The eighth annual Oktoberfest hosted by the Vienna Restaurant and Historic Inn heralds the wintry months ahead with an evening of feasting and festivities. Doors and unlatch at 5:30 p.m., allowing guests to mingle while dipping their fingers into complimentary hors d’oeuvres. Admission grants guests a heaping helping of dinner, served at 6:30 p.m., and including bratwurst, knackwurst, spätzle, and an apple strudel dessert sweeter than the intentions of a kindergartner pouring cereal on his mother's bed on her birthday. Scoring the evening, the Stratton Mountain Boys, who have performed at Disney World, lend their Austrian melodies to the festivities.
The large wood columns sprouting from the weathered wooden bar evoke the belly of a ship—no doubt a hat-tip to the pub’s namesake, the highly decorated Navy Admiral TJ O’Brien. The menu lets seafood and steaks romp beneath cloaks of sauce, on steaming pastas, or between slices of bread. Draft pints fill with suds from local breweries including Opa Opa and Bentley, and wineglasses shiver to the pulse of live music on Friday and Saturday. On the wrap-around porch, patrons loosen belts while trying to glimpse the Quinebaug River Reservoir or spot a majestic submarine periscope grazing in its natural habitat.
The menu at 420 Main features a stunning array of hearty, expertly prepared concoctions. Dive into dining with a plate of seasonal oysters in a half shell ($2.50 each) or a bowl of creamy lobster bisque ($7). Moving on to the mains, the exquisitely marinated and seasoned 8 oz. venison ($30) is juicy, tender, and capable of quelling all medium- to large-sized appetite creatures, spotted throughout history peeking through the buttonholes of overcoats. Sink your eager chompers into a 10 oz. filet mignon ($30) or a fine non-steak dish such as the grilled Atlantic salmon gorgonzola ($22). All entrees are served with your choice of two sides, such as garlic mashed potatoes or broccoli au gratin ($4 separately). Inner-child sophisticates can be indulged with a heaping portion of three cheese-n-mac with fresh lobster ($19). Alternatively, satisfy actual youngsters with a kids’ meal such as pasta with red sauce ($7), served with one side and followed by a youth-sating ice-cream sandwich.
As diners gaze at water trickling down a 28-foot custom waterfall, Eighty Ates Bar & Grille's wait staff flits about the outdoor patio, carrying classic American and regional New England dishes. Patrons can also sit inside the expansive dining room to sup on seafood entrees, savory pasta dishes, and 8- and 12-ounce Angus rib-eye steaks, along with sweet desserts, including the chef's cheesecake of the day.
Situated inside Mohegan Bowl, All Star Pub invites patrons to kick up their feet after a few rounds of bowling to indulge in appetizers, burgers, and beer. Draft and bottled brews wet whistles in time for hand-tossed taco pizzas to appear draped in pico de gallo and housemade tortilla chips. Shareable appetizers such as spicy jalapeño bottle caps preheat maws before diners chow down on half-pound burgers, stacked pastrami grinders, and salads tossed with grilled chicken. Before venturing back to the lanes or to the arcade, patrons can dig into chocolate-fudge brownies or a Candle-Pin Strike—fried balls of dough served with ice cream and drizzled with raspberry sauce.