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Glastonbury - Essex - Newington - Manchester - Hartford


Glastonbury Top 10 Restaurants Bricco Trattoria - This place is always crowded. But that’s because they feature simple yet artfully prepared Northern Italian fare served in an atmosphere warmed by wooden floors and brick-accented walls — and frankly, it’s all so authentic, it never ceases to impress. Try one of the dozen uniquely different artisan pizzas. The pasta entrees are amazing. And seafood lovers will find the Fennel and Black Pepper Crusted Tuna beyond satisfying.
124 Hebron Ave., Glastonbury
860-659-0220

Max Amore - One of the earliest “Max” establishments, Amore does classic Italian with upscale imagination. Brick-oven stone pies are unfailingly popular for a quick bite, as are salads like their Urban Valley Acres Salad, featuring a custom-grown rotation of seasonal, locally grown ingredients with fresh herbs and reggiano vinaigrette. For dinner, plan to relax in one of the cozy, leather-backed booths while enjoying Wood Grilled Atlantic Salmon or the Spice Rubbed Duck Breast. And don’t forget dessert. A classically styled bar encourages patrons to linger a while, perhaps over a liqueur.
140 Glastonbury Blvd.,
The Shops at Somerset Square, Glastonbury
860-659-2819

Max Fish - Happy Hour is daily from 4 to 6, so take a seat at the white marble bar or the often-crowded raw bar. Specials there go beyond the drinks, with dollar oysters and clams on the half shell. Dining in? Market price seafood comes just the way you like it — or choose a “From the Chef...” offering. The Korean Paella, with shrimp, mussels, calamari, octopus, peas, calasparra rice, and kimchee is wonderful. Prefer a steak? Go ahead. Their beef never disappoints.
110 Glastonbury Blvd., Glastonbury
860-652-3474

Spicy Green Bean - Imaginatively decorated — and equally creative in the kitchen, this little place takes pride in “exciting the palate.” Breakfast includes all the Benedicts, omelets, and hot-off-the-griddle greats you’d hope for. For lunch, order a Crab Burger topped with lettuce, tomato and Cajun mayo — or something called the God Ball, which is described as the “Mother of all Meatballs” on a fresh Kaiser with sauce, cheese, and a bag of chips. For dinner, try the Pasta Pasta, featuring cavatelli, crisp pork belly, asparagus, roasted tomatoes, squash, peppers, onions, garlic, basil, and smoked Goudain in a light cream sauce. And if you’ve got a craving for something really special, order one of their amazing “Kooky Koncoctions.” They change all the time and are beyond tasty. Catering is available. BYOB. (And make a note that the owner has opened another fun place called the Shad Row Restaurant at the Rocky Hill Ferry landing!)
225 Hebron Ave., Glastonbury
860-657-3500

Char Koon - Best described as a tiny hideaway, this Asian-fusion restaurant is a little gem. Cozy and mellow, it offers surprisingly good food at very affordable prices. The vegetables are always fresh — and the Thai soups nice and spicy. There are vegetarian plates, as well as unusual and flavorful noodle dishes, including an excellent Pad Thai. Traditional favorites are always a good choice — but for something different, try their South East Asian specialties, like the Orchid Crispy Shrimp, with jumbo shrimp, honeydew melon and a fruit glaze. Enjoy a nice selection of good wines at reasonable prices.
882 Main St., Glastonbury,
860-657-3656

2 Hopewell - This charming country bistro — once a general store — serves contemporary American dishes with a decidedly creative flair. White tablecloth presentation can be enjoyed upstairs, along with a menu that changes with the seasons. The Shrimp Fettuccini with gulf shrimp, Italian sausage, mushrooms, artichokes, spinach, and brandy rosemary butter is lovely. The Tavern Menu, offered Sunday through Thursday only, has some lighter-fare delights of its own. And dessert is hard to pass up. (Try the Fruits of the Forest Trifle, featuring vanilla cake, lemon curd, four-berry compote, whipped mascarpone, fresh strawberries, and candied lemon peel.) Downstairs, there’s a cool, low-ceiled bar room with good music and good folks. Just right for South Glastonbury.
2 Hopewell Rd., S. Glastonbury 860-633-9600

J Gilbert’s Wood-Fired Steaks - They describe it as “honest Mid-western cuisine.” But we just call it delicious. Top-of-the-line mesquite-grilled steaks — their signature offering — have won this place a loyal following. Prime, aged cuts of Black Angus come with a choice of sides and extras, like the grilled asparagus or the Chef’s blend wild mushrooms with truffle butter. The Grilled Vegetable Platter is terrific. And they do seafood, too — equally well. The Seared George’s Bank Sea Scallops, served with lobster risotto and champagne beurre blanc, are scrumptious. Its elegant décor makes it a popular choice for business and birthday dinners alike.
185 Glastonbury Blvd., Glastonbury
860-659-0409

Adriatik’s Family Restaurant - Adriatik’s is just the kind of place where there is never a wait, the portions are large, the prices are reasonable, and the food is great. Pasta dishes are a standout — each made to your liking with whatever shape and sauce you prefer, then served with a salad and fresh-baked bread. The Penne Augustino with artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, black olives, and fresh garlic all sauteed in imported extra virgin olive oil with Romano cheese is wonderful. The Fisherman’s Platter is just right. And the Veal or Chicken Parmigiana rich and satisfying. The beer and wine selection is small but nicely inexpensive. And you’ll be glad to know that they offer catering.
30 Welles St., Station 35, Glastonbury
860-633-0599

Bollywood Grill - Authentic and rich, this is Indian cuisine at its best. Perfect for those nights when even the thought of your kitchen is exhausting. Choose from an excellent selection of vegetarian, chicken, lamb, and seafood entrées, along with Tandoori and Bollywood specials. (Order the lamb samosas and chicken tikka — or ask the waiter for his favorite. You won’t be let down. And be sure to try the breads.) The atmosphere is tranquil. The staff friendly. The house wine nicely affordable. And both take-out and delivery are available. What could be better? Nothing.
2333 Main St., Glastonbury
860-734-0001

The Diamond Pub & Grill - This one-of-a-kind sports bar is nothing short of a Glastonbury institution. Featuring plenty of big-screen TVs, a spacious horseshoe bar, and an unusually multi-faceted menu, including entrees like the Kabob Trio, which features chicken, steak, and shrimp skewered with onions, mushrooms, and zucchini and served over rice. And they offer good comfort food, too. Fresh soups. Juicy burgers. Made-to-order sandwiches. Pub-style fish and chips. One really terrific classic-meatloaf dinner, complete with gravy, steak fries, veggies, and a side salad. And there are fifteen beers on tap, with plenty more available bottled.
195 Hebron Ave., Glastonbury
860-659-2002

Min Ghung Asian Bistro - This little treasure, nestled in a corner of the Glen Lochen Mall, managed to remain a well-kept secret among the Glastonbury crowd for a while. But the word is out — and small wonder. They offer fabulous sushi, sashimi, and other artfully prepared fresh-fish creations too good to miss. A modern, dressed-up dining area and neon-lit sake display provide unexpected ambiance. Eat in, take out, or order delivery within a 4-mile radius.
39 New London Tpke. #311, Glastonbury
860-659-2568

Ken’s Corner - This much-loved neighborhood landmark is the place to go for breakfast and brunch, with pancakes the name of the game — and the fresh raspberry and blueberry flapjacks loaded with berries grown just down the street. Even the potatoes that go into the home fries are local, making farm-to-table their signature style. And although the Southwest Breakfast Wrap may not be inspired by local farm produce, it gives you that down-home, honest-to-goodness, good-for-you feeling you need to start the day off right — like most of Ken’s food. Just be sure to bring your glasses (and a good appetite) because the menu offers not only standard favorites but a whole lot of new creations and seasonal specials you won’t want to miss.
30E Hebron Ave., Glastonbury
860-657-9811

Sakura Garden Japanese Steakhouse - Craving some authentic Asian cuisine? Then come here. There’s an expansive sushi bar area, with a menu both creative and fresh, as well as an extensive selection of maki, nigiri and elegant new-style sashimi. The spacious hibachi features chefs turning fresh cuts of meat and seafood into fine art in an elaborate tableside show that tastes more amazing than it looks. The cocktails are lovely to behold — and sip. There’s a nice wine list. And as expected, they offer an impressive assortment of sake.
120 Hebron Ave., Eric Town Square, Glastonbury,
860-430-5600

Thai House Restaurant & Sushi Bar - As culinary options in South Glastonbury have grown, the addition of great Thai food, especially since it includes excellent sushi, is a welcome one. Try the Mango Curry, Avocado Curry, Seafood Amazing or the Glastonbury Chicken. Ordering from the sushi menu you can’t go wrong. On top of the great food, the service is friendly and inviting.
875 Main St., S. Glastonbury,
860-430-9500

Plan B Burger Bar - If Plan A involves dining out, then move directly to Plan B, where the burgers, bourbon, beer, or whatever are guaranteed to please. But don’t let “Burger Bar” fool you. The menu at Plan B spans both coasts — from the New Englander, piled with fresh lobster, to the Baja, stacked with avocado, jalapeños, and jack cheese. And there’s plenty in between, including Mac and Cheese Tots, which combine homemade Mac and Cheese with Buffalo Chicken and Crispy Tater Tots for comfort food perfection. And the drink menu is extensive, with over 60 varieties of single-barrel, small-batch, and Kentucky straight bourbons; craft beers on tap with regular specials; and a two page list of bottles featuring over 50 varieties in order from “light to dark” (including “brews for two” and “mini kegs.”) Need help deciding? Suggestions are on the house.
120 Hebron Ave. #6, Glastonbury
860-430-9737

Rooftop 120 - Restaurants, like true love and great art, need a je ne sais quoi that sets them apart. And here, as you might guess from the name, that je ne sais quoi is the outdoor ambiance of the roof — where enjoying a cocktail while dining on something from their Nosh, Rooftop Bar, Happy Hour, or Dessert menus is about as good as it gets. With its great food, trendy design, and four-season patio, Rooftop 120 provides a joie de vivre others can’t match.
120 Hebron Ave., Eric Town Square, Glastonbury,
860-430-9989

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The Black Seal - The Black Seal is an Essex favorite, serving lunch, dinner, and a terrific Sunday brunch. And while it looks a little like an old ship that’s battled through rough seas, it serves up jolly good chowder, delectably fresh fish, savory salads, and some great hot sandwiches with the steady hand you’d expect from an experienced captain. And there’s an equally steady flow of jolly good cheer from a bar that’s homeport for boaters and their mates. Stop in. But prepare to linger a while, relaxing over whatever your pleasure might be and listening to good seafaring conversation. It’s that kind of place.
15 Main St., Essex, 860-767-0233

The Griswold Inn - Referred to by locals and those in the know as simply “The Gris,” this is one of very few colonial New England restaurants that has succeeded in remaining not only relevant but unfailingly popular. The dimly lit tavern, with its good old-time music, and the period dining room bring you back to the days of river captains and deep-water schooners. Classic “Gris” entrées include a Roasted Cod Filet and Prime Rib of Beef. Seasonal entrées, like the Seared Sea Scallops, are superb. And the Hunt Breakfast is legendary.
36 Main St., Essex, 860-767-0330

Gelston House - Come by land, river, or sea — but come, because the stately Victorian Gelston House, set next to the Goodspeed Opera House and above the river in East Haddam village, is a shoreline tradition. The restaurant menus and all of its dining spaces have been polished up, bringing back the elegance and joie de vivre of its glory days, while the casual al fresco dining option is decidedly popular in season. Regular entrées, like the Lobster & Shrimp Scampi, are impressive. The Prix-Fixed menu features several wonderful options, including an intriguing Norwegian Salmon. And for those feeling a bit more casual, a menu of Hand Helds, all served with fries, is ideal. This is a lovely spot!
8 Main St., East Haddam, 860-873-1411

Copper Beech Inn. - Elegant, inside and out, Copper Beach Inn — once the haunt of Connecticut’s power brokers — has undergone numerous transitions over the years. Now under new ownership and featuring both a new look and a new menu created by master chef Gaspar Stantin, guests can savor superb seasonal entrees and upscale ambience in the main dining room or more casual fare in the beautiful Oak Room. But it’s all good because it’s all excellent. An exceptional experience.
46 Main St., Ivoryton
860-767-0330

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Middletown restaurantsRuth’s Chris Steakhouse - Maybe the steakhouse trend came. And maybe the steakhouse trend went. But Ruth’s Chris doesn’t care, because it’s definitely here to stay — and that’s because their signature prime beef is legendary, as are their perfectly cooked rib eyes, their tender Porterhouse for two, or their full-bodied New York Strip. Fact is, everyone knows that when it comes to beef, Ruth’s Chris does it best. Just follow the sizzle.
2513 Berlin Tpke., Newington
860-666-2202

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Middletown restaurantsON20 - There isn’t a lot of New York-style haute cuisine in the Greater Hartford area, largely because Greater Hartford isn’t New York. But there is one downtown restaurant that is rather hauty without being haughty — and it’s called ON20, because it’s on the 20th floor of One State Street, which the venerable Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company calls home. The service is polished and unobstrusive, while the culinary team, led by Chef Jesse Powers, prides itself on serving an innovative menu that includes everything from a 50-Day Dry-Aged Côte de Boeuf to a piquant Confit Filet of Arctic Char. And for those who take their vegetables quite seriously, a platter of cauliflower, slow-roasted with a raisin caper emulsion, meyer lemon curd, brown butter, and marcona almonds, promises to please. Needless to say, the view is extraordinary.
400 Columbus Blvd., Hartford
860-722-5161

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Middletown restaurants

Adams Mill Restaurant - Manchester may seem like a little out of the way, but it’s not. Not if Adam’s Mill is your destination. The cozy brick-lined interior and comfortable bar seats bring me back time and again for family gatherings, get-togethers with old friends — and oftentimes for a quiet glass of whiskey by myself. The selection for lunch or dinner is beautifully varied. Their lighter-fare menu is just as tempting. And gluten-free and vegetarian diners will enjoy having great menu selections of their very own. Give Sunday brunch a try at your earliest chance. And let them know when it’s your birthday. (They have specials.)
165 Adams St., Manchester
860-646-4039

Cavey’s - The toughest part about Cavey’s is deciding whether I’d rather dine on Rohan Duck “Bonne Femme” in their French restaurant — or go upstairs to their Italian restaurant for the superb Berkshire Pork Chop Milanaise. Usually it comes down to a flip of the coin. But heads or tails, I’m happy because it’s all good. And there’s a nice, tastefully selected wine list on both floors, too.
45 East Center St., Manchester
860-643-2751

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