Sunday, August 31, 2014

Play Nice at NIXS Hartford Restaurant

Social Media Sampling
NIXS Hartford 2014
NIXS Hartford - #PlayNice

The Front Street District in Hartford is abuzz with activity. With the recent opening of the Infinity Theater and Ted's Montana Grille, as well as last year's opening of the Capital Grille the area just keeps getting better and better.  With the Connecticut Convention Center directly across the street on Columbus Avenue, the Hartford riverfront district is quickly becoming a destination area, with great food and fun entertainment.

NIXS Hartford, another recent addition to Front Street, is mixing the two with an eclectic menu, a chic industrial modern interior, and a nightlife vibe with its launch of club music on weekends.

NIXS Hartford - Exterior Day

We headed up on a late August Tuesday night for a sampling of some of the snacks, small plates, and large plates available off their extensive menu that features raw bar offerings, sea, land, and garden items, as well as ala carte dinners, and 'comfort' sides.

We started with cocktails off their Specialty Signature Drink menu, taking recommendations from our waiter Christopher. The cocktail menu is fun and features items such as the Beach Please (made with house infused pineapple vodka), Strawberry Rhubarb Smash (Temptation Bourbon and Rhubarb Bitters), Bazzle Dazzle (Bombay Gin, muddled basil), Bad Wolf, (Rye, honey syrup, orange and lemon juice), and the William Fly Tai (Pyrat Rum, Lime Juice, Amaretto).. I elected to stray from my usual sweet drink craving and instead selected the Dirty Rotten Scoundrel (Belvedere Vodka, olive brine, capers, and a blue cheese stuffed olive). It was just what I was hankering for, the smooth vodka, infused with briny flavor, was suitable for sipping throughout the evening.

NIXS Hartford - Signature Cocktails
Signature Cocktails at NIXS Hartford

Moving on to our snacks we sampled pickled beets from the day's chef's daily pickling menu...

NIXS Hartford - Pickled Vegetable of th
Tuesday's Pickled Beets

...and we learned about Captain Nix's Tasting Trio, a special that changes daily and features the Chef's daily tacos, paired with three shooters from the signature cocktail menu.

NIXS Hartford - Captain Nix's Tasting Trio
Captain Nix's Tasting Trio (Changes Daily)
Pictured: Beach Please and Tuna Tartare Tacos

From the Snack Menu we tried the Candied Bacon Deviled Eggs, a delicious starter item, with the smokey bacon flavor permeating through the creamy yolk filling.

NIXS Hartford - Candied Bacon Deviled Eggs
Candied Bacon Deviled Eggs

We also sampled the fillings from some of their more popular small bites, a tender pork belly, tuna, and chuck lobster from their famous "Best Damn Lobster Roll". Each bite was delightful and set the mark high for the items that followed.

Pork Belly, Tuna Crudite, Lobster Knuckle and Claw

Next on the small plates menu were a two types of Tater Tots, a sweet crab and lobster.

NIXS Hartford Lobster and Crab Tater Tots
Tater Tots

Next we sampled the tacos, two made with soft flour tacos and the other with a crispy corn taco.  The first was Braised Short Rib Tacos with creamy black beans, green apple slaw, and goat cheese fondue. Of course, these were the Cowboy's favorite, the tender beef was braised to perfection and the apple slaw added a wonderful tang.

NIXS Hartford - Braised Short Rib Tacos
Braised Short Rib Taco

These were followed by the Crispy Fish Tacos with avocado, cilantro sour cream, pico de gallo. The cilantro sour cream and the pico de gallo elevated the flavor to what might have otherwise been a simple dish.

NIXS Hartford Crispy Fish Tacos
Crispy Fish Tacos

Rounding out the tacos, were one of my favorite small plates of the night, the Tuna Tartare Tacos with avocado, cilantro, and spicy sesame mayo.

NIXS Hartford - Tuna Tartare Tacos
Tuna Tartare Tacos

Also available from the Garden Small Plates menu are a variety of flat bread pizzas. We sampled the Margherita Flat Bread made with tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, and drizled with extra virgin olive oil. Also available is a Wild Mushroom Flat Bread made with Fontina val d' aosta, arugula and ricotto salato.

NIXS Hartford - Tuna Tartare Tacos
Flat Bread Pizza


We sampled NIXS' Chicken Wings that are available in classic hot, honey dijon, or ginger soy.

NIXS Hartford  Chicken Wings
Chicken Wings

It was with the large plates menu that we really found our groove. NIXS Grilled Hangar Steak with a spicy chimichurri sauce. The sauce enhanced the flavors of the char-grilled steak, which was cooked to perfection for the cut, a beautiful medium rare.

NIXS Hartford Grilled Hangar Steak
Grilled Hangar Steak

But perhaps my favorite large plate was the Bad Ass Roasted Chicken, with sweet corn, onions, and bacon, roasted with rosemary.  While rosemary typically isn't one of my favorite spices, this chicken was fantastic, with great fall holiday flavors in every bite.

NIXS Hartford - Bad Ass Chicken
Bad Ass Roasted Chicken

Our last Large Plate selection was NIXS version of Surf and Turf, a  grilled swordfish with candied pork belly. I had tried this combination at the NIXS VIP Opening in a small bite sample so I wasn't surprised at the unusual pairing and already knew how well it worked together. The silky richness of the pork was the perfect accompaniment to the well seared swordfish. The swordfish may have been just a tad bit overdone but was still moist and flavorful.

NIXS Hartford Surf and Turf
Surf and Turf - Swordfish and Candied Pork Belly


We sampled two of NIXS sides, the Herb Risotto and the Smoked Mac and Cheese. The risotto was excellent, and a wonderful large portion perfect for sharing on our upcoming cool autumn nights. And the Smoked Mac and Cheese was everything I hoped it would be, creamy, cheesy, melt in your mouth good.

NIXS Hartford Risotto and Smoked Mac and Cheese
(L) Herb Risotto and (R) Smoked Mac and Cheese


Our dessert course allowed us to be a little 'hands-on' with our food! A plateful of still warm Zeppoles with a two sides of filling that we could inject ourselves!  A creamy vanilla custard and a sweet caramel sauce!  What fun!

NIXS Hartford Zeppoles
The Whimsical Zeppoles 


Other desserts included a S'more Parfait with caramel pudding, graham crackers, and roasted marshmallows, Scotch & Cereal, a 12 year old scotch infused with Captain Crunch Cereal Milk, accompanied by a Captain Crunch Treat scotch caramel treat. Although the S'more Parfait did include some chocolate chips, the consensus at the table was that it needed a bit more chocolate to live up to its s'more counterpart. We also sampled a dessert cocktail, the Root Beer Float, a frothy little concoction packed with flavor, a light ending to wonderful meal.

NIXS Hartford Desserts
NIXS Desserts - Root Beer Float

Through out the evening General Manager Yaz and Executive Chef John made themselves available to answer questions, checking in frequently with us, as well as other dining patrons.

NIXS Hartford Executive Staff, GM Yaz, Chef John

We loved the casual vibe that NIXS offers, and we're certain that it will soon become a favorite stop for Hartford dining and drinks. Service is friendly and fast paced.

NIXS Hartford - Interior
NIXS Interior


We enjoyed NIXS Hartford and hope you do too! 

NIXS Hartford at Night


NIXS Hartford
40 Front Street, Hartford, CT
860-373-9400
info@nixshartford.com 


Like them on facebook ==> https://www.facebook.com/nixshartford
Follow them on twitter ==> https://twitter.com/NIXSHartford
Follow them on instagram ==> http://instagram.com/NIXSHartford

****

Nixs on Urbanspoon

Disclaimer: We were invited to this menu sampling by members of NIXS Hartford's public relations and management team. However, all opinions are our own.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Washington Prime: Eating + Drinking Well in South Norwalk CT



Social Media Sampling Event



Yay! The cowboy and I took the trek up the I-95 South corridor to visit Washington Prime in South Norwalk CT


I honestly don't know what took us so long - this place is fantastic!

Washington Prime is the ideal location to eat, drink, and enjoy.  So, it's no surprise that their tag line is:

"Eating and Drinking Well"



The food is fantastic, with a focus on great cuts of beef,  fresh seafood, innovative salads and sides, and a collection of small plate and large plate offerings that will absolutely knock your socks off.

And a pretty extensive specialty cocktail menu to boot!

This place is amazing in so many ways! The location is perfect, easily accessible from I-95, with affordable parking in a pay to park lot directly across the street. And inside the restaurant there's plenty of comfortable seating.



In addition there's plenty of outdoor seating with a lounge area that is perfect for chillaxin' with friends.


Here's some of the fabulous food and drink we sampled on our visit.

Cocktails

The beverage menu reflects a modern cocktail culture, with craft beer offerings, and a versatile wine list. Well, of course we started with some fun cocktails from their specialty cocktail menu. Items available include the Pippi Longstocking, the Hot and Dirty Martini, and so much more...

Yup - The Moscow Mule in the Copper Mug is Mine!
So frosty good  - with a great addition of ginger to give a little heat and pump the flavors up a notch

The dining menus features classic New England seafood dishes, including some pretty bold comfort foods, small plates with huge flavor, hearty salads, amazing prime steaks, raw bar, and robust side dishes that have a southern twang to them and thus set the tone for Washington Prime’s adventurous menu. And the menu is almost all gluten free!

Starters 

The Seafood Tower. An array of fresh seafood, clams, and oyster.

Colossal shrimp, local oysters, jumbo lump crab meat, little necks,
Maine lobster served with spicy mustard, cocktail sauce, and classic mignonette.

Pork Belly Bites. Tender and delicious!

Pork Belly Bites with foie gras powder dusting

Small Plates

Lobster Bisque. Chef Jared's preparation is spot on. A rich creamy bisque packed with flavor.

Lobster Bisque with parsley creme fraische

Deviled Eggs. A great play on mom's classic, with a bit of heat and tartness.

smooth and creamy yolk, prime meatball, pickled onions, foie gras powder 

Burrata. A mix of flavor textures accented with a salted pretzel bread.

creamy slaw, sambal aioli, sesame, pretzel bread
(Note: The pretzel bread by Wave Hill Breads is a delightful surprise)

Poutine. An updated fries and gravy.

Fries with oxtail ragu, cheese curds, green onions

Knuckle and Claw. Salty, crunchy, deliciousness.

Chunk lobster claw, blue corn grits, lobster sauce, tobiko

Octopus, a plateful of artful flavor combinations.

Octopus with pickled peppers, duck fat marble potato, pepper emulsion

Wings, a classic with an unusual twist.

Fried chicken wings, kimchi sauce, scallions, soy, chili 

Salads

The Prime Wedge. With bacon. And more bacon. And OH SO GOOD!
Gem iceberg, wedge pickled heirloom tomatoes, bacon, Ewes blue cheese, chili, house ranch dressing

Chop Chop Salad. An explosion of flavor on a plate!

Iceberg & romaine lettuce, bell peppers, onion, carrot, provolone, salami, red wine vinaigrette


Land and Sea

USDA Prime Steaks
All of Washington Prime steaks are USDA Prime Certified. They are sourced by Pat LaFrieda Meats in NYC from Creekstone Farms in Arkansas City, Kansas. They are cooked in a 900 degree specialized infrared broiler and can be charred to preference


8 oz Filet. Peppery, crusty, goodness. Melt in your mouth good.

18 oz Ribeye. With an amazing rub that enhanced every bite.



32 oz Porterhouse (dry aged 28 days). All I can say is that I'm still craving more. I could eat this all day - every day.


Grouper. Don't let the amount of sauce fool you, it was actually a nice light addition.

Grouper, served with carolina gold rice, tomato, asparagus, carrot butter sauce

Scallops. Succulent, sweet, and the grits were delicious!

Scallops with middlins (rice grits), corn relish, nicoise olives, hunters sauce

Dessert

We sampled a trio of desserts, the ice cream chocolate chip sandwich with fruit loop dipping sauce, the Chocolate Bomb, and the Key Lime Pie

L top to -R bottom
Ice Cream Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwich with Fruit Loop Dipping Sauce
Chocolate Bomb - filled with ice cream and caramel goodness
Key Lime Pie


Throughout the night Chef Jared Falco and Managing Owner Marcos Siguenza were available to welcome us, answer questions on preparation, cooking techniques, and spices and ingredients.

The Executive Team at Washington Prime
(L) Marcos Siguenza - (R) Jared Falco



More on the Executive Team from the MaxPR Press Release:.

Rob Moss (not pictured above) Originally set on a course in the business and finance field out of college, but found himself interjected into the restaurant scene.  Rob’s business savvy and enthusiasm for the restaurant biz got him noticed by the developers of the cb5 Restaurant group and he soon took on the General Manager role of Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar in Greenwich, CT in 2009. He soon beccame Vice President of Operations for the company, creating many well known establishments including; Red Lulu in SoNo and Salem, MA; more Lolita's in Boston and South  Beach, FL; Chinawhite in Greenwich and Purchase, NY; 30 Boltwood in Amherst, MA; and OAK Longbar & Kitchen at the Fairmont Copley in Boston, MA, awarded Zagat’s  “7th most stunning restaurant design in the U.S.” for 2013. 
Marco Siquenza: Ecuadorian born, but  raised in the restaurant business. A well-known member of the service team at Match for over 7 years, Marco was instrumental in obtaining the many “best of” awards and online accolades for the restaurant. Marco proceeded to join his cousins and help open the popular Mediterranean restaurant and wine bar 55 Degrees in Fairfield, CT and then invested and created Scena in Darien, CT. Marco creates quite a following, always at the helm managing customer relations, staff training and a flawless dining room floor and beverage program. 
Jared Falco: Jared Falco, while growing up on the shores of Northport, Long Island, was shown the ropes of this crazy business by Italian restaurant owner Mike Maroni of Maroni Cuisine. While still in high school, this young chef was already pulling his weight behind a busy kitchen line, working extra shifts at nearby restaurants, learning from such great local chefs as James Tchinnis from Swallow East in Montauk. In 2007 Jared pursued his formal training at the French Culinary Institute in New York and was later accepted to a coveted internship under Daniel Boulud at his 3-star Michelin restaurant Daniel in NYC. Jared was recruited by Chef Craig Attwood from Hampton Point Inn and 1770 House in East Hampton, working summers on the Island and winters back at Daniel. After a stint at Wiley Dufresne’s WD50 in the city and an internship at Noma in the Netherlands (rated #1 in the world 2010-12, and again in 2014), Jared rounded out his mad kitchen skills with front of the house training under the direction of Rob at the cb5 Restaurant Group, working with their local restaurant concepts. 

I can't say enough great things about Washington Prime. My favorites from the tasting menu were the deviled eggs, the scallops, the poutine, the chicken wings, the seafood tower, all the cuts of beef (Filet, Ribeye, Porterhouse), and the amazing salads which are practically a meal in themselves (Prime Iceburg Wedge, and Chop Chop Salad).  Okay. Everything. We loved everything!

And I know the cowboy is vigorously nodding his head in agreement reading over my shoulder as I write.

Take the ride to South Norwalk CT and visit Washington Prime - Eating + Drinking Well soon!


Operating Hours (kitchen hours available HERE)
Mon & Tues: 4pm to 1am
Wed & Thu: 11:30am to 1am
Fri & Sat: 11:30am to 2am
Sun: 11:30am to 1am

Washington Prime, Eating + Drinking Well
141 Washington Street
South Norwalk, CT 06854

TEL: (203) 857-1314


*****

Washington Prime on Urbanspoon

Disclaimer: We were invited to this promotional  sampling by members of  Washington Prime's Management and Marketing Team, however, the views and opinions expressed herein are our own.
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