Small Bites: Dining News & Events

b Restaurants (Plan B Burger Bar) announced its “Tour de Pappy” series, featuring tastings of rare Pappy van Winkle bourbon with seven special events and dinners at its locations in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. The first event, a “Public Pappy Hour” is at b West Hartford on Jan. 29, with a la carte tastes of Pappy 10, 12, 15, 20 and 23-year  (priced at $10 to $49 for one-ounce servings) on a first-come, first-service basis. See the full schedule at

Blue Plate Kitchen, 345 N. Main St., West Hartford, offers a $25 prix-fixe dinner through Jan. 29, with choice of appetizer, entree and dessert. Entree options include roasted chicken thighs, roasted veggie hash, smoked braised pork belly and fresh Atlantic white fish. Drink specials feature $5 cranberry vodka spritzers and 1/2 carafes of draft wines for $15. 860-906-1419,

The Wharf restaurant at Madison Beach Hotel (94 W. Wharf Road) hosts a winter Scotch dinner Jan. 26 at 6:30 p.m. Courses include roasted rack of lamb, Arctic char, braised pork osso buco and mocha torte for dessert. $89, plus tax and gratuity. 203-350-0014,

Mohegan Sun hosts Restaurant Week promotions Jan. 22 to 26 at several of its restaurants, with special fixed-price menus at Bar Americain, Todd English’s Tuscany, BALLO, Michael Jordan’s Steak House, Michael Jordan 23.sportcafe, SolToro Tequila Grill and Tom’s Urban. Other discounts and deals are available at Hash House A Go Go, Krispy Kreme, The Landsdowne, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, Bobby’s Burger Palace, Seasons Buffet, Original SoupMan, Chief’s Deli and Jasper White’s Summer Shack. Chefs will perform daily live cooking demonstrations in The Shops concourse.

Grants, 977 Farmington Ave., West Hartford, hosts a beer dinner Feb. 2 at 6:30 p.m., featuring beers from New England breweries Von Trapp Brewing, Hanging Hills, Maine Beer Co., Jack’s Abby and Relic. $55 plus tax and gratuity. 860-214-0568,

Infinity Hall, 32 Front St., Hartford, hosts the Connecticut Super Beer Bowl Feb. 4 at 5 p.m., featuring beer tastings and live music from Connecticut-based bands Keepers of the Vibe, Atlas Grey and Gracie Day & the Knights. Connecticut brewers expected to appear are Back East, Black Hog, City Steam, Stony Creek, Thomas Hooker, Counter Weight, New England Brewing and Two Roads. Beer tastings run from from 5 to 7:30 p.m. and live music starts at 6 p.m. Tickets are $29 to $44.

Bertucci's at 330 N. Main St. in West Hartford's Bishops Corner is closing permanently. An employee who answered the phone at the location Wednesday confirmed the restaurant would be closing at 9 p.m. Jan. 11. Other locations of the Massachusetts-based Italian restaurant chain are in Avon, Darien, Glastonbury, Manchester, Newington, Orange, Shelton and Southington.

Savoy Pizzeria & Craft Bar, 32 Lasalle Road, West Hartford, is now open for lunch seven days a week at 11:30 a.m. Pizzas are 50 percent off at lunch (11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.) through Jan. 13. 860-969-1000,

Black Hog Brewing in Oxford hosts a Barrel-Aged Brew Fest Jan. 21 at 1 p.m., with samplings of barrel-aged beers and ciders from Connecticut breweries and producers. The Caseus Cheese Truck and Chief Brody’s Banh Mi will be on site. Discounts are offered on bottle and bundle purchases. Tickets are $45; designated driver tickets are $10.

The Taste of Middlesex County promotion runs Jan. 16  through 23, with fixed-price three-course meals for $20.17 at a variety of eateries.

Participants currently include Amici Italian Grill, Eli Cannon's Tap Room, El Pulpo & Tapas Bar, Esca Restaurant and Wine Bar, First and Last Tavern, Hachi, La Boca, Lan Chi’s Vietnamese Restaurant, Moonlight Sushi Bar & Grill, Tavern at the Armory, and Tuscany Grill in Middletown; Baci Grill, Cromwell Pizza & Pasta and Sheffield's Restaurant and Lounge at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell; Angelico’s Lake House Restaurant, Rossini's Italian Restaurant, The Tavern on 66, and WAVES in East Hampton; Fire at the Ridge and Ridgeside Tavern in Middlefield, Griswold Inn in Essex; Red House in Deep River and On the Rocks at Fox Hopyard in East Haddam. Price does not include beverage, tax or gratuity. Information and menus:

The Cottage, 256 Post Road, E. Westport, has opened its expanded bar space, with 800 additional square feet. Full-service dining is available, along with a new cocktail menu, local draft beers and a larger wine program. Reservations are available for parties of up to 10 people in a window-seat banquette. 203-557-3701,

The Hops Company, 77 Sodom Lane, Derby, hosts a wild game beer dinner Jan. 17 at 6 p.m., featuring courses like venison and elk sausage, roasted duck breast with pork belly and wild boar osso buco. $65.

The annual Connecticut Real Ale Festival moves to Brewport (225 South Frontage Road, Bridgeport, Jan. 29 at 1 p.m., with one-of-a-kind ales from Connecticut and beyond. Tickets are $45 and includes admission with collector’s glass, two 5-ounce samples and two slices of Brewport’s pizza. Additional samples are $1 each. Information:

Fork Hospitality, the owners of New Haven's Elm City Social, have opened Olives and Oil at 124 Temple St., featuring a menu of "electric Italian" cuisine.

Olives and Oil features chef John Brennan's "modern take on rustic Italian cuisine, wine, and life in a vintage setting." The menu offers cicchetti (small plates) like arancini, bone marrow oreganata, warm ricotta and pan-seared wild boar, along with a raw bar and assorted crudo, mozzarella, wood-fired pizzas, housemade pastas and larger family-style entrees. Dishes are priced at $8 to $29.

The bar features 16 wines on tap, along with beers and Italian-inspired cocktails. The restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner, with weekend brunch coming in January. 203-891-5870,

Bear's Smokehouse, 25 Front St., Hartford, hosts a cocktail dinner Jan. 9 at 6:30 p.m., pairing four courses with classic cocktails. The menu features smoked crab cake, prime rib with barbecue demiglace and New York-style cheesecake with smoked raspberry and cocoa sauce. Cost is $70. Information and tickets:

Hub & Spoke, 3001 Fairfield Ave., Bridgeport, hosts an "ultimate dinner series" in January and February, featuring a five-course Italian tasting dinner Jan. 19; a cigar, whiskey and bourbon dinner Jan. 30 and a five-course Valentine's dinner with "big red" wines Feb. 14. All events are $90 plus tax and gratuity and begin at 7 p.m. Reservations are required. 203-345-9110,

Fresh Salt at Saybrook Point Inn, 2 Bridge St., Old Saybrook, hosts a Jack Daniel's Family of Whiskey dinner Jan. 21 at 6:30 p.m., in tribute to Frank Sinatra. The menu features courses like lamb T-bone, almond-crusted Black Pearl salmon and roast loin of venison, paired with select whiskeys. Cost is $94, plus tax and gratuity. 860-339-1318,

The recent 2016 Connecticut Restaurant Association Salute to Excellence Awards dinner honored the state’s top restaurateurs, servers, caterers, mixologists and longtime achievers.

Mystic’s Oyster Club and Engine Room were spotlighted twice, as owner Dan Meiser received the Restaurateur of the Year award and James Wayman was named Chef of the Year, sharing the accolade with Nicola Mancini of Waterbury’s La Tavola. Another Mystic restaurant, Red 36, earned Newcomer of the Year honors.

Julie Francini of Restaurant Bricco was named Server of the Year, and Mike Knudsen of Hartford Restaurant Group was named Connecticut Distributors Mixologist of the Year. Other winners include Plan B Burger Bar (Casual Restaurant of the Year), Capital Grille (Upscale Restaurant of the Year) and Coastal Gourmet (Caterer of the Year.)

Max Restaurant Group and Saybrook Point Inn, Marina & Spa were both inducted into the Connecticut Hospitality Hall of Fame. ROGO Distributors was honored as Vendor of the Year, and State Senator Len Fasano was recognized as a Friend of the Industry.

Àvert Brasserie, 35 Lasalle Rd., West Hartford, has announced Scott Damboise as its new executive chef. Damboise comes to Connecticut from New York, where his background includes executive chef experience at Tia Pol in Manhattan and Char No. 4 in Brooklyn. He also served as executive sous chef at Manhattan’s Cafe Boulud.

"With over a decade of five-star hospitality experience and a passion for taking diners on a culinary journey, Chef Damboise has developed his own flavorful and signature cuisine," said Scott Miller, chief operating officer of DORO Restaurant Group, in a statement. "Chef Damboise is an energetic chef whose focus is giving guests an unparalleled product, which makes him a perfect fit for our restaurant. His culinary vision and unique perspective will bring a new level of luxury to every dining experience."


Chick-fil-A is now open at Mohegan Sun, at the Winter entrance of the Casino of the Earth. This is Connecticut’s fifth location of the fast-food chicken restaurant, which offers grilled and fried chicken sandwiches, nuggets, salads and sides. It will be open Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to midnight.

Panera Bread is now open at the Promenade Shops at Evergreen Walk in South Windsor. The bakery-cafe has seating for 88, an outdoor patio and a drive-through, along with a new “Fast Lane Kiosk” which offers an enhanced guest experience for to-go and eat-in orders via digital ordering and payment. The café will be open Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Toasted, a Hartford-based sandwich shop that got its start as a food truck, has opened at 40 Wilbur Cross Way (Suite 103) in Storrs Center near the University of Connecticut campus. The restaurant will serve toasted sandwiches of all varieties, as well as salads, soups, sides, cupcakes, smoothies and beverages. Toasted is open Sunday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Thursday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. and Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. 855-55-TOAST,

b Restaurants (Plan B Burger Bar) has introduced Sunday brunch at three locations: Fairfield, Glastonbury and Milford.

The menu combines Plan B favorites and new brunch options, including three breakfast-themed burgers and tater tots topped with bacon, cheese, gravy and fried egg. Other entrees include Nashville-style hot fried chicken and biscuits, a breakfast burrito, customized omelets, waffles banana Foster, "twisted Eggs Benny" with sausage patty and smoked tomato hollandaise on a biscuit, and bourbon-soaked brioche French toast.

Cocktails feature the "Meat our Mary," b's Bloody Mary with a cheeseburger slider garnish; bottomless mimosas or bourbon sours for $15 and other "eye opener" libations, including twists on a screwdriver, a cucumber basil gimlet and"Kentucky Coffee" with bourbon and cream. Brunch items, burgers and entrees are priced at $5.99 to $16.99. Cocktails are $9 to $13. Brunch starts at 10 a.m. in each location.

The Halal Guys, a New York-based business that started as a hot dog cart in 1990 and has grown to multiple brick-and-mortar locations in the United States and beyond, has opened its first Connecticut restaurant at 906 Chapel St., in New Haven.

Known for its take on Middle Eastern specialties, Halal Guys will serve a menu featuring its platters of gyro meat and chicken with rice and salad, along with falafel, sandwiches, hummus, baba ghanouj and baklava. Items are priced at $1.17 to $8.46. The restaurant is also known for its "secret-formula" white sauce and "explosive" hot sauce. The Halal Guys will open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., with potential late night hours in the future. 203-691-5166,

Also new to New Haven is the Juice Box at 1092 Chapel St., on the ground floor of the Yale Center for British Art. Juice Box offers cold-pressed fresh juices, acai bowls, toast with avocado and almond butter, smoothies and cold brew coffee.  203-562-0068,

Arugula, 953 Farmington Ave., West Hartford, has recently partnered with GrubHub to offer local delivery. Information:

@ the Barn has introduced a "girlfriends" happy hour Wednesday nights from 7 p.m. to close, available in the bar area and on the patio. Specials include drink specials, small plates and sweets for $5 apiece. 860-413-3888,

Ricky D’s Rib Shack, which began as a food truck, has opened a new storefront at 302 Winchester Ave. at Science Park in New Haven. The menu features pork ribs in quarter, half and full slabs; pulled pork, brisket, wings, sandwiches and sides. 203-745-4998,  

Millwright’s, 77 West St., Simsbury, has introduced a happy hour, available Tuesday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. in its downstairs tavern. Snacks, priced at $4 to $6, include Nashville hot chicken tacos, a burger, meatball sliders, spring gazpacho, cheeses, root beer float and a lemon tart. Drink specials ($2 to $6) include select beers, wines and cocktails. 860-651-5500,

At Dish Bar & Grill, 900 Main St., it’s $5 Burger & Bucket Night and you can get two burgers and two buckets of Miller High Life ponies for just twenty20 bucks.

At Infinity Bistro, 32 Front St., join the action during Music Bar Bingo Nights for a chance to win concert tickets and other prizes and grab food and drink specials (like $1 oysters).

At McKinnons, 114 Asylum St., it’s Bar Rated Trivia night with $2.50 Miller High Lifes and $1 tacos.

At the Russian Lady, 191 Ann Uccello St., buy a $10 mug at the door and you’ll enjoy $1 mixed drinks and $1 domestic drafts all night, plus you can bring the mug back for $1 refills any Thursday after that.


Send restaurant news at least 10 days before publication to Leeanne Griffin at 

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