Tag Archives: manhattan

More Birthday Stuff

Thank you for your props in response to my Mexico/birthday themed Marvelous In My Monday post! I really appreciate it, especially after my less frequent blogging as of late. But I still have more to say about my 25th birthday, which was this past Saturday. When I wrote the MIMM post, I was on the airplane and it was my birthday afternoon. I was feelin’ good! However the evening presented new challenges. I overcame them, but my birthday weekend wasn’t completely the rosy picture that my last post painted.

Before boarding the plane though, I did make a new friend from Ohio. He wanted to pose with me as I showed off the gin & tonic sample I received IN THE AIRPORT. Gotta love the duty-free shop in Mexico.

Before boarding the plane though, I did make a new friend from Ohio. He wanted to pose with me as I showed off the gin & tonic sample I received IN THE AIRPORT. Gotta love the duty-free shop in Mexico.

I had birthday dinner plans at my favorite restaurant, J Gilbert’s, with my very close friend (and blog namer, I can’t not mention that) Rachel. It was my first time seeing her since my move to Boston and also my first time seeing her since she got engaged! We started the evening off right with our barrel-aged Manhattans (or as we like to call him, Mr. Manhattan).

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Thanksgiving 2013: Dining Out

In recent years my family has spent Thanksgiving at the home of our friends, the Gerbers. Unfortunately this year they moved to Texas and we decided instead of finding another group to join or having Thanksgiving at home, we would go out! Obviously this was my idea and of course we selected J. Gilbert’s, my favorite restaurant, as the spot. Thankfully (ha get it?!) we were smart enough to call a couple of months in advance and lock down a 6:30PM reservation for our party of six. We received a call the day before Thanksgiving letting us know that a 4PM slot had become available, and my parents jumped on it. This was not fun for me because the earlier the reservation the more time I was going to have between finishing dinner and going to bed to think about what I’d ate. But I was the only one in that camp, so I had to deal!

The Croswell Fam!

The Croswell Fam!

I felt ridiculously hungover on Thanksgiving morning thanks to the previous evening’s festivities (Jager, never again) but made it to the gym for 30 minutes of StepMill intervals and an upper body workout. I sure am glad I went because I felt a lot better afterward, but man it was torturous during! I rushed home to shower and get cozy with coffee and the Black Friday circulars…a tradition! I felt very tempted to restrict after the gym and just not eat until dinner so that I would ensure I’d have plenty of room for the amount of food I was “bound to consume”. I texted my girl Brittany for support and she gave me the reality check I needed to push forward and fuel my body post-workout.

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The Execution of Noa P. Singleton: My Last Meal

I don’t think most are interested in reading a book review unless they’ve either read the book or are definitely planning to read it. That’s why I’m such a big fan of the concept of the From Left to Write online blogger book club. Instead of writing a book review, the book is meant to serve as a writing prompt or inspiration for a post in which I can draw on and blog about my own personal experiences.

July’s book is a debut fiction novel by Elizabeth L. Silver – The Execution of Noa P. SingletonThe story switches between narration by Noa in the first person and narration by the mother of the girl Noa is in prison for killing – in the form of letters to her dead daughter. Immediately Noa is revealed as being on death row for the murder of a girl named Sarah, but we don’t know how said murder or its trial occurred. Slowly, those occurrences are revealed. However, I’m not going to write about them. I’m going to write about a topic discussed at length in one chapter of the book – the last meal.

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Chef’s Tasting at Pond House Grille

My guest and I received a complimentary chef’s tasting for the purpose of writing this post. Beverages were not included. All thoughts and opinions about the experience are my own.

I’ve dined at Pond House Grille several times before, and enjoyed each experience. But they recently re-did their menu and I’ve been anxious to sample Chef Jordan Stein’s creative dishes for awhile now. Thankfully, Pond House invited me and a guest to come in and do just that via a special chef’s tasting, complete with an explanation of each dish by Jordan himself.

Jordan and I! I love his hat and glasses. They're his trademark!

Jordan and I! I love his hat and glasses. They’re his trademark! Please ignore the McDonald’s sign in the background ruining this photo.

I asked Jill to join me because she is a fellow foodie who will try anything (after all, we have shared worms and scorpions in the past). I knew she’d appreciate this opportunity as much as I did!

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MIMM (Heavy on the Friday)

The winner of the Talcott Mountain Music Festival ticket giveaway winner is Tiffany! Your tickets are in the mail 🙂 Thank you to all who entered and remember that you can still purchase tickets to the next two shows here!

Happy Marvelous In My Monday! Last night I was COMPLETELY wiped from a weekend of fun…and still felt wiped this morning (hello, Monday). I had one night of not enough sleep (Friday) and one good night’s sleep (Saturday), but that good night was not enough to make up for Friday. Friday was definitely the most energy-exerting, fun, friend-filled, delicious part of my weekend. The rest was great too, but you will find today’s MIMM post heavy on the Friday.

Thanks Katie for the marvelous mindset!

Marvelous is…a chef’s tasting at Pond House GrilleMy good friend Jill and I had the privilege of experiencing a tasting of small plates, prepared for us by Executive Chef Jordan Stein, for dinner on Friday night. We also sipped on some magnificently crafted cocktails and experienced a floral course, involving dry ice! I will be doing a full blog post this week about the experience so stay tuned. For now I’ll be a tease (though some of you may have gotten a sneak peek of more photos on Instagram).

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Marvelous in My Memorial Day Weekend

It may not be Monday because I didn’t think it was worth it to publish a full MIMM post on a holiday, but Memorial Day starts with M and so does Marvelous, so there’s no reason I can’t keep the alliteration train chuggin’ at full speed. My work day went south the second I picked up my cubicle phone this morning to listen to a voicemail, so I really need to focus on marvelous and not mad. Which is how I’m feeling.

Thanks Katie for hosting this party! Pretend the Monday says Memorial Day.

Marvelous is…making it to my gym’s Friday evening step class. I haven’t been able to leave work on time for that class in awhile but I decided it was the Friday before a holiday weekend so if any day I was going to leave early, it’d be that day. The step class was so fun – a routine with both familiar and new moves, a high-energy instructor who demanded cheers from us as we worked out, and fantastic remixes of old favorites like “The Call”. Great way to kick off the holiday weekend.

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Birthday Dinner at Max Downtown

Thanks for putting up with my spotty blogging the last couple of weeks! I hope now that the pre-vacation work rush and during-vacation relaxation has passed, I will get back into my routine, including regular blogging!

I still have some Max Restaurant Group establishments to cross off my list, but I selected their ritziest, Max Downtown, for my 24th birthday celebration dinner. My birthday was on 3/22 and this dinner occurred the weekend before that, but vacation and a last MBA semester typically result in late recaps such as this post, so forgive me!


I (obviously) invited my parents to this special dinner, as well as my best friend Lidia! My dad was kind enough to me and my mom off while he ventured out to find downtown Hartford parking (hey, we were cold!) so I had some time to take some shots of the restaurant’s lovely interior while we waited.

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Last Thursday at Thirty5

If you like what you see in this post, head over to SaveNowCT.com and purchase today’s daily deal – $15 for $30 to spend at Thirty5! Talk about timing!

I swear one of these days I will write about a topic for which it is impossible to use alliteration in the post title. Today is not that day…I’m sure it’s no coincidence that I chose to visit this restaurant on a Thursday. Last Thursday, to be exact.

My friend Olivia and I made a dinner date at one of West Hartford Center’s newer restaurants, Thirty5 Bar & Grille. Located on 35 LaSalle Road (next door to McLaddens, for those who are WeHa-layout-literate), this spot was formerly Reuben’s Delicatessen, a popular breakfast and lunch destination. As Thirty5, the restaurant still offers the beloved deli-style breakfasts and lunches of Reuben’s, with the addition of a full bar (happy hour!) and a dinner menu featuring apps, small plates, sandwiches, and entrees; some of the dinner menu is available on the late night “bucket list”.

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Three Generations Dine at Max Fish

This post may have bad timing since I just recently published a post about how I don’t eat out EVERY night, but please forgive my contradiction because I have a home meal post coming up tomorrow. For now, you REALLY want to read this one. Like, really.

I don’t do a full recap of every dinner I have out (just photo dumps), especially if the restaurant has already been featured in its own post on the blog before. However, the meal I enjoyed last Thursday night at the Max Restaurant Group‘s seafood establishment, Max Fish, in Glastonbury, CT was so noteworthy that I had to do an entire post on it. Let the gushing commence!

Grannan and I!

My grandma (we call her Grannan) had arrived that afternoon from Florida, and my mom and I knew we wanted to take her somewhere special for dinner. Thankfully my family had plenty of points racked up from the Max restaurants’ free rewards program, Max Vantage. Ever since hearing about the Max Fish Tiki Dinner I attended, my mom has been dying to try their regular menu (she is already a fan of their award-winning happy hour), so we decided to use the rewards points there. Plus, they have an outdoor patio – I love dining al fresco! My grandma, mom, sister, and I decided it was the perfect spot to celebrate Grannan’s arrival.

Once seated we were immediately served the above sampling plate of seaweed and pickled cucumber salad. That certainly started the meal out on a high note! The combo was genius and the cucumbers were pickled just enough. Any more and they definitely wouldn’t have paired as well with the seaweed.

We also got a pretty great bread basket. The wheat rolls were just OK to me, but the other variety of roll contained raisins and caramelized onions. Those were so flavorful that they didn’t even need any butter – but that didn’t stop me from using a bit 😉 My favorite part of the bread basket actually wasn’t bread – it was the flatbread crackers with sesame and what I believe were caraway seeds. So satisfyingly crunchy and hearty.

Max Fish has one of those cocktail menus (pictured above) that I could study and debate for hours. They certainly proved themselves to be expert mixologists at the Tiki Dinner! I love wine, but felt like it’d be a cocktail appreciator’s sin to not order one (or two!) of these gems.

Happy with my choice.

It actually didn’t take me too long to decide on the Fish Hook, Max Fish’s take on the Manhattan, because of its main ingredient: Onyx Moonshine. I’ve spoken with the owners of this Manchester, CT-based company a few times at events, and they are a great group of people putting out an excellent, smooth liquor. As expected, the Fish Hook was amazingly refreshing and the orange peel in it looked pretty awesome as well. I savored every sip.

My sister was very surprised when she ordered a Diet Coke and it came out in an old-fashioned Coke bottle. Cute!

She may kill me for using this.

I was debating between ordering tuna and swordfish (the dinner menu is pretty epic…lots of menu indecision anxiety for me!…and cool sidebar – Max Fish has a gluten-free menu!), and that decision was made easier for me when my family and I had the chance to sample the rare yellowfin tuna.

Meg, are you dying?!

I was ecstatic that my mom, grandma, and sister were all willing to try it. And better yet, the madre and Grannan declared that they LOVED the rare tuna!

All gone!

I can totally understand why and I’m glad that their first taste was at Max Fish. The tuna was cooked to perfection, the exterior crusted in an adequate amount of sesame, and the sauce and slaw garnishes were the perfect compliments.

So proud of herself for trying – and enjoying – fish cooked rare!

Hannah was not the biggest fan – she is still in the stage in which the only seafood she likes is mahi mahi, what I like to call the “gateway fish” – but she tried!

She is not a seafood fan!

She much prefers the taste of Diet Coke!

When our food came out there was a bit of confusion with the food runner over whose plate was whose, and which fish was which, so my mom and Grannan’s dishes got sent back. But once we realized that everything had actually been correct in the first place, the kitchen was nice enough to warm the entrees back up before delivering them to the table.

Since I’d tried the tuna, I ordered the above grilled swordfish with pineapple-ginger chutney, local bok choy, and black sticky rice. I have been dreaming of that rice since the Tiki Dinner, and convinced my mom and Grannan to get it with their food too! I never eat rice – I find it to be extremely boring, and it makes me sleepy if I eat even a bit too much, like pasta does. This rice, though, is just the right hint of sweetness and its texture is so fun! I know that sounds strange to say about a food’s texture, but it’s really the first word that comes to mind. The pineapple-ginger chutney was so amazing paired with the sticky black rice. My only complaint is more like a regret – that I didn’t ask for EXTRA chutney! The bok choy was very well cooked, not too oily, and the swordfish was the thickest cut I’d ever received at a restaurant. The outside was nice and char-grilled while the inside was flaky. No knife was needed to slice off each bite – a fork was plenty.

Grannan’s entree

Mom and Grannan continued to make my everythingarian-self happy by taking my suggestion to get the sticky black rice with their entrees as well. They are very much like me when it comes to rice – just not that impressed. But also like me, they were over the moon about Max Fish’s rice! Being true seafoodies though, their favorite meal component was the grilled monkfish. The two of them could not say enough good things about how it was cooked. Grannan also swooned over her sauteed spinach (pictured above).

That right there is Hannah’s choice, the 10 oz filet mignon with creamy mashed potatoes. She also got a side of haricot verts to get her green on. She ordered the steak medium and it certainly came out cooked just as she’d asked.  I have to admit I’m glad she didn’t finish it all because this filet was beyond-words amazing. As in, it-rivaled-J. Gilbert’s amazing. Yeah, I said it. Hannah said those taters hit the spot as well – exactly what she craved.

Me and the sis!

I finished my Fish Hook right when my entree came out, so to go with my meal I ordered something refreshing, light, and citrusy – the French 75.  It was served in a fun, classy glass and contained gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and Prosecco. Didn’t taste much like alcohol, and not a cocktail I’d usually order (a bit sweet), but it was still fun to step outside of my martini-shaped box.

The French 75, me, and a bunch of good bread.

We declined dessert because we were all quite satisfied, so our waitress brought the check, along with some nice warm towels topped with fresh lemons for cleaning our hands. My mom adored that fancy ending!

And Max Fish had one more surprise up its sleeve…after-dinner drinks! Again, though it was a sweeter beverage than I’d normally order, I enjoyed the below Strawberry Caipirinha, AKA Brazil’s national cocktail, made with strawberry, cachaca (sugar cane rum), raw sugar, and lime. Hence the lime and strawberry garnishes! This drink made me feel fabulous and was perfect for a warm summer evening like the one we were enjoying that evening.

Lighting doesn’t do it justice – it had gotten dark!

Thank you so very much to Max Fish for giving my grandma an amazing welcome-to-Connecticut dinner to kick off her visit from Florida. We promised her a great seafood dinner and the restaurant certainly delivered! I highly recommend Max Fish for any occasion – or even none at all. If you’re trying to save money, their happy hour is a great way to try a lot of their food options at a discounted price.

And don’t forget to read up on the Max Restaurant Group’s Chef to Farm Dinner Series, which already has generated buzz nationally. I’m planning to hit up one of the August dinners, but there is one coming up as soon as the end of July in Simsbury, CT! Click the link, take a look at the menu, and buy a ticket once you recover from passing out (since it’s so amazing).

Do you have a favorite seafood spot near you?

Which foodie photo is your fave in this post? I won’t judge you if you name a beverage 😉