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Taste of Hartford 2009, where have you eaten?

masha bousha Jul 29, 2009 04:22 AM

Last night myself and two friends went to Hot Tomatoes for the special Taste Of Hartford menu that they were offering. One of my dining companions selected HT from the list of (I think) 32 participating restaurants. I did overlook all of the menus on this website prior to heading out for dinner and I have to say, I think Hot Tomatoes cheaped out pretty bad on what they were offering for their 3 courses.

First off, I am fairly sure that it was intentional that the hostess didn't offer us the TOH menu when we were seated. We had to ask the waiter for it. No big deal. Ok, so most of the other places doing the TOH had choices of each of their 3 courses. Hot Tomatoes only gave you a choice for the entree (and here's where I'm saying they cheaped out). Their first course was their garlic cheese bread (the cheapest appetizer on the menu...and as you know, most places give away their bread. I know, this bread was good and had probably a dollar's worth of garlic and perhaps a few dollars worth of cheese on it....yay---and we got one of their loaves to split amongst the three of us). Their second course was a teeny salad of greens...wow. The online menu actually implied a choice of two greeny salads but the printed one didn't. Now I will say both of these are good things to eat but it was weird that they picked super cheap stuff to put on this special menu.
Onto the entrees...I had what was called Asiago Tilapia (I think the real menu calls it parmesean tilapia) and it was off the hook good (yes, I have something good to say!). It was just a largish piece of fish that had a crispy covering of cheese, on a plate with lemon caper sauce. I found it semi strange that it didn't come with a starch or even a garnish but since it was good I was into it.
My dining companions had Pesto Chicken and Chicken Parm. They loved their entrees.

So...it's been about 10 years since I've gone to HT and it took the TOH and a convincing friend to get me there but I was surprised at what I thought was a kind of cheap offering. Most of the other places participating had several choices for an appetizer course as well as a dessert course in addition to the entree. Hot T's gave us bread, a tiny salad and an entree. It would've been "a whole lot cooler" if they ponied up a dessert choice instead of the salad...but that's just me.

Last year we went to Barca and I thought the options were great as far as the courses and choices.

how'd you all do in your TOH trips?

  1. a
    askeenan Jul 29, 2009 07:06 AM

    Wow, If they are going to be cheap with their offerings than they should just not participate in the event. This gives them such poor publicity. I firmly feel that events like this are times when the restraunt should put their best foward as to create a new consumer base while perserving there current customer base. This is the time for them to shine. Often Restraunt week is when I first visit an establishment and if they WOW me I will certainly be back and will let everyone know of my great experience. So they should treat this as a marketing expense. Breaking even would be great and investing in future loyalties would be even better!

    4 Replies
    1. re: askeenan
      masha bousha Jul 30, 2009 04:13 AM

      FYI, the TOH has been extended through next week.

      1. re: masha bousha
        e
        Earle Jul 30, 2009 04:22 AM

        Yes I heard they extended it for another week, But what good does that do if any of the other places are using all of there normally cheaper dishes for the promotion. Please lets hear from some of you that have participated in this promotion and have visited other restaurants than the 1st one mentioned.

        1. re: Earle
          zoe p. Jul 30, 2009 07:33 AM

          Wow! An extra week of weak food.

          I had two meals during New Haven's restaurant week - Bespoke and Union League. Union League cheaped out on the dessert . . . but I was so blown away by the other items that I left with a good impression and a sincere desire to return. Lots of choices too!! Maybe this accounts for the price difference between NH and Hartford's week?

        2. re: masha bousha
          r
          rbailin Jul 31, 2009 10:59 AM

          Also FYI, not all restaurants are participating in the extended 2nd week, Morton's and Bin 228 in particular. The Morton's staff was kind enough to let me know about this change today after I had made an OpenTable reservation for next Tuesday.

      2. w
        Waquoit Jul 30, 2009 01:20 PM

        On Monday we went to Black-eyed Sally's. I love their gumbo, my friend got the corn and chicken chowder that was also really good. The entrees were also good sized and tasty, catfish and jambalaya. Minor quibbles were getting the entrees before the apps and sending them back. I hate sending stuff back. They were also out of the pecan pie, which is pretty tacky considering it was the first day of the promotion. Overall a winner, hopefully the quibbles were isolated incidents.

        Yesterday was a visit to the great O'Porto. The Taste menu is quite generous and everything was yummy. Every plate going back was spotless. The brazilian shrimp app is awesome. We got the Baked Fillet of Sole Stuffed with Shrimp and Crab and the Grilled Boneless Hen this trip. Flan and Chocolate Mousse finished a nice meal. A steal at $40.18 for 2.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Waquoit
          zoe p. Jul 30, 2009 04:20 PM

          That O'Porto meal sounds really great!

          1. re: zoe p.
            w
            westie Jul 30, 2009 05:10 PM

            We went to Casa del Sol tonight and business was booming. My wife started off with the empanada de pollo which was not what we expected, but simply outstanding. My tortilla de pastatas paled in comparison. We, like most of the tables tonight, ordered the paella de la casa which was outstanding. We have this dish a dozen times over the years and this was by far the best. Very moist and flavorful with the shellfish, chorizo and chicken all done to perfection. We concluded the meal with flan.

            1. re: westie
              w
              westie Aug 4, 2009 02:37 AM

              Sunday we dined at Morton's. We started off with a humongous loaf of bread studded with onions. The smell was divine, but we resisted saving room for our dessert. We each enjoyed a bountiful Caesar salad followed by single cut, 6 ounce fillets. Our shared baked potato and steamed asparagus were excellent as was our double chocolate mousse. Morton's has to be biggest bargain at this year's TOH. Unfortunately, I understand they are not participating in the second week so it is off to O'Porto.

        2. w
          Waquoit Aug 5, 2009 08:40 AM

          We went to Hot Tomato's last night. Wasn't my choice and I kept my mouth shut to be a good sport (though I had read your report last week). I can confirm everything you said. "Cheaped out" is a good way of putting it. They clearly don't have their heart in the promotion like other places I've tried and the end result is my being disappointed in the place. The food was fine but I can't say anyone "loved" what they had. Do it right or don't bother.

          1. masha bousha Aug 6, 2009 04:09 AM

            I hit Black Eyed Sallys for their TOH menu last night.
            We were seated quickly after being asked if we had a reservation (we didn't) but then we were sitting at our booth for probably 10 minutes desperately trying to flag down one of the 5 waitrons whipping by our booth, with no luck. Dare I say they were all avoiding eye contact. It's like they sat us in the black hole---right next to the bar, right in the action but apparently where no one was assigned our table. That was pretty annoying. We almost got up and left.
            Anyway, when our waiter showed up he did apologize and said there was a staffing mix up. We both had the gumbo (nummy!) and my SO got the fried chicken w/ mac and cheese and collard greens (all were pretty good) and I got the ribs w/ beans and rice (also good). We got our desserts (key lime pie) to go and they were alright too.

            So....good food, kind of crappy service.

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