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.
For over a decade Zen Bar has been known for being Connecticut's home for the Best in Karaoke and Local/Regional bands. Zen Bar's atmosphere is one that allows you to unwind with your friends and enjoy and evening of fantastic music, food and fun.
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.
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.
Bluto's Bar and Grill's flame masters sizzle up a menu brimming with hearty appetizers, pizza, sandwiches, and salads within an activity-abundant nosh haven. Avoid gabbing about presidential candidates at the dinner table and instead argue about the electability of thin-crust pizza toppings, such as roasted red pepper, meatball, mushroom, or the inarticulate yet photogenic eggplant ($12.99 for a small with 4 toppings). Or create your own 100% Angus beef burger ($8.99 for a half pound), which flaunts your choice of cheese and sauce—such as honey mustard, garlic parmesan, or teriyaki— and nestles up to a side of sweet-potato fries. Cooks submerge bare or breaded chicken wings ($9.95 for 12) into a dunk tank of teriyaki, garlic parmesan, honey mustard, or barbecue before setting them free to roam the esophageal plains.
Uncorked, a new wine bar and bistro, sells 68 varieties of white and red wine in 1 oz., 3 oz., and 6 oz. portions, and juxtaposes each sip with a diverse dinner menu, complete with wine suggestions. The bar uses WineStation technology to seal wines in oxygen-free, temperature-controlled dispensers that ensure freshness 20 times longer than traditional storage and prevent Supreme Court justices from mixing all the wines in one glass and daring each other to drink it. Bottles date from 1967 to the present, and two 100-point wines are offered in selections as small as an ounce. Elegant entrees, such as the Pad Thai Provencal—which mingles Lola duck or shrimp with pad thai noodles, scallions, carrots, walnuts, garlic, and curry sauce—complement whatever artful grape-mash you gravitate toward ($22). Uncorked's full bar also lubricates creaky conversations with carefully stirred cocktails and carefully shaken beer.