Tag Archives: burgers

UConn Football Fame

This past Saturday evening may have been my first ever UConn football game, despite having been an undergrad at the school for four years and completing my degree 2.5 years ago, but I’ve gotta say I think I really did it up right. If I had to go and wait that long to attend a game at East Hartford’s Rentschler Field (not on campus), I definitely waited until I have all the ingredients for an amazing experience.

UConn even came close to beating Michigan, who everyone expected would cream us!

UConn even came close to beating Michigan, who everyone expected would cream us!

I was invited to the game by Mike, a certified Beachbody Coach and yet another friend my blog has brought me! He’s been a season ticket holder since the stadium opened ten years ago and has FRONT ROW SEATS!

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One Lovely Blog Award!

The winner of my Best of Hartford Voting Party giveaway is the duo of Connecticut Bloggers!

hartfordwinner1 hartfordwinner2

I will contact you to find out if you want a gift card from Esca, Spotlight Theaters, or Umi Sushi + Tapas. Don’t forget to check out the voting parties happening in the Hartford area this month!

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Boston: New Eats, New Drinks, and Both Old and New Friends

Happy post-Super Bowl Monday! I definitely have a lost of Super Bowl party photos to share, but don’t want to get too ahead of myself because I’ve got great stuff that happened earlier in the weekend to share too. Good problems to have, yes?

But I just want to say quickly, I am already getting a bit sick of hearing people beat themselves up for indulging last night. I was doing some of that and still kinda am, but it’s the last thing I want to see and hear all over the place this morning. So let’s together try to make this a #mirrorlessmonday and just reflect on the good times. I’m working on it, and I hope you can too!

Saturday was quite an excellent day that started with a trip to the gym for Group Step. I had attended the exact same class the night before (Friday night “happy hour”!), but since the current release is still quite new, I wasn’t bored with the choreography at all. Some of the songs are so awesome! I’m always talking about this exercise program (by Body Training Systems) but have never actually SHOWED you guys what it’s about. Here is a trailer that shows you exactly what moves I’ve been doing in class, and you can hear the music too! I got the video from the BTS website.

I headed home, took a refreshing shower, and hit the road for Boston. It was great sunny driving weather, and I enjoyed some music and, once I lost radio reception to my favorite stations, listened to “The Tiger’s Wife” on audio book. I had big plans for the day. So big in fact, that they warranted a ridiculously-long-titled post like this one! 🙂 I first met up with Greg and Kramer, two good friends that I’ve known for awhile. Greg even spent Thanksgiving with my family (his parents are my godparents and vice versa). We walked to Newbury Street to have lunch at Stephanie’s on Newbury, a place that Kramer (a fellow restaurant fanatic) and I had been wanting to try for awhile. From the way my Twitter followers responded to my check-in there on Foursquare, I can see that many of my readers are already fans!

Each table at Stephanie’s was set with the cute little clipboard above that enables guests to customize their very own Stephanie’s Famous Bloody Mary for $11.50. The ingredients sounded really cool, but I have never been the biggest Bloody Mary fan (but more on that later…soon to be shown that this may have changed) and was going to be having some cocktails later, so we all just ordered food. Boston.com has called these bloody marys some of Boston’s best though, for those who are fans.

The cocktail menu was pretty darn impressive. It was hard for me to resist indulging in one of these! But really, I was hungry and food was at the top of my brain.

A girl at the table next to use ordered the Seared Yellow Fin Tuna Salad, and as soon as I saw the waiter set it down in front of her, all I could think was…I WANT. It wasn’t too hard for me to decide on that, though the menu did have plenty of appetizing options. Kramer and Greg had a way harder time choosing than I did.

Kramer ordered the Oversized Stephi Burger: ground sirloin, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, bacon, sauteed mushrooms, and french fries. It was definitely oversized! And also over-cheesed and over-fatted – Kramer commented that the cheese was way too much, and the sirloin itself was too fatty. There was definitely a sizable pool of grease that crowded and ruined the last few fries on his plate. He liked the burger, but said next time he’d go light on the cheese or nix it completely.

Greg’s choice was definitely more unique and delicious, though not enough food for him! He has been loving shepherd’s pie that Kramer cooks in their apartment, and ordered Stephanie’s version, which came inside an acorn squash and with a side of deliciously salty sauteed collard greens. Fortunately for Kramer and I, Greg didn’t want the greens. After I snapped this photo, Greg poured gravy over the whipped potatoes on top, and it looked even better. He said it was so delicious, but again, not enough food for him.

My salad was fantastic, with perfectly seared tuna and plenty of yummy ingredients like marinated green beans and olives, just the way I like it. The lemon caper dressing was the star – one of the best salad dressings I’ve ever tasted. I dipped my fork in it lightly before each tuna bite and the combo was out of this world.

After lunch, we walked around Newbury a bit and did some shopping. I finally got some Toms at Urban Outfitters thanks to Christmas gift cards, and also had some luck at Forever 21!

Next on my agenda was a meet-up with my pal Ken of Pete & Gerry’s Heirloom Eggs. Don’t forget, you can still access coupons for their eggs here, and FYI, their eggs are available to buy (and use the coupons on) at Northeast grocery store chains like Shaw’s, Stop and Shop, and Whole Foods!

This small sign was literally the only indication that we had arrived at Drink, Boston’s premier destination for specialty cocktails. The bartenders here are more like mixologists or artists. There is no drink menu – just tell them what you like or what you’re in the mood for, and a special, unique beverage will be made just for you. Each drink takes awhile to make but it’s well worth the wait.

The place runs like a well-oiled machine. That girl in the photo above was preparing citrus fruits for drinks the whole time we were there. Another girl was completely in charge of washing off any tools/shakers/cups used to make the beverages. That way, the mixologists could concentrate on what they did best. Each drink was quite a production! It looked like our bartender, Will, was performing an operation while he made our first beverage.

Luckily the booze was not only flowin’ at Drink, but water was too – served in shot glasses! Very cool, and despite how busy it got not long at all after the place opened at 4pm, the employees were very attentive about keeping the glasses full.

Our first drink was a Mai Tai, but not one you’ve ever seen before.

Yes, the drink is on FIRE! This was amazing. Ken and I informed Will that we wanted something with rum, citrus-y, more tart than sweet…and this is what he came up with. The thing on fire in the lime skin is a brandied cherry, and the cherries in this drink were actually the best I’ve ever tasted. The Mai Tai contained two rums: El Dorado 12 Year and one other that I cannot for the life of me find the name of – bad blogger. Other ingredients included house-made grenadine, freshly squeezed lime juice, orange curacao, and the obvious fresh fruit and crushed ice.

Drink may not have a drink menu, but the food menu was incredible. Ken chose a couple of bar bites for us – warm olives and candied bacon cashews. OH. MY. GOSH. The olives were good, don’t get me wrong. But those cashews? Fantastic, amazing, wonderful, not enough positive words exist to describe these cashews.

It was time for another drink, and Ken had brought along a very special ingredient – his Pete and Gerry’s eggs! Will gladly accepted them and offered to whip us up some cocktails. He and some other Drink employees were definitely admiring the brilliant yellow of those cage-free yolks as he worked.

Yes, that’s a light Will is working with. I’m telling you, each drink was like an operation! An operation that involves lots of heavy drink shaking.

Will made Ken and I two drinks to share, one with egg whites and one that used the egg yolk. First up, was a Good Humor, made with egg yolk, aperol cream, and topped with nutmeg.

Interesting story behind the Good Humor – it was invented by a couple who owned a farm and used to make drinks with egg whites. They had so many leftover yolks that they knew they had to come up with a drink to put those into, and that’s when experimenting was done and the Good Humor was invented.

The next drink, which was the favorite of both Ken and I because it tasted stronger, was the Pink Lady made with egg whites, apple brandy, gin, pomegranate, and lemon. YUM!

Ken and I toasting to Pete and Gerry's egg cocktails!

Ken and I had to cut ourselves off, because we had another destination to hit! Chef Jason Santos of Hell’s Kitchen’s seventh season is the executive chef at Blue Inc. and he has an affinity for Pete and Gerry’s eggs! He uses them in his kitchen and had nothing but good feedback for Ken. That’s right, I got to meet Chef Jason Santos!

The interior of Blue Inc. is gorgeous, with a really cool blue and orange color scheme and a very retro appearance. The restaurant was designed with help from Taniya Nayak, an interior designer and HGTV/Food Network personality!

Jason was kind enough to send out shooters of his celery root and Fuji apple soup. This was creamy and not too rich. The apple taste was extremely subtle – good for someone like me who doesn’t really like apples! What an amazing soup.

The unique foodie fare didn’t stop there. The bartenders were also very generous and gave Ken and I a sample of one of the crazy cocktails from Blue Inc’s Crazy Cocktails menu. Tricia LaCount, the Bar Manager and “Mad Scientist”, has done an amazing job coming up with some really unique concoctions, like a dirty martini made with black sea salt. Oh, and she’s also a sweetheart! The above shot glass is filled with a rum and Coke made with butter-popcorn-infused rum. Yes, that’s right, they literally take rum and let it soak in buttered popcorn! Not exactly my cup of tea (I don’t like soda…) but what an idea. I can always appreciate creativity like that. I had to try a couple sips!

For my next cocktail of the evening, I was daring and selected the Angry Tomato: gazpacho vodka, pickled green beans, and a double-secret bloody recipe.

The rim was garnished with some kind of red-pepper and the green beans were EXCELLENT dunked in the drink. This was a daring choice for me because like I said before, I’m not really a Bloody Mary fan. I could actually only finish about half of this. However it was the best one I’ve ever tried and I’m glad I stepped out of my box!

Not pictured are the Spicy Red Curry Mussels (with Thai crab cakes, scallion salad, and fresh coconut) and Pretzel Rolls that Ken and I shared as well. The broth of the mussels was FANTASTIC when soaked up with the pretzel roll. Mmmm. Unfortunately at this point, it was time to part ways with Ken. I had another meet-up on my agenda, a very special one indeed.

Yes, that’s Heather from For the Love of Kale! She already blogged about our meet-up and had so many nice things to say, and I’m happy to say the feeling is mutual. I feel like I’ve known her for forever and she’s one of my twinnies! We had a great time in the city and I loved meeting her friends too.

We were going to hit up The Other Side Cafe, and I was so psyched for a unique meal, but they were at capacity and showing no signs of emptying out anytime soon. Bummer! A lot of the restaurants in the area were also “full-up” for those with no reservations, so by process of elimination we ended up at Mass Ave Tavern.

Good thing I wasn’t even really hungry at all after all the munching and imbibing I’d been doing the last several hours, but the Bee Keeper cocktail sounded simple and delicious, so I did order one of those. When in Rome?

The drink was definitely excellent, and the four of us shared a Hummus Plate. It was yummy and the perfect light snack for my hunger level, but Heather the hummus-expert confirmed for us that this hummus was not homemade, but Tribe. Still good, but something easily recreated at home!

Our waitress also had an attitude and there weren’t many options at all for a vegan like Heather (what do you expect from a Tavern we ended up at because we didn’t have many other choices…), but we went with the flow and had a blast with each other anyway, of course! How could we not?

It was such an amazing Saturday. I headed home after dinner and was in bed and passed out by 11:15PM. Not too shabby! Still was able to get up the next morning and have a super productive Sunday.

Have you ever met someone you met through blogging in “real life”?

Which of the cocktails I sampled would you most want to try?

Starstruck at Mohegan Sun

Like I said yesterday…and the day before…I’ve got an exciting evening to share! So exciting I had to give it a build-up of several days, I suppose. I wasn’t going to let a snowy Saturday get me down this past weekend. I had exciting plans to reunite with college friends at Mohegan Sun Casino, and thankfully by the time I left around 6pm, the highways were pretty much all cleared and it was (fairly) smooth sailing during my trip.

I arrived, found some of our group playing video poker at a bar, and settled in with an Absolut Pear Martini while we waited for more friends to arrive so that we could grab dinner. The martini was delicious, just the pear-flavored vodka with a touch of vermouth, shaken with ice so that it was niiiice and chilly. I love a smooth, strong drink!

We grew to a party of six and set out to find a dining destination. The first two options we stopped at, Sol Toro and 23 Sports Cafe (both Michael Jordan restaurants), had waits. I had been hoping to try something new, but also didn’t want to delay dinner. Luckily, there were plenty of tables for large parties available at Jasper White’s Summer Shack, and old favorite of mine that I’ve visited a couple of times before, most recently during the Winter Storm Alfred power outage.

Specials are written on chalkboards throughout the restaurant.

The Summer Shack has the casual beach vibe of so many of the authentic seafood restaurants back in Florida that I adore. The seafood here is always fresh, and that’s the reason for the chalkboards throughout the restaurant that list the numerous special starters, entrees, and desserts.  So much of the menu is always changing, depending on what will taste the best based on availability!

Jeff and I, always foodie partners in crime.

I started off with a Dark & Stormy, or ginger beer with rum. This has become one of my favorite drinks to order whenever I see it on a drink menu when I’m out, ever since sampling it several times at Rooftop120. Their version, the Dark & Stormier, is definitely stromier aka STRONGER! However this Dark & Stormy was still delicious and I savored it throughout my meal…which resulted in me having to chug it so the rest of the party could leave and get-to-gamblin’, oops.

Reunited at the casino, at the end of our evening.

When the hostess was seating us, she informed me that Chef Jasper White himself (yes, it’s Jasper White’s Summer Shack) was actually in the restaurant that very evening! I became a bit of a babbling mess and blurted out that I would love the chance to meet him or talk to him, and tell him how much I enjoy his restaurant. I never ACTUALLY expected that Jasper White would come to our table to meet me!

Celeb chef sighting!

You know you’re a foodie when you’re fangirling over meeting the chef of a great restaurant, much like one would fangirl over meeting the singer of their favorite songs (oh yeah, I’ve done that before too). It was great to have the chance to tell Jasper about my blog, and how my family came to his restaurant during one of our nights without power during Winter Storm Alfred, and that I’d written about the experience and shared it with my readers. I  was so excited to give him my card – the idea of Jasper reading my blog was (and is) very exciting!

I was in for an even bigger surprise when Jasper sent over some appetizers for the table to sample! We received the stuffed oysters pictured above, as well as seafood potstickers. Both were beyond amazing, but I’d have to say my favorite of the two were the oysters. The crunchy breading atop the stuffing was so flaky, and the lemon juice squeezed atop each one really made it.

Ever the adventurous foodies, Jeff and I decided to split two of the more unique appetizer specials. First was the baby octopus with crushed tomatoes and white beans. This was fantastic! The octopus had a really nice flavor and the beans and tomatoes tasted SO good served atop that crunchy bread on the side – kinda like a little bruschetta! I squeezed a lot of the lemon wedge’s juice onto the greens too.

Unfortunately, our second choice, grilled sardines with a spicy marinara, were a little bit of a fail due to the bones! The fish that I did taste was good – I have been curious to try sardines ever since reading about them in the blog world, first on Kath Eats. It wasn’t too salty like I’d feared. The issue was the skeleton – the tiny sardine bones were impossible to pick out! This just comes with the territory of eating sardines I guess, but I am not a fan of high-maintenance dishes like that. Jeff and I both kinda gave up eventually, which was unfortunate because the fish was yummy! I guess bone fish just is not for me. The marinara didn’t taste that spicy to us, but I did enjoy its flavor and scooped some onto more of that crunchy bread, and put more lemon juice on this app’s greens as well. I like how each app comes with greens – the maple-glazed scallops I ordered last time did as well!

In contrast to the interesting apps Jeff and I sampled, our friend Charlie, the king of the plainest foods of all time, ordered buffalo wings. He was more than eager to give me his review, declaring that the meat was delicious, but the wings lacked any buffalo flavor (he also wanted me to include that he is, indeed, from the Buffalo area). He also declared the bleu cheese sauce to be excellent. My friend Prasant tried a wing, and gave the same consensus as Charlie. Sounds good to me, since I cannot deal with anything spicy, but these may not be the best choice if you are looking for a spicy wing!

Prasant and my other friend, Alex, ordered the same thing…the cheeseburger. Can’t go wrong with a good old burger every now and then, but as you can see, Jeff’s tastes align more with mine when it comes to what to order at a seafood restaurant! Prasant and Alex both liked their burgers though, and that grilled onion in the photo above looks really good to me!

Clearly I was so psyched about the pickles I received with my food (always gotta order pickles on the side, right Christina?) that I couldn’t sit still enough to let Jeff take a photo that wasn’t blurry.

The service we received at Jasper White’s Summer Shack was also excellent. Our waiter was really nice and, after initially bringing me 2 pickles, brought me a few more after he found out he would have to charge me $1 for them. Thanks, man!

And a huge thanks to Jasper White for being kind enough to check out my blog and send some delicious seafood my way!

While the boys in our crew headed to the craps table (where Jeff went on a heater and proceeded to win the tables’ players amounts ranging from tens to thousands of dollars), my friend Kelly (this is a third Kelly I know, so now I have mentioned all three of them on the blog at some point, yay!) and I decided to class it up, pass by the free casino beverages, and spend a little money to enjoy a more unique cocktail at Leffingwell’s Martini Lounge.

Such a gorgeous place! The bar was full, so we settled into some giant red comfy chairs (that were a little too large and seemed to swallow us) and perused the martini menu.

I was worried I’d have a hard time deciding on a drink, but immediately spotted the French Pear martini, remembered the first pear martini I’d had from earlier that evening, and decided that trying a version of it that included eldeflower liqueur and a twist was just what I wanted!

Kelly satisfied her sweet tooth AND grape tooth with a Grape Snow Cone martini.

How cute is her hair? Jealous.

And my awkward photo-posing-with-a-martini, which you saw briefly on Sunday…

Drinks can be so pretty!

After we finished our drinks and had wonderful girl-time, Kelly and I met up with the boys at the craps table. There wasn’t room for me to jump in until Jeff’s heater had ended, but I still managed to leave the casino $20 richer!

Dammit Brookstone, ruining my lighting.

We hung out for a little while longer and I decided to give into a craving that I always get when I go to Mohegan…

Oh Half-Baked Fro Yo from Ben & Jerry’s, how I love you so. And how I LOVE sugar cones. Got a kid’s cone for a nice treat!

Taken by a random man who may or may not have been drunk. Open your eyes, Caitlin.

What a fantastic evening, which went quite well with the rest of my wonderful weekend. It was so great to see so many of my friends together in one place for the first time since graduation – and meet Jasper White!

Have you ever met the head chef of a restaurant? Do you ever visit the casino – and do you ever win?

Random Workout and Duffy’s Sports Grill

Hi all! I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s post on the Taste of New Haven: Canal Quarter tour that I did recently. If you  haven’t read it, check it out. You’ll be drooling by the end!

She might have my male readers drooling too #cheesy

Yesterday I was finally back to my sweatier workout routine after work. The day I got my wisdom teeth out (Friday), I did a relaxing YogaWorks Core Flow video in the evening, because I was so stiff from sitting around all day. It felt great, especially all the twisting poses. My back REALLY needed that. On Saturday and Sunday, I stuck to high-resistance elliptical sessions with some good magazines, and mat work. But yesterday I got to the gym, and I had HIIT on the brain. I got on the Step Mill for 30 minutes with the above latest issue of “Self” (and some “Entertainment Tonight” Golden Globes coverage) and did speed intervals, levels 15-17. It ended up coming out to just a little over 4 miles and I finished it off with…

Random Total-Body Moves:

Done and done, I was so ready to go home after that. It was 8pm by that time and I was starved. Luckily I came home to roasted Brussels sprouts and chili. Oh, the joys of living at home.

Let’s get back to my Florida vacation recapping, yes? 

I think it’s so cool when two “separate worlds” combine in unexpected places. An example of this occurred our second night in Florida, when my dad arranged for my godfather AKA his best friend, Joe, and his son AKA one of my best friends, Greg, to join us for dinner at another old favorite spot, Duffy’s Sports Grill!

Greg and his family were also in Florida for the holidays, and I didn’t want the trip to come and go without at least one meet-up. Greg lives in Boston right now (he goes to law school at BU), but his parents live very close to us in CT and he and I both went to UConn, so it felt funny for our two CT-based families to be meeting for dinner in Florida, of all places! We actually have met up in a similar manner on a trip a couple of years ago, and it’s always a good time.

Dad, Joe, and Greg after a Duffy's meet-up in Florida '09.

Duffy’s started out as a little place that only served burgers, hot dogs, and chips – not even fries! It’s certainly expanded since then, with locations all over the east coast of Florida. My parents have adored the place for years and years, since before I was even born.

We arrived to find that the restaurant was, as usual, absolutely packed. My grandma is a Duffy’s MVP, so we did get a little bit of priority on seating, but still had to wait awhile. When you go to Duffy’s, you have to expect a wait if you don’t want to end up disappointed. Eat a snack beforehand – ha!

Sis and I.

Duffy’s also has two-for-one happy hour all day, every day. When you order a drink, they just bring you two of it. That’s Florida for you…never in CT would I see that. Lame.

Go Mom! 2-for-1, 2-for-1!

We were finally seated, though had to switch tables because we were mysteriously split up when there were tables available next to each other that we could have pushed together. There was also a slight incident in which our waiter forgot to take Greg’s dad’s order – but we hunted him down!

Posing with the siblings.

Despite the fact that Duffy’s is a “sports grill”, the menu really has options for everyone thanks to Florida’s abundance of fresh seafood. I always get fish whenever I can when I visit Florida. I consider it a waste not too – it’s so fresh!

I ordered my go-to white fish, the mahi-mahi with a baked potato and black beans. My mom got the exact same thing. We LOVE all three of those components.

I arrived at Duffy’s STARVED, and then ended up getting too full that I could not finish all that. Not like me!

Greg had never had kobe beef before, and Duffy’s is continuously voted Best Burger in FL, so he got a kobe burger. We were all disappointed to see that Duffy’s had gotten rid of their fantastic french fries and replaced them with shoestring fries! These are SO much less satisfying than regular fries, and our waiter agreed. He said it had been only a week, and they’d already had so many complaints that a plan was already being implemented to change them back. Don’t mess with a good thing!

Greg still enjoyed his burger, but he wasn’t blown away.

Duffy’s is a great place with reasonable prices, and I recommend giving their seafood or burgers a try if you’re in eastern FL – after they get their old fries back, of course.

How do you feel about shoestring fries?

Let me know if you try my workout moves!

Group Core and Catsup and Mustard

Have you entered the giveaway to win a copy of “Working Out Sucks!”, the new book from Anytime Fitness’s CEO? You have until Friday night!

I got to try a new group fitness class yesterday! After Casey and I finished up a sweaty hour-long spin class with one of my favorite spin instructors, Jocelyn, we were feeling pretty wiped. Jocelyn announced to the class that she had just been certified in Group Core, a Body Training Systems class that would be coming to our gym soon. She planned to practice in a conference room and needed some guinea pigs. I was intrigued – I’m ALWAYS down to try a new group fitness class, so Casey and I volunteered!

The equipment required was very simple: a towel, a mat, and a 10-lb plate. The 25-minute class was extremely efficient and consisted of 5 songs. They were pretty good, not the best I’ve heard, but I did like that Britney’s “Circus” was on there!

This class really did work the entire lower body, even legs. Lots of dynamic movements while holding the towel (never tried that before) like lunges with an oblique twist, and squats with arm raises. We also did squats followed by simultaneously raising the 10-lb plate to one side and our leg on the other, which challenged my balance, something I can always improve on.

The ab work was very tough. I sometimes find myself unchallenged by abs, but this class actually had me having to take breaks during the last song. The entire thing was planks and oblique crunches, without much rest at all. I totally felt the burn!

If your gym has Body Training Systems classes, I highly recommend finding out if Group Core is on the schedule or if the gym is considering getting it. If they aren’t, why not try to change their minds? It really is great to get in a good lower body workout in just 25 minutes!

I have some exciting plans tonight – a friend I met through Twitter, Olivia, is meeting me for dinner tonight at one of my favorite local spots!

Chef Corey Wry is a local celeb in my area. He first opened up a delicious, low-key breakfast and sandwich place in Manchester, CT called Pastrami on Wry in 2005 (the Elvis pancakes are the stuff of dreams). His most recent (third) restaurant, Chops ‘n Catch, serves fancier steak and seafood fare, with an emphasis on local ingredients. The fish is excellent and the baked potatoes are giants, just the way I like ’em.

The man himself, courtesy of chopsncatch.com.

His second restaurant is like the filling of a PB sandwich (no, I don’t like jelly) or an Oreo – you know, the best. And it’s where Olivia and I are going tonight!

Catsup & Mustard lives true to its motto of “eat, drink, laugh”. As you can imagine from the title, an emphasis is placed on burgers and fries, though there are plenty of other options for all kinds of diners, from the picky child to the healthy living blogger to the unique-burger-obsessed foodie (and I am very aware that those last two can be found in the same person). Catsup & Mustard was even featured on an episode of Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives! You can find a recipe submitted by Corey himself for Catsup’s Buried-Under Cheeseburger Salad on FoodNetwork.com.

Image courtesy of catsupandmustard.com.

But if you’re going to go to Catsup & Mustard, please don’t order that. Go home and make it yourself! Instead, I’d recommend the quesadillas from their Appetizers section. Or one of their amazing turkey burgers (yes, a restaurant that makes a good turkey burger exists). Or a burger with pastrami layered on top. Perhaps a spinach salad with salmon strikes your fancy? How about grilled cheese and tomato soup? Those are just some of my favorites, and all can be paired with their many varieties of fabulous fries.

One order is more than enough for two or three people. Make sure you ask for the dipping sauces – the Kicked-Up Catsup is delicious and unique.

The first time I met my new “blend” (blog friend), Bethany of More Fruit Please, we met at Catsup & Mustard for dinner. Guess it’s my go-to spot for meeting new friends! She hadn’t been since moving to the area, and I wanted to show her a nearby go-to spot.  I chose the Garlic-Parmesan fries, my favorite flavor (obviously, I’m Miss Garlic), for us to share.

Bethany was torn between the Pretzel Grilled Chicken and the Turkey California. I immediately advised her to go with the turkey burger – I’d had the grilled chicken sandwich before, and it wasn’t anything special, even with a pretzel bun, which was actually too overpowering for the meat. The Turkey California is a turkey burger on a golden roll topped with chardonnay onions, turkey bacon, avocado, and a spinach-tomato-bleu cheese salad. It’s one of my dad’s favorite things he’s ever ordered there (and mine too).

All sandwiches come with a side of coleslaw and a famous Corey half-sour pickle.

I wanted to try something I hadn’t ordered before, and I was craving greens since I’d been wining earlier that day, so I got the Teriyaki Salmon salad on baby spinach, with cucumber, carrot, roasted red pepper, and a tasty sesame vinaigrette. The salmon was cooked to perfection and the combination of the dressing and teriyaki gave it an Asian flare.

All salads come garnished with crunchy and satisfying potato "whistle stix".

I cleaned my plate, and had a hard time not finishing more than half of the fries!

Of course, I asked for, received, and consumed three half-sour pickles on the side. I also brought three more home – jackpot!

I had a great time meeting Bethany and am already excited to go back tonight with Olivia. Thanks to Corey for providing local, fresh, unique food to Connecticut!

Have you had any good (or bad) experiences with restaurant turkey burgers? I’m wondering because I rarely have good experiences, except for at Catsup or another local favorite, Max Burger. I eat my dad’s at home all the time though!

Have you ever tried Group Core or something similar?

The Plaza Food Hall by Todd English

Continuing my ridiculously behind-schedule series of recaps of my holiday season, enjoy this restaurant recap from dinner on 12/23!

I am always in charge of  choosing restaurants on family trips, and our annual Christmas Eve trip to NYC is no different. I went to Twitter and Yelp to seek out a dinner destination, and found great success on the latter when I stumbled upon the menu for The Plaza Food Hall by Todd English. You guessed it, it’s located at the famous Plaza Hotel, and the huge menu told me two things:

  1. My dad, sister, and I were each sure to find something we’d like.
  2. I would NEVER be able to decide what to order.

I was torn between so many options!! And what is pictured above was only one side of the menu. I asked the waitress for some advice, but finally just went with my gut last-minute and decided literally right before I opened my mouth to tell my waitress my order.

The restaurant is set up with “bar-style” seats at various stations (one for each section of the menu). We were seated at the flatbreads station – appropriate since that’s what I ended up ordering!

We also were seated right by what I can only guess was the “grilling station”, which was cool because whenever I turned around, a new tasty order was up on the counter waiting to be picked up by a waiter – and waiting to be photographed by me!

A couple tasty taco options.

To start, I ordered a cocktail called the Green Agave: Patron, agave nectar, fresh lime juice, and basil/mint. It was fantastic – the right amount of tequila (AKA nice and strong), and nice and light.

Even their sodas were served in a fancy manner – check out Hannah’s Diet Coke!

The flatbread chef was kind enough to take a photo of the three of us.

Service was a bit slow, but we were in no real rush. By the time our food came, I was definitely ready to dive in. I ended up going with a flatbread topped with Brussels sprouts, caramelized onions, tomatoes, gorgonzola, and prosciutto. I asked for light cheese, and did not really get it, but I picked some off and still enjoyed my meal!

Hannah selected the hamburger with classic french fries. I had a bite of her burger and it was cooked very well. The fries looked great!

My dad went all out and started with the special soup of the day: mushroom bisque. Two thumbs up from him on this!

For the main course, he ordered the Kobe Pastrami Burger with the special side of the night, Fried Risotto Tots. Unfortunately, the tots didn’t come til the end of the meal, when we were all quite full. I tried to convince my dad to send them back, but he doesn’t like to do that kind of thing. We all agreed that they also weren’t all that great – a yummy crispy fried shell for sure, but the risotto insides were pretty tasteless. The burger and pastrami, however, were both out of this world.

Nice, right? Yes, I got to eat those pickles the burger was topped with.

After we paid the bill, we stopped by the dessert station on the way out and got a piece of chocolate cake to-go. The three of us split it back at the hotel room – it was pretty good, not amazing, but still a tasty end to the night.

Overall, I really loved The Plaza Food Hall. Despite not having one type of food it specializes in, the restaurant produces high-quality dishes almost all across the board. In a crowded NYC dinner spot, service can’t be expected to be perfect, but it could have been a little speedier. Still, we were chillin’, and didn’t mind waiting too much (except for the tots that came at the end of the meal). I definitely would recommend this place to NYC visitors and locals alike. There was simply so much to choose from – I’d be glad to go back!

Take a look at the menu – what would you order? Can you even choose?