Featured by Paul Stern on Mansfield-StorrsPatch in 2011—just months after its opening—Coriander Cafe & Country Store has hatched quite the name for itself in Eastwood. According to Stern, brothers Scott and Brett Laffert run the show with Brett, a former chef and self-proclaimed “country person at heart,” transforming local ingredients into gourmet sandwiches, burgers, and straw hats. The shop makes all their breads—from ciabatta to whole wheat—in-house before stacking them with fresh-carved turkey and cranberry sauce or homemade black-bean patties. Yet the cooks don’t stop at handheld fare; the menu changes daily and can include anything from pan-seared haddock over corn-and-chive griddlecakes to braised pork belly with a side of chipotle grits.
Coriander Cafe also welcomes early risers into its country confines for a cup of fair-trade and organic coffee from Red Barn Coffee Roasters, a homemade bagel, or a decadent pastry such as a raspberry scone or cinnamon-sugar donut muffin, which guests can enjoy inside or amid fresh-picked oxygen molecules on the backyard deck. A fully stocked country store outfits fleeting customers with all the necessities, from homemade cookies and Red Barn coffee to gourmet jams and hot sauces.
The rich aroma of freshly brewed coffee mingles with the sweet scents of napoleons, éclairs, and apple turnovers fresh from the oven. At Back In The Day Pastry Shoppe, pastry chefs fold the comfort evoked by classic treats into their batches of old-fashioned desserts. Their true forte, however, is the sweet batter they transform into jumbo muffins, cupcakes topped with puffs of swiss meringue, and cakes designed for special occasions. Skilled hands fill each cake with fresh berries or mousse and personalize the confectionary masterpieces with carefully sculpted flowers and ornate scalloped details. Not content with only making sweet treats, the chefs also dazzle palates with their sandwiches and soups. As guests fill their bellies or nibble on a nostalgic treat, they can use the bakery’s free WiFi to check their email or plot out a road trip to Drury Lane.
The sucrose stylists at Sweet Creations bake a bevy of hand-held and decadent sweet treats as well as specialty cakes in a menagerie of flavors and fillings. Give sweet teeth something to brag about at the dental arcade with a sampling of small and large cupcakes ($1.25; $1.75), brownies ($1.95), or plates of half-dozen cookies ($4). Ice-cream-enriched treats are readily available, including brownies à la mode ($3.95) and sundaes ($4.95), and specialty cakes ($40+) come blanketed with house-made buttercream icing or marshmallow fondant and adorned with soccer balls, fire trucks, and still-life scenes from the Constitutional Congress. Sweet Creations also traffics in tasty small and large smoothies ($2.75; $3.25), as well as chocolate lollipops in dark, milk, or white chocolate, all wrapped up with a colorful ribbon.
Angus burgers mixed with blue-cheese crumbles, homemade lasagna, and a roster of more than 30 pizza toppings make appearances on Black and White Grille's lengthy menu of comfort food and American classics. Diners in the cozy interior or garden-adjacent outdoor patio feast on hearty pasta dishes, grilled chicken and steak, or market-price seafood.
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.
Every spring and summer, Janine’s Frostee puts on a classic Americana clinic with hearty helpings of diner classics, fresh seafood, and ice-cream concoctions. The traditional drive-in, a local haunt since 1956, scoops 36 Gifford’s Ice Cream flavors, swirls 15 varieties of soft-serve and frozen yogurt with a choice of 14 different sundae toppings. Janine’s entertains roadside diners with live music every Friday night and an annual classic-car show.