Fortuitous Feasting at Firebox

Hello, Monday. Hope everyone had a good weekend! Let’s hope everyone’s week flies by as quickly as mind did last week. I’m gonna jump right into things.

This past Friday evening, something happened to me that I thought only happened in movies! You probably know what it is already if you follow me on Facebook and/or Twitter. For those who don’t, to punish you for not doing so (I kid), I’ll make you wait til the end of this post to find out what it was.

One of my favorite dining partners, Kelly, was in need of a relaxing evening out as she prepared for her upcoming finals at UConn. I was happy to oblige in choosing a place to go for dinner and drinks! Originally we had planned to go to Firebox in Hartford for a drink, and then Black Eyed Sally’s to have dinner since I had an about-to-expire free birthday entree coupon that I’d never used. However once we sat down and looked at both the tavern and dinner menus at Firebox, we were completely sold and immediately decided to stay there for dinner too.

Firebox’s philosophy is that “the best food travels the shortest distance from farm to table”. Their menu combines local foods with “classic technique and innovative thinking”. Sign me up!

The fresh, unique drink menu is what drew me to Firebox in the first place. I ordered the Broad St. Manhatten and Kelly got the Sangria Roja.

My drink was strong but smooth – so smooth that it went down too quickly! I was quite bummed when it was gone, but that meant the two bourbon-soaked cherries at the bottom were ready for me to consume 😀 Once I finished this, I ordered a glass of tempranillo to have with our meal.

Kelly adored her sangria and I have to say, I loved it too. I am VERY picky when it comes to sangria. It has to actually taste like red wine for me to like it. I didn’t blame her for ordering a second one! The recipe was not too muddled with ingredients that would have hidden the taste of the red wine.

We were so glad when our waitress brought over the above basket of freshly baked bread. Kelly and I both had to stop and take a deep inhale of it – we probably looked a bit strange sniffing our bread, but one whiff told us that it had without a doubt been baked that very day. The interior was soft as a cloud while the crust gave a satisfying crunch. The butter it came with was perfectly salted and slightly warm for easy spreading. Pet peeve: freezing butter for super soft bread. How is anyone supposed to spread that?! Firebox knows how to do bread and butter the right way. Did I really just write that much about a bread basket?!

Kelly and I decided to share two dishes. I love sharing! With an amazing dinner menu like the one we were working with that evening, it’s impossible to choose one dish.

Pictured above is the Roasted Beet Carpaccio with shaved asparagus, pea tendrils, sieved egg, pistachio, and locally forged pickled ramps. The menu didn’t say so, but I also detected some feta cheese? Beets are one of those foods I never eat at home but will order when I am out on occasion, if a dish really catches my eye. This one jumped right out at me. It was beyond amazing. So fresh, so perfect

And typical Caitlin, I picked out a sampler platter called the Charcuterie as our second dish. Must. Try. As. Much. As. Possible. Have you gotten that by now? In the center we had some nice dressed greens with carrots and spinach, accompanied by your typical olives. Then things got interesting – citrus and corriander cured salmon (top), smoked beef pastrami (bottom), and chicken liver mousse topped with peanuts (left). I had never tried the latter and it was amazing. SO rich, and the peanuts on top were a nice touch. The little pile to the right of the mousse is an incredibly fresh whole grain mustard. We had all this with the bread from our bread basket, and some crispier bread slices that were brought with the meal (you can see them peeking out of a napkin in the above photo).

The meal was beyond words delicious. EVERYTHING blew us away. I already am dying to go back. There were a few of those silent, we-are-too-busy-enjoying-the-food-to-talk moments. There was also live music going on right near our table – Becky Kessler, a local singer and songwriter. Sometimes I am bothered by live music at restaurants because it’s way too loud, but this was set up at a nice volume and Becky did a good job.

OK, here comes the exciting part. Our waitress brought over our check, and Kelly and I were trying to work out splitting it. Then she came back over and informed us that someone anonymous had taken care of everything and that she couldn’t say any more than that. Um, WHAT?! Kelly and I were freaking out. I still am – I WANT TO KNOW WHO IT WAS! We are both SO grateful to whoever decided to pick up our tab that night (thank you if you are reading).

Was it the restaurant? Was it the older couple we were sharing a table with? Was it just a random act of kindness? I will probably never know, and that kinda kills me. But one thing I do know is that I will be back to Firebox for sure to dine again. There are way too many good looking drinks and dishes I haven’t tried yet!

Has anything like this ever happened to you? Any other movie moments?

Are there any “farm to table” style restaurants near you? Do you notice a difference in the quality of food?

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