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Hartford - Recs for upscale-ish/casual dinner

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Looking for a restaurant recommendation in Hartford (first visit).

I'd like to find someplace for a weekend dinner to catch up with a friend we haven't seen in a while... someplace "casual" insofar as you can linger for a long time, and cocktail it up, and the room will have a little energy and buzz. But "upscale" in terms of good/interesting food and drink offerings. We're late thirties/forty-ish and budget isn't a consideration.

Perhaps something along the lines of Eastern Standard in Boston or a bit-more-happening-ish Cotton (Manchester)?

Any thoughts?

Rab-bit!

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    1. re: sryder

      Trumbull Kitchen gets noisy sometimes (but the food and vibe are great). Hot Tomatos may be a good alternative.

      1. re: Enfielder

        I would like to 2nd Hot Tomato's. I always have a good time there. I can't say the same about Trumbull Kitchen.

    2. I'd suggest Braza.

      Grab a table outside, sit back, sip on a fresh mojito and people-watch. The food is incredible.

      They usually have live music - salsa night, DJ's, latin jazz bands.

      http://www.hottomatos.net/web/braza.html

      1 Reply
      1. re: hypertomatoes

        I'll chime in for Hot Tomatoes as well. I always ask for a table in the "wine room", for the atmosphere. Also, Peppercorns is pretty good as well.

      2. Hot Tomato's is a good suggestion as is Peppercorn's. Both offer the opportunity to "retire to the bar" after dinner. Of the two, Peppercorn's is a bit more formal and has the better bar by far.

        O'Porto on Park St is also a nice place to linger. Never rushed. Good food. But if it is your first trip to Hartford, you may want to stick in the downtown area.

          1. Spris. Great Italian, excellent wine list, quiet atmosphere. I think the food and service is much better then Hot Tomatos. Peppercorns is also great.

            http://www.spris.cc/ct_index.html