Tag Archives: sake

Millwright’s: At Your Service

I adore farm-to-table style cuisine, and was so very excited to hear that a new restaurant, Millwright’s, was opening in the same Connecticut town as my workplace. After I discovered the identity of the chef opening the establishment, I knew I had to try it out ASAP! Chef Tyler Anderson was a winner on Food Network’s “Chopped”, and I sampled his creative PB&J bites at the Taste of the Nation: New Haven. He cooked at the Copper Beech Inn restaurant Brasserie Pip, a spot too far from me to have allowed time for a visit yet (it’s on my ever-growing list of places to hit), but a glance at that menu and my too-brief experience in New Haven told me I was sure to be impressed by the creativity Tyler was bound to bring to the Millwright’s menu. He and the rest of the courteous staff were kind enough to host my friend Chris and I for a well-rounded tasting of that menu’s offerings – and more. 

Millwright’s is housed in Simsbury, CT’s Hop Brook Mill. Upon my arrival I spent a little bit of time “searching” the grounds for the old mill’s waterfall, but didn’t have any luck seeing it (I certainly could hear it!)

Where for art thou, waterfall?

Good thing I had no problem seeing the waterfall from my perfectly-located table. Chris and I also had another dining buddy – a beautiful heron that had been, according to our waitresses, hanging out by the waterfall all day!

Can you see him?


Millwright’s could easily coast along on its beautiful outdoor views, but that would be too easy. The rustic, charming interior matches the restaurant’s woodsy surroundings and barn-red exterior perfectly! I felt right at home the moment I walked through the door and saw the shelf stocked with mason jars of “preserves” and old cookbooks next to the hostess stand.

The dim lighting at the entrance builds the perfect amount of suspense, then brightens into a dining room filled with natural light coming from the floor-to-ceiling windows you see on the left in the photo below.

All open bottles that need to stay chilled are kept on this beautifully decorated table, which serves as a convenient central location for the servers.

Our table for two. I was so pleased to see it already set up the way I prefer to dine with just one other person – side by side instead of across from each other. Optimal for sharing sips and bites!

Chris and I were given cocktail/beer menus and the wine list, which is housed in a binder. Don’t be too intimidated though…not only does the menu contain notes from the sommelier and maitre d’  Brent Bushong, but wines by the glass are also conveniently arranged on one page and wines by the bottle are grouped by taste, not by region or type (something I always prefer, because patrons are going to TASTE the wine, yes?) The cocktails caught my eye immediately – I am a cocktail connoisseur (self-declared, so you just have my word to take on that one) and those with simple yet unique ingredient lists are the very types that Chris, the head bartender, is creating at Millwright’s daily.

Chris (my dining partner, not bartender…this could get confusing!) and I decided to let Chef Tyler and his maître d’, Brent, take the reins for the evening. Between the two of them, Chris and I were served a fantastic assortment of dishes with drink pairings. Before we received anything, we got the below assortment of glasses, an occurrence which clearly both excited and astounded me.

Flute…wine glass…BUBBLE glass?!

First up…no courses. Now we still got food, but these THREE dishes were palate cleansers, all paired with a French Pommerey Blanc de Blancs Champagne.

I’m not usually much for champagne, but both Chris and I enjoyed how mild this glass was in terms of fizziness. Also, we appreciated the fact that it wasn’t too sweet at all. The flavor complemented each palate cleanser, as opposed to taking away from it.

This probably goes without saying for anyone who just looked at the above photo, but the tomato gazpacho shooter with crème fraiche was made differently from any other gazpacho I’ve had thanks to the addition of a blackberry (meant to be flicked into the glass before “shooting”) and a flower!

Ready to flick it in!

An outstanding flavor combo! I never would have expected fruit (or a flower…) to go with gazpacho!

Chris post-gazpacho-shot.

Next up Chris and I classily cleansed our palates with two New England oysters from East Beach in MA (Millwright’s goes as local as possible on all ingredients) and rhubarb mignonette.

I am not the biggest oyster fan – for some reason, every shooter I’ve EVER tried tastes like all salty shell to me! However, I could tell from my oyster’s taste that it was of high quality; my best descriptive word I can come up with is “pure”. Definitely fresh, definitely local.

Not your normal shooter.

How wonderful is the presentation with the granite slab?!

The third and last palate cleanser was my favorite. Best for last…third time’s the charm…which cliché should I insert here? Doesn’t really matter, because I think a description of the dish will do it justice: foie gras torchon on Boston brown bread, paired with a stone fruit jam.

Again with the amazing presentation! I wish I’d had more “bites” of the foie gras and brown bread, and it was painful to eat both in one mouthful, but I had to do so because I knew they were meant to be paired! I also dipped the combo into the jam – so heavenly. I’m a sucker for any app involving a pate and fruity jam.

Time for course one! Fluke tartare with buttermilk, pickled blueberries, puffed wild rice, and shiso. Brent asked us to guess what the fruit was on this dish and I am bummed that I never gave him my  guess, because I totally suspected blueberries! Not sure if he would believe me now.

By this time, the sun had almost set and the waterfall outside the window had been illuminated.

The fluke was paired appropriately, though unexpectedly, with a chilled Japanese sake called Junmai Genshu. I am a huge advocate of sake drinking (though not as much when it is room temperature or warm) and can definitely see myself seeking out a bottle of this stuff and keeping it in the fridge at home to pair with an appropriate dinner. If you ever see that sake on the menu at any restaurant, I highly recommend ordering a glass – or you could just go to Millwright’s, since you know it’s there!

The cocktail pairing is in the shooter glass in the upper right.

I swear when the second course (pictured above) came out, I let out a “squeal” of delight. Ask Chris…he’d probably agree that that’s what I sounded like. All day leading up to my visit I had been hoping I’d be served a cut of fantastic fish, but also knew I wanted Millwright’s to choose the best of their best for my tasting, so I held back on asking for a grilled seafood dish. Brent and Tyler read my mind! The above pictured grilled swordfish melted in my mouth and the white bean puree to its left tasted like hummus on steroids. The cubanelle peppers and green olives on the puree were the perfect complements, and I crafted as many “complete” bites (with everything ingredient) as possible because all the flavors just tasted as if they were born to be experienced together.

Chris sandwich!

Thankfully Chris and I got to try one of bartender Chris’s amazing cocktails…and get a photo with the mixologist himself. His take on the Hemingway (white rum, cherry, and citrus) had me doubtful at first because I wondered if it’d taste too sweet…I shouldn’t have doubted him for a second and don’t think I ever will again! I enjoyed sipping on the classic beverage’s frothy top as well as the way the rum’s flavor still shone through, but was cut down the perfect amount by the cherry, whose sweetness was balanced nicely by the citrus. Sounds complicated, but with just a few simple ingredients combined using the ideal ratios, Chris created a cocktail that tasted timeless. I’m so very excited to order another when I go visit the Millwright’s Tavern in the building’s bottom floor (after it opens Monday, 9/4!)

Course three and me 😉

I’d never heard of or tasted a dish like course three’s before…that is what I love about innovative, creative eateries like Millwright’s! The white wine in my glass above is a French Domaine Desvignes Chablisa wonderful Chardonnay possessing the perfect level of dryness to balance the moist veal sweetbreads with zucchini-three-ways, absinthe froth, almonds, and mint (pictured below).

I pulled a faux paus and thought the almonds were peanuts – oops! Either way, I appreciated the creativity it took for Chef Tyler to add nuts to a veal dish. I’m also a HUGE zucchini fan, so the not one, not two, but THREE ways it was displayed (and tasted) certainly played up to the veggie lover in me. I can’t really describe the taste of the foam in a way that would do it justice, but suffice to say that taste as well as the texture played up next to the flavorful veal very nicely. Oh man…the veal. It melted in my mouth, it really did! It’s rich flavor reminded me of one of my favorite meats ever, duck.

Chris isn’t quite sure what to make of his “bubble glass”.

Our table’s third and final shape of wine glass was filled next with Vina Alarba Garnacha (one of my favorite red grapes) from Calatayud, Spain. I’m jokingly calling the shape a “bubble”…in reality, the large wine glass used to house our fourth course’s wine is of the Burgundy/Grand Cru/Pinot/Nebbiolo variety and is shaped in that way to give the “big, closed red wine…maximum exposure to air”. The website linked in the previous sentence also admits that the glasses are that big to give a “note of drama”…at least they’re being honest!

Course number four!

Would you believe me if I said the above pictured medium-rare lamb loin with roast eggplant yogurt, confit tomatoes, and grilled fennel was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten? No? Well then you must not know me very well, because I love meat that’s practically bleeding. I love anything Mediterannean-tasting, like yogurt sauce and eggplant. I love juicy, local tomatoes. And I love fennel. So really, Chef Tyler put together a dish that was the perfect storm of Caitlin, and created a total J’adore La Vie moment for me.

Fellow foodie and ideal dining partner, Chris!

Chris and I had just one request for Brent and Tyler – dessert. Consider it done. Not only did dessert, a honey semifredo chocolate sorbet with chantilly cream and toasted almonds, blow us away, but it was paired with one of my most favorite alcoholic libations ever…DESSERT WINE (the non-sparkling kind).

The Equifera Vidal Icewine from Niagara, NY was another beverage I’m so glad Brent picked out for us, because I can see myself buying it and keeping it on hand at home to have after dinner. The perfect almost-syrup consistency that went well with every single component of the dessert, including that HOMEMADE MARSHMALLOW perched at the top.

Bread after dessert #sorrynotsorry

I like to experience the bread of every restaurant I visit. We were not brought any in the beginning of the meal, so once we finished dessert, I (hesitantly) asked one of our waitresses to bring out a couple of rolls with butter for Chris and I to sample. To me, bread says a lot about a restaurant because it can cover a wide spectrum, from the very worst (stale, served with cold/hard-as-rock butter, falls apart when you try to spread that butter on that staleness) to some of the best I’ve ever had (like the wheat sourdough with soft pastrami butter at J. Gilbert’s). I’m pleased to report that Millwright’s is in that best-end of the spectrum! I was quite psyched when our waitress didn’t call it bread…she called it “biscuits”. They had a sweet edge to them and the butter (doesn’t it look like a candle in the photo above?!) contained HONEY and SEA SALT. Ahh contrasting flavors FTW!

My kind of palate cleanser.

There’s nothing like sandwiching biscuits between two courses involving chocolate, oui? The last dish we were served, homemade chocolates, was certainly my kind of palate cleanser.

Brent (in the fancy suit), Chef Tyler and his team, me, and Chris.

After our meal, Chris and I were lucky enough to get a tour of the kitchen, the work-in-progress Tavern, and the wine “cellar”. It meant a lot to me that I was able to personally thank Tyler and his team for providing such a fabulous experience for Chris and I. I had already profusely thanked Brent throughout the meal with each course. He is the best maitre d’ I have ever encountered – just constantly ready to cater to every Millwright’s guest and make sure he or she enjoys the experience as much as possible. He even made up a custom menu for me to take home so that I would not have to worry about writing down all I was eating. I was able to just concentrate on tasting – and be in the moment!

Check the upper right hand corner…I died.

Millwright’s uses an iPad to keep inventory in the room where they keep all their wine and spirits. I also spotted my faves, Onyx Moonshine!

The coffee (served in a French press!) Brent has selected for Millwright’s is roasted in RI and is only kept for use as coffee (the beverage) for a week. After that, the beans are still used, but in cooking. A restaurant that takes its caffeine seriously is one that I will, in turn, take seriously!

The members of the waitstaff at Millwright’s were just as hospitable as Brent. I truly felt comfortable making any (reasonable) request of them. They even had left us the sweetest card when I came back from our kitchen tour!

This hangs in my cubicle at work now. The cafe they mention, Peaberry’s, is the local cafe I frequent each morning before work.

The card…the customized menu…I can’t get over the personalized service Chris and I received at Millwright’s last Wednesday night. I could even tell that Brent had read my blog! That’s the reason behind my decision to title this post the way I did. Millwright’s has the ability to make every single customer feel special, which is what every single one of them deserves. If you are looking for a place to celebrate a special occasion, or treat yourself to a meal that can also be called an experience, I recommend you visit Millwright’s as soon as possible. Like their Facebook page too…I’ve seen them give out fan-only specials!

Aww..the boys!

Thank you so very much to Tyler and his kitchen team, Brent, Chris (the bartender), Mariah, Amandalee, Rachel, and everyone else who made the evening unforgettable for Chris and I. I cannot wait for the Tavern’s 9/4/12 opening, and will be back then and many times after!

Have you ever had a dining experience that made you feel truly special?

Which dish would you have wanted to try the most? Which drink?

Do you have any experience with pre- and/or post-meal palate cleansers? Tell me about them!

WIAW: Restaurant Photo Dump

The Barre: A Real Food Giveaway ends tonight at 11:59PM EST – don’t forget to enter!

I am blown away by your support on my post yesterday. I have to admit that when I woke up that morning, I felt so beyond low. I have never felt that level of hopelessness before. I had no idea how I was going to get through the day with my mind being SO damn mean to me. But making my #AmazingMe list helped, and the comments I got on the post truly made me teary-eyed. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading my blog, commenting, and sharing with me your own feelings about negative thoughts and holding ourselves to ridiculously high standards. I already am seeing some lists pop up – and I am going to read every single one!

Becki is going to blog her list – can’t wait!

And talk about timing – Lindsay published an amazing post today in which she fights her brain’s negative body image thoughts with specific positive thoughts about each part of her. It’s clear that every part of Lindsay combines to make one AMAZING blogger who dreams up the best recipes and runs a huge, and growing, Foodie Pen Pals program!

So today I have both old and new restaurant food photos to share, so thought another WIAW Photo Dump was appropriate! I can’t really bear the thought that some of my restaurant photos, even the ones from months ago, will go unseen by my readers. Thanks to Jenn of Peas & Crayons for making sure this delicious party happens every week.

Like I’ve said before, I haven’t really been doing posts of what I ate each day, but I DO take a lot of photos at restaurants. Sometimes they pile up on me and there are too many to share after each time I go out to eat! So without further ado, here are photos I’ve accumulated from February to now that haven’t been seen on the blog yet. These are things I (and my friends) ate and drank, and I’m sharing them on a Wednesday, so it’s totally WIAW-worthy 🙂

Best miso soup I’ve ever had, from Miya’s Sushi in New Haven, CT. Made with seaweed foraged from the Long Island Sound!

Samples of Miya’s sake! Best ever. One was super salty (meant to taste like the ocean) and one was sweet.

Me and a full-size sake at Miya’s, back in March.

Array of Miya’s sushi – all automatically made with brown rice. One roll had brie, and one was wrapped in grapeleaves!

Some of the best fries I’ve ever had, with ketchup, mayo, pesto aioli, and mustard, at Rudy’s in New Haven, CT.

Pear vodka martini on Franklin Ave in Hartford.

Amazingly yummy bread sticks and EVOO/tomato-based dip at Carbone’s on Franklin Ave in Hartford.

Ahi tuna with balsamic vinegar at Carbone’s – so amazing!

Grilled veal scallopini from Carbone’s light menu, served over sliced tomatoes, lemon, baby arugula, and cilantro pesto. My first time having veal and it was a winner.

Jeff’s dinner at J. Gilbert’s this past Thursday – veggie platter of mushrooms, asparagus, tomatoes, corn on the cob, zucchini, and black beans/corn in a red pepper. CRAZY AMAZING I’M GETTING THIS NEXT TIME.

A red blend at J. Gilbert’s this past Thursday, and some of their amazing sourdough bread.

J. Gilbert’s special on Thursday – had to get it – grilled swordfish with red wine demi glace and chive butter on the side. Sides were grilled asparagus and a baked potato with mango salsa. I can’t get over it still!

BIG glass of Merlot at Matthew’s in Unionville, CT on Saturday. Eating a caper and salmon cake sent out complimentary by Matthew himself.

I think you can also tell that the last photos are more recent because I’ve gotten a little better with my camera! Wow, my inner arm in the above photo is also quite ghostly. Looks like I need to do some arm flipping next time I tan.

And now that I’ve dumped all my restaurant photos, maybe this will make room for more daily eats photos in addition to the restaurant photos as well! Is that something you guys would be interested in?

I also want to leave you today with one of my favorite quotes of all time that I remembered this morning:

“Sweet are the thoughts that savor content; The quiet mind is richer than a crown.” – Robert Greene

Which of the photos looks the most appetizing to you?

Do you enjoy my way of doing WIAW, aka photo dumps? Maybe I’ll do a traditional WIAW one of these days!

Have you made your #AmazingMe list yet? Don’t forget to share it with me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, the comments…sky’s the limit!

WIAW: Photo Dump Edition

A very special happy birthday to an inspiring friend, Meg! Happy birthday dear, you make me smile and feel stronger every time I read your blog/tweets!

Can you believe I’ve never done a What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW) post?! I always thought they had to be about a day of eats. In fact, at first I thought it could only be about a Wednesday of eats. But I’ve seen lots of creative ways to do it, including posts in which people just share yummy things they’ve been eating all week, not just from one day. Now that’s more my style!

So now thanks to Jen of Peas & Crayons, I give you the first Cait Plus Ate WIAW: The Photo Dump Edition.

Warm-Roasted Eggplant & Wonton “Napoleon” from Arugula in West Hartford, CT.

Arugula delivered one of the best falafel plates I’ve ever seen!

Duck confit & chorizo sausage flatbread from Arugula. It was to die for!

Brookline Sour at Barcelona Wine Bar in West Hartford, CT

Instagram version! This drink is made with rye whiskey.

Barcelona has amazing bread & olive oil! It was piping hot when it arrived.

Suckling pig with red chimichurri and local radishes with butter and sea salt at Barcelona Wine Bar. Aaaand I just realized that pig has numbers on it!

Rioja wine flight at Barcelona Wine Bar

Left to right: Finca San Martin, Villarica, Cerro Anon

Barcelona Wine Bar tapas: Chorizo with Sweet & Sour Figs (Balsamic-Sherry Glaze) and Coca del Dia (Feta, English Peas, Garlic Scape Pesto)

The Aviation

An at-home dinner (yes they exist): turkey burger with sweet & spicy mustard, bean medley, broc, burnt (on purpose) cornbread.

Another at-home dinner, literally the exact same thing, ha! With a side of Rioja.

For Meg!! The Kill Bill roll from Min Ghung in Glastonbury, CT: spicy tuna on the inside with eel, salmon, and avocado on the outside. Drizzled with Vietnamese Chili.

Min Ghung Sake Sampler: Peach, Snow Maiden, Pear.

Sonoma beer tasting!

Clearly still a beer lover work-in-progress.

Guacamole at Maria Bonitas by West Point.

Bartender there made me the BEST marg I’ve EVER had! Natural style, on the rocks, extra salt.

My mom agreed!

Maria Bonitas black bean soup – tasty but WAY filling!

This hole in the wall style place had the best ceviche I’ve ever had! With crab, shrimp, and octopus.

I’d be lying if I said I had any of this.

Bread from Torches on the Hudson in NY. Pretty good, nothing to write home about.

Bitter-Sweet Citrus Martini: citrus fruits muddled in Stoli, with St. Germaine

BBQ Salmon, Broccoli, Asparagus, Black Bean & Corn Salsa at Torches. HEAVENLY.

One of the most unique drinks ever. Vanilla Sage Crush: vanilla-infused tequila with fresh sage, honey, and lemon.

On the way to my friend’s West Point graduation with Starbucks in hand!

That is far from everything, but at least this Caitlin-style WIAW has given me a way to share many days’ worth of restaurant trips (with some home eats thrown in). Kinda ended up being a Wordess WIAW!

What looks best to you? I won’t make you choose one thing 😉

Pure Food and Wine – NYC

And so my adventures from NYC on Wednesday, 5/9/12 continue! Don’t forget to check out my recaps of the Fitness Magazine Meet & Tweet and Tone It Up event at Oakley in Times Square as well!

I adore vegan and vegetarian restaurants (despite the fact that I am not either), but they are hard to come by in CT. The only one I have visited near me (It’s Only Natural) is delicious and I’ve been there several times, but I like to try new restaurants…you all know that! So I’m sure you aren’t shocked that I was beyond-words excited when Heather and I realized during the Fitness Magazine Meet & Tweet, while conversing with Danielle over lunch, that one of NYC’s premier raw cuisine restaurants, Pure Food & Wine, was not only right in that very city, but a few blocks from our parking garage!

Dinner on the patio!

Heather and I took this as SERIOUS destiny. We were starved for dinner after leaving the Tone It Up event in Times Square, so we hailed a cab (that took awhile) to lug our sweaty butts and swag to the restaurant, which had JUST re-opened for dinner (many raw food restaurants close between lunch and dinner because of the work involved in prepping the freshest of food for delivery to customers’ bellies). We started the meal with the patio all to ourselves, and a kind stranger outside offered to snap a photo of us posing in front of the restaurant with all our stuff, like nomads!

Bag lady blends!

I love my unique cocktails, so I was all over that menu, which featured a line-up of drinks made with specialty sakes. I love me a good sake cocktail! I selected the Himalayan Paradise: ginger, lemon, and goji-berry infused sake.

The cocktail was everything I hoped it’d be – and more, since its presentation blew me away. The flower floating in the drink fit perfectly with the peaceful vibe that had already settled over the meal – before we’d even ordered.

I savored every last drop throughout the meal and tried to make the drink last, but it went down very fast 😉

Speaking of which, does anyone else get annoyed when the food at a restaurant comes out TOO quickly? I know it doesn’t happen often, and perhaps since everything at the restaurant was raw it cut down on the time to prepare our meals, but our dinner came out literally about ten minutes after we ordered. I like to take my time with my drink and sip it solo, apart from the food, for a bit before I start pairing it with my plate. I suppose I also value the restaurant experience so much that I want it to last as long as possible, and the sooner the food comes out, the closer the visit is to being over. The fact that dinner was served so quickly wasn’t really a big deal at all though in the scheme of things, and Heather and I settled in to feast.

But I’m getting ahead of myself! We had a tough time deciding – I so wish I had enough money and a big enough stomach to order EVERYTHING – but the combination of our helpful waitress and recommendations we’d received earlier in the day from Danielle helped us decide…eventually.

Heather chose the Hen of the Woods Tacos el Pastor: smoked guac, hearts of palm, chayote squash, guajillo crema fresca, and pickled onions. She looooves da guac, so this was a choice that was right up her alley. And just look at how beautiful it is! However, it tasted BETTER than it looked. So unique and flavorful. We both took our time with this food, because we didn’t and still don’t know when we’ll have a chance to eat a meal like this again!

Getting every last bit of sauce!

I ordered the Sweet Corn & Cashew Tamales with Chili-Spiced Portabella, which came with salsa verde, cashew coconut sour cream, avocado, and raw cacao mole! Another gorgeous presentation (that incorporated a flower) from the staff of Pure Food & Wine.

I had the idea of asking Heather to capture my face at first-bite.

At peace with my meal!

Yup – one of the best meals of my life. I was speechless! And it’s NOT because my mouth was stuffed…I was taking this slow. I didn’t want it to end!

But alas, it did! Heather the avocado-lover helped me with that portion, but I dominated the rest, and all that was left was that sad-looking empty tamale. Thanks to Danielle for mentioning this dish to me!

I wasn’t sure if I had any room for dessert after dominating my main plate, but Heather helped me realize that I definitely needed to live in the NYC-moment, because I don’t visit the city or restaurants like this every day! So, we ordered something VERY special.

It was the last day the seasonal pumpkin cheesecake would be on the menu, so that made our decision a bit easier. This dessert induced plenty of inappropriate-sounding moans and groans from both of us! There actually was NO pumpkin in it. Instead, the “body” of the cheesecake was composed of a squash and carrot puree. The crust was almond meal and the ice cream was of the cashew variety…I got my fill of cashew “dairy” at this meal and loved every bite! I wish I could remember specifically what the syrup, icing, and crispy cookie were made of, but let’s just say it was something akin to puppies and rainbows and all kinds of other wonderful things.

No. Shame.

I gave Heather the last bite. In exchange, she let me lick the plate. That’s what foodie friends are for!

Sad that it’s the last bite!

We were so, so very sad when the meal came to an end, but our bellies, bodies, and hearts were certainly pleased.

Love the way the check was “served”!

Since it was such a bloggy day, we left our business cards with the check!

Courtesy of Matty!

Thank you to Pure Food & Wine for providing an unforgettable experience to Heather and I! The restaurant surpassed our expectations and I only hope we can dine there again some day.

Have you ever been to a raw food restaurant?

Have you ever encountered a meal that you can truly say is one of the best you’ve EVER had?

If you’ve ever been to NYC, what’s your favorite restaurant you’ve been to there?