrooms.

Before dessert was served, we were introduced to Sarah, the Madison Beach Hotel’s pastry chef. She’s leads everything cooking in the “sugar shack.”

Sarah, the Madison Beach Hotel’s pastry chef.

Sarah, the Madison Beach Hotel’s pastry chef.

Our dessert consisted of a cherry newton, paired with almond Devonshire cream and lemon Anglaise. The dessert was served with Michele Chiario Nivole Moscato d’Asti 2012. It’s a lovely sweet, light sparkling wine with a hint of fruit flavors. We were told this is the best dessert wine in the world and an excellent companion to fresh fruit pastries.

Cherry newton, paired with almond Devonshire cream and lemon Anglaise.

Cherry newton, paired with almond Devonshire cream and lemon Anglaise.

The dessert and accompanying wine were a perfect ending to the wonderful meal and night.

In addition to all of the magnificent food and wine we sampled, my notes wouldn’t be complete without an acknowledgement to all the wonderful skills and service provided by the kitchen and wait staff.

The wonderful kitchen and wait staff.

The wonderful kitchen and wait staff.

The "Meet the Chef" event was top notch all the way around!

The “Meet the Chef” event was top notch all the way around!

It was top notch all the way around!

Madison Beach Hotel and its Wharf Restaurant are located at 94 West Wharf Road in Madison, CT among a picturesque beachfront community.

Madison Beach Hotel and its Wharf Restaurant.

Madison Beach Hotel and its Wharf Restaurant.

The Wharf restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch or dinner and has outdoor seating on the porch when the weather permits and a Sunday jazz brunch. The restaurant serves farm-to-table cuisine showcasing the flavors of the Atlantic northeast by using locally sourced ingredients and classical preparations.

I can’t wait to return for a cocktail on the pictorial patio or a relaxed Sunday jazz brunch now that the weather is spectacular!

 

Have you been to Madison Beach Hotel in Madison, CT?

Where’s your favorite place for drinks and dining on the shore?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was provided with a complimentary reservation to the “Meet The Chef” event by Madison Beach Hotel’s marketing team, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience at the event

Rooftop 120, Glastonbury, CT

Rooftop 120, Glastonbury, CT

As the weather warms up and the evenings become balmy, it’s the perfect time to move your party outdoors and Rooftop 120 in Glastonbury has the perfect patio just for that!

Rooftop 120, Glastonbury, CT

Rooftop 120, Glastonbury, CT

Rooftop 120 is New England’s largest four-season rooftop restaurant and bar. Recently, I was invited to a blogger event as the restaurant was introducing their new chef.

I was invited to a blogger event at Rooftop 120.

I was invited to a blogger event at Rooftop 120.

Executive chef Dan Fortin was previously the chef at Infinity Music Hall and Bistro.

Introducing executive chef Dan Fortin

Introducing executive chef Dan Fortin

With over 20 years of culinary experience, he has cooked at award winning restaurants like Stone Terrace on St. Johns U.S. Virgin Islands, Mantra in Boston and locally at Apricots in Farmington and Trumbull Kitchen in Hartford.

At Rooftop 120, Chef Dan has made the menu his own by introducing a progressive new take on American cuisine.

Chef Dan has made the menu his own by introducing a progressive new take on American cuisine.

Chef Dan has made the menu his own by introducing a progressive new take on American cuisine.

Rooftop 7

We had the opportunity to taste four of his new tapas.

We tasted four of the new tapas.

We tasted four of the new tapas.

The aji chili rubbed steak sat on top of grilled zucchini with peppadew peppers and chimichurri sauce. The steak was flavorful and had a little kick to it.

Aji chili rubbed steak

Aji chili rubbed steak

The jerk spice tuna was topped with fruit salsa and paired with fried plantains.

Jerk spice tuna

Jerk spice tuna

The soy-ginger-marinated avocado halves were filled with tempura fried oysters and drizzled with yuzu harissa aioli. It was an amazing combination of creamy and crispy textures.

Soy-ginger-marinated avocado halves were filled with tempura fried oysters

Soy-ginger-marinated avocado halves were filled with tempura fried oysters

Finally, we sampled a red beet and goat cheese bon bon served over shaved fennel orange salad topped with medjool date reduction. That was my favorite!

Red beet and goat cheese bon bon served over shaved fennel orange salad

Red beet and goat cheese bon bon served over shaved fennel orange salad

At the bar, which there is two – the “big bar” which leads to the sky deck with the fire pit and stunning views, and the “little bar” located inside the dining room – is master mixologist Tyler Devecchis.

"Little" bar

“Little” bar

The “big bar” leads to the sky deck with the fire pit and stunning views.

The “big bar” leads to the sky deck with the fire pit and stunning views.

He made us a delicious martini cocktail with tropical fruit flavors.

A delicious martini

A delicious martini

 

Inside Rooftop 120 guests will find a cozy atmosphere filled with a selection of intimate, comfortable seating, perfect for enjoying cocktails, small plates and entrees.

Rooftop 120 has a cozy atmosphere.

Rooftop 120 has a cozy atmosphere.

Guests will find a  selection of intimate, comfortable seating, perfect for enjoying cocktails, small plates and entrees.

Guests will find a selection of intimate, comfortable seating, perfect for enjoying cocktails, small plates and entrees.

You can find Rooftop 120 on the third floor in the Eric Town Square at 120 Hebron Avenue in Glastonbury, CT. Happy hour is every weekday from 5 – 6:30 pm. On Tuesdays, Rooftop has half off bottles of wine. There is live music and rooftop entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights.

You can find Rooftop 120 on the third floor in the Eric Town Square at 120 Hebron Avenue in Glastonbury, CT.

You can find Rooftop 120 on the third floor in the Eric Town Square at 120 Hebron Avenue in Glastonbury, CT.

 

Have you been to Rooftop 120 in Glastonbury?

Where’s your favorite place for outdoor drinks and dining?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was invited to the blogger event by Rooftop 120’s marketing team, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience at the event.

Oak Haven Table & Bar Restaurant, New Haven, CT

Oak Haven Table & Bar Restaurant, New Haven, CT

If you are looking for fresh American tapas with a unique twist that are sourced from local New England farms, then pull up a chair at New Haven’s trendy gastro pub Oak Haven Table & Bar Restaurant.

Oak Haven Table & Bar restaurant is located on State Street in New Haven, CT

Oak Haven Table & Bar restaurant is located on State Street in New Haven, CT

Over the past few years, the “farm-to-table” trend has grown like a weed. Several restaurants are returning to the concept of sourcing the freshest ingredients from local farms and tailoring their menu items based on what is available at peak harvest. Typically, the diner wins at these restaurants that truly embrace the farm-to-table philosophy because they are getting the highest quality and freshest ingredients directly from growers and in most instances the food tastes better.

Oak Haven Table & Bar restaurant is a true farm-to-table restaurant. The kitchen, led by Chef Meg Fama, produces a seasonal menu that supports local farms, microbreweries and distributors whenever possible. It’s a concept she’s familiar and comfortable with given her upbringing and training.

Oak Haven's kitchen is led by Chef Meg Fama

Oak Haven’s kitchen is led by Chef Meg Fama

Chef Fama explained that the restaurant’s menu changes daily since it’s driven by what’s available at the local markets. She also cited from which farms each of the menu items we sampled ingredients originated. I found that very cool since I’m a big proponent for eating local. She went on to explain that everything is made in-house, even the juices used in our cocktails.

The restaurant’s menu changes daily since it’s driven by what’s available at the local markets.

The restaurant’s menu changes daily since it’s driven by what’s available at the local markets.

The menu is divided into sections under the headings of snacks and small, medium and large-sized tapas that are perfect for sharing.

Oak Haven has a good selection of craft cocktails using local spirits.

Oak Haven has a good selection of craft cocktails using local spirits.

Oak Haven has a good selection of craft cocktails using local spirits. I chose the Market Special cocktail from the “shaken or stirred” section of the cocktail menu. This drink, which changes daily, was a fun combination of vodka and fresh fruits and herbs.

The Market Special cocktail was a fun combination of vodka and fresh fruits and herbs.

The Market Special cocktail was a fun combination of vodka and fresh fruits and herbs.

As I enjoyed my cocktail, I noticed the restaurant’s décor, which is a mix of warm wood accents, trendy eclectic furniture and rustic lighting fixtures. Together it works to create a quaint, community feel.

Oak photo 1

The restaurant’s décor is a mix of warm wood accents, trendy eclectic furniture and rustic lighting fixtures.

The restaurant’s décor is a mix of warm wood accents, trendy eclectic furniture and rustic lighting fixtures.

The parade of food began with autumn rolls from the snack section of the menu. This item is similar to what you would think of as spring rolls, but filled with autumn harvest vegetables instead. It came with a sweet plum sauce. The autumn rolls were crisp and crunchy and not at all greasy.

Autumn rolls from the snack section of the menu

Autumn rolls from the snack section of the menu

Next we sampled three items from the “small” section of the menu: blue crab, mussels and brussel sprouts.

The blue crab cakes from the "small" section of the menu were not small in size or taste!

The blue crab cakes from the “small” section of the menu were not small in size or taste!

The crab cakes had a crispy panko-crusted coating and were paired with house made remoulade sauce. Everyone commented on how heavily filled with crab the cakes were, which is not something you see at many restaurants. They were delicious and when I noticed that two remained I scoffed them up to take home!

Everyone commented on how heavily filled with crab the cakes were, which is not something you see at many restaurants.

Everyone commented on how heavily filled with crab the cakes were, which is not something you see at many restaurants.

The steamed mussels were served in a garlicky herbed beer broth, which we mopped up with the house made crusty bread.

The steamed mussels were served in a garlicky herbed beer broth.

The steamed mussels were served in a garlicky herbed beer broth.

The brussel sprouts, which were harvested from Stone Garden Farms in Shelton, CT, were cooked with garlic, shallots and a maple reduction.

The brussel sprouts were cooked with garlic, shallots and a maple reduction.

The brussel sprouts were cooked with garlic, shallots and a maple reduction.

Proceeding to the “medium” section of the menu, we sampled the cassoulet and day boat scallops. A cassoulet is a rich, slow-cooked casserole that originated in Southern France. It typically includes beans, meat (pork, duck or lamb), and seasonal vegetables. Chef Fama made our version with sausage that she obtained from Blue Slope Farms in Franklin, CT, local greens and white beans, Parmesan and a wine broth. The combination of flavors was amazing!

The combination of flavors in the cassoulet was amazing!

The combination of flavors in the cassoulet was amazing!

The day-boat scallops were from Stonington Seafood in Stonington, CT. They were seared to perfection and served with tarragon cream, bacon bits and market vegetables. I am a huge fan of scallops and enjoyed this dish!

The day-boat scallops were seared to perfection and served with tarragon cream, bacon bits and market vegetables.

The day-boat scallops were seared to perfection and served with tarragon cream, bacon bits and market vegetables.

Next we sampled the house-made clams in fra diavolo sauce. The clams were freshly harvested from Rhode Island.

House-made clams in fra diavolo sauce

House-made clams in fra diavolo sauce

The spicy tomato-based sauce is an Italian-American creation that is typically served with seafood or pasta. We called Chef Fama’s fra diavolo sauce “liquid gold.” We mopped up every last drop with more of the freshly baked crusty bread.

We concluded our tasting at Oak Haven with a beautiful selection of house made desserts.

We concluded our tasting at Oak Haven with a beautiful selection of house made desserts.

We concluded our tasting at Oak Haven with a beautiful selection of house made desserts.

The assortment included warm chocolate chip and dulce de leche cookies and bread pudding squares.

The assortment included warm chocolate chip and dulce de leche cookies and bread pudding squares.

The assortment included warm chocolate chip and dulce de leche cookies and bread pudding squares.

Additionally, the pastry chef also made us strawberry shortcake squares, using fresh-made preserves from Rose’s berry farm in Glastonbury, CT

The pastry chef also made us strawberry shortcake squares, using fresh-made preserves.

The pastry chef also made us strawberry shortcake squares, using fresh-made preserves.

It was a wonderful ending to our wonderful tasting at Oak Haven.  I am anxious to head back once the warmer weather hits so we can dine outside!

Oak Haven Table & Bar Restaurant

Oak Haven Table & Bar Restaurant

 

Have you tried Oak Haven Table and Bar Restaurant in New Haven?

Have you eaten at a true farm-to-table restaurant? If so, which?

 

Disclaimer:  While the restaurant’s owners hosted this food blogger dinner at Oak Haven, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience.

Bobby V’s Restaurant & Sports Bar

Bobby V’s Restaurant & Sports Bar, Windsor Locks, CT

When I was invited to a tasting of the fall menu at Bobby V’s restaurant and sports bar, I will admit that I was hesitant. I was expecting your typical “sports bar” scene with mediocre food, beer, cheers and jeers. Instead, we found a very nice restaurant with amazing food led by executive chef Jordan Stein, formerly of Pond House restaurants.

Bobby V’s Restaurant & Sports Bar, Windsor Locks, CT

Bobby V’s Restaurant & Sports Bar, Windsor Locks, CT

Bobby V’s has the typical sports memorabilia hanging on the walls, and 70 televisions, including a 17’ LED TV, are strung across one of the walls to satisfy every sports fans’ needs. But the food, atmosphere and service is much more than you expect from a typical sports bar.

Bobby V’s has the typical sports memorabilia hanging on the walls, and 70 televisions!

Bobby V’s has the typical sports memorabilia hanging on the walls, and 70 televisions!

Bobby V’s has  a 17’ LED TV strung across one of the walls to satisfy every sports fans’ needs.

Bobby V’s has a 17’ LED TV strung across one of the walls to satisfy every sports fans’ needs.

The drinks were fun and made to perfection! We started with a flight of Cracker Jack martinis. They were made with Cracker Jack infused Onyx moonshine, peanut simple syrup and freeze-dried butter. Chef Stein explained that this drink was one that they entered into the annual Faith Middleton Food Schmooze Martini Competition to benefit WNPR and CPTV.

A flight of Cracker Jack martinis.

A flight of Cracker Jack martinis.

We also had a flight of cranberry margaritas. They were a perfect drink for the fall season.

Cranberry margaritas were a perfect drink for the fall season.

Cranberry margaritas were a perfect drink for the fall season.

While we were enjoying our drinks, Chef Stein had us taste several of the menu’s appetizers. The broccoli cheddar flatbread has a thin layer of massed potatoes loaded with broccoli and melted cheddar cheese. It’s topped with an arugula salad using fresh, local greens. It was delicious and a perfect appetizer for sharing.

The broccoli cheddar flatbread has a thin layer of massed potatoes loaded with broccoli and melted cheddar cheese and is topped with an arugula salad.

The broccoli cheddar flatbread has a thin layer of massed potatoes loaded with broccoli and melted cheddar cheese and is topped with an arugula salad.

You can’t go to a sports bar and not taste the chicken wings. The platter contained two of their chicken wing flavors – habanero mango and sticky soy. The wings were crispy and tasty.

The chicken wing platter contained two of their flavors – habanero mango and sticky soy.

The chicken wing platter contained two of their flavors – habanero mango and sticky soy.

Next we were provided with two appetizers from their seafood selection. The seared ahi tuna was served over an Asian slaw with citrus ponzu and wasabi drizzle. The collection of flavors paired with the perfectly seared tuna was wonderful.

The seared ahi tuna was served over an Asian slaw with citrus ponzu and wasabi drizzle.

The seared ahi tuna was served over an Asian slaw with citrus ponzu and wasabi drizzle.

The second seafood appetizer was the calamari sticks. They are dusted in rice flour and paired with a sweet chili and lime dipping sauces. Chef Stein explained that the appetizer is perfect for anyone with a gluten allergy, given the use of rice flour and they use a separate cooking device specifically for this purpose.

The calamari sticks are dusted in rice flour and paired with a sweet chili and lime dipping sauces.

The calamari sticks are dusted in rice flour and paired with a sweet chili and lime dipping sauces.

We proceed on with a tasting sized portion of the Asian chicken salad. It consisted of chicken, Napa cabbage and spinach, mixed with bell peppers, carrots, red onion, cashews and wonton croutons with a spicy peanut dressing. This dish is not only beautiful to the eye but also to the mouth!

The Asian chicken salad has chicken, Napa cabbage and spinach, missed with bell peppers, carrots, red onion, cashews and wonton croutons with a spicy peanut dressing.

The Asian chicken salad has chicken, Napa cabbage and spinach, missed with bell peppers, carrots, red onion, cashews and wonton croutons with a spicy peanut dressing.

In true sports bar style, the menu includes burgers with a wide selection of “build your own toppings.” It also includes sliders – both traditional and some with a slightly sophisticated twist. We had the filet mignon slider. It is topped with arugula and house made bacon and onion jam and paired with homemade barbeque potato chips. The filet was cooked perfectly and the toppings brought further amazing flavors to the meat. The house’s made chips were a delightful treat.

The filet mignon slider is topped with arugula and house made bacon and onion jam and paired with homemade barbeque potato chips.

The filet mignon slider is topped with arugula and house made bacon and onion jam and paired with homemade barbeque potato chips.

Thankfully everything served to this point was in tasting sized portions or we wouldn’t have had any room left for the entrees. Chef Stein made us a platter with a pan roasted day boat scallop served over creamy white truffle polenta and asparagus. The second entrée was grilled pork tenderloin with butternut squash, pears and spinach, topped with caramelized onions. Both were deliciously amazing.

The entree platter included the pan roasted day boat scallop and  grilled pork tenderloin.

The entree platter included the pan roasted day boat scallop and grilled pork tenderloin.

I was very excited to try the scallop entrée since that is one that I had hoped he would serve when I had previewed the menu prior to attending the tasting. This is definitely something I will order again upon my return.

To cap off the tasting, Chef Stein concluded with the white chocolate napoleon and smores fondue. It was a chocolate lovers paradise!

Dessert included the white chocolate napoleon and smores fondue - YUM!

Dessert included the white chocolate napoleon and smores fondue – YUM!

The napoleon had white chocolate mouse with chocolate crackers. It was drizzled with a berry coulis. All I can say is YUM!

The napoleon had white chocolate mouse with chocolate crackers.

The napoleon had white chocolate mouse with chocolate crackers.

The menu says the smores fondue feeds two, but is a perfect dessert for sharing among the entire table. It has rich chocolate fondue topped with toasted marshmallows and paired with graham crackers for dipping. I’m not a marshmallow fan, but was not shy about digging down to the chocolate fondue. It was amazingly decadent!

The smores fondue has rich chocolate fondue topped with toasted marshmallows and paired with graham crackers for dipping.

The smores fondue has rich chocolate fondue topped with toasted marshmallows and paired with graham crackers for dipping.

Chef Jordan Stein was amazing host for our tasting event!

Me and Chef Jordan Stein

Me and Chef Jordan Stein

He has upgraded the trusty perennial sports bar menu and dining experience into one that offers food from scratch, fresh and even locavore. The sophistication he adds to his dishes is handled without being completely out of synch with the restaurant’s venue, but makes the common unique. I think customers will certainly appreciate this twist and the range of choices. I know we will be back!

 

Have you tried Bobby V’s restaurant?

What’s your favorite “sports bar type” food item(s)?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was invited to the complimentary tasting of Bobby V’s fall menu, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience at the event. 

La Pizza/ La Pasta restaurant, Eataly, NYC

La Pizza/ La Pasta restaurant, Eataly, NYC

For the second part of my foodie day in NYC, we chose to eat at one of the restaurants in the Eataly, NYC Italian market/ mall.

Even the restaurant plates carry Eataly's logo.

Even the restaurant plates carry Eataly’s logo.

Eataly has seven sit down restaurants with both table and counter seats. Each restaurant is positioned next to the market area that provides its fresh ingredients. Le Verdure is next to the produce market; La Piazza is next to the fresh mozzarella and Salumi and cheese counters. Il Pesce is next to the fishmonger. La Pizza & Pasta is next to the bakery and fresh pasta stations. Manzo is next to the butcher shop. Pranzo is in the cooking school and Birreria is a rooftop restaurant that brews its own cask ales.

Eataly has seven sit down restaurants with both table and counter seats.

Eataly has seven sit down restaurants with both table and counter seats.

We chose to eat at La Pizza & Pasta after being completely fascinated with the fresh breads and pasta being made before our eyes. The restaurant’s menu is divided into three main sections: Antipasti, Pizzas and Pastas. Our waitress explained that the left column within the pasta section is dried pasta selections and the right column represented their fresh pastas items.

La Pasta's menu is divided into three main sections.

La Pasta’s menu is divided into three main sections.

As we continued to peruse the menu, our waitress brought us some of the market’s freshly made Italian bread with their extra virgin olive oil for dipping.

Freshly made Italian bread with extra virgin olive oil for dipping.

Freshly made Italian bread with extra virgin olive oil for dipping.

We decided to start our dining by sharing the Antipasto Misto. The menu stated that it’s a selection of the chef’s daily-assorted vegetables. The waitress clarified the menu and told us that it included four items: assorted olives, roasted peppers, roasted butternut squash and eggplant Caponata with toasted bread.

Antipasto Misto - a selection of the chef’s daily-assorted vegetables.

Antipasto Misto – a selection of the chef’s daily-assorted vegetables.

We are glad we selected this as our starter because every one of the items was delicious and light. It was a perfect starter for our meal.  My favorite was the eggplant.

Keeping with the light theme, Gayle chose the Insalata di Finocchio. It was a beautiful salad that included arugula, fennel, shaved Parmigiano Reggiano with lemon vinaigrette. She loved every bite!

Insalata di Finocchio

Insalata di Finocchio

Terri and I couldn’t resist the fresh pasta selections. I chose the Tagliatelle al Ragu di Manzo. It was house made fettuccini-like pasta with short-rib tomato sauce. The pasta was cooked to perfection. It reminded me of my Nona’s homemade pasta and sauce.

Tagliatelle al Ragu di Manzo

Tagliatelle al Ragu di Manzo

Terri chose the Ravioli di Zucca. It was house made ravioli filled with roasted butternut squash, Grana Padano cheese and almond Amaretti cookies, finished with a light brown butter and sage sauce. It was delicious – I tasted it. It was a perfect dish for the fall season.

Ravioli di Zucca

Ravioli di Zucca

We all really enjoyed our lunch at La Pizza/ La Pasta restaurant. I believe we selected well for our first time to Eataly NYC.  I would recommend getting there on the earlier side of lunch because it is first come first served seating and it was completely full by noon.

I look forward to returning to Eataly NYC and trying another one of the six remaining restaurants!

 

Have you ever eaten at any of the restaurants at Eataly NYC?

What’s your favorite kind of homemade pasta and sauce?