Millwright’s Tavern: Cozy, Cocktails, Comfort Food
Thanks so much to all who entered my Clever Girls Collective giveaway for a Country Crock Thanksgiving Kit! I received 225 entries – WOW – and loved hearing what your fave dishes are to eat at Thanksgiving. The lucky winner is…
…Laura! Thank you for entering and I will be contacting you for shipping info so that you can get your prize!
You may recall my restaurant review post on Millwright’s, Simsbury’s (and one of Connecticut’s) newest restaurant. During my first visit, the establishment’s lower-key portion, the Tavern, had not yet opened and was actually still under construction. When it opened earlier this fall, I kept trying to make time to visit, but never had time in my busy schedule to stop in and have the Millwright’s Tavern dining experience. Finally the time came this past Friday night, with my foodie friend Kat (she is the one I, and my readers, can thank for fun blog posts like local giveaways and my review of Blo) of the Hartford Advocate.
I fell in love the moment I descended the stairs into the Millwright’s Tavern, which consists of wooden tables, stone walls, a fireplace with adjacent seating, and a bar with a speakeasy-feel. I adore dining at restaurant bars so that I can watch cocktails being made and observe the staff at work; thankfully Kat had the same line of thinking and already had a seat staked out for us!
I went with the head bartender Chris’s favorite drink on the creative cocktail menu, the Aviation (gin, creme de violette, citrus, and a beloved brandied cherry). The head chef and restaurant founder, Tyler Anderson (he won Chopped!), also was kind enough to send out the above Carrot Terrine! It was incredibly interesting and delicious.
The Aviation was incredible, as I knew it would be. Chris really knows his drinks (I met him and tried his take on the Hemingway during my first visit) and I love the unique floral test of creme de violette. I also am such a sucker for a brandied cherry. Or two. Or fifty.
Millwright’s continued to spoil us and sent out a couple more complimentary tastes. I got my first taste of sweetbreads during my last visit and was more than happy to try the above lightly fried version – flash-fried in fact! What are sweetbreads you ask? That’s the culinary name for thymus or pancreas of, in this case, veal. The aroma of this dish practically had me salivating before my first bite – is there anything more drool-inducing than the smell of fried food?
If it weren’t for the Carrot Terrine, I’d definitely be calling the above Tuna Belly with Shisho and Asian Pear the most unique dish of the evening. I think pear goes so well with Asian seafood and wish that more restaurants served that pairing! The only bad thing about this dish was that it was so small and therefore gone in the blink of an eye, or the chew of a mouth.
Oh, obviously Kat and I ordered a bunch of small plates to make up our own mini Tavern menu tour. Would you expect anything else? It’s all about trying as many tastes as possible. Always. You folks were certainly freaking out when I Instagrammed the above above-average play on your average spinach & artichoke dip, but I cannot blame you. The country bread was so toasty it was like thick crackers and the garlic crumbs on top of that decadent cheese? HEAVEN. They didn’t skimp on the greens either!
Many of Chef Tyler Anderson’s dishes have a Mediterannean influence, like the above Greek take on poutine with feta, olive crumbs, local tomatoes, and yogurt sauce! I’m a potato and Greek food freak so each bite of this dish had me moaning in a foodgasm. You know the feeling. I can’t recommend this dish enough to anyone who visits the Millwright’s Tavern.
We continued the Greek-style dining with the above lamb meatballs with polenta, tomato sauce, and fennel slaw. So amazing! I adore lamb more and more each time I eat it, which has been more and more often (makes sense). The red sauce was so very rich and flavorful. I wasn’t surprised that Millwright’s did a great job on this dish since the lamb I had last time I was there is still a dish I consider to be one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.
I was (obviously) menu stalking earlier in the day before I arrived at Millwright’s, and the moment I saw the above dish on the menu, I knew I HAD TO HAVE IT. Duck confit potato skins with sriracha creme and pickles…my only wish is that there had been less cheese so I could’ve tasted more of that fabulous fatty duck. Still, the potato addict in me was smiling.
We feasted, we Instagrammed, we laughed, and we most certainly did NOT cry. We also got to hang out with the wonderful maitre d’ and sommelier, Brent Bushong II, and the Director of Operations, AJ Aurrichio. Brent is incredible at what he does – he makes every Millwright’s patron feel special.
I was unfortunately unable to finish my second cocktail, Millwright’s take on the Old Fashioned (bourbon, demerera, flamed orange peel). But the portion I did finish was so wonderful and smooth! In fact, next time I visit the Tavern (and there WILL be a next time), I plan to order it again so that I can enjoy a full glass. However, I think next time I may order it up – what do you guys think? I’m not an ice fan!
Kat and I saw the above cheese plate from the regular menu (also available in the Tavern) get served to a fellow bar-diner and we both stopped our conversation and literally watched it go by. Probably was a hilarious image. We vowed to order it as our dessert, and even though we were both very full after our small plates, we threw caution to the wind and ordered the glorious plate of local cheeses, apple compote, HOMEMADE rye crackers, bread, and candied almonds. I am a cheese plate fiend. This guy was fabulous! The apples were so very fresh – I don’t really like apples that much but when so high quality like this compote, I am all over it. The crackers? I cannot believe they make their own! I would buy boxes of them! Kat and I could not finish all of our food so she took the rest home to her lucky husband.
I’m already dying to bring my parents to the Tavern so that we can feast on both the Tavern and Dinner Menus. Oh, and cocktails for my dad and I! Thank you to Tyler, AJ, Brent, Chris, and everyone else who made our evening at Millwright’s Tavern the perfect Friday night kickoff to our weekend!
Which of the menu items that I sampled would you most like to have tried?
Have you ever been to a restaurant with a speakeasy-feel to it?