Harlan Brasserie: Upscale French American At The Goodwin

The Goodwin is back. After closing in late 2008, the iconic Hartford hotel reopened in May with a fresh contemporary look and a new restaurant and bar.

Harlan Brasserie is the third restaurant by managing partner Stephen Lewandowski, a former executive chef at Tribeca Grill in Manhattan. The French-American brasserie-style concept is slightly more formal than Lewandowski's Harlan Social in Stamford and Harlan Publick in Norwalk, known for small plates and lively bar scenes, but "we try to be as approachable as possible," says executive chef Chris Bateman.

THE ATMOSPHERE: The revived Goodwin's lobby is chic and urban, with modern pendant lighting, sleek black and white tile floors, royal-blue accent walls and inkblot art. That vibrant blue extends to the hotel's Side Bar lounge, with black leather furniture and windows overlooking Asylum Street. Harlan Brasserie's 80-seat dining room also sports a modern upscale feel, with touches of cream, gold and hunter green.

FEATURED/NOTEWORTHY DISHES: Harlan Brasserie's menu features classics along with "some twists on some things, our own interpretations on certain dishes," says Bateman.

You'll find traditional French onion soup gratinée, frisée and lardon salad, hand-cut steak tartare and duck leg confit, alongside ahi tuna poke with mango and chili, street corn with truffle crisps, and charred pepper hummus with grilled naan. Cheese plates offer local selections from Bantam's Arethusa Farm Dairy.

Chicken and foie gras meatballs with black truffle, almonds and brandied cherries are a best-seller, said Bateman, and a clam simmer features Point Judith littlenecks with summer succotash and chorizo. An heirloom tomato salad partners with compressed watermelon, balsamic and marinated cubes of feta.

Top-selling entrees include seared sea scallops and Gulf shrimp with asparagus, oyster mushrooms, lardons and black truffle vinaigrette; pan-roasted salmon with basil celeriac mousse and saffron tomato consommé and miso salt-crusted cod with carrot nage, bok choy and snow peas. There's also grilled Long Island duck, organic roast chicken, herb-crusted rack of lamb and braised short rib "pot au feu." Steaks — an 8-ounce flat iron, 8-ounce filet and 16-ounce strip au poivre — are served with choice of two sides, with options like mac and cheese, red wine braised mushrooms and hand-crushed crispy potatoes.

The signature Harlan Burger, which has been lauded at the Brasserie's Stamford and Norwalk sibling restaurants, is available at lunch: a blend of Pat LaFrieda brisket, chuck and short rib meats on a "three-meal" Portuguese muffin topped with cheddar ale sauce, bacon onion jam and Japanese tonkatsu sauce. A crispy chicken sandwich with fontina, pickled cucumber and bacon mayo is another early lunch hit.

Dessert choices are whimsical: miniature ice cream cones with sprinkles and other toppings, a cookie "pizza" with white chocolate macadamia nuts and strawberry mascarpone, and a vanilla crème brûlée with a side of puffy blue cotton candy. A brasserie sundae with candied bacon and red velvet cupcake crumble can be spiked with buttered bourbon.

THE BAR: Harlan Brasserie's Side Bar offers a menu of casual share plates ($5 to $13): charcuterie and cheese, chorizo tacos, Korean fried chicken, wasabi prawns, duck fat and truffle popcorn and lettuce wraps with miso cod or vegetables. Cocktails span "modern" and "classics revisited"; the former using flavors like yuzu, elderflower, passion fruit and Earl Grey-infused gin and the latter celebrating the time-honored Old Fashioned, Negroni, Sazerac and Corpse Reviver. Signature cocktails feature the Red Tail, with pepper-infused vodka, passion fruit and Thai chili, and the Dirty Pickle, with Tito's vodka and seasonal pickled veggies.

"Adult snow cones" ($5) remix the childhood favorite, with liquor and fruit puree drizzled over shaved ice in a paper cone. A new happy hour, available Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m., features $5 appetizers, $6 cocktails, $5 select wines and $3 beers.

PRICING: Shellfish items range from $1.50 per cherrystone clam to $120 for a tower of shrimp, oysters, clams, lump crab and ceviche. Soups and salads are $11 to $14. Appetizers are $8 to $15; sides are $8 to $10.

Lunch entrees are $16 to $21; sandwiches are $13 to $18. Dinner entrees are $23 to $39; steaks and chops are $29 to $39. Desserts are $8.

HOURS: Lunch is served Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; dinner is available Sunday through Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 5 to 11 p.m. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Side Bar lounge is open Tuesday through Saturday starting at 3 p.m.

Harlan Brasserie is at The Goodwin Hotel, 1 Haynes St., Hartford. 860-904-7292, harlanbrasserie.com.

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