Best of Connecticut 2010: Food and Drink
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Black Rock Tavern Fairfield, (203) 372-2909 (rafaelpalomino.com)
At his newest restaurant, Black Rock Tavern, Rafael Palomino has concocted a crowd-pleasing menu of all-American favorites. A standout is his Angus Beef & Chorizo Sliders, three delectable little patties fashioned of ground beef, puréed chorizo and Grûyère on potato-bread buns. They’re topped with Aurora sauce, and come with fries or salad.
Specialty: New Englander
Plan B Burger Bar & Tavern West Hartford, (860) 231-1199, and other locations (planbtavern.com)
Plan B uses high-quality, “certified humane” beef and cooks it perfectly, but it is the items that top, smother or complement the beef that make these burgers soar. The one that rises to the top for us and makes us feel right at home is the New Englander, with lobster, smoked Gouda and a corn spread.
Specialty: Crunch Burger
Bobby’s Burger Palace Uncasville, (860) 862-2277 (bobbysburgerpalace.com)
Who hasn’t tried this: Remove the top half of your hamburger bun, cover the burger with potato chips, reposition the bun, eat? This longtime practice among burger lovers has been formalized at Bobby’s Burger Palace, where Bobby Flay has seen the light and added a Crunchburger to the menu. The only other ingredient on the Crunchburger is a double dose of American cheese, but the menu assures that any of the specialty burgers can be “crunchified” as well.
Ted’s Meriden, (203) 237-6660 (tedsrestaurant.com)
The steamed cheeseburger is a Central Connecticut specialty, served in Meriden, Middletown, Wallingford—and basically nowhere else! The great place for a steamed burger is Ted’s, a tiny place in business since 1959 on Broad Street, where the entire menu consists of six items: steamed cheeseburger, steamed hamburger, double hot cheese (no meat), steamed hot dog, steamed cheese dog and, for the finicky, a BLT.
Rosie New Canaan, (203) 966-8998 (rosienewcanaan.com)
If you are already a fan of carrot cake, you will love Rosie Nammack’s; if you aren’t, Rosie will turn you into one. Her supermoist, dense version of the classic is topped with “mile-high” cream cheese frosting, not to mention mounds of fresh, sweet coconut. One bite and you will undersand why this cake has been called “an object of cult worship” in New Canaan.
Grants Restaurant West Hartford, (860) 236-1930 (billygrant.com)
Nothing is more satisfying than a slice of rich, decadent chocolate cake. And Grants’ cakes are the best. Their scrumptious chocolate tiramisu cake is a delectable espresso-soaked chocolate genoise (sponge) cake with delicious mascarpone cream and cocoa powder. And their chocolate velvet mousse cake features an Oreo crust, a mouthwatering chocolate mousse filling and topping of whipped cream and milk chocolate shavings. Talk about chocolate heaven!
Modern Apizza New Haven, (203) 776-5306 (modernapizza.com)
Mmmmm. Stuffed with mozzarella, Parmesan and the fluffiest ricotta we’ve ever tasted—your choice of add-ins includes pepperoni, sausage, crabmeat, mushrooms, broccoli spinach and peppers—these heavenly, tender, golden-brown calzones come in small (enough for two), medium and large (bring an army), with tomato sauce on the side. Even your nonna couldn’t make them better.
Wanda’s Sugar Shack Milford (203) 878-9967 (wandassugarshack.com)
There’s been a Wanda’s Sugar Shack in Milford forever—well, close enough, since 1937. That’s kind of a miracle considering the Biblical-style obstacles owner Wanda Hornack’s been up against: a major flood and two fires. But that didn’t keep her down. “I’m a tough old bird,” she says. Now, in her fifth location, she’s still doing what she does best—purveying hard candy, chocolates (peanut butter cups, raisin clusters and truffles), jelly babies and everything in between. There’s also a variety of semisweet chocolates and assorted plastic molds for making your own chocolates. Just ask Wanda!