Dinner in Wallingford
If there's still an interest in an answer to this... I'm not a fan of Michaels. Tried it several times, and finally gave up. Laskara is one of my favorites; a fairly traditional Italian/Mediteranian menu, but very good quality. J. Christians has very good food and a much more creative menu than most others in town. Otherwise, Fratelli's out on Rt 5 in Yale Plaza is good for Italian.
We had dinner at J. Christian's on Saturday night. Meeting friends from Hartford, it seemed like a good midway point. First of all, the building is beautiful. They obviously did a very thoughtful job in transforming it from a bank to a restaurant. Agreeing with rickrickwhat, it is a very creative menu, mostly what I would call "Nouveau Southern." While the meal was not without hiccups (noted below), it was overall an enjoyable experience and we would definitely return.
- Even though we were not "regulars," we were warmly greeted by 2 hostesses and Christian, the owner. I always appreciate being made to feel weclome at a restaurant, and there is little doubt that they went above and beyond what would be expected
- Very creative menu - definitely not like anything else we've seen in this area. Most dishes were very well executed. I had a "Virginia peanut salad" and it was excellent (and very, very large). For my entree, I had their version of shrimp and grits, the grits being prepared with asiago cheese and they were delicious. The two accompanying vegetables - fried okra and "brussel sprout hash" were both excellent. With one exception (below), all of us enjoyed the food.
WIne service. Our server filled our glasses when the bottle(s) were opened, but never refilled them. This is inexcusable at an upscale restaurant.
My wife ordered the salmon as an entree, requesting that it be pink in the middle (medium - medium rare). What she got was an overcooked fillet that should have never been served. When she cut into it, not only did she discover that it was badly overcooked, but there was an unacceptable amount of dark brown flesh, the stuff that is inedible. When she pointed this out to the server, it was replaced and the new plate was fine, but the first piece should have never been served ($25 is not exactly cheap for a salmon entree!).
Overall, a positive experience and we would return, but at the prices being charged,
I feel that the negatives noted above are inexcusible.
We used to LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Michaels, but I do feel that the food is not as good as it used to be. The bread used to be nice, dense, crusty and fresh. Now it is a cheap, pillowy waste of time. Food tends to be over-sauced and really, the menu probably hasn't changed much in the past 10 years or so.
We do like J Christians, but have had mixed experiences (have been there probably 4-5 times). Last time we went, DH was not thrilled with his steak, and actually said that the steaks I cook are better! But, I had the fried green tomatoes that were fantastic, as was his she crab bisque. Other experiences were much more positive, and the food quality, preparation, and presentation was high quality . Service has been spotty.
If it were a choice between the two, J. Christians would win, hands down for me.
Taqueira Mexico is just what it says- a taqueira. very good, very inexpensive, very casual.
Tatas serves puerto rican/carribean food and is a little more upscale, but not on the same level as JC or MT. Service can be slow.
KT Baxters is actually better than you would think. Their menu is all over the place, but I have never been disappointed. The only thing I despise is that they have TVs in the dining room. If I am paying $20 bucks for a meal, I don' t want to watch the (insert sport here) game. But, it is a good 'compromise place'- not too expensive, casual, and a varied menu that could satisfy almost anyone.
Hope that helps!