Saturday, September 6, 2008

West Hartford Restaurant Round-up: Bricco, Plan B, Siam Cuisine & more

Since we've moved to West Hartford, my wife and I have taken in a few of the local restaurants. As I'm still not working, it is something we've done only here and there and is kind of our treat for the week. This town has a lot of places to dine, so we've only just chipped away at the selection.

Here's where we've eaten:


Bricco 78 Lasalle Rd, West Hartford, CT - I'm a carbonara junky, and this place made one of the best I've ever had. Not overly creamy (it kills me when the sauce is too gooey), the dish was very tasty, and the portions were the correct size for the meal. Very good Italian fare. A bit noisy, but that shows the sign of a popular and good place.

Plan B Burger Bar & Tavern 138 Park Rd, West Hartford, CT - Amazing hamburgers. That's pretty much all you need to know. Hand-packed, fresh beef patties make for the best burgers, and this place follows that rule to a T. Plus, you can get truffle fries, sweet potato fries, or parmesan fries with your order. The only complaint . . . burgers seemed to be done more than requested. So, if you want medium, ask for medium-rare.

Siam Cuisine 312 Park Rd, West Hartford, CT - Everyone needs a good Thai place nearby, either for take-out or a quick bite inside. Siam Cuisine is that place for us. They aren't afraid to make spicy food, a serious flaw in many Thai restaurants on the main trail. And the price is right, with lunch specials at $6.95 and dinners between $8 and $15.


The Elbow Room 986 Farmington Ave, West Hartford, CT - Maybe we missed something, because lots of people seem to like this place, but when we visited the Elbow Room shortly after moving to West Hartford, the only thing that saved us from total disappointment was our friendly server. I had the Twin Pasta with chicken, sausage, and peas. The dish was super salty, and had a strange texture due to the fact that the chicken had been shredded and the sausage was ground into the pasta. We weren't impressed, and with so many other options in town, we probably won't be heading back for a while.

Front Street Bistro 35 Lasalle Rd #A, West Hartford, CT - I almost need to give this place a mulligan, because, from what I've read, the Front Street Bistro is fairly new, having recently converted from being just a bakery into a full-on restaurant. I'm sorry to say that they still need refining. Though we did have a friendly employee checking in on us, our actual waiter seemed to care less about our needs and never stopped by to see if everything was okay with our meals. The Caesar salad we had consisted of browning lettuce and dry strips of chicken that felt well pre-prepared. The meat loaf wasn't bad, but, since it was made from turkey and beef, it was a little too flaky to completely work. However, I will say that the place makes a mean smashed potato. This was the saving grace to the experience. Seems like the Front Street wants to focus on comfort cuisine, but they need to work on it some more. 
UPDATE - From what I've read and heard from people around, it seems as if I may have hit the Front Street on a bad night. I'll have to give them another try somewhere down the road . . .


Lemon Grass Restaurant 7 S Main Street #3, West Hartford, CT - This Thai restaurant wasn't bad at all, just a little weak on flavor.

Prospect Cafe 345 Prospect Ave, West Hartford, CT - Serving meals since 1965, the Prospect Cafe offers pretty by-the-book fare, from sandwiches to Italian plates. The pizza we had was a bit too much. With a very thick crust, a single slice can fill you for an entire meal.

Oh, I know there are more places we've visited, I just can't think of them right now. In the meantime, anyone out there disagree with the above? Do you think The Elbow Room deserves another shot? How about suggestions for places to try in the area? Feel free to let me know. I'm all ears.


deadhorses said...

Couldn't agree more with you on most counts. Funny thing with the Elbow Room is that it used to be great, but we're talking 2-3 years ago. I'm surprised, with all the better restaurants around town, that people still flock there like they do.

For Thai, you're spot-on, in my opinion. Siam is our go-to for takeout, and Lemon Grass has never really done anything for me. The other place you owe it to yourself to try out is East-West Grille, the place that looks like a little hole in the wall/former diner. It's over on New Park, across from Home Depot, if you haven't seen it yet. Highly recommended fusion of Thai and some other Asian flavors.

For burgers, I'd have to say that I've been pretty underwhelmed by Plan B as a whole. I believe that A.C. Peterson and The Corner Pug both do a better burger, overall, maybe because they do it with less fanfare.


Ben said...

Thanks for the confirmation and the tips. The Corner Pug is on our list of places to visit. Someone else mentioned the East-West Grill to us, so we'll be trying that in the upcoming weeks, as well.

And, as you noted, Plan B is a little "too cool for school" for a hamburger joint. I'll give you that. Sometimes, you just want the food, not the experience.

WHForums said...

Max's Oyster Bar is our favorite West Hartford restaurant, though it's pricey. Still, they serve Unibroe, so how can I complain?

We also really love Mediza and Arugula (both in the Center)-- as well as some of the other restaurants you've already mentioned. My wife loves the Caesar salad at Rizutto's in BBS (which I have a sneaking suspicion could use our business).

Goldroc Diner is our favorite comfort food spot -- 24 hours, good coffee and everything you'd expect a diner to be. Just bigger.

Ben said...

Arugula has piqued my interest since arriving, so I'm glad to hear nice things about it.

Kerri said...

Yes, go to East-West Grille! It's quirky without trying too hard. The food is delicious and the prices are reasonable.

AmyBergquist said...

I would suggest the Fernwood in Elmwood. The food is pretty much just okay, but you'll feel like you've been shot back a few decades in time. Somewhat Twilight Zone-ish.

Ben said...

Well, as the "Twilight Zone" is one of my all time favorites, perhaps a trip to the Fernwood is in order.

Anonymous said...

Dare I mention Tapas and VietNam Restaurant? Elmwood has many gems!

Emily said...

I think people like Elbow Room for the roof deck. I absolutely agree that the food is underwhelming. I went there for the last time one day last summer, when I asked for pickles, the server brought out one, and they CHARGED me for it. Never again.

If you like Thai food, you need to venture (slightly) outside West Hartford and check out Hot Basil on New Park and King & I Thai on Park. Both fantastic.

And Arugula is hands-down my favorite restaurant in West Hartford. Definitely check it out.

Anonymous said...

Emily - Hot Basil is in West Hartford

Foodie Wanna Be said...

I have to agree with you on the Elbow Room. It's the roof deck that is the draw. My husband and I gave it 3 tries and were not impressed.

While we love many restaurants in West Hartford (Grants, Briccos, Mediza, Arugula), there is one restaurant we will leave town for - Vieng Thong Thai Cusine in Avon. Best Thai food in the area!

Anonymous said...

Barcelona sucks, used to be good last year(07) but now it's a filthy sh*t-hole run by a huge coke-head and his moronic skanky underlings. Elbow room is very similar to Barcelona, less of the skanks but more of the coke. Grants/Bricco/Max's are REAL classy joints and some of the only places your going to get a REAL meal out in the center, but you PAY for it...big don't complain.
I love ALL the Asian restaurants in the center as well, they do great work.
Front Street Bistro is a total joke, run by a brain-damaged psycho woman and currently managed by a fat ugly 19 year old junkie. This is apparent upon being there for 5 min, I seriously DARE you to go in.
Shish Kabab house is good, although they are not at all knowledgeable about their menu or their food...I've received multiple answers to the same menu questions so many times. Anyone with diet restrictions beware.
In case you can't tell, I've worked at some of these places. It's surprising to me that some of these restaurants can last in the center when they suck so bad.

Oh, and like people have said, Elmwood DOES have several great spots, so venture outside the center for christ sakes!

Steve said...

Anonymous directly above needs to comment here more.

Ben said...

Not sure if the owners of said restaurants would agree with you there Steve, but for the rest of us, comment on Anonymous, comment on.

Julie said...

The Elbow Room... would have to say that i love it! the roof seating is definitely the draw to that place.

Front street bistro has gotten alot better. I went there when they first opened and it was so-so. Now on the other hand, it has gotten a hell of a lot better! New chef and new pastry chef, great stuff!! the pasty case is by far the greatest way to end a dinner.

Mediza, not that interested in that kind of food.

And Plan B is pretty good, only been there once.

Anonymous said...

Mediza, I believe, has closed

Anonymous said...

yea its unfortunate but mediza is gone. also i have to disagree with you about shish kebab house... wev been going there about 2-3 times a month and love it! and elbow rooms only plus is that rooftop!