Across from the train station, Center Station Pub & Grill’s sizzling sandwiches, burgers, and wings call to the hungry stomachs of travelers and locals alike. Berlin’s Biggest Burger weighs down the menu with its melted american cheese, sautéed onions, and two half-pound patties that, when smacked together, have led many a lifeguard to close the pool due to thunder. The cooks also ladle nine different sauces over signature wings, sling chicken-parm grinders, and bedeck homemade tortilla chips in nacho cheese. Under new management since November 2010, the classic pub fare pairs nicely with the 15 microbrews on tap, poured in a restaurant that serves as an exciting gathering place for Berlin residents. Center Station schedules karaoke on Fridays and bands to perform on weekends, filling the gaps in live entertainment with an in-house pool table, video games, and dartboards.
The vibrant reds and oranges of Gobi Mongolian Grill hint at the heat of a flat-top grill, which releases sizzling arpeggios as food hits the surface. Diners shuffle down a lineup of ingredients, choosing tilapia, beef, noodles, shallots, and snow peas for bowls of stir-fry. A variety of sauces waits to add the earthy sweetness of teriyaki or mongolian barbecue sauce’s warm bite of garlic and ginger. Their spatulas dancing noisily, chefs at the grill use blazing heat to evenly cook bowls of stir-fry or interrogate flammable scarecrows.
Craft beers and a list of premium whiskeys. Football, both American and international. Plates of shepherd's pie, bangers and mash, and beer-braised corned beef. Though McLadden's asserts its Irish roots in a number of visible ways, the gastropub and whiskey bar also offers a unique craft-beer experience. Ales, stouts, and lagers lace many of the dishes that sail to tables in the pub, which guests can consume in comfortable, laid-back confines.
Plan B Burger Bar boasts a bevy of natural burgers that have received the a-okay from Certified Humane, ensuring that every beefy bite is pure, pristine, and chemical-free. Make friends with the menu and opt for one of the restaurant's 20 burgers, each hand-ground on the premises daily and served with a choice of fries or organic greens. Customer favorites include the bacon cheeseburger ($10.99), with American cheese, caramelized onions, and garlic mayo; the appealing appetizer of three mini cheeseburgers ($9.59) with parmesan fries; the blue-cheese burger ($11.99), topped with caramelized onions and bourbon barbecue sauce; and the signature Tavern Classic ($9.99), topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, and Plan B's special sauce. Non-bunned plates include a lobster mac ‘n’ cheese ($19.99), spaghetti and meatballs ($12.99), and grilled salmon ($15.99).
It’s considered normal for a restaurant to enter a float or banner in a town parade, but in general, these contributions are all made by humans. Corner Pug breaks this tradition each year during West Hartford’s Park Road Parade, gathering local pugs to march down the street with their owners, each pup dressed to the nines in an attempt to win an award for best costume or most flattering hemline.
This annual spectacle is in keeping with the whimsy that surrounds the pub all year long. Framed photos of pugs brought in by devoted owners line the walls to form a canine shrine, and these pups peer enviously at the endless line-up of thick burgers, organic strip steaks, and English pub classics that parade to tables. In between sips of 20-ounce draft beers, visitors should keep their eyes peeled for sightings of Corner Pug’s mascot—Mac, the pug—whose likeness graces everything from the menu to T-shirts, mugs, and bottles of housemade dressing.
Despite the pub’s jocular ambiance, the kitchen staff takes its job seriously—albeit with a wink and a nod, reportedly employing a macaroni technician to make sure each noodle is standing upright. But Corner Pug’s attention to detail (they even serve the fish ’n’ chips on London newspaper print) has paid off, earning the eatery a perennial spot on the Hartford Advocate’s Best-Of list.
A night of dinner, drinks, and dancing doesn't always have to involve three different destinations. At Shish Restaurant & Lounge, visitors can do all three, seamlessly. While they cozy up on a leather sofa, the wait staff ferries Middle-Eastern cuisine such as small plates of baba ghanoush and grape leaves as well as flatbreads decorated with lamb, hallumi, and olives. From the bar, servers transport nine signature cocktails, flutes of seven types of champagne, and draft and bottled beers to lounging diners as they watch other cut a rug on the giant dance floor. Whether visiting on swing-dance Wednesdays, Latin Thursdays, or DJ-party Fridays, there is always something to watch.