Full disclosure: I am writing this from the Garlic Farm in West Granby! I’ll be managing their newsletter this summer and keeping the locals up to date with breaking news on ramps and CSAs and such. Hurrah! I can’t wait for ramp pesto in a couple of weeks – will most definitely share the recipe and I may end up with a surplus if anyone is interested in sampling – so stay tuned. Also: look how bucolic it is out here – consider a day trip:
Sitting on a bench, under a shady tree, in the late afternoon in early June on a nice farm – it’s just delightful
My resolution this summer is going to be a simple one – spend as much time as possible outside. It’s fitting to start by writing al fresco about my al fresco dining experience this weekend at The Place in Guilford.
Simple grilled goodness. The entire menu is listed on the red board in the background.
This restaurant operates only in the summer (which makes sense if you’ve ever asked yourself “why don’t I eat outside today?” in Connecticut in January – which you haven’t, because no one ever wants to do that). The owners spend half the year in Florida, and the vibe of this restaurant is very reminiscent of, say, the Rum Bar in Palm Beach Gardens, FL (one of my favorite spots down south). Very casual, all outdoors, just show up, have a good time, and enjoy.
“Attack lobsters,” for example, are native to Florida
Due to the popularity of the concept, expect a long wait in summer and be warned: they do not take reservations!
“The Place” has a beautifully zen menu concept, all the way down to the order system (more on that in a minute). It’s BYOB
OR BYOMJFOSCM (bring your own mason jar full of spicy cucumber margarita)
And BYOG too (Bring Your Own Glasses)
Mine are Lilly Pulitzer acrylics and I love them
Also, BYOCP (Bring Your Own Cheese Plate) – ours had blue cheese (foreground), honey, roasted brussel sprouts, parmigiano reggiano, Griffin farmstead chevre, and olives
My good friend Leeanne, her husband Rob, and my Uncle Stephen and Aunt Ramie joined us for dinner. Not pictured but absolutely delicious was Leeanne’s garlicky feta dip, accompanied with pita chips. We also ordered two rounds of grilled clams to start our meal:
Seared to hot perfection on the open flame and topped with just a bit of tomato sauce.
For our main, five out of the six people at the table ordered lobsters – with Rob opting for a steak instead (which he claimed to be absolutely delicious). And we all, wisely, ordered corn on the cob:
LOOK AT THAT CORN. The fact that it was dipped in a giant vat of melted butter may have enhanced the charred flavor.
Corn was at the lowest end of the price spectrum on the menu, at $2.95, and lobster was the highest: venturing up to $29.95 for a 1 3/4 pound lobster (although we all ordered in the 1 1/4- 1 1/2 pound range for a slightly lower price). In between, there were options for a native blue fish – which according to a friendly fellow diner who is related to the owners – has teeth and a ‘wicked’ bad temper – as well as non pescatarian options, such as the aforementioned steak and also grilled chicken. Penelope stayed home with Grandma, as we dined a bit late -but The Place is very, very kid friendly, and next time she will join us for sure.
Oh, a quick note on the BYOB. We saw plenty of wine circling the tables, but the only options to purchase onsite were Snapple, water, and other basic, non-alchoholic libations – so plan accordingly.
If you’re smart you will invite my Uncle Stephen and he will make you spicy cucumber margaritas with a hot salt relish. Note my uber fashionable whale sweatshirt.
Here is drink number two: a creamy and licorice minded Chartreusian Flip
Which paired awfully well with this little beauty – a perfectly roast lobster
We strolled up between courses to warm up by the fire pit and observe the double cooking method of the lobster – first boiled and then grilled for tender, sweet results. For purists, there is also the option to order the lobster plain boiled. We also checked out the uniquely simple firing method at The Place:
Just a set of tiles and each order is tallied in pencil and then marked off when complete. Plus the stack of paper plates which everything is served on. I told you it was simple.
Not so simple was our dessert wine pairing: a bottle of Pontefract “port” which was kindly fetched for me by Leeanne from Sharpe Hill Vineyards when she visited this weekend!
I had tried it back in April and loved the St. Croix grapes and complex palate, so she brought me a bottle and we enjoyed it with the dessert menu with The Place also offers to finish off your meal.
I chose carrot cake but preferred the Mississippi Mud Cake which my wiser friends ordered.
Dry carrot cake notwithstanding, the vibe, food, and price point at The Place combined to make for a delightful dining experience which was well worth the drive. Can’t wait to go back this summer and try the blue fish!