Having already earned back-to-back spots on Connecticut Magazine's Best of Connecticut in 2009 and 2010, Liquid Lunch keeps bellies full and spoons out of the unemployment line with a slurp-worthy twist on midday meals. Culinary Institute of America graduate and owner Fred Bialek and his wife, Michele, were inspired to open the first Liquid Lunch in 2004, when they'd grown tired of lunchtime standards such as pizza, burgers, and lightly salted printouts of old PowerPoint presentations.
Today, at Liquid Lunch's still-growing roster of locations, a rotating lineup of gourmet soups cascades across the menu alongside six staple soups, including vegetarian lentil and split pea with ham. For an extra crunch, diners can plunge fork-first into salads, or explore healthy Sammiches, which escort taste buds around the globe with names influenced by their ingredients and spear-pickles engraved with necessary passport information.
Zafra refers to the term harvesting sugarcane, which is one of the main ingredients in rum. And Zafra Cuban Restaurant knows rum, stocking its shelves with more than 300 different types of the liquor. Guests can drink rum mixed into mojitos and martinis, or sip the libation straight. While the rum selection is impressive, Zafra is also known for its cuisine, nabbing top honors from the OpenTable Diners? Choice award for Cuban food. Chefs tuck mango chicken into housemade empanadas and serve ceviche inside a coconut shell. Cuban entrees include guava-glazed salmon and grilled flank steak slathered in a chimichurri sauce. Another Cuban tradition occurs every Sunday night, when high-energy beats fill the restaurant and guests can spin and dip their way through salsa routines and games of tag.
Pressure-fried turkey combines the best of deep-frying and roasting a turkey. The pressure keeps moisture in and oil out, resulting in a tender, moist meat similar to a deep-fried turkey, but with the lower calories of a roast turkey. Inspired turkey whips up turkey servings for individuals and families and can craft complete meals worthy of Thanksgiving with mashed potatoes, corn bread, and gravy.
When opening Taberna Restaurant, Jaime and Daniel Lopez decided to stick with the food that they knew best: tapas and pan-Mediterranean cooking, which they'd started refining at Norwalk favorite La Paella. The chefs draw most of their inspiration from Spanish and Italian recipes while occasionally incorporating flavors from North Africa or closer to home. The resulting presentation and cuisine itself are "gracefully restrained," says the New York Times.
Soft polenta arrives with a simple, savory combination of grilled portobello mushrooms, roasted garlic, and extra-virgin olive oil. The handmade, duck-confit-filled tortellini benefits from the creaminess of fresh ricotta cheese and the aromas of fresh herbs in brown-butter sauce. Taberna Restaurant's Spanish influences are more apparent in its selection of tapas, such as the sautéed chorizo with white beans and mushrooms in a red-wine sauce and the servings of serrano ham and manchego cheese. As for larger plates, there's traditional seafood paella brimming with enough fish, shellfish, and saffron-tinted rice to feed two people or one homesick whale.
Behind a simple, gleaming wooden bar, bartenders mix pitchers of sangria and uncork bottles of wine from a list that, naturally, features a wealth of selections from Italy and Spain. Brushed metal sconces illuminate white tablecloths and walls decorated with paintings and vintage-style posters. During the sunnier seasons, the restaurant opens its outdoor patio.
Inside Salina’s nail salon, a team of technicians clip, shape, and buff digits before applying eye-catching polishes. Classic mani-pedis leave nails sheathed in a colorful polish, and pink-and-white acrylics create a natural-looking extension of the nail, which doubles as a protective layer when attacking unruly shoelace knots. The salon also handles more comprehensive tasks for clients, such as applying UV gels and gluing on silk wraps.
Small Kitchen Big Taste started as a food blog focused on the challenges?and joys?of cooking in a kitchen the size of a closet. Writing it made the author, Karen, realize that she loved cooking too much to treat it as a hobby. Today she specializes in reheatable gourmet dishes crafted from whole foods such as balsamic-glazed salmon or white-bean-and-kale soup. Her organic catering spreads also add zest to events, from a girls' night in to a cocktail party for 100.