Restaurants in Connecticut
November 15, 2005 8:37 AM   Subscribe

My parents are impossible to shop for. So, a friend recommended a restaurant gift certificate and, seeing that my parents hardly ever get a chance to get out together for a romantic evening, I thought that this would be the perfect gift. However, there is a slight problem...

My parents live in Middletown, CT and I live in Toronto, ON. I really know nothing of the area except for what I've seen through a car window and I have not experienced a lot of the local culture or cuisine outside their small suburb (which is fairly remote).

Can anyone recommend a really nice restaurant in the Middletown/Hartford/Rhode Island area? The cuisine should not stray too far into the exotic. Price, while not much of an issue, should not wade into what the more affluent of the areas locals can afford.
posted by purephase to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You might try getting them an American Express gift check. They can use it at any restaurant they like.

I did this for my brother and sister in law for their anniversary. It worked out great.
posted by Marky at 8:45 AM on November 15, 2005

In Maine we have this card which gives you deals on a couple hundred resturants, plus free tickets and other deals available when you show your card.

A quick google turned up nothing, but I'm betting the area where they live has something similar.
posted by anastasiav at 8:55 AM on November 15, 2005

Personally, I think a certificate to a specific restaurant makes a nicer gift than any kind of bordering-on-being-cash gift card or a promise to pay the bill at any place they want. It shows you thought about what they would like and just seems more like an actual gift. Plus, if they don't get out much, it will point them toward something new, which should be fun for them. Sorry I don't know anything about CT, though.
posted by keatsandyeats at 9:24 AM on November 15, 2005

Try looking at

They have listings for Providence and Hartford. I've never dined in Hartford, but their top listings for fine dining in Providence are pretty good.
posted by atom128 at 9:26 AM on November 15, 2005

Have you tried the Connecticut Travel Guide from the New York Times Travel Section? How about a "pizza pie" of the month from Pepe's in New Haven with a suggestion to visit one related thing while in town: e.g. a pizza with Cheddar and a visit to the Yale Center for British Art. Work with me here...

If going to Providence, AL Forno, is often the top-rated Italian restaturant in Boston.
posted by Dick Paris at 9:32 AM on November 15, 2005

Best answer: Three top-rated (Zagat) restaurants in the area (Hartford, specifically; no good ones in Middleton as far as Zagat knows) that your parents might enjo:

Costa Del Sol: "Perfect paella”, “tasty tapas”, “great sangria” and a “terrific wine list” make for “a change of pace” at this “delightful”, family-run Hartford Spanish spot with “hospitable service”; P.S. you can also “buy your own paella pan in the adjoining specialty store on the way out.”

Peppercorn's Grill: "You can’t go wrong” at this “consistent standout” whose “truly wonderful Italian fare” “makes going out in Hartford worthwhile again” “for anyone who appreciates a complete food-and-wine experience”; it’s also “popular” with the “pre-theater crowd” because of its proximity to the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, and though certain servers “could be friendlier”, the “competent staff” “can be counted on to get you out in time” for the show.

Trumbull Kitchen: Richard Rosenthal’s “hip” and “happening” Downtown Hartford Eclectic finds favor with fans for its “fab tapas-style menu” along with “inventive” entrees and equally “delicious” decor (dark wood and leather walls); a “pleasure from beginning to end”, it’s a “great” if “noisy” “place to stop before or after a Civic Center event.”
posted by WestCoaster at 9:49 AM on November 15, 2005

Chowhound is a great place to find restaurant suggestions and ask food questions. Go straight to the message boards.
posted by phearlez at 9:55 AM on November 15, 2005

When MrsMoonPie and I got hitched, some friends arranged a meal for us at a fancy-schmancy place that didn't have gift certificates. As far as I understand it, they called the place, gave them a credit card number and their telephone number, and authorized us to spend, well, a lot of money. On the night of our dinner, the staff had to actually call the credit card owner to authorize the charge, but that was it. We didn't have a certificate, and we never saw the bill, or, really, had any firm idea of how much the meal cost. I do not know how much trouble something like this would be to set up, though; both of the gift givers have email addresses in their profiles, so they might be of help.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:04 AM on November 15, 2005

Maryland has a restaurants association that sells gift certificates that are good at over 500 restaurants in Maryland. Maybe CT has something similar.

You also might be able to find something suitable here.
posted by amarynth at 10:25 AM on November 15, 2005

If Providence isn't too far, Al Forno would be a lovely treat. If you wanted to splurge, you could also get them a night at a B&B or something.
posted by judith at 10:43 AM on November 15, 2005

Best answer: I'm actually living in Middletown. The Tuscany Grill is my favorite restaurant, but if you want to go outside the city I'd suggest one of Max's (Max Downtown, Trumbell Kitchen or Max's Oyster Bar), all of which are in Hartford.
posted by null terminated at 10:54 AM on November 15, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for all the recommendations. I would prefer a certificate to a specific restaurant for the extra personal touch. Based on some of the recommendations, the Trumbell Kitchen and Al Forno seem like interesting recommendations so I am going to call both to see if I can setup something similar to what MrMoonPie described (or similar).

I like Trumbell for the added hip atmosphere as I could see my parents getting a kick out of this particular environment. ;)
posted by purephase at 4:50 PM on November 15, 2005

Response by poster: As an update (if anyone is still watching this thread) I purchased a gift card from Max's. The card is good for any of the Max restaurants (which all rate fairly high) and not only in Hartford but in other areas of Connecticut which might make it a little more convenient for my parents.

Thank you all for your suggestions. Now I just hope my parents enjoy the gift! I'm going to avoid the best answer markings as this is probably more of a personal choice for most people and everyone gave some excellent answers.
posted by purephase at 12:19 PM on December 1, 2005

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