By SARA GRANT, firstname.lastname@example.org
September 5, 2013
Don't let the diner-like exterior of East-West Grille in West Hartford fool you. Inside the "Thai-LA" restaurant serves up flavorful Southeast Asian fusion and at an affordable price. I wanted to catch up with a friend who works nearby, so we stopped in to try the lunch specials.
The vibe: Cozy and quiet, colorful drapery lines the windows and separates the booths so you have no idea you are on bustling New Park Avenue. Bright red colors pop throughout the intimate restaurant, and colorful lanterns hang from the ceiling and straw hats sit on each coat post to give a little more Asian character. We sat in the last booth against the windows. It felt very private for a little catching up on a break from work.
The food: The menu is broken up by appetizers, salads, fried rice, noodles, Lao entrees and more. Sitting on the table was a sign for fresh squeezed homemade limeade infused with ginger or lemongrass for $2.95. We got one of each, and although it took a little time to get to the table, it was worth it. It was refreshing and sweet, full of flavor. East-West Grille grows its own herbs and spices (you can see them growing at the front entrance) or it gets them from local farmers markets.
We started with the Vietnamese Fresh Rolls, rice paper filled with herbs, noodles, cucumbers and carrots, plus the option of tofu or shrimp. I asked if we could get just vegetables but they were pre-made, so we chose tofu. Served with hoisin peanut sauce, they were light and fresh and worked great as a small start.
I ordered the sweet and sour chicken, my companion went with Thai spaghetti. The portions were giant for a lunch serving, so we took to-go boxes home. The sweet and sour chicken was full of flavor and had a generous amount of chicken. The rice was cooked nicely, each spoonful had a good amount of rice, chicken and vegetables.
The spaghetti was described as a Thai take on American comfort food, filling and creamy with a little heat.
The menu is extensive, with appetizers from Thai hot wings to roasted mussels as appetizers, seven curry dishes with varying hotness, rice, noodles, soups and salads.
The bill: The rolls were $5, two limeades came to $6, and each lunch dish was $8.95. We left full (and with leftovers) for $30 dollars.
The verdict: The food at East-West Grille was full of flavor, the price was right and the setting was quiet and relaxed enough for a nice work lunch.
The particulars: East-West Grille is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 5 to 10 p.m.; Friday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m.; Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. They are closed on Monday.
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