Golden-fried clam strips, fantail shrimp, and bay scallops anchor the tables at J’s Crabshack (formerly Tinker’s), sending up clouds of steam next to hearty steak and lobster dinners. Founded by chef and scallop fisherman James Tinker more than 20 years ago, J’s Crabshack has grown into a bustling seafood hotspot, where an aquarium teeming with eels and tropical fish overlooks the dining area. The shack’s market counter dishes out freshly snagged raw shrimp and scallops, earning recognition as runner-up for best fish market in Hartford from the Hartford Advocate in 2011. The restaurant’s culinary team, which includes James Tinker II in its ranks, works diligently to serve guests in the ocean-themed catering hall, then sticks around to burp everyone postmeal.
Rich Hicks and Todd Istre are the masterminds behind many a national food concept—from Rich's southwestern taco at Tin Star to Todd's spicy seafood dishes at Boudreaux's Cajun Kitchen. When the duo joined forces to create Mooyah, however, they cleared the tortillas and crawdads from their mind in order to focus on formulating a quintessential American burger.
Today, within scores of Mooyah locations throughout the nation, chefs bustle behind counters, grilling up burgers in accordance to Todd and Rich's formula. Cooks pile beef, turkey, and veggie patties onto white or wheat buns before loading on cheeses and toppings of bacon, fried onion, and avocado. Meanwhile, freshly cut potatoes simmer in fryers, and blenders whirl with ice-cream shakes. Out in the dining room, tabletops and booths sit atop checkered floors beneath walls of chalkboards, where customers can write messages or draw portraits of what they wished they looked like, could they only grow a beard.
Floor-to-ceiling mirrors reflect 2,700 square feet of glossy, hardwood floors ringing with the staccato of dancing high heels. Brass poles sprout from the floor, supporting whirling women as they learn sensual routines and build upper-body strength by suspending themselves skyward.
Pole Control Studios' owner, a seasoned performer with a BA in sports science, designs programs that scale up in difficulty while centering around fitness. The studio inducts exercisers in the flirtatious art with an introductory class, where each dancer learns correct posture, transition work, and how to use high heels to tap out Morse code. From there, guests foray into more than 75 types of empowering fitness classes that build on the basics, imparting techniques for climbing, controlled spins, or inversions. Pole Fit and Sensual Stretch supplement pole-dancing prowess with intense cardio, squats, lunges, and body-elongating posework.
The aromas of Indian and Himalayan spices mingle in the kitchen at Royal Masala Restaurant and Bar, where chefs simmer curries and roast lamb and prawns in a tandoor. Guests dive into specialties such as flavorful biryanis, creamy chicken tikka masala, and vegetarian stuffed naan. They savor these dishes in an elegant, comfortable dining room with brick walls and a central chandelier.
The quaint eatery plays host to a delectable menu containing a cluster of deli treats for breakfast, second breakfast, pre-lunch, and lunch. Remedy eyelids stuck in the down position by grabbing an eye-opening ham-, bacon-, or sausage-and-egg sandwich on your choice of bread ($4.50, add $0.25 for cheese). Embrace the traditional sandwich middleman with a tuna, chicken, or seafood salad plate ($7.50). Breaded delights include the peppercorn-turkey sandwich, which comes adorned with your choice of condiments ($6.35, extra charge for certain condiments). Sandwich connoisseurs can paint their perceptive palates with Max Bibo's own creation, made with imported aged-prosciutto ham, roasted red peppers, leaf lettuce, mustard, and a generous slice of provolone ($7.95). Gourmet coffee and piping hot teas ($1.35–$1.95) warm from tip to tail, while freshly baked brownies ($1.95) contain more chocolate than all the world's s'mores-based economies combined.