Reviews

Title Issue
Sal e Pepe, Newtown

Sal e Pepe, Newtown

Italian is our comfort food, and it’s comforting to have a nice little Italian restaurant more or less in our back yard. But some are better than others, and while great Italian restaurants abound in New Haven, Hartford and Stamford, it’s newsworthy to find a wonderful (dare I say gourmet?) Italian restaurant in a town less abundantly endowed.

August 2010

Chaplin's, New London

I pricked up my ears when a friend phoned recently to tell me about Chaplin’s. It’s a storefront and looks like one. The interior is neat and clean but a bit spare. There’s an open kitchen in the back but it’s half hidden by the bar, which juts into the room and makes the restaurant at first glance seem smaller than it is. In short, it doesn’t look like much, but don’t judge a restaurant by its decor.

June 2010
The Mansion at Bald Hill, South Woodstock

The Mansion at Bald Hill, South Woodstock

The Mansion at Bald Hill is the genuine article—a four-story, 21-room private residence on a 91-acre spread known as “the hill.” It was built in 1892 by Roxanna Wentworth Bowen, heiress to the Pullman train fortune. She used it as her summerhouse. In recent years it has served a number of purposes, most recently as a B&B. Now, under new management, it has added a full-scale restaurant. Dinner in a mansion? Who could resist? Not me.

June 2010

Feng Asian Bistro & Hibachi, Canton

Hibachi cooking is an action game, a dramatic art and an exciting spectator sport—when the chefs are good. And the two I am watching are looking great. Both are commanding figures, dressed for combat with swashbuckling sashes and colorful headgear, no servile whites and cream-puff toques for them!

May 2010
Ibiza Tapas, Hamden

Ibiza Tapas, Hamden

What I like best about Ibiza Tapas restaurant and wine Bar is that it gives us a taste (actually a multiplicity of tastes) of the real Spain, a place far more exciting than the “Sunny Spain” of tourist brochures. Galicia, for example, where chef-owner Ignacio Blanco comes from, has a long, craggy, windswept, rain-washed coast with thrilling views and the best seafood in the world—which Ignacio (as everyone calls him) personally imports for his restaurants.

May 2010

Nicholas Roberts, Norwalk

On Main Street, two minutes south of the intersection of the Post Road and the old Route 7 in Norwalk, Nicholas Roberts Gourmet Bistro couldn’t be more prominently located. Still, it’s amazingly easy to miss, in part because you have to enter the building through the parking lot, and because until recently there was no sign that you could see from the road. There’s a sign now, but the interior lighting is pleasantly subdued so what catches your eye as you drive by is the pizza place next door ablaze with light. Talk about hidden in plain sight!

April 2010
La Belle Aurore, Niantic

La Belle Aurore, Niantic

Hmm, a small storefront restaurant named for the Roman goddess of dawn in a 1950s strip mall in Niantic? Now that’s interesting. What’s cooking? Ethereal morsels for discriminating mortals?

April 2010

The White Horse, New Preston

Can a man fall in love with an Indian Scout, a 16th-century queen and a down-at-the-heels tavern near Lake Waramaug? John Harris could and did.

March 2010
The Mill at 2T, Simsbury

The Mill at 2T, Simsbury

When malls pall and franchised food outlets induce ennui, The Mill at 2T is the perfect antidote. In an antique building, it’s younger than springtime and a million miles from a corporate boardroom, as are its co-owners—a dynamic duo, he the chef and she the front of the house.

March 2010

Ferme, Avon

The menu is a playbill of coming attractions with whimsical titles: “Table Snacks,” “Shares,” “Supper,” “Flights of Fancy.” Any questions? “What about dinner?” Our cheerful young server explains that this is the dinner menu. It is also the lunch menu. Understandably, it’s long but it’s an interesting read. “Pickled martini vegetables,” “calamari with andouille, spinach and white beans,” “warm nut & spice crusted dukkah.”

February 2010
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