Market Grille – Worth the Wait!

Thank you to all who entered the Wild Harvest Organics giveaway – I’m so appreciative of the interest in the box of fabulous products! We had 215 entries (holy moly) and congrats to the lucky winner…

…Shea! Thanks for entering and I will be contacting you for shipping info!

I was not feeling well this past Friday morning as some of you know, but as the day went on I made a real effort to focus on the positive and smile. After all, I had the fortunate ability to make a doctor’s appointment for that very afternoon. Plenty of people would never be able to wake up in the morning feeling blah and be in a doctor’s office that very same day! I didn’t get any answers there, but felt well on Saturday, then back to a little bit off yesterday. And now I feel OK today. Hmmm. Gonna keep trying to get to the bottom of this while being grateful that it’s not a huge deal! I hope I get my test results back soon!

Full house in the Market Grille bar!

And I felt like myself Friday night, which was fabulous because I had plans to visit and review Manchester, CT’s newest restaurant Market Grille, located by the Buckland Hills Mall in the old Hops building (a restaurant property that had been vacant for YEARS until now). Market Grille is owned by Mill Restaurant Group, a Connecticut mainstay in our restaurant scene. I’ve dined at another MRG location, Abigail’s, for work several times and was very impressed.

Outdoor seating complete with fireplace and heaters!

Even though I spent the first five minutes of my time on the Market Grille property embarrassing myself in front of the folks pictured above as I tried to parallel park, I still had a chance to stop and admire the setup of the outdoor seating area. Look at that fireplace! Heaters were distributed throughout the patio too. I cannot think of anything more cozy than sitting by that fireplace on a crisp fall evening, bundled up (complete with scarf of course), and sipping a warming whiskey cocktail.

Double fistin’, Cait Plus Ate style.

And a whiskey cocktail I had…Maker’s Mark, to be specific. Obviously the most man-looking drink in the photo above (on the right) is mine – the All American (bacon-infused Maker’s Mark, Maple Syrup Bitters, and a squeeze of a fresh orange wedge). Before you start freaking out over the bacon-infused aspect of the Maker’s, don’t get too psyched. I honestly barely tasted any bacon at all. A bit disappointing, however the cocktail was RIGHT up my alley AKA too strong for the rest of my friends but delicious to me.

Joe the photobomber with my friend from Long Island, Ravi, and I.

Good thing Market Grille has such an impressive drink menu! Its contents, along with my camera, kept my college friends and I PLENTY entertained. The place was PACKED when we arrived around 7:30PM…the wait was an hour! The bar didn’t have too much room available to wait either, but I don’t mind standing, especially since that makes it easier to take silly photos 😛 We should have made a reservation but there were none available on Open Table around the time we were coming in. If any CT locals are planning a visit to Market Grille, I HIGHLY suggest using Open Table.

College chums prom style!

For my friend Joe (above left) I ordered one of the bar’s signature infusions – blackberry-infused Onyx moonshine! Just my style. So smooth, so strong, so natural.


Unfortunately Joe is a drink wimp and he could not handle the straight Onyx. And fortunately the Market Grille bartenders are extremely accomodating and turned it into a Blackberry Moonshine Cosmo (by adding triple sec, lime juice, and white cran). No longer tasted like my kinda drink, but Joe was happy as a clam.

Joe’s Onyx cocktail goes well with that Onyx bottle!

I also sampled and loved (though it was quite sweet…I’ll forgive it for the fall vibe) Joe’s first cocktail, the Fall Spice (cinnamon/apple/peach-infused bourbon, apple cider, native honey, cinnamon).

Oh thanks Julia! This was an evening of photobombs.

We ended up having a sixth join us so that extended our table wait time. My avocado-lovin’ friend Colin swung by for dinner, and I was finally able to give him a gift I’d been toting around in my car since August’s BlogHer tripa Wholly Guacamole avocado stress ball!

Joe’s jealous.

We were seated at almost 9PM and in a state of small starvation. Our cool waiter Matt, who I’d been talking with a week before via FB and email about visiting the restaurant and reviewing it for the blog, delivered bread to us right away. And I was damn smug because he managed to find one asiago cheese roll and bring it for me 🙂 other rolls offered included white, wheat, and multi-grain.

That’s my smug face.

The roll was wonderful, though I wish the butter was served warmer! We happened to hit up Market Grille during CT Restaurant Week, so many members of our party opted for the app, entree, and dessert for just $20.12 option. Don’t blame them! I didn’t know if my stomach would be up for that much food so I stuck with ordering off the normal menu.

App attack!

I started with a dish (above) from the “Small Plates” section of the menu – the Trio of Native Tomato Crostinis (sweet basil & tomato, roasted pepper & tomato “pepperonata”, carrot & eggplant caponata with roasted tomato). The bread’s crust was nice and crispy, and I really like how Market Grille created a dish tied together by the fact that each bruschetta contains a tomato component but also a little touch that makes it different from the rest. However, I had hoped those little touches would taste a bit more distinct. To me the bruschetta trio was DELISH but all three tasted quite similar to each other.

Seafood and greens, two faves!

I also started with two Maryland crab cakes with fresh herb salad (and a nice, light drizzle of lemon dill vinaigrette) and a red pepper coulis. LOTS of crab in these crab cakes and I have been feeling veggie-deprived since my stomach started acting up so I was thankful to eat the greens and feel A-OK!

Kim the hand model.

I traded Kim some bruschetta for a slice of her $20.12 Restaurant Week menu app of choice – pumpkin feta quesadillas. I have been curious about them ever since I read the Market Grille menu for the first time. They were tasty but a little disappointing because I wish they’d had more filling! I do appreciate, though, that the chef did not SMOTHER the quesadillas in cheese like so many restaurants do. The feta was the perfect touch.

Good thing I ordered a salad as my entree because I was already feeling full when it arrived! I am not usually a fan of iceberg lettuce but this night light crunch and the many ingredients in the “Everything But the Kitchen Sink” Chopped Salad (apples, cukes, blueberries, onions, carrots, bell peppers, avocado, chickpeas, tomatoes, feta, mozz, green beans, lemon juice, EVOO) were perfect for me. Try reading all those ingredients without taking a breath! The avocado was my favorite part.

Kim picked a winner!

Next time I visit Market Grille I for SURE will be ordering a seafood entree like Kim’s Grilled Atlantic Salmon with dijon mustard crust, BLACK LENTILS, roasted grape tomatoes, escarole, and honey balsamic reduction. The salmon seriously melted in my mouth and the lentils? INCREDIBLE! It’s rare to find a restaurant that serves them as a side and I adore the extra protein punch.

Aren’t we an adorably color-coordinated trio?

Other notable entrees included Joe’s Pan-Seared Jumbo Day Boat Scallops (more melt-in-your-mouth seafood bliss) and Colin’s Bacon Brioche Burger (cooked perfectly at medium and the bacon was crispy perfection as well).

Definitely feeling silly.

Anyone who ordered off the Restaurant Week menu got a dessert, and Kim and Colin were both kind enough to share with me. By this point I was definitely full, but that secret-compartment that seems to emerge at restaurants when dessert is served suddenly opened up in my stomach, and I helped myself to some of Colin’s Fresh-Baked Cookie Plate (chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, white chocolate macademia) and Kim’s PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE.


Oh boyyyy! That’s not ice cream pictured above, it’s a homemade whipped cream. The sprig of mint at the top and the pumpkin seeds both provided a bit of a savory punch that matched so well with the sweet cream and cheesecake. This dessert was pretty damn incredible.

Matt, our waiter, and I!

Matt did a great job waiting on us and was kind enough to introduce me to the owner, Amanda Rivers, on our way out. I love being able to compliment a restaurant owner on her/his establishment, because nothing is better than getting great feedback on your passion! Also, check out Matt’s tie clip…recognize it from anywhere? I think it was fate that he reached out to me and asked to be our server!

It’s my blog’s logo!

Matt also took this photo with his phone and remembered to send it to me! Thanks Matt!

Good friends, good food, good drinks, GOOD TIMES.

I’d be lying if I told you this evening went out without a guilty hitch. It didn’t. When I got home I was REALLY full. Definitely more full than I’m used to/comfortable with feeling. I talked to my mom for a bit and went to sleep OK, but kept waking up in the middle of the night with lots of anxiety. However I practiced what has worked for me in the past – laying in bed in corpse pose, doing deep breathing and positive self talk. It got me through the night but I still felt guilty the next morning over eating a lot. I again reached out to my mom and also another one of my rocks, Heather. Through talking to them I was able to work out my thoughts in a rational manner and see the TRUTH and focus on the POSITIVES of my evening. By late morning I felt like ME again, and that’s an amazing feeling. I’m pretty proud of how quickly I bounced back!

Yes, my evening at Market Grille was filled with laughter and lots of other warm fuzzies. We may have had to wait for awhile, but had a good time doing so and an even better time once we were seated. I highly recommend Market Grille if you’re ever in Manchester – I’ll be back for sure!

Thank you Matt, Amanda, and the rest of Market Grille for a great night!

Which of the drinks and/or dishes mentioned in this post would you want to try most?

What’s the last “new” restaurant you visited? Were you impressed?

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