Rooftop 120 Restaurant
120 Hebron Avenue, Glastonbury 860-430-9989 www.rooftop120.com
There are plenty of attractive restaurants in Greater Hartford, but few that you can actually get jazzed about.
Until now, that is. The wow factor of Rooftop 120 in Glastonbury is undeniable. The brainchild of developer Evan Schwartz, and the latest restaurant addition to Eric Town Square, Rooftop 120 is accessed by an elevator in the Sakura Garden vestibule that transports visitors up to its 7,000-square-foot digs on the third floor. By the hostess’ station, a lifelike mural of lounging 20-somethings, drinks in hand, sets the tone.
We take their cue and check out the enclosed sky bar to the right, with its beautiful, almost hallucinogenic end wall punctuated by protruding backlit bottlenecks and heels in vibrant colors. We’re tempted by the sky deck with its night views, fire pit, heat lamps, couches and camaraderie, but we perch at the rectangular river-rock bar, our legs glowing green from its under-lights, sipping organic blood-orange martinis ($12.75) created by bar manager Tyler DeVecchis while Tori Amos belts out “Cornflake Girl.” We could linger all evening, but our table is ready. We’re led through a lounge like dining space and down a long corridor, the roof sloping in telescopically as one looks ahead. A series of angled stripes on the carpets accentuate the ceiling slope.
There are regular tables set into window alcoves, tall tables with tall stools, couches where customers can chill, and another bar with under-lights that rotate through the color spectrum.
But Rooftop 120 has much more going for it than its attention-grabbing ambiance. A year into its existence, we find the servers friendly and efficient, the food of chef Eric Stagl well-prepared. From Rooftop 120’s affordable wine list ($28-$58) with perhaps a score of wines by the glass ($8-$13), a 2010 Château Ste. Michelle Chardonnay ($32/$9) from Columbia Valley, Wash., is a nice accompaniment to a menu heavy on fresh seafood.
From a raw bar located in the sky bar, a sampler ($23.50) showcases two East Coast oysters, two West Coast oysters, two littleneck clams, two jumbo shrimp cocktail and half a lobster tail served with cocktail sauce, apple mignonette dressing and Old Bay rémoulade. There are also ramekins of a Japanese-style seaweed salad and a chewy calamari salad.
Seven other salads ($7.75-$10.75) are offered, to which chicken, salmon, shrimp, or Stonington scallops can be added for a price. A warm bacon vinaigrette is protein enough for a sparklingly fresh baby spinach salad ($9.25) served with shaved red onion, toasted almond and dried apricot.
Of three soups, we try two. A big square bowl of New England clam chowder ($6.75) is terrific, the soup thick, creamy and clammy. But a cast-iron bowl of French onion soup ($4.75) disappoints, the broth sweeter than can be explained just by caramelizing onions and adding sherry or brandy. Along with the soups, Rooftop 120 offers a guilty 1970s pleasure, a choice of three dips: blue crab ($12.75), caramelized onion ($6.75), or spinach and sunchoke ($9.75). Armed with toasted pita triangles, we demolish an unstinting serving of gloppy rich blue crab dip laced with smoked jalapeño, chives and pepper Jack cheese.
Designed for sharing, the starters ($5.75-$13.50) are probably a little bigger than expected. Twelve chicken wings seems a generous starter portion. They come in a choice of five spicy flavors: sweet chili and ginger, chipotle BBQ, Cajun, hot sauce and jerk. We order six done in the dry Cajun rub and six done “dirty” in the sweet-chiliand-ginger sauce, the latter proving far more compelling. We also enjoy an oblong flatbread served on a cutting board and topped with chili-rubbed grilled chicken, chipotle onions, roasted red pepper and pepper Jack cheese.
We regretfully pass on Black Angus sliders ($9.75) decked with Brie and roasted tomatoes because we’re even more enticed by the short rib sliders ($10.75), slowcooked Broad Brook Farm beef from East Windsor topped with horseradish crème fraîche and crispy shallots, and mounted on three brioche buns. A side of highly seasoned eggplant fries ($6.75) with marinara sauce is a worthy accompaniment, the eggplant supplied by Beckett Farms in Glastonbury. Obviously, there’s a lot of local sourcing going on.
We also fare well with the “mains,” which, priced from $12.50-$19.75, are served in portions a little smaller than expected. But maybe this makes sense, considering they are not that much more expensive than the starters.