By MARYELLEN FILLO, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hartford Courant
1:30 PM EDT, June 9, 2014
While the 300-seat Bobby V's Restaurant & Sports Bar at the Bradley Teletheater in Windsor Locks has the vibe and trappings of an upscale sports bar with its 77 big and bigger-screened televisions, the food is fresh and local, going above and beyond your standard bar food.
The last thing most would expect in a mega-sized sports bar and restaurant is really good food. You know, the kind that goes beyond the expected "been there, done that" array of greasy wings, weepy nachos and puck-like sliders.
But then again, most sports bars don't have executive chefs like Connecticut's Jordan Stein.
Stein, best known as the celebrated chef from the Pond House Café and owner of the former Mexican-style taqueria Husk in Collinsville, has combined his celebrity with that of another, former professional baseball player and manager Bobby Valentine, at Bobby V's Restaurant & Sports Bar at the Bradley Teletheater in Windsor Locks.
"I was star struck when Bobby Valentine asked me to cook for him," said Stein. "But I felt like it was my time when it came to this job and I knew Bobby was looking for epic bar food, food that I could deliver."
While the 300-seat restaurant, co-owned by Sportech Venues Inc., owner and operator of the teletheater, has the vibe and trappings of an upscale sports bar with its 77 big and bigger-screened televisions, the food is pure Stein.
Committed to his "fresh is best and local is even better" mantra, Stein has made watching sports secondary to enjoying the food, as evidenced by the clientele that is finding its way to the restaurant that opened just a few months ago. Eavesdrop on the eclectic crowd of old and young, that includes sports fanatics and happy-hour enthusiasts mixed with couples, groups of friends, and you'll hear more about the food than the game du jour.
Among Stein's specialties are crisp bacon-wrapped Connecticut scallops with a maple Dijon glaze; a warm brie plate for two; North Atlantic salmon; and his Asian chicken salad with Napa cabbage and house-made spicy peanut dressing, all dishes that belie that "bar food" moniker.
"I still make all my own glazes and dressings, changing the menu seasonally and using my best recipes," said Stein. "Just because there is sports on the television sets doesn't mean you have to compromise when it comes to food."
Of course, there are the popular "goes with a game" sliders, nachos and wings, but done the Stein way. Nachos are smothered in turkey chili; wings are crispy and fresh with a choice of Stein's homemade chipotle sauce, buffalo sauce or maple mustard sauce. Sliders are meals on their own, with choices including portabella mushroom, chipotle barbecue pork, chicken parm, braised short rib, and the traditional cheeseburger, up scaled with jicama slaw and a homemade pickle.
There are "create your own" burgers and sides including sweet, sweet potato fries and a choice of fresh vegetables.
Desserts include exotic cheesecake spring rolls, white chocolate mousse and his cherry vanilla bread pudding that combines custard-soaked brioche infused with Amarena cherries and Tahitian vanilla.
And what does Bobby V think?
"I can't wait to eat here," said the baseball great, who is currently the athletic director at Sacred Heart University. Valentine owns another restaurant in Stamford but stops by the Windsor Locks location regularly.
"It's dangerous, the food is so good," he said. "I could eat here every night: anything on the menu."
The restaurant, which has a clubby kind of feel, has other amenities, including a golf simulator, some private dining areas, lounge and a large bar area.
Stein is loving his new job, not only because of the opportunity to show the world that bar food can be good, but also because it puts him nearer his Suffield home and family and because he is a baseball fan.
"I lost my first tooth at a Mets double header, and Bobby was playing," Stein said. "Who knew then that this would be the way I would see him again."
>>Bobby V's, 11 Schoephoester Road, Windsor Locks, is open Monday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to midnight, and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Appetizer to entrée prices run from $9 to $28. Information: 860-627-5808 and bobbyvsrestaurant.com.
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