Millwright's Sunday Brunch: Affordable Indulgence

If anything will get you out of bed on a lazy Sunday morning, it's brunch. Sweeten the deal with craft cocktails and perhaps central Connecticut's best water view, and sweatpants and slippers are suddenly a distant memory.

Millwright's has found success in Simsbury for its top-notch fare - chef-owner Tyler Anderson was a semifinalist for a James Beard Award this year – but not just for its high-end entrees and multi-course tasting menus. The relaxed downstairs tavern offers a range of well-priced snacks, salads, comfort-food staples like fish and chips, chicken and dumplings, steak frites and even a burger. Weekdays bring blue-plate style suppers, with spaghetti and meatballs and garlic focaccia on Tuesday; fried chicken and biscuits on Wednesday and prime rib with horseradish cream on Thursday.

Anderson and crew continue that accessibility with their recently introduced Sunday brunch, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., another complete meal deal with choice of appetizer, entrée and dessert for a fixed price of $29. Brunch guests are seated in the elegant upstairs dining room, overlooking the rushing river waterfall.

Arrive hungry. The meal starts with a basket of house-baked breads: Millwright's perfectly light and flaky Johnny-cake biscuits and one sweet offering, banana bread on one visit and a rich, dark gingerbread on another. Each is enhanced further with the excellent butter, infused with honey and black sesame.

From the appetizer list, we sampled smoked salmon rillettes with "everything bagel" spice and whipped crème fraiche (great for sharing) and a juicy bruleed half-grapefruit with a touch of tarragon simple syrup. In keeping with its commitment to local and seasonal fare, Millwright's menu changes with ingredient availability – a delicate chilled crab salad with green apples offered in late March wasn't on the menu in early May. Other recent items include a yogurt parfait with granola and fruit, asparagus with house-cured ham and egg-based sauce gribiche and foie gras with brown bread and rhubarb, for an upcharge of $7.

Entrees are indulgent: grilled steak and poached eggs with greens and Bearnaise sauce, a frittata with vegetables and Gruyere and stuffed French toast with blueberry mascarpone and vanilla maple syrup. The Benedict preparation rotates - one visit featured a seafood "sausage" patty with blood orange Hollandaise; braised ham and seasonal wild ramps figured in another. Housemade thick-slab bacon, sausage patties and potatoes come in a family-style portion.

After all that, there's still dessert: buttermilk pie with black currant sorbet, chocolate trifle with Chantilly cream, cinnamon sticky bun with ice cream. You may feel like you can't take another bite, but don't pass on the pastry; it's as well-executed as the rest of the meal.

Millwright's bar even shakes up special brunch cocktails ($9 to $13) to partner with your morning meal. There's your standard Bloody Mary, mimosa (try it with fresh grapefruit juice) and Irish coffee, but standouts include the Absinthe Suisse with mint, cream and almond and the Batida Rosa with cachaca, pineapple and grenadine.

The restaurant's gorgeous outdoor deck overlooking the waterfall is sure to be a destination this summer. Make your reservations early.

>>Millwright's serves brunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday. 77 West St., Simsbury. Information: 860-651-5500 and millwrightsrestaurant.com.