Across from the train station, Center Station Pub & Grill’s sizzling sandwiches, burgers, and wings call to the hungry stomachs of travelers and locals alike. Berlin’s Biggest Burger weighs down the menu with its melted american cheese, sautéed onions, and two half-pound patties that, when smacked together, have led many a lifeguard to close the pool due to thunder. The cooks also ladle nine different sauces over signature wings, sling chicken-parm grinders, and bedeck homemade tortilla chips in nacho cheese. Under new management since November 2010, the classic pub fare pairs nicely with the 15 microbrews on tap, poured in a restaurant that serves as an exciting gathering place for Berlin residents. Center Station schedules karaoke on Fridays and bands to perform on weekends, filling the gaps in live entertainment with an in-house pool table, video games, and dartboards.
Glasses lift into a treble-laden symphony of toasts and from a distance, many of the elixirs they contain seem nearly the same. Up close, 28 wines by the glass and more than 75 unique varietals by the bottle span a rainbow of hues, from reds deep and earthy enough to appear almost black to white wines barely kissed with a delicate straw color. In The Hidden Vine Wine Bar and Lounge's dedicated room for tastings and classes, guests further hone noses and taste buds to make nearly imperceptible distinctions in flavor and bouquet.
Drawing upon family recipes held close to their hearts, culinarians fill two dining areas with inventive dishes including bruschetta draped in paper-thin soppressata, peach honey, and hanger steak. Beneath diamond-shaped burgundy paintings, forks chatter against plates of fresh pasta and patrons sidle up to the marble bar for a chilly cocktail. A patio begs diners to let the warm sun aid in digestion or in calming outraged bulls delivering pamphlets to the eatery's crimson ceilings.
For over a decade Zen Bar has been known for being Connecticut's home for the Best in Karaoke and Local/Regional bands. Zen Bar's atmosphere is one that allows you to unwind with your friends and enjoy and evening of fantastic music, food and fun.
The vibrant reds and oranges of Gobi Mongolian Grill hint at the heat of a flat-top grill, which releases sizzling arpeggios as food hits the surface. Diners shuffle down a lineup of ingredients, choosing tilapia, beef, noodles, shallots, and snow peas for bowls of stir-fry. A variety of sauces waits to add the earthy sweetness of teriyaki or mongolian barbecue sauce’s warm bite of garlic and ginger. Their spatulas dancing noisily, chefs at the grill use blazing heat to evenly cook bowls of stir-fry or interrogate flammable scarecrows.
Jazzercise is 60 minutes of cardio, strength training, and stretching that incorporates moves from hip-hop, yoga, Pilates, jazz dance, kickboxing, and resistance training with handheld weights. Dancing with the Stars' multiple-champion Cheryl Burke is a big fan of Jazzercise's improvisational workouts, though luckily you won't need her dance moves to get the most out of your class. If you're prone to first-class jitters, though, you can review the basic moves online before you go. Expect to burn off up to 600 calories with each go-round.
It’s considered normal for a restaurant to enter a float or banner in a town parade, but in general, these contributions are all made by humans. Corner Pug breaks this tradition each year during West Hartford’s Park Road Parade, gathering local pugs to march down the street with their owners, each pup dressed to the nines in an attempt to win an award for best costume or most flattering hemline.
This annual spectacle is in keeping with the whimsy that surrounds the pub all year long. Framed photos of pugs brought in by devoted owners line the walls to form a canine shrine, and these pups peer enviously at the endless line-up of thick burgers, organic strip steaks, and English pub classics that parade to tables. In between sips of 20-ounce draft beers, visitors should keep their eyes peeled for sightings of Corner Pug’s mascot—Mac, the pug—whose likeness graces everything from the menu to T-shirts, mugs, and bottles of housemade dressing.
Despite the pub’s jocular ambiance, the kitchen staff takes its job seriously—albeit with a wink and a nod, reportedly employing a macaroni technician to make sure each noodle is standing upright. But Corner Pug’s attention to detail (they even serve the fish ’n’ chips on London newspaper print) has paid off, earning the eatery a perennial spot on the Hartford Advocate’s Best-Of list.