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Feb 24, 2008 11:19 AM

121 Restaurant @OXC

A few friends and I checked out this new restaurant at the Oxford Airport. We got there a little before 6:30 per the prompting of the host who said they don't take reservations for groups under 6 pp, and they've been getting busy. She was right. We got there to a pretty full restaurant, and when we left an hour plus later, the place was completely full with a wait for tables.

Location--it can be a little tricky to find, but if you get to the Airport Access Road in Oxford and follow the restaurant signs, you'll find it.

Ambiance--it was dark (even too dark for my 30 something year old eyes), so it was hard to pay attention to a lot of the details, but it seemed nicely done. I'll definitely look forward to going back during the daytime. There were a combination of tables (mostly four tops) and tables with booth seating on one side and chairs on the other. There was a wall of windows to see planes flying in and out of the airport, but we were behind a metal screen, so we only saw an outline and movement of the one plane that landed while we were there. I'd definitely recommend increasing the lighting, even just slightly. There were many groups of what seemed to be 60 and 70 somethings, and I imagine that once the novelty of a new, upscale restaurant near them wears off, they may not want to dine in such a dim setting. It was noisy (again, that's coming from a 30 something who has two small children), and we were very aware of the constant noise around us, but we did not have to shout to hear our friends, which was appreciated. If you want a more subdued setting for sustained conversation with friends, however, this is not the place.

Service--service was pleasant. Our waitress was genuinely nice without being the Outback, kneel down at the table and be our chum kind of server. She was attentive but not obstrusive by any means. My only quibble, shared by my friend, is that after getting back the bill once giving her the credit cards, she took the signed receipt while we were sitting there. Wait until we've put on our coats and walked away from the table, please. You can wait a couple minutes to see that yes, we did leave you a generous tip. The owners also were around, and it was nice to see them interested in diners' experiences. I think this could be a nice addition to the area dining scene.

Food-the menu was American, primarily, in its focus, and it had enough to appeal to the masses. I would definitely say it was not particularly innovative, but it had safe entrees and such that appeal to many. Appetizers tended to run around $8-12; salads were about the same. Pizzas and sandwiches were in the $8-10 range, and pastas were in the mid-to upper teens. Entrees were the priciest at $23-25 on average. Desserts were mostly $6. There were no specials, but we were told that as the restaurant continues, there will be specials available.

At our table, we had French Onion soup (very good according to those who ordered it), chopped steakhouse salad (really good--I think my husband was ready to slap away my fork). The salad had nice cold, crisp iceberg, non-anemic cherry tomatoes, and crisp bacon in a buttermilk based ( I think) blue cheese dressing. Dinner brought us a smoked salmon, creme fraiche, capers, and red onion pizza, my husband's choice. He was thrilled to have his favorite things (lox, cream cheese, capers, and pizza) all in one, and he enjoyed it very much. A friend had the seared yellowfin tuna, proclaimed good, and another had the linguine with seafood (scallops, shrimp, and mussels) in a garlic, white wine sauce. She said it was okay, but not super. I had a (very expensive) but sizeable filet mignon. It was in a green peppercorn sauce (which I did not taste) over sauteed spinach and mashed potatoes with bits of lobster (uninspiring, a bit overcooked, and probably the reason the price was jacked up to $29) with a Rioja (?) reduction. The filet was decent, cooked a little more on the medium side of the medium rare that I ordered, but overall okay. I think next time I will try something different.

I definitely think that this restaurant has the potential to stick around, particularly with a large number of retirees moving into the active adult communities in Oxford. Many are coming from lower Fairfield County and New York, and they are coming from areas where they have many more restaurant choices. I will say that I reported back to my parents, living in one of those communities, to encourage them to try the place but at lunch. It should not be as dark, it may not be as noisy, and the lunch prices are bound to be more reasonable.

I'd love to hear others' experiences.

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  1. This is just a side note, but many restaurant owners insist you pick the signed bill up before the guest leaves to ensure that the bill is actually signed. Surprisingly, lots of customers forget to sign the bill, leaving the waiter/restaurant responsible for the entire amount, should the guest contest the charge. It happens all the time.

    3 Replies
    1. re: invinotheresverde

      Interesting. We eat out quite frequently, and we never noticed that before. I'll see servers looking in our general direction to see if we're signing and/or put our credit card back in our wallet, but never has one taken the signed bill while we are still there and clearly not ready to go. I can understand why they may do it, but it made us feel quite rushed.

      1. re: chowgirl

        The best advice I can give you is don't sweat the small stuff. It sounds like you had an enjoyable dinner; did you really feel rushed just because the waiter picked up your signed bill? It's not like she was tossing your coats at you (which I've seen). :)

        At my restaurant, the staff is mandated to pick up signed bills not only for the previously mentioned reason, but also to thank the guest again. Really, it's not to rush you (there are plenty other not-so-subtle ways to do that).

        1. re: invinotheresverde

          No sweat on my part, and I didn't feel a great urge to get up and go; rather, just an observation. It won't stop me from returning if I choose to do so.

    2. OXFORD, CT - Oxford Airport - We went at 3PM-ish on a Saturday for a late lunch. They have the same menu straight through. Sunset was around 4:15 PM, so it was a good time to go. Quite a bit of plane activiy on the runways just outside. It was definitely worth the drive that seemed to go on forever to get to the tippety top of the hill. I loved the atmosphere of the place. Lighting was nice. Nicely decorated for the holidays and it felt cozy and warm with the open wood burning oven in the open kitchen. It would be really fun to dine at the bar in front of the open fire. We enjoyed our meals. I took a picture of two of our half-eaten apps--chile hoisin chicken wings and wood fired roasted shrimp cocktail--ignore the slop on the plate--we are messy eaters. I had thai shrimp pizza--it was just OK--I wish it had more of a thai flavor. My husband had a scallop dish with parsnip puree and shrimp fricasse that he said was cooked perfectly. My husband had the lava cake which I though was a total disappointment. It was cool on the inside and had a very yucky taste--I love dark bitter chocolate, but this was just not great. However, my dessert of toffee pudding with cafe de leche ice cream was incredible--tasted almost like homemade warm gingerbread almost---such a wonderful ending. They serve Mr. Shane's ice cream. The staff was young and competent. I would definitely love to go back.

      Here's website:

      3 Replies
      1. re: cheereeo

        We've got the other thread on 121:
        I wouldn't call it a cozy kind of place. I would call it hard and cold.
        I'm glad you had a good meal but we are inclined to not return. Perhaps the food's improved?

        1. re: Scargod

          'Scargod'~ Appreciate your detailed post on the other thread(we missed this one at the time). We're also glad that there has been some more positive experiences since then but would be inclined to wait and see before venturing there with so many other options(which you have shared your experiences at as well). Thanks.

          1. re: Scargod

            It felt cozy to me with the dim lights, cold freezing air outside (the day we went, it was in the 20s) and warm toasty fire brewing in the inside all decorated for Christmas with poinsettias. I'm sure in the Summer (I believe when you went last), you may not have felt that sensation. Was definitely not the best meal I ever had, but I enjoyed myself. However, when we went, the place was slow and quiet too.