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Red Heat Tavern, Flatbread Company Come To Evergreen Walk

On your next visit to The Promenade Shops at Evergreen Walk in South Windsor, you’ll find two new places to dine, drink and relax once you’re done with your back-to-school shopping (too soon?)

In April, the shopping center welcomed the second Connecticut location of Flatbread Company, a pizza restaurant with a focus on local and organic ingredients. Red Heat Tavern, a casual American eatery by the owners of Burtons Grill Restaurant Group, opened its doors in June.

Red Heat Tavern

The motto at Red Heat Tavern is “Fire. Flavor. Friends.”

The centerpiece of its kitchen is a Josper charcoal oven, imported from Spain, which also acts as a grill and even a smoker, says executive chef Dan Canniff. The cooking technique imparts unique flavor into everything from flame-roasted cauliflower to chipotle ribs, cilantro-lime turkey tips and smoked cheddar-stuffed meatloaf.

“I like to say it’s like a fire-breathing dragon, and you have to tame it,” Canniff says.

Red Heat Tavern, which replaced the former Bonefish Grill in the shopping development, is the brand’s first restaurant in Connecticut, joining three Massachusetts locations in Bedford, Wilmington and Westborough. The menu is large and wide-ranging, full of what general manager Taylor O’Neill calls “really bold, crave-able flavors.”

“Firestarters” ($4.95 to $18.95) include nachos, fried pickles, Korean barbecue ribs, mesquite wings and soft pretzels with beer cheese. Jumbo tater tots, more like the size of croquettes, are a “labor of love,” says O’Neill, handmade daily and stuffed with bacon and multiple cheeses. “Big greens” salads ($13.95 to $16.95) are topped with a variety of proteins, including coal-roasted steak and turkey tips, fried chicken and salmon.

“Between bread” sandwiches and burgers ($12.95 to $16.95) feature half-pound certified Angus beef, including the “Ultimate Cure,” a decadent bacon cheeseburger on toasted sourdough bread with a few added enhancements: a fried egg and a buttermilk fried chicken breast. Vegetarian options are available, too, like a Greek pita with an assortment of vegetables topped with feta and housemade Greek dressing.

Red Heat also offers a number of entree plates ($14.95 to $21.95): mac and cheese with pulled pork or veggies, pistachio-crusted salmon atop mashed sweet potatoes, a Mediterranean rice bowl, Mexican stuffed peppers and Baja fish tacos with fried haddock.

The bar offers crafted cocktails ($10) like mojitos, red and blueberry lemonade sangrias and rum punches, and 16 tap lines often feature local and regional breweries.

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Like its sibling brand, Red Heat Tavern is conscious of dietary restrictions and potential allergies. Nearly all items can be prepared gluten-free, Canniff and O’Neill said, and orders with special instructions are double-checked and verified by managers, then plated on red dishes.

“A lot of people [with allergies] don’t feel comfortable going out to eat,” Canniff says. “Knowing that people come here specifically for that, it’s rewarding at the end of the day.”

Red Heat Tavern is at 400 Evergreen Way (#466) in South Windsor. It’s open Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. 860-432-5563 and redheattavern.com.

Flatbread Company

With the addition of Flatbread Company, which took over the space formerly occupied by Nixs Evergreen, the shopping center has a new family-friendly, sit-down dining option, said franchise owner Neil Sharp.

“It’s super important that we’re affordable in the plaza, for the moms with the strollers and the dads with the kids,” he says. “That’s our focus, is the family.”

Sharp also owns Connecticut’s other Flatbread location, in Canton’s Shoppes at Farmington Valley. (Others are scattered across New England, with one on Maui, another in British Columbia and one planned for Dallas.) The South Windsor restaurant, with indoor seating for about 170 and another 40 on a covered patio, opened in April.

Flatbread’s menu is simple — little more than pizzas and salads — but the focus is on the preparation and ingredients, with recipes using local and/or organic vegetables, cheeses and meats. The flatbreads are cooked in an earthen clay oven, fueled by wood, which burns at 900 to 1100 degrees, Sharp said.

Guests can choose from pre-designed flatbreads (with a tomato sauce or cheese-and-herb base with garlic oil) or go the “free form” route to create their own pizzas with choice of toppings. Gluten-free crusts and vegan cheese options are also available.

Among the popular menu items: the Punctuated Equilibrium, with Kalamata olives, fire-roasted red peppers, organic red onions, goat cheese from East Granby’s Griffin Farmstead and organic herbs; and the Jimmy’s Free-Range Chicken, a Southwestern-style pie with oven-roasted chicken, roasted corn, black beans, organic cilantro, tomatoes, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and a dollop of sour cream, with a lime wedge. Other flatbreads feature all-natural and uncured pepperoni and nitrate-free maple-fennel sausage.

Specials allow chefs to work with farmers and choose preparations based on the availability of produce, Sharp said. Each week, Flatbread Company offers a market salad and creative carne (meat) and veggie-based pizzas; recent specials have included a taco-style ground beef flatbread with ground tortilla chips and jalapeños, and another loaded with three types of mushrooms, organic spinach and artichoke topped with balsamic reduction.

Flatbread Company offers a handful of desserts, including sundaes with brownies and baked goods from Barbara’s in Hampton, N.H., and Windsor’s own Get Baked, and cider doughnuts from Griffin Farmstead. At the bar, a dozen tap lines regularly feature Connecticut breweries and cider from New England Cider Company of Wallingford, and craft cocktails often spotlight fresh infusions and products from local distilleries.

Like its counterpart in Canton, Flatbread in South Windsor also hosts a weekly Benefit Night, donating a percentage of the evening’s sales to a local nonprofit organization.

Flatbread Company is at 500 Evergreen Way (Suite 538) in South Windsor. It’s open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. 860-648-1111 and flatbreadcompany.com/south-windsor.

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