Farmington's new restaurant and nightspot, 4 Eat & Drink, has come a long way from its previous incarnation as a frozen yogurt shop.
When the Peachwave location in the Farmington Avenue plaza closed its doors, a landlord approached Kurt Kruczek, owner of Naples Pizza, about opening another restaurant in that space. Kruczek's pizzeria has been a family-friendly fixture in that Route 4 plaza for more than 20 years, and several years ago, he branched out to Middletown with a similar concept, opening Mondo on Main Street in 2010. After selling Mondo to his partner in the venture, he was open to the idea of a second Farmington enterprise.
In January, Kruczek and his team, including executive chef Isaac Hunter and manager Christina Pare, opened the 78-seat eatery, featuring more than a dozen small plates engineered to pair well with wines, craft beers and drinks. He settled on the name 4 Eat & Drink to best describe its mission as an upscale, yet relaxed, place to enjoy food and cocktails.
Kruczek briefly considered adding on to Naples and presenting Italian-style tapas, "but then I said, 'Nah, there's too much Italian [food] around.'" Once he connected with Hunter, the two worked together to come up with a Spanish-inspired menu: empanadas with braised beef and potatoes; spaghetti with olives, capers, chorizo and tomato; and clams casino with chorizo, pepper and onion butter.
Other plates ($6 to $13) have been instant hits: zucchini and Parmesan risotto fritters; pulled chicken egg rolls with cilantro and lime crème fraiche; Hunter's take on a Cuban sandwich with pulled pork, serrano ham, manchego and adobo aioli; fish tacos with guacamole and pico de gallo; and a grilled hanger steak with chimichurri sauce.
A newer dish of seared salmon with butternut squash puree and Brussels sprouts ($13) is "selling like crazy," Kruczek said. Hunter plans to change some of the plates on a seasonal basis and has begun reaching out to local farms to work with their fresh produce.
The sophisticated atmosphere attracts a crowd that's mostly 35 and up, said Kruczek, with the majority of visitors coming from Farmington, Burlington and Avon. The striking décor, by Tami Attella of Crème Joli Design, features a backlit bar, crystal chandeliers, maroon accent walls with touches of gray, black and metallic silver, comfortable leather couches and chairs and a large communal table in the center of the room. Larger groups gravitate to a lounge in the back, with a long red couch, flat-screen TV and linear fireplace.
"It's got a speak-easy, Boston, New York kind of flair," Kruczek said.
Just steps from each other in the plaza, Naples and 4 Eat & Drink have a lot of customer overlap and built-in audience, Kruczek said.
"People will go over [to Naples] and order a pizza, come over here and get a drink, and we'll text them when the pizza is ready."
Bar visitors enjoy a choice of 10 daily craft beers on tap, wines (heavy on selections from Spain and Argentina, said Pare, as those pair well with the flavors of the Spanish plates) and creative signature cocktails with gin, tequila, bourbon and vodka.
Happy hour runs Tuesday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m., with $5 house wines, $4 select drafts and an assortment of specially priced appetizers. Sunday brunch began at the beginning of March, available weekly from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with bloody marys, mimosas and plates like huevos rancheros frittata, hanger steak and eggs with home fries and a croissant sandwich with serrano ham, manchego and fried egg.
4 Eat & Drink, 838 Farmington Ave., Farmington, is open Tuesday and Wednesday, 3 to 11 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday, noon to midnight; and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. 860-255-7674 and 4restaurantct.com.