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Bargain Bites

Seasons Restaurant and Tap Room: Inexpensive Elegance

By CAROLE GOLDBERG, Special To The Courant

The Hartford Courant

January 24, 2013

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Seasons Restaurant and Tap Room

Avon Old Farms Hotel

279 Avon Mountain Road, Avon

860-269-0240 and www.avonoldfarmshotel.com

Sometimes, in the dead of winter, you want to feel pampered. Having lunch at Seasons, in the beautiful Avon Old Farms Hotel at the intersection of routes 44 and 10, is an easy way to do just that.

THE VIBE: Our party of five was seated in a light and airy rotunda with wrap-around windowed walls. We could imagine how pretty the view would be in early spring, lush summer, vibrant fall or a snowy winter day, but even on this drab January afternoon, it was nice to look out at the trees, which sported tiny, twinkly white lights.

Done in mustard and cream with ebony accents and a sky-blue coffered ceiling, the dining room matched the elegance of the hotel, which is much larger than it appears from the road and as luxe as any big city establishment. Tables were dressed in floor-length snowy-white cloths with cream-colored toppers, set off by black Shaker-style chairs. The nearby tap room, done in dark wood tones and rich reds, also was welcoming.

THE FOOD: Our cheerful and accommodating waitress started us off with a large basket of fresh, warm bread and whipped butter while we examined the menu, which is brief but enticing.

Soon we were enjoying such treats as an Artisan Green Salad tossed with pickled onions, feta cheese, toasted almonds and blood oranges; a Gruyère-topped crock of French onion soup and grilled flatbread pizzas topped with combinations of mozzarella, ricotta, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses, plum tomatoes and basil or arugula, prosciutto, caramelized onion and Gorgonzola cheese.

The BBQ Chicken Quesadilla, made with pulled chicken, jack cheese, caramelized onions and peppers, came with a little pitcher of chipotle sour cream, salsa and a side salad. The petite and very savory meatloaf was glazed with a rich brown gravy and nestled in its own crock, along with sinfully buttery whipped potatoes and perfectly cooked haricots verts and slim al dente whole carrots.

We said no to the dessert menu: January is diet month after all. And then we immediately reconsidered, ordering the Salted Caramel Vanilla Cake, with five forks. This guilty pleasure was a tall slice of moist vanilla-scented cake laced on top, bottom and in-between with ribbons of caramel, set on a plate drizzled with crème Anglaise and accompanied by a mound of whipped cream and a strawberry. There was plenty to go around, and let me note that the decaf coffee was richly flavored as well.

The menu also offers a soup of the day, Caesar salad with white anchovies, French fries with chipotle ketchup, onion rings in a Guinness-flavored batter, a country pâté with duck-fat fried crostini (just forget that diet altogether), shrimp cocktail and Irish bangers and mash. Sandwiches include a beefy French Dip, a cheeseburger with all the trimmings on a brioche bun, blackened chicken with pepper jack cheese and a hot pastrami Reuben. Lunch entrees include baked macaroni and cheese, chicken pot pie, pappardelle pasta with meatballs and fried Atlantic cod with chips. Desserts include tiramisu, apple tart with vanilla ice cream and a warm caramel topping, pumpkin cognac cheesecake made with Disaronno liqueur, crème brûlée and a choice of five flavors of ice cream served in a chocolate-dipped pastry tuile.

THE BILL: Soups are $6, salads are $9, flatbread pizzas are $14, sandwiches are $11 and $12 and entrees are $10 to $15. All desserts are $7.

THE PARTICULARS: Seasons is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday Brunch is served from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

THE VERDICT: Elegant dining at economical prices, any season of the year.