Middletown would have to have a great dining scene, right? After all, it’s centrally located and boasts a top university, miles of Connecticut riverfront, numerous scenic and historic attractions, and a long, stately Main Street that would seem perfect for restaurants.
A year of research and development yielded what he calls cheese pods — whale pun intended — which are semipermanent setups constructed from two shipping containers. The fully functional prototype at Lebanon's Graywall Farm has been churning out the flagship Melville cheese (named after Herman Melville, author of “Moby Dick”) since November.
“It's actually kind of comical, we never had a sign,” Melissa Solek says of how they got started. She also makes the crisps, jellies and pickles sold in their East Haddam store. “I just put 'Fresh bread 4 p.m.' with an arrow pointing up to the store, and people started coming.
A quick Web search shows that offbeat pub names abound across the Pond, like the Jolly Taxpayer, The Bucket of Blood, The Nobody Inn, The Bull and Spectacles, The Quiet Woman (portrayed by a headless female server), The Hung Drawn And Quartered, and the unfathomable I Am The Only Running Footman.
General Manager Greg Gardner, who has been with the restaurant for 32 years, remembers the story: There used to be a bar regular on J. Timothy’s softball team nicknamed “Dirt” for being the oldest member of the team. Dirt would order wings, but socialize with other patrons until the wings became cold and unappetizing.
The phrase Connecticut barbecue might never have the ring to it of, say, Memphis barbecue, Carolina barbecue, Kansas City barbecue or Texas barbecue. Sadly, much of our barbecue might be of the remove the-rack-of-ribs-from-the-sleeve-and slather-it-with-BBQ-sauce variety.
The Capital Grille might also be Hartford’s priciest ticket, squeaking by Morton’s Steakhouse in a race no restaurant should want to win. Or maybe there’s a “steakhouse exception” and people will embrace high prices when they get an unwavering fixation on steak.