Local blues musicians and other artists generate a suitably warming and varied aural backdrop on which executive chef Patrick Pierre-Jerome swirls together flavors from New Orleans, Europe, and further afield. Hat City Kitchen's menu fills plates with inventive takes on comfort food such as shrimp and grits, jambalaya, bread pudding, and baby back ribs. The ribs don a combination of plum sauce, hoisin sauce, ketchup, and cocoa, which the New York Times says "sounds like a mouthful and, happily, is."
In front of a blocky quilted curtain, a rotating roster of live performers strums guitars and charms snakes back into drum kits beneath the exposed ductwork that runs above the cabaret-style seating. Hands Inc., a local nonprofit, presides over the eatery and works with a variety of artists to raise funds for projects designed to improve the Valley area.
Find the right door in either Orange or Bridgeport, and you can walk right into a Latin American paradise. The colors of coastal waters and sunny beaches envelop the dining room, and bartenders serve drinks worthy of the tropical atmosphere: jalapeño pineapple margaritas, South American wines, and 10 kinds of mojitos—including one made with fresh guava.
These slices of the tropics arrive in Connecticut thanks to Ola Restaurant. Here, chefs grill, bake, and will Nuevo Latino cuisine into existence. They define that culinary genre through shareable tapas such as lobster and avocado quesadillas as well as heartier entrees. These meals might star guava-glazed ribs, churrasco strip steak, or salmon caramelized with dark rum and sugar cane, all prepared with the gustatory finesse that earned the restaurant praise from the New York Times.
The Manor's French-trained chef crafts award-winning cuisine with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Set within 20 acres of sculpted gardens, the eatery exudes the elegance of a bygone era, like a dressy top-hat or a zeppelin made of pterodactyl bones. The sophisticated menu's first-course options include daintily slurpable Block Island oysters ($15) as well as daintily slurpable lobster bisque ($12). Fine diners can appease fine-hunger pangs with the Long Island duck breast and leg confit ($29), slice into the filet mignon, served atop truffled mashed potatoes ($38), or appreciate the nose of a bottle of Pouilly-Fuissé from Burgundy ($29).
This festive lounge and restaurant serves up contemporary renditions of classic Peruvian dishes. Hearty entrees come packed with spiced meat and fried seafood, while three different ceviches offer lighter, citrus-splashed doses of fresh fish. The drink menu features tropical cocktails, such as pisco sours and frozen margaritas, as well as more decadent concoctions, including a strawberry pineapple daiquiri topped with an upside down corona bottle and a pillbox hat. On the weekends, guests can sip on different variations until 2:30 a.m. The restaurant’s traditional brick facade belies a modern interior furnished with neon red walls and modern bucket seats.
At Slate Restaurant, a bar the size of stretch limo radiates red light and glass facets hang like icicles from a glowing blue chandelier. This delicate balance between hot and cool is central not only to the atmosphere, but also to the cuisine—in the kitchen, chefs enhance herb-crusted fish and roasted meats with sweet-and-spicy flourishes including slices of roasted pineapple and splashes of spicy chili sauce.
After 10 p.m. on the weekends, however, attention shifts away from the delicate balance to focus on live DJs spinning pulsating dance beats, a panel of flickering flat-screen TVs, and strobe lights streaking across the dance floor. Bartenders mix inventive drinks such as sake bombs and green tea martinis until 2 a.m. on weekends.
Planet Wings was born in 1994, when Franco and Paula Fidanza, unsatisfied with the current state of fast food delivery, decided to up the ante by combining quick, accessible cuisine and the rising popularity of fried chicken wings. Now, the duo's signature wings and hearty dishes are available at locations spanning five states. Diners can savor 24 wing sauces such as hot, medium, Cajun, butter garlic, and bourbon barbecue, or opt for non-wing options such as burgers, salads, or sandwiches.