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CTnow

Small Bites: Dining News

CTNow.com

11:44 AM EDT, October 15, 2013

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>>Kathy Benjdid, chef/owner of Tissa's Le Souk du Maroc in Old Saybrook, will teach two hands-on cooking classes Feb. 9 and March 10. The classes will meet at 7 p.m. at a commercial kitchen at 52 Middlesex Turnpike, Essex. The February class will focus on Sicilian cooking, while the March class will feature vegetarian tagines. Cost is $50 per class. Information: 860-395-1781.

>>The Saybrook Point Inn & Spa will host a series of weekend food getaways focusing on different cuisines from around the world. The Food Lovers Weekend Getaways begin with an Italian Winter Holiday Jan. 30 to Feb. 1. Leslie Tripp, executive chef of the inn's restaurant, Fresh Salt, and special guest, Mary Tagliatela, the inn's matriarch, will treat guests to special menus prepared from local ingredients and a full day of hands-on cooking lessons.

>>The Italian weekend will feature dishes such as Pumpkin Risotto, Slow-Braised Beef in Chianti, Local Cod Fish Puttanesca, and an assortment of pastries. The Taste of New England program Feb. 20 to 22 will cover the importance of apples in New England cuisine and include tastings of local cheeses, wine, craft beer and chowders. The Tour De France March 20 to 22 will focus on French cooking techniques and regional dishes such as bacon-onion tart and truffled chestnut soup.

Overnight packages begin at $698 per couple and include a two-night stay, welcome reception, breakfast at Fresh Salt, full day of hands-on learning and lectures from the Executive Chef, lunch, dinner and gala on Saturday evening, and brunch on Sunday. Information: 800-243-0212 or www.saybrook.com.

>>Morton's The Steakhouse shuttered its Hartford location after serving its final dinner on New Year's Eve, citing a shift in market demographics. Pond House Grille in Glastonbury, a sister restaurant to Pond House Café, has also closed, and gift certificates will be accepted at the West Hartford location. Anchor Bar in New Haven shut its doors abruptly on the night of Jan. 4 after nonpayment of rent, according to its landlords Yale University Properties.

>> It's time again for the Taste of Hartford promotion, with special prix-fixe menus at more than 30 city eateries. Restaurants will serve multi-course menus for either $20.15 or $30.15 Jan. 19 through Feb. 1.

The discount dining event, held twice a year, is a partnership between the Greater Hartford Arts Council and CTnow.com. For a list of participating restaurants and their menus, visit ctnow.com/tasteofhartford.

>>Six venues in western Connecticut are once again participating in the Litchfield Hills Winter Wine Trail promotion. Pick up a registration card at any of the following wineries and have it signed at each location before March 29. Those who visit all six wineries will be entered to win prizes.

Participants are DiGrazia Vineyards, 131 Tower Road, Brookfield; Haight-Brown Vineyard, 29 Chestnut Hill Road, Litchfield; Hopkins Vineyard, 25 Hopkins Road, New Preston; Jerram Winery, 535 Town Hill Road (Route 219), New Hartford; Miranda Vineyard, 42 Ives Road, Goshen; and Sunset Meadow Vineyards, 599 Old Middle St., Goshen.

For more information on the Litchfield Hills Winter Wine Trail, call 860-201-4654. Contact each winery for updated hours prior to visiting.

>>Max's Tavern, 1000 West Columbus Blvd., Springfield, hosts a "Cabs & Slabs" wine dinner Jan. 22 at 6:30 p.m., featuring steak courses paired with Cabernet Sauvignons from Napa Valley and Sonoma. Master Sommelier Michael Jordan from Jackson Family Estates will be a special guest. Cost is $115, plus tax and gratuity. 413-746-6299, maxtavern.com.

>>Coyote Blue, 1960 Saybrook Road, Middletown, hosts its annual Mid-Winter Game Festival through Jan. 31. Offerings include a southwestern duckling quesadilla for $10.95; elk, buffalo and wild boar chili for $6.95; venison and green chile stew with spaetzle for $17.95; venison schnitzel with spaetzle for $21.95; alligator tamale crepes for $17.95; chipotle buffalo burger for $11.95; and duckling confit quesadilla for $16.95. These items (and the regular menu) will be served Tuesday through Friday starting at 5:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday beginning at 1 p.m. The restaurant is closed Super Bowl Sunday. Information: 860-345-2403, coyoteblue.com.

>>Madison Beach Hotel,  94 West Wharf Road, Madison, hosts a whiskey and game dinner Jan. 22 at 6 p.m. Courses of rabbit tenderloin, cherry wood smoked partridge, elk strip loin and a cherry Manhattan tart (along with hors d'oeuvres of buttermilk quail, foie gras torchon and duck "poppers") will be paired with selections from Single Cask Nation. Cost is $89 plus tax and gratuity. 203-350-0014, madisonbeachhotel.com.

>>Vito's By The Water, 1936 Blue Hills Ave. Ext., Windsor, hosts a Scotch and game dinner Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. Courses, including wild game charcuterie, elk sausage, yak slider and French-cut venison lollipops, are paired with various scotches. Cost is $80 plus tax and gratuity. 860-285-8660, vitosbythewater.com.

 >>World of Beer, a chain of craft beer-focused taverns with locations in 20 states, will open its second Connecticut franchise this month. The 4,000 square-foot space at 73 Isham Road (Blue Back Square) will feature 50 rotating taps and more than 500 beers by the bottle, the company said, partnering with Connecticut breweries like Two Roads, Olde Burnside and City Steam.

"Tavern fare" served at lunch and dinner includes beer-infused bar bites (German pretzel with beer cheese, black and tan onion rings, Guinness brat sliders) and flatbreads, burgers, sandwiches, soups and salads. Beer pairing suggestions are listed alongside food items on the menu, and the tavern also features wine, spirits and cocktails. For more information, visit worldofbeer.com.

>>Majorca is now open at 2074 Park St. in Hartford, in the space formerly occupied by O'Porto. The menu features Spanish and Mediterranean-influenced fare, including tapas. Information: 860-231-1003.

>>Southington's Sixpence Pie Company is among 20 restaurants and food vendors scheduled to appear on the upcoming season of CNBC's "Restaurant Startup." The show premieres Jan. 13 at 10 p.m. Information: cnbcprime.com/restaurant-startup.

>>Barley Vine, 182 Main St., Bristol, hosts a beer and bourbon dinner Feb. 17 at 6 p.m. Each course features a pairing of Black Hog beer and a specially chosen bourbon. Cost is $65 a person, or $120 for two people. 860-589-0239, barleyvinect.com.

>>Celebrity chef, baker, author and TV reality show host Buddy Valastro has announced he will open one of his famed Carlo's Bakery at Mohegan Sun in 2015.

The location is the first in New England for the bakery made famous on the TLC Network.

"I'm thrilled to bring Carlo's Bakery to Mohegan Sun," said Valastro who runs the well-known New Jersey-based family business and also stars in the TLC series "Cake Boss'' and "Next Great Baker.'' "This is a destination for fun and food and we can't wait to be a part of the famiglia!"

The 3,200-square-foot bakery will be located in the Winter section of the Casino of the Earth and will offer all the famous Italian pastries and specialty cakes that originated in Hoboken.

The opening is expected in February.

>>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

>>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.

>>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.

>>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."

But for faithful customers who were diehard fans of her dirt bombs and scones, Bolton is offering hope.

The plan, she said, is to open on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the new location and offer some select breakfast items. Information: 860-586-8711.

>>Fleming's Steakhouse & Wine Bar, 44 S. Main St., West Hartford, introduces an extended version of its "5-6-7" happy hour, with $9 food and drink specials from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. nightly. Plates include bar a la carte items like housemade burrata, filet mignon flatbread, lobster lettuce wraps, ahi tuna tacos, short rib empanadas, a Prime burger with cheddar and bacon, cinnamon-dusted doughnuts and a deconstructed Balvenie s'more. Drinks include select wines, specialty cocktails and single-malt scotches. 860-233-1116, flemingssteakhouse.com.

>>Fresh Salt at Saybrook Point Inn & Spa is featuring a special Girls Night Out three -course prix fixe menu for $29.99 every Thursday. Information: 860-395-2000 or Saybrook.com.

 >>Mark your calendars for spring. A new food and wine festival, Savor - A Celebration of Wine, Food & Spirits, presented by Foxwoods Resort Casino, will be held at the Connecticut Convention Center April 10 to 11.

Savor will include grand tastings, samplings of signature dishes from Connecticut's leading chefs, a Savor in Style charity gala and food demonstrations.

Guest chefs will include Robert Irvine, host of "Restaurant: Impossible" on Food Network; Mary Ann Esposito, creator and host of television's longest running cooking series, "Ciao Italia" with Mary Ann Esposito; and Elizabeth Falkner, a James Beard Foundation Award nominee and Iron Chef America favorite.

A portion of the proceeds from Savor benefits Helmets to Hardhats, which promotes careers in the construction industry to individuals leaving military service or serving in the military Reserves or National Guard. Information: SavorCT.com

  >>Foxwoods Resort Casino is offering half-price bottles of red or white wine every Thursday at its signature gourmet restaurants Paragon, Al Dente and Cedars Streak House. On Sundays, the offer is good on a bottle of white wine at each of the restaurants. This special wine offer is available to all guests 21 years of age or older with the purchase of two entrees. For reservations, please call Foxwoods at 860.369.9663 or visit Foxwoods.com/dining.

Send restaurant news at least 10 days before publication to MaryEllen Fillo at fillo@courant.com and Leeanne Griffin at lgriffin@courant.com.