The menu at La Boca Mexican Restaurant & Cantina goes beyond the usual Tex-Mex fare. Alongside fajitas and quesadillas, you’ll find traditional tamales, slow-roasted pork shank, and hand-cut corn tortilla chips. A talented staff of servers and bartenders cultivate a laid-back, festive atmosphere, serving up Mexican beers on draft and a celebrated bloody mary that’s garnished with asparagus, cocktail shrimp, and grilled steak. The eatery's parchment-colored walls are covered with drawings of proud vaqueros and rustic Mexican scenery, forming an ideal backdrop for authentic dinners of mahi mahi tacos or jicama salad. Pub rockers, live karaoke backing groups, and cover bands provide a festive soundtrack.
Stillanos Pikos has gone from watching stock prices fall on Wall Street to watching cakes rise in the ovens at Fusion Bakery & Patisserie. The bakery owner—who is originally from the Greek island of Rhodes—found his original career in finance to be less than fulfilling. After resisting the urge to follow in the footsteps of his family's food business, Pikos decided to enroll in the Connecticut Culinary School. He worked at an exclusive hotel restaurant before assisting friends with their bakeries, which gave rise to the development of Fusion Bakery & Patisserie. Jeff Mill of The Middletown Press notes that the name represents "a combination of European and American desserts,” and that the establishment "is a throwback to a time not so long ago when every town had a bakery, and often more than one."
Pikos and fellow pastry chef Jen McGuinness bake cinnamon rolls, brownies, danishes, baklava, and scones from scratch every morning. They prepare decadent wedding and specialty cakes, including The Very Best Carrot Cake with cream-cheese frosting and optional nuts. As reported by Cassandra Day of Middletown Patch, the bakery ran a "Where's Ginger?" holiday promotion in which patrons guessed the location of a gingerbread man shown in photos around town to win a free pound of cookies and a year of icing-based vinyl siding repairs.
Sweet Harmony Café & Bakery keeps locals full with a menu of homemade offerings that warm hearts via easily accessible stomach ducts. Regulate tongue temperature with hot soups and cold salads, such as the Sweet Harmony salad topped with goat cheese, dried cranberries, and honey-roasted pecans ($9.95). Tasty invaders hurdle mandibular moats in the form of house specialties, such as the homemade mac & cheese ($8.95) or chicken bruschetta ($9.95), and egg eaters storm edible embankments with an oven-baked slice of the quiche of the day ($8.95). Treat sweet teeth to a plethora of palate-pleasing pastries, such as slices of strawberry shortcake ($6.95), extra-large cookies ($2.50), and special daily desserts. On the third Saturday of each month, early risers can enjoy special breakfast items to kick off weekend activities.
The brilliant baristas at Klekolo pour steaming cups of joe and craft specialty drinks in their funky Court Street location. Using beans from a variety of roasters—most of them organic and free trade—the staff brews each cup ($1.30–$2.25) from the drip bar. Expertly made espresso ($1.25) steams in tiny mugs stolen from caffeinated elves, and specialty drinks such as the Witches' Brew transfix taste buds with a spell of caramel, hazelnut, chocolate, and espresso. Combat severe cases of indecision by filling tankards with smooshies ($5.75), a combination smoothie-slushie that dallies in fruit flavors as well as java incarnations. The pastry case houses a rotating selection of scrumptious sweets ($1.80–$4.95); recent offerings have included rich turtle-cheesecake bars and flaky lemon danish. While sipping from mugs, patrons can gaze at the local artwork dotting the richly hued purple walls, use free WiFi to email lonely houseplants, or admire the 10 cents they saved by bringing in their own bean-juice receptacles.
Tempting as it is, wearing a pair of Tschudin Chocolates' high heels on the town wouldn't be a very good idea. That's because the footwear is an example of the custom chocolate sculptures the shop regularly makes for birthdays, weddings, and other special events. Yet Tschudin's chocolatiers don't craft every treat on such a grand scale. Using their stone-ground chocolate and local ingredients such as honey and herbs, they hand-make a rotating lineup of bonbons, truffles, ganaches, and caramels. And that handmade ethos extends into their cakes and desserts as well.
Rather than hiding their techniques from the world by only working in a vault, Tschudin's chocolatiers invite guests to witness their process firsthand during classes. These behind-the-scenes peeks reveal how the team shapes its treats. Tschudin's experts even conduct chocolate-making classes for those struck with inspiration, allowing students to temper and create their own treats.