Hailed by none other than the New York Times for eclectic dishes that combine “a homey touch with a dash of originality,” The Pine Social throws a sophisticated spin on traditional American comfort fare. Chandeliers cast a soft glow on tables situated side by side within the tavern-like restaurant and lounge, which anchors its menu on free-range meats, ocean-fresh fish, and locally sourced produce. The kitchen’s homemade sausage and slow-braised beef short ribs are not to be missed, based on their own merits as well as their shared ability to whet palates for the dessert menu’s warm apple spring rolls. Sips of aged scotch and spiked, hot apple cider thaw jaws frozen agape at the tavern’s dark-stained walls, rustic wooden accents, and plush furnishings. Light from high-definition TVs glints off the bar’s full-service spirits station, beside which guests can treat their ears to music that pours forth from live bands on Thursday and Friday nights.
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.
The walk up to Wave Seafood Kitchen's doors alone can awaken an appetite for baked clams and jumbo shrimp cocktails. The restaurant is housed inside Danfords Hotel & Marina, which sits on the edge of the Long Island Sound. Views of the water surround guests both outside and in the dining room, where flickering candles illuminate plates of fresh seafood. Soft piano music in the lounge completes the laid-back, beachy ambiance.
The setting, however, only serves as a starter for frequently changing menus of sea- and land-sourced dishes. Lobster saffron risotto might share table space with country fried chicken, served with a buttermilk waffle; fine cheese could be paired with oven-roasted whole fish. On Sundays, the floor transforms into an all-you-can-eat brunch with smoked salmon and just-caught cinnamon rolls. In addition to American cuisine, the white-spread tables become canvases for local and international wines, beers, and craft cocktails inspired by seasonal flavors.
Casona combines Latin cuisine with nights of dancing within its mood-lit space. The menu offers dishes from five different Latin American and Caribbean countries, all complemented by a drink list with mojitos, margaritas, and martinis. Different events occur every night the restaurant is open, often including salsa and Zumba lessons, open mics, and live Latin jazz.
Rooftop120 welcomes visitors into a high-class cosmopolitan atmosphere of year-round rooftop seating, potent martinis, fresh oysters, and seasonal dishes that showcase a variety of culinary styles. The bill of fare promises beers, wines, and cocktails paired with fresh ahi tuna, truffle-tinged fries, heirloom-tomato salads, and other small plates made from local produce that earned accolades from the Hartford Advocate as one of the best new bars, restaurants, and outdoor-dining destinations of 2012. Live bands or piano music set a soundtrack for nights out on the town, and sports packages keep fans informed of the latest on-field exploits and product endorsements from their favorite athletes. The seasonal menu and adaptable space keep guests comfortable and satisfied throughout the year, as they gather around the crackling fire pit and dine on butternut-squash soup in colder months or sip refreshing cocktails on the open-air patio in the summer.
The contemporary wood-paneled elegance of Butterfield 8's U-shaped leather booths and lamp-lit dining room complements the menu of urban American gastropub fare. Quash your hunger with the chipotle brisket nachos, bulging beneath the tasteful weight of pico de gallo, sour cream, guacamole, and chipotle pulled chicken ($12). Buttery mashed potatoes and crispy onions adorn the sauce-drizzled peppercorn skirt steak ($20), and the memphis pulled-pork sliders ($12) satiate mouths with bite-size morsels of flavor. Spread out in the spacious booths and imbibe the alchemical concoctions of specialty cocktails ($10) such as a dirty bleu martini, an ocean of Belvedere vodka bobbing with buoys of blue-cheese-stuffed olives, a drink as elegant as a chandelier in fur coat. Finish the feast with the chocolate-chip-cookie-dough smash, an iron skillet filled with half-baked cookie oozing beneath ice cream and chocolate sauce ($8).