Ballou’s Wine Bar revolves around three prized delicacies: chocolate, wine, and coffee. From those staples, dozens of indulgent dishes ensue, including chocolate, Nutella, and peanut-butter-chocolate fondues and homemade truffles developed by Debbie, half of the husband-and-wife team that runs Ballou’s. Her chocolate fondue and homemade truffles are so deliciously decadent that they’ve earned the wine bar a spot on the Best of New Haven Reader’s Poll list for best desserts. In addition to rich desserts and froth-capped cups of cappuccino, guests can order wines from local and international vineyards, as well as a wide selection of pastas, sandwiches, and flat breads.
Southampton's cup currently runneth over with awards, so grab a menu and cleverly place your mouth beneath its cornucopic outflux. Start lunch, dinner, or High Beer with an appetizing cup of New England clam chowder or potato ale soup with bacon and cheddar ($5 each), before hitting the pub favorites. Wrap your lips around a tall, frosty mug full of the brewer's burger and french fries ($9, add cheese, sautéed onions, bacon, or mushrooms for $0.75 each) or a crispy order of lager-dipped fish and chips ($14 lunch, $18 for a dinner portion). For a hearty pub dinner, pair a flounder stuffed with crabmeat ($22) and side of sweet potato fries ($6), crushing your appetite beneath the sheer weight of flavor. Check the on tap menu for a saliva-stimulating selection of micro-brewed beers, ales, and Olympian ambrosias, or ask your server to recommend the best pairing for your entree, your complexion, or the beer you just had 12 seconds ago.
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.
For more than 90 years, the same soft morning sunlight has poured over the fields of yellow sunflowers, tasseled stalks of sweet corn, and rows of grapevines growing at Rosedale Farms & Vineyards. In that span of time, five generations of Rosedales have tended to the farm’s fresh vegetables, fruits, and flowers, sharing them with the Simsbury community and even earning a nod in the Washington Post. It wasn’t until 2005, however, that the family produced its first vintage from its 4-acre vineyard of French hybrid grapes. Since then, the winery’s estate-grown vintages have earned several awards, including a double gold at the 2010 Vineyard & Winery International Eastern Wine Competition. Today, at the winery’s onsite bar, staff members pour samples of varieties such as the Simsbury Celebration, which distinguishes itself with a creamy structure, mineral overtones, and a penchant for hiding beneath lampshades. Additional events include fall farm fests that include free hayrides and corn mazes. Partnering with the Max Restaurant Group, Rosedale Farms & Vineyards also features chef-to-farm dinners, during which chefs prepare four- to six-course banquets using ingredients plucked straight from the fields.
Beneath the low-hanging evergreen bows and weathered wood of the Deacon John Grave House—built in 1685—more than 40 microbreweries set up tents filled with kegs and bottles of suds. Foam flingers such as Blue Point, Harpoon, and Narragansett pour IPAs and summer ales, joining brewers of more exotic potions such as gluten-free beers or ales crafted by Trappist monks. As guests sip samples and snack on pizza and burgers, the deep bass vibrations of live bands aerate the beer for maximum flavor. All proceeds from the afternoon’s revelry go toward funding the SARAH Foundation, whose agencies provide programs and services for Connecticut residents with intellectual and other disabilities.
Specializing in the art of chardonnay, Chamard cultivates varietal grapes on 20 acres of gently rolling vineyards, unleashing an assortment of palate-pleasing wines. Bring a guest and relish the ambrosial aromas and mouth-uplifting flavors of chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, merlot, and cabernet franc blends created with time-honored winemaking methods and state-of-the-art graping equipment. Grasp a Riedel glass and try five wines while overlooking the pond on the deck, warming up by the tasting room's fire, or hiding in one of the cellar's wine barrels. After sampling fermented grape serums, customers can activate the power of a 15% discount to purchase a bottle of wine ($12.99–$24.99) for enjoying at home or christening a new caravel.