Topic: Connecticut

Connecticut Dining 2009

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Best Companions for Your Coffee:
In Alsace the Koenigs ran a seventh-generation patisserie and chocolate shop; lucky for us, they moved here and opened a close facsimile a year ago. Individual pastries are all exquisite, all $4.50; notable among them are the melt-in-your-mouth mille-feuilles (napoleons), for which customers queue up in a separate line on weekends. 1903 Post Road, Fairfield, CT. 203-292-8022; isabelleetvincent.com

Best Trendy Eatery:
Chef/owner Jonathan Rapp knows where it’s at and so do we, thanks to his devotion to farm-fresh and local purveyors, his farm dinners, and bargain specials such as half-price wine Monday and Tuesday nights, half-price beer Thursday night, and kids-eat-free Sunday night. A summer’s night’s dream menu: seafood salad with Stonington scallops, charcoal-grilled rib chop with crispy goat-cheese-stuffed squash blossoms, fresh berry crostada. Restaurant entrées: from $24. Bar entrées: from $9. 25 Main St., Chester, CT. 860-526-9417; rivertavernchester.net

Best Trattoria:
BASTA, New Haven
From the couple behind the much-beloved Claire’s Corner Copia next door, this trattoria excels at home-style dishes, made like Nonna’s but with fresh, often organic ingredients. We love the meatballs made with San Marzano tomatoes and caramelized onions, the free-range chicken roasted with oranges and apples–not to mention the warm and welcoming ambience. Entrées: from $18, pasta from $12. 1006 Chapel St., New Haven, CT. 203-772-1715; bastatrattoria.com

Best Waterside Breakfast Joint:
You can eat inside, but why? Walk through the shoebox eatery to the backyard, grab a seat at a picnic table by the garden, and order Eggland’s Best glorified as a “Mystic Melt,” “S-Medley,” or “Portuguese Fisherman” (all $9.95). Then take in the view and breeze off the river as you dig in and enjoy. 135 Greenmanville Ave. (Route 27), Mystic, CT. 860-536-2122; myspace.com/findpeople/kitchenlittle

Best Revolutionary-Era Pub:
While the upstairs restaurant is no doubt nice, we’ve never gotten past the cozy downstairs pub, with its great beams, oversized fireplace, and seaside mural. Here we’re treated like old friends (think Cheers), and always start with the grilled portobello mushroom appetizer ($6.95) topped with Alouette cheese, baked and served with chive-infused oil–delish! Entrées: from $14.95. 32 Water St. 860-536-3555; danielpacker.com

Best Cozy Spot:
With a constantly changing local-farm-products menu, new owner Tim LaBant, formerly of Boston’s L’Espalier, is breathing new life into this one-room-schoolhouse restaurant. Recommended: Drinks on the patio by the babbling brook, duck hash, Berkshire pork with Parmesan polenta. Entrées: from $32. 24 Cannon Road. 203-834-9816; schoolhouseatcannondale.com

Best Lake-view Restaurant:
HOPKINS INN, New Preston
Summer isn’t complete without dining here, where you overlook Lake Waramaug from a tree-shaded terrace but might fancy yourself in Switzerland. Enjoy the warm handmade bread, a well-dressed salad, fresh-caught trout, and backhendl with lingonberries (one of the menu choices that reflects the restaurant’s Austrian heritage) while savoring the view. Entrées: from $22. 22 Hopkins Road. 860-868-7295; thehopkinsinn.com

Best Restaurant Family:
MAX GROUP, Hartford
While his Hartford flagship Max Downtown site offers the state’s best city dining (chophouse classics and global cuisine), Rich Rosenthal has extended his Midas touch to the more eclectic Trumbull Kitchen, also in Hartford, Max-a-Mia in Avon, Max’s Oyster Bar and Max Burger in West Hartford, and Max Amore and Max Fish in Glastonbury. Who was Max? Rosenthal’s grandfather. Max Downtown, 185 Asylum St. 860-522-2530; maxrestaurantgroup.com

Best Survivor:
O’ROURKE’S DINER, Middletown
Risen from the ashes after a disastrous fire, this 1941 diner has reopened with an expanded menu and extended hours. Brian O’Rourke still cooks up a storm (hearty breakfasts and lunches, superb omelets, Connecticut’s famous steamed cheeseburgers), and the line still forms out the door. Dinner entrées: from $17. 728 Main St. 860-346-6101; orourkesdiner.com

Best Seafood Roll with a Water View:
The scene: A good dozen plastic tables on a wobbly deck overlooking a marina (with swans!). No fries, no frills, but a perfect place to enjoy the classic Connecticut hot buttered lobster roll ($13). 152 Commerce St.; 203-669-2005


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