Dishes To Try Before You Die

Grab a fork, it's time to explore Connecticut's most notable dishes.

 

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11. The hot lobster roll at Lenny & Joe's Fish Tale, Westbrook and Madison. This is a Connecticut invention (born at a long-gone place in Milford called Perry's) that was, is and always will be blissfully simple: hot chunks of lobster meat and melted butter served on a sturdy split-top roll. Lenny & Joe's does a particularly nice job of it.

12. A crab cake at Carmen Anthony Steakhouse or Fishhouse, Waterbury, New Haven, Woodbury, Avon or Wethersfield. This generous and spectacular take on a ubiquitous dish consists of Maryland lump crab that's potato-encrusted, pan-fried and served golden brown with a remoulade sauce.

13. Rabbit "Olivier" at Still River Café, Eastford. Good things come in threes at this superb locavore restaurant; take this poached saddle-of-rabbit medallions, roasted stuffed leg and chilled rillette of rabbit served with farm onions and a leek-filled crêpe.

14. Porterhouse for two at Joseph's Steakhouse, Bridgeport. At about $75, this is a beef lover's blowout. Hot dinner plates are set down seconds before a steak platter arrives bearing pieces of beef that were presliced in the kitchen, then put back in place along the bone so you can see exactly which section of steak you are eating.

15. Meat loaf at Dressing Room, Westport. The grass-fed beef for this delicious, comforting dish is from nearby Stonebroke Farm, and it's served with mixed seasonal vegetables, home-style mashed potatoes, caramelized onions and garden herbs.

16. The "hi-rise" of shellfish at Max's Oyster Bar, West Hartford. A wonderful thing to behold, the mountain of shaved ice is imbedded with an assortment of fresh shellfish, oysters, clams, mussels, snow crab claws, jumbo shrimp and other market crustaceans.

17. Cheeseburger at Shady Glen, Manchester. A cheeseburger is just a cheeseburger? Not at Shady Glen, where several slices of cheese are allowed to extend beyond the edges of the burger as it cooks, so the cheese melts onto the grill, and turns crisp and chewy before being folded back onto the burger before it's served. Hard to picture? Guess you'll have to go. 

18. Hot oil pizza at Colony Grill, Stamford. The crust on these pies is so thin that it's actually brittle, creating a delicious crunch unlike any other pizza you've had. Some find it very hard to go back to pizza-as-usual after experiencing the Colony's version. 

19. Italian combo grinder at Nardelli's, Waterbury and Naugatuck. Get back to the roots of the whole grinder thing with this original beauty: prosciuttini, cappicola, salami and provolone, with lettuce, tomato, olives and hot sauce.

20. Paella negra at Ibiza, New Haven. Tuesday night is Paella Night at Ibiza, with a special menu served only then. This spectacular dish (which needs to be ordered by at least two at your table) includes squid ink rice, Spanish prawns, shrimp, mussels, squid, clams, day-market fish and herbs.

21. Caesar salad at Carbone's, Hartford. For those who crave the old-school presentation, this is it: laboriously prepared tableside, with fork-mashed fresh garlic, olive oil, assiduously emulsified anchovies, Tabasco, mustard, a squeeze of lemon, Parmesan cheese, romaine, croutons and, yes, a raw egg.

22. Tomato salad at West Street Grill, Litchfield. Among the many treasures to be had at West Street are these locally grown heirloom tomatoes served on a plate sprinkled with fleur de sel, drizzled with the best virgin olive oil, topped with fresh basil leaves and accompanied by a thick slice of homemade peasant bread. A gift of the season.

23. French toast at O'Rourke's Diner, Middletown. One morning, early, make the trip to the legendary O'Rourke's for a big breakfast of French toast, and be sure it's prepared with the diner's famous Irish soda bread.

24. Beef brisket on rye at Rein's, Vernon. There've never been too many old-fashioned Jewish delis in Yankee Connecticut, but Rein's has been in Vernon since 1972 (a good sign) and its sandwiches meet and exceed every possible test.

25. The Polish Platter at Staropolska, New Britain. Everyone has to go to New Britain for Polish food at least once. Their menu features a good sampler dish that includes golabek, kielbasa, bigos, three pierogies and a potato pancake.

Dishes To Try Before You Die

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