Small Bites: Dining News

>>Maximum Beverage, 333 N. Main St., West Hartford, will host a whiskey tasting event Dec. 12 and 18 from 3 to 7 p.m. Complimentary samplings of Jack Daniels Single Barrel, Woodford Reserve and Gentleman Jack will be offered, and with a purchase of any of the three brands, customers can have the bottle personalized and immediately engraved on the premises for free. Information: 860-761-2541 or www.maximumbev.com.

>>The Saybrook Point Inn & Spa is offering a 2015 New Year's Eve Gala and Fresh Salt New Year's Eve packages. Starting at $623.90 per couple, the New Year's Eve Gala package includes overnight accommodations, tickets to the New Year's Eve gala, brunch at four-diamond restaurant Fresh Salt, and a late checkout the following morning. It also includes the gala, which starts at 8 p.m. Dec. 31. An open bar and hors d'oeuvres, buffet dinner and dancing will be featured.

The Fresh Salt New Year's Eve package offers a romantic getaway to toast to the New Year. Starting at $479 per couple, guests will enjoy dinner at the four-diamond restaurant Fresh Salt with course selections including Maine lobster, pork tenderloin, and other Fresh Salt favorites. In addition, overnight accommodations will be provided at the Saybrook Point Inn along with brunch the following morning at Fresh Salt and a late checkout. Guests will also have complimentary champagne and keepsake glasses waiting for them in their room.

Information: 800-243-0212 or www.saybrook.com.

>>Paloma, 15 Harbor Point Road, Stamford, is offering a special New Year's Eve dinner. Chef and partner Aarón Sánchez is serving a Latin-inspired menu for the occasion made up almost entirely of off-the-menu dishes. All guests will be given an amuse-bouche and a complimentary glass of sparkling wine as well as choosing a botanas (starters), entrée and dessert. Information: 203-998-7500 or www.palomagrill.com

>>150 Central, at 150 Central St., Forestville, will be open for lunch from 11:30 to 2:30 p.m. and dinner from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve. A special New Year's Eve dinner is also planned from 4:30 to 9 p.m. on Dec. 31. Information: 860-261-7009 or onefiftycentral.com

>>If you need a little Christmas feast for the eyes, head over to Cava Fine Italian Restaurant, 1615 West St., Southington, where dining rooms draped in decorations are ready for viewing. This year the family is presenting the Emerald City in the fireplace room, featuring an artistic representation of the Emerald City set on the fireplace mantle; a Midnight Dream bar with sparkling fiber optic lighting on tree limbs, an Enchanted Forest with walls covered by light-wrapped white birch trees and a suspended ceiling made of pine branches and the Jester's Court theme, done in turquoise blue, purple and gold. Information: 860-628-2282 or cavact.com

>>Jamie "The Bear" McDonald, competitive eater and owner/chef of Bear's Smoke House in Hartford, has opened his second Bear's Smokehouse Barbecue, a Kansas style BBQ restaurant, in Windsor. Smokin' brisket, pork, ribs, chicken, turkey, and its famous moink balls are on the menu. The restaurant is located at 2152 Poquonock Ave. Information: 860-999-3834 or bearsbbq.com

>>If you are a Treva or A'vert fan, owner Dorjan Puka is at it again. Now he has opened a third restaurant, east of the river in Manchester, at 1436 Pleasant Valley Road. Called Artisanal Burger Co., the new restaurant touts burgers, beer, bourbon, sports. Information: 860-644-0046 or artisanalburgercompany.com.

>>Connecticut's first Smashburger is now open at 903 Hartford Turnpike in Waterford. The "better burger" chain gets its name from the chain's preferred cooking method: all-natural beef patties are "smashed" and seared on a 400-degree flattop grill. It's open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. 860-437-9790, smashburger.com.

>>Playboy's recent "Best in America" roundup of the 101 best breakfasts in America includes an entry from Connecticut. O'Rourke's Diner made the cut in the Northeast category, along with 20 other restaurants from New England, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. O'Rourke's is at 728 Main St. in Middletown. 860-346-6101, orourkesmiddletown.com.

>>The Willows at the DoubleTree Bristol hotel presents "A Victorian Holiday Repast" themed prix-fixe dinner through Dec. 20. Courses include entrée choices of filet of beef Wellington with foie gras medallion, roasted duck breast with oyster stuffing or filet of salmon thermidor. Cost is $35, plus tax and gratuity, and does not include beverage. Information and reservations: 860-589-7766, willowsbristol.com.

>>Paragon at Foxwoods Resort Casino hosts a seven-course Albert Bichot French wine dinner Dec. 11 at 6 p.m. Cost is $145, plus tax and gratuity. Reservations are required. 800-369-9663 or 800-442-1000, foxwoods.com.

>>La Petite France, 967 Farmington Ave., West Hartford, hosts a French wine tasting with West Side Wines on Dec. 11 at 6:30 p.m. Mini appetizers, sandwiches and desserts will be served. Cost is $29.90. 860-231-9255 and lpfcafe.com.

>>More fast-casual quick-service Mexican food comes to Manchester, with the opening of Pancheros Mexican Grill at 350 Buckland St. The menu offers burritos, tacos, quesadillas and salads with marinated grilled steak, seasoned vegetables, chili-tamarind chicken and carnitas, along with a variety of salsas and sauces. Pancheros makes and presses its tortillas fresh on site at each location. The Manchester restaurant will be open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. 860-644-4447, pancheros.com.

>>Manchester also welcomes Maggie McFly's to 194 Buckland Hills Drive, the fifth restaurant in the Connecticut chain. Maggie McFly's features 40 draft beers, a variety of wines on tap and an expanded menu of craft cocktails, along with a wide-ranging menu of comfort fare. 860-432-8255, maggiemcflys.com.

>>A year after earning props from The Daily Meal for its famous "dirt wings," J. Timothy's has made another national list for "America's finest fowl." Thrillist has named the Plainville restaurant and bar as one of its "21 Best Wing Joints In The Country," noting the unique preparation of its signature dish. The restaurant is at 143 New Britain Ave. 860-747-6813, jtimothys.com.

>>Bakery Relocates:  In case you haven't noticed, West Hartford's A Little Something Bakery retail store on Park Road, West Hartford, has closed.

Owner Beth Bolton has moved the operation to 485 New Park Ave. where she will concentrate on her wedding and special occasion cakes, as well as her signature cupcakes that will be sold at A. C. Peterson's on 240 Park Road.

"I am giving up the retail," said Bolton whose new location is now up and running for special orders only and retains the old name. "We were at the point where we couldn't keep up with the cake demand and it made good business sense when we looked at the numbers to close as a retail store and concentrate on that."