Recently named the state’s best family dining restaurant by Connecticut Managzine, Chips’ Pub III fills the bellies of its guests with steaks, seafood, and other homestyle dishes. An impressive list of 15 hand-pressed burgers, each char-broiled over an open hearth, dominates the menu, which also features Chips’ specialties such as the Primo prime rib with housemade horseradish, and platters of scallops, shrimp, and calamari.
Owner John Graham, an alumnus of notable Connecticut restaurants such as Constantine’s and Frank’s Gourmet Grille, opened The Hearsay Bar & Grille with his wife, Kellie. Located in New London, a town close to their hearts, the pair dishes up a menu of casual eats, from their signature lobster bisque to slabs of fall-off-the-bone pork ribs. An advocate for locally sourced spirits, The Hearsay is the first establishment in the area to serve Onyx Moonshine and Kra-ze Vodka, which, like Yale’s valedictorians, are produced in local fermentation tanks. Bartenders mix drinks with Grey Goose vodka and Johnnie Walker whiskey beneath the lambent glow of four widescreen TVs that entertain diners beside a rotating slate of disc-spinning DJs and acoustic crooners.
Although The Hitchin' Post Tavern is nestled in New England, cowboys and cowgirls flock to the southwestern bar and grill to feast on a menu of American favorites with a south-of-the-border twist. When they’re not eating, guests can dance while bands play rock classics and modern hits. During themed nights, such as the Hoedown, partygoers dressed in their finest cowboy hats and overalls can imbibe dozens of beers on tap, in a bottle or can, or loaded with other extras at the full bar. The bar also pours wine, shots, and martinis, such as the espresso and the Sugar Cookie, which can take the place of after-dinner coffee and dessert.
The flames at Prime American Grille have escaped the kitchen. Not only do they live inside the sizzling-hot grill, they also exist atop flickering candles and inside the dining room's roaring fireplace. Flame-kissed rib-eye and new york strip steaks arrive at tables coated in house-made peppercorn, gorgonzola, or mushroom-and-onion sauces. Chefs also bolster their menu with ocean-fresh seafood, pizzas, pastas, and sandwiches. Bottles of wine litter a massive rack inside the restaurant's dining room, which boasts a warm color palette, dark woods, and strategically placed mirrors that make the space feel airy and light, like a helium balloon filled with tossed salad. On the weekends, Prime American Grille pulses with live music from DJs and bands, and each night, diners can sit at the full bar to watch sports on seven flat-screen televisions.
Harp & Dragon's casual atmosphere sets the stage for classic pub eats alongside a full bar with 36 beers on tap. Hosts of sandwiches and burgers dive into friendly mouths and laps, such as the Harp & Dragon burger ($8.95), which piles a half-pound beef patty, sauteed mushrooms, melted Swiss, and leek sauce. Dive into rich, hearty bowls of irish stew ($11.95), or revel in the steadfast meat and dairy delights of a cheesesteak ($12.95). Savor traditional flavors in forms such as bangers and mash ($14.95), succulent irish sausage draped over a throne of garlic mashed potatoes swimming in shiraz onion gravy, or fish and chips ($14.95), named after misprinted instructions for ice fishermen.
Executive chef and owner Matthew Guiffrida infuses contemporary fare with an innovative spirit in Muse Restaurant & Aquatic Lounge’s menu, which has been lauded in the New York Times. Not Ya Mama’s meatballs ($12) dress up the savory spheres in four varieties: Asian-style with sweet-and-spicy chili sauce, Italian-style with pomodoro sauce and shaved parmesan, a Thanksgiving-inspired treatment with a cranberry and caramelized-vidalia-onion compote, and standard swedish. Upscale couch potatoes can surround themselves with elegance without sneaking into a king's blanket fort as they feast on The T.V. Dinner, which consists of milk-fed-veal meat loaf with grilled portobellos and homemade ketchup glaze ($26). The Breakfast 4 Supper cloaks black-pepper-and-parmesan french toast with chipotle-maple syrup, served alongside sweet-potato corned-beef hash, a poached egg, and béarnaise sauce ($24). Simply Grilled entrees give new york strip or Atlantic salmon a more minimalist treatment and an entourage of garlic-infused whipped potatoes and grilled asparagus ($29).