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. 

Dish Bar & Grill

Dish Bar & Grill

Dish Bar & Grill is one of the upscale restaurants in downtown Hartford. It’s located on Main Street amidst the vibrant energy you’ll find in the city.

Dish Bar & Grill is located on Main Street in downtown Hartford.

Dish Bar & Grill is located on Main Street in downtown Hartford.

For those who may remember, it occupies the former Sage-Allen flagship department store building, dating back to 1898. And while the street level façade has been updated, if you look up above the door you will see reminders of the beautiful historical building, which for me bring forward fond memories of day-long shopping trips into the city.

Dish occupies the former Sage-Allen flagship department store building, dating back to 1898.

Dish occupies the former Sage-Allen flagship department store building, dating back to 1898.

Inside the restaurant you’ll find a large, chic industrial-style space. There’s a cool bar area with plenty of seating for any size Happy Hour group.

Dish has a cool bar area - great for Happy Hour!

Dish has a cool bar area – great for Happy Hour!

For your mealtime, there are a few beautiful dining areas lit with a relaxing blue hue and dressed with elegant white linen.

Dish has a few beautiful dining areas lit with a relaxing blue hue and dressed with elegant white linen.

Dish has a few beautiful dining areas lit with a relaxing blue hue and dressed with elegant white linen.

Additionally, there is counter seating for the bird’s eye view into the kitchen.

The counter seating offers a bird's eye view into the kitchen.

The counter seating offers a bird’s eye view into the kitchen.

Dish Bar & Grill is one of three restaurants in the Dish restaurant group. It’s cuisine focuses on upscale interpretations of classic comfort food. At the beginning of September, the restaurant began serving Sunday Brunch from 11 am. to 5 pm. Last Sunday, the restaurant held a grand opening for the new brunch menu and I was invited to attend. To make it a fun event for the family, there was a special appearance by Anne Cubberly’s night fall puppets. The masks were incredible!

To make it a fun event for the family, there was a special appearance by Anne Cubberly’s night fall puppets - great masks!

To make it a fun event for the family, there was a special appearance by Anne Cubberly’s night fall puppets – great masks!

The Sunday Brunch menu contains a wonderful mix of breakfast and lunch menu items. It’s divided into sections consisting of: shares (sticky buns, fruit salad); starters, entrees; designer omelets; sides and brunch beverages.

Dish's new Sunday Brunch menu.

Dish’s new Sunday Brunch menu.

Our group decided to make it a “boozy brunch” and started with a round of adult beverages. While the menu does feature some of the classic brunch beverages – e.g., mimosa and bloody marys, it also features some adventurous ones too!

The brunch menu features some of the classic brunch beverages – e.g., mimosa and bloody marys.

The brunch menu features some of the classic brunch beverages – e.g., mimosa and bloody marys.

Sunday brunch mimosa

Sunday brunch mimosa

The “Bull’s Blood” is a variant from the traditional Bloody Mary with tequila, cilantro and jalapeño added to bring a kick to your morning.

The “Bull’s Blood” is a variant from the traditional Bloody Mary with tequila, cilantro and jalapeño added to bring a kick to your morning.

The “Bull’s Blood” is a variant from the traditional Bloody Mary with tequila, cilantro and jalapeño added to bring a kick to your morning.

To accompany our beverages, we opted to begin with the charcuterie board, as recommended by our server. It featured a beautiful assortment of locally sourced cheeses from the Mystic Cheese Company and charred bread slices.

We began with the charcuterie board as recommended by our server.

We began with the charcuterie board as recommended by our server.

Additionally the board included a house made Pate de Champagne of ground pork, bacon and cognac topped with mustard seed. I don’t normally enjoy pate as it’s usually made from liver, but this version was very flavorful.

House made Pate de Champagne.

House made Pate de Champagne.

The Sea Change and Melinda Mae cheeses were of similar consistency to Brie with one having a little more flavor and the other slightly milder. “Sweet dreams are made of cheese, who am I to dis a Brie” – ha! (I saw that somewhere and couldn’t resist including it!) I enjoyed the pairings of dried fruit and honeycomb.

The Sea Change and Melinda Mae cheeses were of similar consistency to Brie.

The Sea Change and Melinda Mae cheeses were of similar consistency to Brie.

The Mystic Melville cheese (named for Herman Melville the author of Moby Dick) is the first cheese from cheese maker Brian Civitello and co-owner Jason Sobocinski (whom I recently met at Popover Café and Boulder Knoll Farm dinners). This cheese was inspired by the Stracchino family of cheese from Northern Italy and is known for its smoothness and excellent melting characteristics. It’s taste is similar to a mild mozzarella and was paired with almonds.

The Mystic Melville cheese.

The Mystic Melville cheese.

For our brunch entrees, the group was tempted by several choices, making it difficult to select just one. We decided to each order something different so we could have the best tasting from the menu. After much contemplation, Mike ordered the cornflake crusted French toast. Made from Challah bread, the French toast was flavored with cinnamon and vanilla and drizzled with local maple syrup.

The cornflake crusted French toast.

The cornflake crusted French toast.

He paired the French toast with a side of the double cut bentons bacon. It was cooked crispy, just the way we like it!

Double cut bentons bacon was a great side.

Double cut bentons bacon was a great side.

I debated for quite some time over the heirloom tomato pie but then decided upon the shrimp and grits. The dish contained six seared shrimp on top a bed of buttery grits in a light, flavorful sauce with hints of bacon and scallions. It was the perfect southern comfort food for a chilly morning.

Shrimp and grits was the perfect southern comfort food for a chilly morning!

Shrimp and grits was the perfect southern comfort food for a chilly morning!

Liking every component listed in the dish, Greg chose the “Green Eggs and Ham” entrée. It was a kicked up version of traditional eggs benedict with elevated flavor from the basil hollandaise and prosciutto. He was impressed with the perfectly cooked poached eggs and beautiful presentation.

“Green Eggs and Ham” entrée has basil hollandaise and prosciutto.

“Green Eggs and Ham” entrée has basil hollandaise and prosciutto.

Intrigued by the name and ingredients, Terri chose the red flannel hash. It too was an upscale version of traditional hash with locally sourced beets and corned beef. The sweet flavor of the beets paired well with the other ingredients. The hash had a nicely roasted char.

The red flannel hash is an upscale version of traditional hash with locally sourced beets and corned beef.

The red flannel hash is an upscale version of traditional hash with locally sourced beets and corned beef.

Overall, the service, food and ambiance were wonderful. I think Dish Bar and Grill’s Sunday Brunch has gotten off to a wonderful start. Diners will appreciate the comfort food focus with the fall chill in the morning air.

 

Have you dined at Dish Bar & Grill or any of the other restaurants in the Dish restaurant group?

Where’s your favorite place for Sunday Brunch?

What’s your favorite food to eat for Sunday Brunch?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was invited to the grand opening of Dish’s Sunday Brunch by their marketing team, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience at the event. 

Treva Restaurant & Bar

Treva Restaurant & Bar

The girls from work and I headed out for another Happy Hour adventure. Treva restaurant and bar in West Hartford center was our destination.

Treva restaurant and bar is located in West Hartford center.

Treva restaurant and bar is located in West Hartford center.

Treva is one of two restaurants owned by Chef Dorjan Puka, a veteran chef for the Max restaurant group. Treva features chef-inspired Northern Italian innovative cooking.

Treva features chef-inspired Northern Italian innovative cooking.

Treva features chef-inspired Northern Italian innovative cooking.

We sat in the bar area, which is quite cozy. While there are several booths and counter seating, the booths are mostly for parties of 2 people with only two tables that could fit four maximum – not a Happy Hour destination for larger groups.

The Happy Hour menu features a nice selection of fun cocktails, wines and beers for $5 – 6. Additionally there is a great selection of Happy Hour appetizers priced at $2 and $5.

The happy hour menu has a great selection of  appetizers priced at $2 and $5.

The happy hour menu has a great selection of appetizers priced at $2 and $5.

We enjoy ordering several items from the Happy Hour menu and sharing. Once we’ve tasted several, we then determine if we will try others or order more of the same.

Dicasa salad and homemade gnocchi.

Dicasa salad and homemade gnocchi.

We each started with the Dicasa salad. It has very fresh mixed green lettuce with a wonderful balsamic dressing. It’s salad like I had growing up – nothing elaborate, but fresh and delicious!

We also ordered the gnocchi and Tuscan fries. The Tuscan fries are flavored with rosemary, truffle oil and Parmesan Reggiano cheese. They were so delicious that we wanted to eat the excess cheese that remained on the plate after the fries were all gone!

The Tuscan fries are flavored with rosemary, truffle oil and Parmesan Reggiano cheese.

The Tuscan fries are flavored with rosemary, truffle oil and Parmesan Reggiano cheese.

The gnocchi were handmade and served with a light sauce that consisted of truffle oil and Parmesan. They melted in your mouth. We ordered a second helping!

The gnocchi melted in your mouth!

The gnocchi melted in your mouth!

We shared the flatbread which contained mozzarella baked into the thin and crispy crust. It was topped with arugula and freshly-sliced prosciutto.

The flatbread contained mozzarella baked into the crust and was topped with arugula and prosciutto.

The flatbread contained mozzarella baked into the crust and was topped with arugula and prosciutto.

You know you’re in a great Italian restaurant when the cured meats are hanging across from the bar counter, and the prosciutto is being sliced fresh to order — right in front of you!

The prosciutto is being sliced fresh to order right in front of you!

The prosciutto is being sliced fresh to order right in front of you!

Finally we ordered the Treva signature burger. It was topped with Vermont cheddar and arugula. It was cooked exactly as we ordered it and was large enough to share among three.

The Treva signature burger topped with Vermont cheddar and arugula.

The Treva signature burger topped with Vermont cheddar and arugula.

All of the dishes we ordered from the Happy Hour menu were wonderful. I can’t wait to go back and try some items from the full restaurant menu. Treva has several dining areas including two outdoor seating areas. Plenty of space for an elegant relaxed dinner for two or a larger group.  There is paid parking on the street or in the lot behind the restaurant.

As always, the girls have a great time catching up everyone’s lives in a setting outside of work. It’s great to relax and enjoy each other’s company! I wonder where we will be heading to next for Happy Hour?!?

 

Have you ever eaten at Treva restaurant & bar in West Hartford?

Where’s your favorite place for Happy Hour?

Popover Café & Bakery Farm to Table Dinner

Popover Café & Bakery Farm to Table Dinner

Popover Café & Bakery opened over the summer in Simsbury, CT. It’s located at 928 Hopmeadow Street – the space previously occupied by Metro Bis restaurant.

Popover Café & Bakery is located on Hopmeadow Street in Simsbury, CT.

Popover Café & Bakery is located on Hopmeadow Street in Simsbury, CT.

The café specializes in gluten free, vegan and other healthy and tasty traditional options with locally sourced ingredients.

Popover specializes in gluten free, vegan and other healthy and tasty traditional options with locally sourced ingredients.

Popover specializes in gluten free, vegan and other healthy and tasty traditional options with locally sourced ingredients.

The café serves an array of pastries and delectable breakfasts, lunches and brunch. In addition, the restaurant has been hosting a series of farm-to-table dinners featuring some of the state’s best-known chefs.

The restaurant has been hosting a series of farm-to-table dinners featuring some of the state’s best-known chefs.

The restaurant has been hosting a series of farm-to-table dinners featuring some of the state’s best-known chefs.

I attended their second Chefs Farm to Table event on August 20. The dinner’s theme was beer and barbeque.

The dinner’s theme was beer and barbeque.

The dinner’s theme was beer and barbeque.

Tyler Anderson, executive chef at Millwrights Restaurant and Tavern in Simsbury cooked up an array of barbeque creations.

Tyler Anderson is executive chef and owner at Millwrights Restaurant and Tavern in Simsbury.

Tyler Anderson is executive chef and owner at Millwrights Restaurant and Tavern in Simsbury.

They were paired with beers from Black Hog Brewing Company, a new craft brewery in Oxford, CT.

Black Hog Brewing Company is a new craft brewery in Oxford, CT.

Black Hog Brewing Company is a new craft brewery in Oxford, CT.

Pamela Paydos, one of the owners and former proprietor of The Iron Frog pub, welcomed everyone to the dinner.

Pamela Paydos, one of the owners, welcomed everyone to the event.

Pamela Paydos, one of the owners, welcomed everyone to the event.

The dinner was set up in family-community style seating.

The dinner was set up in a community-family style.

The dinner was set up in a community-family style.

Pamela introduced Chef Anderson and our Beer Steward, Jason Sobocinski – one of the owners of Black Hog Brewery.

Jason Sobocinski was our beer steward and is one of the owners of Black Hog Brewery.

Jason Sobocinski was our beer steward and is one of the owners of Black Hog Brewery.

Chef Anderson explained that the dishes he prepared were not your typical barbeque dishes.

Chef Anderson explained that the dishes he prepared were not your typical barbeque dishes.

Chef Anderson explained that the dishes he prepared were not your typical barbeque dishes.

He asked us to think of barbeque in the sense of the flavors and the outdoor cooking methods.

Dinner menu

Dinner menu

Jason from Black Hog explained how the brewery’s name came from the nickname for a Berkshire pig. The name conjures up pig roasts with people coming together as a community and celebrating over some brews.

The Black Hog name conjures up pig roasts with people coming together as a community and celebrating over some brews.

The Black Hog name conjures up pig roasts with people coming together as a community and celebrating over some brews.

He mentioned that the beers we were about to have would begin with a heavier beer and end with the lighter ones.

The beers were served in jam jars.

The beers were served in jam jars.

Our first course consisted of “BBQ Carrots” that were picked fresh from Chef Anderson’s garden. The carrots were brined overnight with barbeque spices and roasted. They were served over a raw zucchini slaw with a yogurt, sesame seed and mint sauce. The BBQ Carrots were paired with Ginga Nija beer. It’s a red IPA brewed with fresh ginger.

The "BBQ Carrots" were brined overnight with barbeque spices and roasted.

The “BBQ Carrots” were brined overnight with barbeque spices and roasted.

Next we were served grilled oysters that were roasted for one minute in pork butter with pickled ramps.

Grilled oysters

Grilled oysters

While I am not an oyster eater, I admit that the flavor was amazing! The oysters were paired with THC Chinook beer. It’s from the brewery’s Hop Collection and had hints of mild pineapple.

The oysters were paired with THC Chinook beer.

The oysters were paired with THC Chinook beer.

The main entrée consisted of smoked porchetta served over baked beans and sunflower seed granola.

The main entrée was smoked porchetta served over baked beans and sunflower seed granola.

The main entrée was smoked porchetta served over baked beans and sunflower seed granola.

It was paired with the Granola Brown beer, which has a mix of oatmeal, grain, hops and roasted malts. While the beer is dark in color, it has a light bodied flavor with a clean finish that quickly drops off.

The porchetta was paired with the Granola Brown beer.

The porchetta was paired with the Granola Brown beer.

Following a European tradition, our next course consisted of a pre-dessert with cheese to cleanse the pallet prior to our sweet dessert. It involved organic strawberries that had been macerated in strawberry Gose (a German beer) with a pickled watermelon slice served in a hollowed popover. We couldn’t finish our meal at Popover Café without one of their famous popovers! A buffalo crostini cheese accompanied the popover with strawberries. FLS Gose beer was served with this course. It’s from the brewery’s farmland series that are released quarterly featuring one or more locally grown items.

The pre-dessert was organic strawberries that had been macerated in strawberry Gose with a pickled watermelon slice served in a hollowed popover.

The pre-dessert was organic strawberries that had been macerated in strawberry Gose with a pickled watermelon slice served in a hollowed popover.

The meal concluded with citrus cake that had thinly sliced grapefruit, tarragon sage meringue and white chocolate anglaise. The sweet dessert was paired with SWAG beer. It’s the brewery’s summer wheat ale with grapefruit peel.

Citrus cake had thinly sliced grapefruit, tarragon sage meringue and white chocolate anglaise.

Citrus cake had thinly sliced grapefruit, tarragon sage meringue and white chocolate anglaise.

As expected, it was another fantastic meal by Chef Tyler Anderson. His food creations are always amazing works of art that elevate the freshness factor by using local and responsibly raised ingredients.

Chef Tyler Anderson's food creations are always amazing works of art bursting with flavor!

Chef Tyler Anderson’s food creations are always amazing works of art bursting with flavor!

Popover café & bakery is a charming new place in the Farmington Valley. I look forward to eating breakfast and/or lunch there soon!

 

Have you tried Popover Café & Bakery in Simsbury?

Have you eaten at Chef Anderson’s Millwrights Restaurant in Simsbury?

Have you tried any of Black Hog Brewery’s beers?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was invited to the Popover Café & Bakery Farm to Table Dinner by the restaurant’s owner, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience at the event. 

Rizzuto’s Restaurant & Bar, West Hartford, CT

Rizzuto’s Restaurant & Bar, West Hartford, CT

Rizzuto’s is one of five full-service restaurants in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square shopping and dining area. The Rizzuto’s brand has four locations in Connecticut – Stamford, Westport, Bethel and West Hartford, which opened in 2008. The West Hartford location is known for its rustic Italian menu and stone-fired Neapolitan pizzas.

Rizzuto's is one of five full-service restaurants in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square

Rizzuto’s is one of five full-service restaurants in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square

The restaurant offers Happy Hour specials Monday thru Friday from 4-7 pm and some evenings at later times.

The restaurant offers Happy Hour specials Monday thru Friday from 4-7 pm and some evenings at later times

The restaurant offers Happy Hour specials Monday thru Friday from 4-7 pm and some evenings at later times

I had been to Rizzuto’s happy hour previously, when they offered drink specials and complimentary counter snacks and nibbles. We enjoyed it then, but recently the restaurant revamped their Happy Hour menu and I think it’s for the better.

The Happy Hour menu now features many drink specials for $5; including sparkling Prosecco!

The Happy Hour menu now features many drink specials for $5; including sparkling Prosecco!

The Happy Hour menu now features many drink specials for $5; including sparkling Prosecco!

Additionally, it has a great small bites menu with most items priced from $3 – $6.

Rizzuto's has a great small bites menu with most items priced from $3 - $6.

Rizzuto’s has a great small bites menu with most items priced from $3 – $6.

My friend Katie and I recently went to Rizzuto’s for Happy Hour prior to attending an advanced screening of the movie The Hundred-Foot Journey, which we loved. It’s a beautiful movie – perfect for foodies, like myself. Be sure to eat before you go to this movie or you will be hungry!

We started out with a few Happy Hour nibbles. We ordered the crab and sweet corn fritters with cilantro and basil salsa verde. The fritters were nicely crispy and not at all greasy, but were largely the batter filler. They could have used more crab and corn inside.

Crab and sweet corn fritters with cilantro and basil salsa verde

Crab and sweet corn fritters with cilantro and basil salsa verde

We also ordered the Black Angus sliders with tomato jam, which were paired with matchstick fries. The burgers were very juicy and flavorful and set on top of a homemade bun. The matchstick fries were a nice accompaniment.

Black Angus sliders with tomato jam

Black Angus sliders with tomato jam

Lastly, we ordered the margherita pizza. It had a great crust that was crispy on the outside, but slightly doughy on the inside. The basil, tomato and mozzarella toppings were very fresh.

Margherita pizza

Margherita pizza

Knowing that we’d be at the movie until after 9, we opted to share an order of the baby arugula salad and the cavatelli pesto chicken entrée. We had tasted this pasta dish before and knew it was delicious – and it was again.

Cavatelli pesto chicken entrée, I snuck a bite from the corner before we snapped a pic - oops!

Cavatelli pesto chicken entrée, I snuck a bite from the corner before we snapped a pic – oops!

The cavatelli pesto chicken entrée has grilled chicken, basil pesto, roasted tomatoes and light cream. It’s a very rich dish – I’m glad we shared it.

We had a great selection of food before walking to the movie theater. Rizzuto’s Happy Hour is a fun stop in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square. I’m glad to have tried their mid-summer revamped Happy Hour menu and am sure we will be back again soon!

 

Have you tried any of the Rizzuto restaurants in Connecticut?

Have you seen the movie “The Hundred-Foot Journey?”

Where’s your favorite place for happy hour?

Sorella Restaurant, Hartford, CT

Sorella, Hartford, CT

Earlier this year, I dined at Sorella restaurant before a UConn Women’s Basketball game. That night also coincided with the winter Taste of Hartford restaurant week. We had a great meal. So when the summer Taste of Hartford promotion returned, I was anxious to eat there again.

Sorella opened in November 2013. It is located on Main Street in downtown Hartford. The restaurant, whose name means ‘sister’ in Italian, is one of three in the Dish Restaurant Group.

Sorella restaurant is located on Main Street in downtown Hartford.

Sorella restaurant is located on Main Street in downtown Hartford.

As you enter the restaurant, you will notice that the décor is not their strong point. Although I do think the old-time Italian family photos hanging on the walls are charming, and the view of the Old State House from our table was delightful. But for foodies like myself, we aren’t hung up on the décor as long as the food and dining experience is top notch – and they were!

The restaurant specializes in simple Italian favorites – wood-fired Neapolitan pizza, fresh pastas and creative antipasti. The atmosphere is comfortable and family-friendly. The bar area takes up about one third of the restaurant and the remainder is for the dining room.

Because it was the Taste of Hartford restaurant week, we had our choice of items from the full restaurant menu and the special promotion menu. The Taste of Hartford menu consisted of a three-course meal (appetizer, entrée and dessert) for $25 – a great deal!

Taste of Hartford menu consisted of a three-course meal (appetizer, entrée and dessert) for $25

Taste of Hartford menu consisted of a three-course meal (appetizer, entrée and dessert) for $25

Christine and I decided to order from the Taste of Hartford menu. Mike opted for the full menu because the item he wanted wasn’t one of the price-fixe menu entrée choices.

Christine and I both started with the Prosciutto di Parma appetizer. It consisted of tissue paper thinly sliced prosciutto topped with arugula, locally sourced strawberries all drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar. The combination of sweet, salty and savory flavors made this appetizer “every bite delicious.”

Prosciutto di Parma appetizer consisted of tissue paper thinly sliced prosciutto topped with arugula, locally sourced strawberries all drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar

Prosciutto di Parma appetizer consisted of tissue paper thinly sliced prosciutto topped with arugula, locally sourced strawberries all drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar

Upon the waiter’s recommendation, Mike chose the garlic bread. The short loaf was loaded with mozzarella and provolone cheeses, and roasted garlic. It was served with a side of marinara sauce. It was a gooey and tasty.

The garlic bread was loaded with mozzarella and provolone cheeses, and roasted garlic, served with a side of marinara sauce

The garlic bread was loaded with mozzarella and provolone cheeses, and roasted garlic, served with a side of marinara sauce

For my meal entrée, I opted for the grilled Atlantic salmon filet. The salmon was placed on top of a bed of cold farro salad with light vinaigrette dressing. I asked for the filet to be cooked medium well and it was cooked as ordered. I enjoyed every bite!

Grilled Atlantic salmon filet

Grilled Atlantic salmon filet

Christine ordered the Fusilli Bolognese. The pasta was served with a hearty beef and veal red sauce topped with fresh pecorino cheese. The dish brought me back 20+ years because it tasted just like my Nona’s meat sauce.

Fusilli Bolognese

Fusilli Bolognese

Mike ordered the rigatoni saltimbocca. This is the same dish he had last time we dined here. He remembered it being so delicious and wanted to have it again. The saltimbocca sauce is made with ground veal, prosciutto, sage, wine and pecorino cheese. While it may not look like the most exciting meal, the combinations of flavors from the sauce are true to the dish’s name in Italian – “jumps in the mouth.” I had to steal a few bites because it is amazingly delicious! I found the recipe for this dish online so I’ll have to try making it at home.

Rigatoni saltimbocca

Rigatoni saltimbocca

Since Christine and I ordered from the Taste of Hartford menu, our meals did include dessert. There were two choices on this menu. We opted to each order a different one so we could try both.

She ordered the nutella chocolate tart. Mike and I had that last time we dined and remembered it was very yummy. The tart has a cookie-like crust with a rich chocolate center, dusted with sea salt and paired with vanilla cream. I love the chocolate and salty combination!

Nutella chocolate tart

Nutella chocolate tart

I ordered the Oleficino olive oil cake. I had never had an olive oil cake before, but I had seen a picture of it beforehand and I wanted to try it.

Oleficino olive oil cake with citrus curd and lemon sorbet

Oleficino olive oil cake with citrus curd and lemon sorbet

Olive oil cake is a rustic Sicilian cake that has a very moist center and a crispy crust. It came with a citrus curd and was topped with lemon sorbet. It was refreshing and delicious. Surprisingly, our typical chocolate-loving dessert family was won over by the olive oil cake as a new favorite.

The service was very friendly, attentive and courteous. I’d recommend reservations, especially when there are events in Hartford (e.g., UConn basketball) or pre-theater, as the restaurant is busy for dinner. The restaurant also serves lunch six days a week. There is street parking or a pay lot directly across the street, which is where we’ve parked.

We had another great dinner at Sorella. We will gladly return – and we may not wait until the next Taste of Hartford restaurant week!

 

Have you ever eaten at Sorella restaurant in Hartford?

Have you tried any of the restaurants participating in the Taste of Hartford restaurant week?

Lobster Landing, Clinton, CT

Lobster Landing, Clinton, CT

What a better way to spend the July 4th weekend than with a day trip to the CT shoreline!  After a weekend filled with errands and picnic hosting, I thought it was high time we left home and headed to the coast before the weekend ended.

Our journey south would include a stop at the Clinton Outlet Mall, because they were having great sales for the holiday weekend.  We were looking for a place to grab a quick lunch afterward.  I had read in the July edition of Connecticut Magazine a story on favorite summer dining places.

The July edition of Connecticut Magazine has a story on favorite summer dining places around the state.

The July edition of Connecticut Magazine has a story on favorite summer dining places around the state.

Before we left the house, I looked through the article to see if any were in that area.  I noticed a place called Lobster Landing in Clinton.  I mapped it and noticed that it was only four minutes from the outlet mall.  Perfect for our post-shopping dining!

Lobster Landing is built right into the Clinton marina. It reminded me of a New England fishing shack postcard.

Lobster Landing is located in Clinton, CT.

Lobster Landing is located in Clinton, CT.

The place is what I would call your typical “summer shack” style restaurant, complete with outdoor dining at picnic tables with plastic chairs shaded by white awnings, waiting in line to place your order and great simple food.  Inside the actual shack, is a fresh seafood market.

The menu is minimalistically simple.  There are three items on it – I kid you not!  Lobster Landing serves lobster rolls, hot dogs and sweet Italian sausage subs.  That’s it – plain and simple!  They also have an assortment of beverages, chip snacks and gelato/ ice cream.

Lobster Landing's The menu is minimalistically simple.

Lobster Landing’s menu is minimalistically simple.

We arrived at a great time – when we were able to find a parking spot on the road and the line to place your food order was short.  The parking lot is very small, but you can parallel park on the street, which we did.

There’s a group of friendly college kids who take your order and serve your food.  They have an efficient system and keep things moving quickly. So if there is a line, don’t be afraid to wait a few short minutes.

I ordered the lobster roll.  I had to try it since I had read online that this place’s lobster rolls were one of the top 5 in Connecticut and the best according to the readers’ poll in the Shoreline Times.

Inside of a toasted, top-loading foot-long roll is one-quarter pound of fresh chunk lobster that’s been steamed in a buttery sauce with a touch of lemon.

Inside of a toasted, top-loading foot-long roll is one-quarter pound of fresh chunk lobster that’s been steamed in a buttery sauce with a touch of lemon.

Inside of a toasted, top-loading foot-long roll is one-quarter pound of fresh chunk lobster that’s been steamed in a buttery sauce with a touch of lemon.  It’s not a lobster salad with mayo. The lobster roll was amazing and definitely stood up to all the claims I had read. I can still taste it as I write about it!

Mike and Greg ordered the sweet Italian sausage sub with roasted peppers and onions and topped with mustard vinaigrette.  It too was a good-sized sandwich, loaded with the toppings.

The sweet Italian sausage sub has roasted peppers and onions and is topped with mustard vinaigrette.

The sweet Italian sausage sub has roasted peppers and onions and is topped with mustard vinaigrette.

As we each enjoyed our sandwiches, we took in the beautiful view of Clinton harbor.

Our view as we ate.

Our view as we ate.

Lobster photo 5

The weather was picture-perfect – very few clouds in the sky, warm sunshine with a comfortable breeze.

A picture-perfect day on the CT shore.

A picture-perfect day on the CT shore.

Lobster Landing is a great summer find.  It’s plain, simple, no-frills food that’s purely delicious!  Be sure to try it this summer before it closes up for the season!

 

Have you ever eaten at Lobster Landing in Clinton?

What’s your favorite place on the shore for summer seafood?    

Max a Mia Ristorante, Avon, CT

Max a Mia Ristorante, Avon, CT

This year for Father’s Day, we decided to treat my husband and father to Sunday Dinner at Max a Mia Ristorante in Avon, CT.  It is one of the nine restaurants in the Max Restaurant Group, mostly located in Hartford County, CT.

Max a Mia Ristorante in Avon, CT

Max a Mia Ristorante in Avon, CT

The restaurant has a casual Italian bistro style with a traditional Italian menu, including an authentic brick oven for its stone pies, fresh-baked Italian and focaccia breads.  The atmosphere is sophisticated, yet comfortable and family-friendly.  There is a large bar area, sizable dining room in addition to outdoor seating if the weather permits.

As with any restaurant in the Max chain, the service is attentive and courteous. I’d recommend reservations, especially for dinner, as the restaurant is busy.

We hadn’t eaten at this Max Restaurant in some time, but I remember the food was delicious.  The restaurant was conveniently located for both families and as I always say, “You can’t go wrong with a Max Restaurant” and that statement held true again!

While reviewing the menu, we were presented with a wonderful breadbasket and olive oil for dipping.  The basket included their fresh-baked Italian bread and homemade flatbread pizza.  The pizza was delicious!

The breadbasket included their fresh-baked Italian bread and homemade flatbread pizza.

The breadbasket included their fresh-baked Italian bread and homemade flatbread pizza.

After debating over several wonderful menu choices, I decided to start my meal with the Tuscan salad.  It includes a mix of fresh greens, fresh mozzarella, kalamata olives, tomatoes and warm polenta croutons, with a balsamic dressing.  Christine followed my lead and ordered the same.

Tuscan salad

Tuscan salad

Mike and Greg opted for the Caesar salad, their usual, which includes romaine lettuce, focaccia croutons with the creamy Caesar dressing. All the salads were very fresh and a good portion size.

Caesar salad

Caesar salad

For my meal entrée, I opted for the Stonington sea scallops.  Roasted fingerling potatoes and cauliflower with pickled red onion vinaigrette accompanied them.  The scallops were seared to perfection and the red onion vinaigrette gave a sweet, citrus flavoring to the dish.  I loved every bite!

Stonington sea scallops. with roasted fingerling potatoes and cauliflower with pickled red onion vinaigrette.

Stonington sea scallops. with roasted fingerling potatoes and cauliflower with pickled red onion vinaigrette.

Around the table, the others ordered:

Risotto with English peas, fava beans, fresh garbanzos and a tendril salad.

Risotto with English peas

Risotto with English peas

Penne al Buttero with hot Italian sausage in a tomato cream sauce baked in the pizza oven.  Mike said it had just enough zing for his spicy palate.

Penne al Buttero

Penne al Buttero

Eggplant lasagna – layers of eggplant, mozzarella and provolone cheeses with tomato butter.  It melted in your mouth!

Eggplant lasagna

Eggplant lasagna

Spaghetti Vongole – spaghetti with littleneck clams, pancetta in a lemon-herb broth.  My dad really enjoyed it!

Spaghetti Vongole

Spaghetti Vongole

Chicken Parmigianino – a hearty portion of the traditional Italian favorite over spaghetti with marinara sauce.

Chicken Parmigianino

Chicken Parmigianino

We all reviewed the dessert menu and were tempted by several choices.  Despite Mike’s usual choice for something chocolate, he opted for the coconut layer cake.  And we were glad he did.  The piece was very large – great for sharing.  It included coconut cream frosting, toasted coconut and toffee sauce.  The flavor was amazing.  It tasted like the coconut was picked fresh from the tree. We asked for additional forks and all had a taste or two.

Coconut layer cake

Coconut layer cake

To cap off an outstanding meal, the restaurant gave both fathers a $25 gift certificate for their next time dining.  That was a very nice touch – and very unexpected.

The restaurant gave both fathers a $25 gift certificate for their next time dining.

The restaurant gave both fathers a $25 gift certificate for their next time dining.

Father’s day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood and the influence of fathers in society.  As Bill Cosby said, “Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope.”  Unconditional love!

 

Have you ever eaten at a Max Group restaurant – if so, what’s your favorite?

What’s your favorite restaurant to celebrate Father’s day? 

Blue Plate Kitchen, West Hartford, CT

Blue Plate Kitchen, West Hartford, CT

I am very fortunate to have a wonderful circle of friends from various facets in my life.  Recently Katie and I went out for dinner to celebrate my birthday.  We decided to try Blue Plate Kitchen restaurant in West Hartford as neither of us had eaten there yet, but we both had heard good things.

Blue Plate Kitchen restaurant is located in Bishops Corner, West Hartford.  It opened in January 2014 and is owned by the same person who also owns City Steam Brewery Café in Hartford, CT.  I would describe the restaurant as an upscale-style diner.

It was a beautiful day and we debated on whether to sit outside or inside.  The waitress gave us the best of both by seating us at an indoor booth at the large windows that face the outside dining area.  These windows open up completely, giving the restaurant an airy feel.  The restaurant’s décor reminded me of an industrial NYC loft, with high ceilings, an open kitchen, exposed brick and industrial fixtures and lighting.

Blue Plate Kitchen restaurant is located in West Hartford, CT

Blue Plate Kitchen restaurant is located in West Hartford, CT

Blue Plate Kitchen serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.  The menu offers a selection of comfort food items with modern twists from the way mom/ grandma did.  Additionally the restaurant boasts locally grown, seasonal food with a sustainability focus, a philosophy that is becoming increasingly popular and one that I’m a big proponent for.

Blue Plate Kitchen has an upscale, modern diner atmosphere

Blue Plate Kitchen has an upscale, modern diner atmosphere

After reviewing the menu and the blackboard specials, Katie and I decided to start our meal sharing the Cape Codder menu item, pan seared cod cakes, which we had heard great things about.  Unfortunately, the restaurant was out of that item for the day.  They must be that good.

We opted to skip the appetizer and order our main entrees.  I ordered the Israeli salad adding sliced chicken breast.  The salad featured chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumbers, greens, watermelon radishes, feta cheese, kalamata olives with a lemon parsley vinaigrette.  It was very fresh and a good portion size.

Israeli salad with sliced chicken

Israeli salad with sliced chicken

Katie had the classic burger, which is served with crispy American cheese on an English muffin.  It is accompanied by fresh coleslaw and deli-style pickle.   It was cooked exactly as she ordered and featured fresh beef.

Classic burger with crispy, American cheese

Classic burger with crispy, American cheese

As a special treat to our meal, we were each treated to a popover from the chef.  I haven’t had popovers in years and instantly I returned to my mom’s Sunday dinner table that often included these light hollow rolls.  The popover was fresh from the oven and delicious.  What a nice treat!

Popovers - an American classic!

Popovers – an American classic!

We were full from our meals, so we opted to “be good” and skip dessert, but there were several yummy-sounding items.

Our waitress was very friendly and attentive.  The restaurant manager checked in on us several times as well as we had a visit from Chef Ben.

All in all we had a good time.  Katie and I enjoyed the time together catching up and taking time of out of our busy schedules to celebrate a special day.

 

Have you eaten at Blue Plate Kitchen in West Hartford?

What’s your favorite place for a special birthday celebration dinner with friends?