When chef and artist Stelios Koutouvides and his wife, Niki, founded the Stonewell Restaurant, they did so with help from family. Over the years, their restaurant has been staffed by sons, Ari, Daki, and Niko; Niki’s sisters Starno and Loukia; and a revolving cast of nieces, nephews, and other extended family members. The Stonewell even keeps the decor in the family—Stelios’s original paintings of local landscapes decorate the three dining rooms, adding a personal touch that, unlike papering the walls with old diary entries, is pleasant to behold. Complementing these paintings are photographs of old stone wells, which hang from exposed brick walls, potted plants, a white fence, and the crackling fireplaces that warm each dining room.
Behind the scenes, Stelios and his team massage Mediterranean seasonings into USDA-certified Angus beef, sea scallops, and coastal fish. They toss traditional sauces and feta cheese with pasta, and grill lamb chops. Servers pair these dishes with beer and more than 40 wines, relaxing guests during dinner, private functions, and karaoke on Friday and Saturday nights.
"Now listen up," insists Connecticut Magazine. "Matthew?s tableside Caesar salad has to be the best in the state, if not the country." It's hard to argue with that claim. Starting with torn hearts of romaine lettuce, the salad is made right next to your table, which gives you the chance to catch the distinct aromas of garlic croutons and parmesan cheese before each is thrown into the mix.
Executive Chef Greg Marcuson's culinary talents, of course, extend beyond salad. In fact, they're visible throughout Matthew's menu, in the Berkshire lamb shanks he braises for eight hours and in the cheddar grits he pairs with jumbo shrimp tossed in a barbecue dry rub.
But even the food can't claim sole responsibility for Matthew's popularity. Credit is also due to the restaurant's idyllic location, which includes a spacious outdoor patio with a stunning view of the Farmington River and its kindly fish god.
Dish N' Dat's chefs recreate the flavors of a classic American diner, one dish at a time. They make plenty of hefty burgers, grinding all their beef in-house from chuck, brisket, and short rib. The burgers come with pickles and fries, but also pair well with other dishes, including the six varieties of mac and cheese. Not every visit has to involve a full meal; they also make ice cream floats and shakes. The entire table can sample snacks in the form of Dish's Famous Trash Can, which comes with a bowl of chicken tenders, mozzarella sticks, french fries, and tater tots done-up "animal style," topped with cheese, Russian dressing, and bacon bits, just as they occur in nature.
The ancient art of dining meets modern ingredients and design at Feng Asian Bistro, where delicate geometric forms adorn both the walls and rice-covered plates. Cozy up in a stone-spangled alcove and dip into Feng’s lunch and dinner offerings to find yellow-tail jalapeño starters ($12), eel-cucumber sushi rolls ($6), and entrees such as miso-glazed Chilean sea bass ($16 lunch, $27 dinner). Enterprising eaters can tackle their fare in the main dining room, the lounge, or the sushi bar.