The Puiia family, native New Yorkers, dreamed up Between Rounds' menu in 1990, and ever since they have skillfully prepared its freshly made sandwiches and baked goods, in the process enticing the palates of reporters from Better Connecticut. Each day, bakers whip up signature New York–style bagels in a variety of flavors before pairing them with cream cheese, cobbling them into breakfast sandwiches, or hurling them in impromptu games of ultimate frisbee. Hailing from the lunch roster, freshly baked flaky loaves and rolls surround premium deli meats and cheeses as baristas grind fresh beans for gourmet coffees and specialty espresso beverages. The arena in which the bakers and baristas operate sparkles with the sunlight pouring over the tabletops of the colorful, WiFi-saturated dining room, and a drive-thru window allows customers to enjoy meals without leaving their cars, vans, or sleds.
The olive oil advocates at O'Live A Little unveil a collection of more than 45 olive oils and vinegars on tap for visitors to try before taking up flavor commitments. Condiment foodies taste their way across the globe, sampling extra-virgin olive oil plucked from Morocco, Greece, and regions throughout France and Italy. California-garlic olive oil adds pungency to slabs of steak, and mandarin-orange olive oil infuses Asian-inspired dishes with flavors fruitier than Carmen Miranda’s hat collection. Sweeten a bowl of greens with dark balsamic vinegars available in pineapple, tangerine, and fig varieties, or sprinkle salads with shredded up love letters. O’Live A Little’s helpful staff fields questions on condiments’ preferred uses and delicious recipes so that each drizzle reaches its toothsome potential.
The batter jockeys at the Sweet Spot Cupcakery and Bake Shop bake up six classic and seven premium flavors of butter-cream-frosted Lilliputian cakes. The classic confections range from chocolate on chocolate to a 10 Carrot creation whose chopped pecans and vanilla butter cream rest atop fluffy cake. Classic vanilla bean, red velvet, and marble cake also preen beneath fascinators of vanilla butter cream. For more lavish licks, premium cupcakes tempt taste buds with chunky pistachio frosting slathered on pistachio cake or rich chocolate cake capped with crushed-Oreo butter cream. Premium rum-raisin cakelets slur songs through their rum-flavored frosting, and neapolitan marble cupcakes maintain dignified poise beneath strawberry butter cream.
When you think of a typical convenience store, you likely think of shelves stocked with unhealthy grab-and-go snacks, questionable premade food, and old, watered-down coffee. But though it’s technically a convenience store, Harvest Country Store has none of those things.
First of all, it’s full of local, organic, and natural groceries, including quinoa and organic chocolate bars. An article in the West Hartford Patch says the community-minded owners want to “serve the needs and special desires of their neighbors, in an ethnically and racially-diverse part of West Hartford that doesn't have many other retail establishments within walking distance.” That's why they stock ready-made sandwiches and salads and infused organic waters.
In addition to its healthy groceries, Harvest Country Store offers sustenance in sweet and savory forms, from soft bagels and artisan pastries to Connecticut-born ice cream in pretzel cones. And its coffee bar only serves all-organic, fair-trade coffee, which can be topped with syrups that are vegetarian- and vegan-friendly and free of high-fructose corn syrup.
For those who wish to sit as they sip or snack, there's free WiFi and indoor and outdoor seating.
Alexandra and Romeo fell in love in France over cups of flour and sugar as Romeo completed his professional boulanger and patissier training. Today, the couple recreates quintessential French flavors in their West Hartford bakery-café, where the menu kicks off with breakfasts of pain au chocolat and almond croissants. For lunch, chefs build sandwiches such as Le Brie with cheese and butter, and the Eiffel, whose roasted chicken breast, carrots, and cucumber stands 324 meters tall. Desserts such as macarons and chocolate-hazelnut mousse cake pair with a cauppuccino or café au lait to round out each meal.
La Petite France also rolls out its portable crepe cart to special events throughout the area, where French-speaking chefs (upon request) whip up sweet or savory crepes for parties of 20 or more.
The café menu at Hartford Baking Company displays a slew of sandwiches framed in fresh artisan breads and pastries baked from scratch. Fluffy multigrain bread cushions the roasted turkey slathered in cranberry-sage mayo and caramelized onion jam ($7.45), and the flavor of roast beef emerges full-force when coaxed by a blue-cheese spread and caramelized onions, all resting on a rustic roll ($7.95). Hartford Baking Company counts among its doughy dominion a variety of weekly rotating bread selections as well as everyday flavors including honey whole wheat, walnut raisin, and french peasant bread that longs to eat cake. A slice of signature chocolate arrives swathed in either cream cheese or mocha frosting, and scones or biscotti compliment steaming cups of Harney & Sons tea ($1.89) or Stumptown coffee ($1.50–$2.12).
Since 1948, Elmwood Pastry Shop has crafted French, Swedish, Polish, and other European confectionary creations entirely from scratch. Named one of Hartford’s best cupcakes by CBS Hartford, Elmwood Pastry Shops’s delectable cupcakes are built with a foundation of chocolate, yellow, raspberry, carrot, or spice cake. Pastry purveyors then shelter their blissful baked treat with a roof of all-natural icing, which comes in a vibrant array of taste-bud-tempting flavors, including chocolate, butter cream, whipped cream, and cream cheese. Each pint-sized pastry is injected with an indulgent dose of butter cream or another specialty filling, perfecting a mouth-watering dessert that’s ideal for afternoon teas, dinner parties, and bribing Benjamin Franklin at the historical reenactment center to break character.