Metric Bar and Grill seasons fresh-caught seafood and aged beef with Asian and Caribbean flair that also takes in worldwide influences from Italy to Louisiana. As skilled chefs sear thick steaks over an open flame, fresh greens get a mist of house-made salad dressing and woks sizzle vegetables and curries. Inside the eatery, original abstract art electrifies exposed brick walls offset by finished-glass tables and deep wood chairs. Beyond the chic dining room, Metric is known for catering special events, such as business meetings, cocktail parties, and Constitutional Conventions. The accommodating staff can happily fax daily specials to offices or whip up custom group orders on short notice.
The large wheeled coffee cart at Lena's Cafe and Confections never actually goes anywhere, but it does make for a rustic centerpiece in the dining room, where visitors gather for homemade breakfast, brunch, and lunch. Each weekend, a lineup of brunch specials rotates, featuring items such as pecan-pie-stuffed french toast one week and a seafood omelet stuffed with lobster, crab, shrimp, and fresh veggies another. On weekdays, lunch does bring some specialty salads and veggie wraps, but for the most part, it's no less hearty?corned-beef reubens, meatball panini sliders, and half-pound burgers ensure an equal-opportunity work environment for takeout boxes.
At City Steam Brewery Cafe, the owners concoct some of the area’s finest beers, scoring “best of” awards from Hartford magazine and Connecticut Magazine. They also brew potent batches of laughter inside their 200-seat comedy show-room theater. Ensconced in the historic Brown Thomson and Co. building, which was the state’s largest department store in 1877, Brew Ha Ha once was known as the Last Laugh Comedy Club, where fledgling unknowns such as Ray Romano and Kevin James vied for laughs in the smoky rathskeller of a restaurant.
Reborn in 1997 under a new moniker, the standup speakeasy keeps its calendar packed with nationally touring comics and local joke slingers. During shows, guests can toast with mugs of handcrafted beer and make edible sculptures of their favorite comedian using menu’s custom burgers, pizzas, and omelets.
In the evening, Grand Restaurant/Lounge caters to the foodie set, serving upscale bar food amid elegant minimalist decor. Later at night, an array of colored lights begins to glow beneath stairs, along windows, and in the eyes of visiting Terminators. DJs crank up the volume while bartenders sling cocktails below supernova-like chandeliers, but intimate clusters of armchairs provide a respite from the carnival on the dance floor. As they lounge, diners can savor dishes such as lobster ravioli or burgers topped with deviled eggs or fig-balsamic glaze.
Hailed by none other than the New York Times for eclectic dishes that combine “a homey touch with a dash of originality,” The Pine Social throws a sophisticated spin on traditional American comfort fare. Chandeliers cast a soft glow on tables situated side by side within the tavern-like restaurant and lounge, which anchors its menu on free-range meats, ocean-fresh fish, and locally sourced produce. The kitchen’s homemade sausage and slow-braised beef short ribs are not to be missed, based on their own merits as well as their shared ability to whet palates for the dessert menu’s warm apple spring rolls. Sips of aged scotch and spiked, hot apple cider thaw jaws frozen agape at the tavern’s dark-stained walls, rustic wooden accents, and plush furnishings. Light from high-definition TVs glints off the bar’s full-service spirits station, beside which guests can treat their ears to music that pours forth from live bands on Thursday and Friday nights.
The chefs and wine experts of 1249 Wine Bar teamed up to present a modern take on the age-old European concept of gathering around a table of good food and drinking great wine. The result was a bistro-style dinner menu that catalogs such upscale cuisine as duck confit and seared, tuna-grade yellowfin tuna. The wine list allows visitors to swill a taste of many varietals before ordering a glass, bottle, or vineyard. Large windows surround the dark, wooden dining room, and an ample outdoor patio offers diners the option of eating al-fresco during warmer months.