Flavor Packed Cuisine and Creative Cocktails @Rooftop120

Rooftop 120 is a magical place.  It feels like a slice of somewhere much further south, where tropical cocktails flow freely, people dine out doors, and the food is infused with Caribbean flavors.  I had the pleasure of being invited in, not once, but twice! (blessed) in the past couple weeks.

Visit the first: a Martini Lab with the always entertaining Tyler Devecchis and Top Liquor Queen, Nadine Gengras:

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Pssst.  there is another one coming up on April 6th!  Call the number above to reserve seats and do so quickly – it will most likely sell out quickly.

A big, friendly crowd gathered for this pink themed event to mix cocktails and eat delicious food created by head chef Xavier Santiago

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A big, rowdy crowd.  Not saying this was Girls Night Out because there were plenty of men present, but I sat at a table of all women – none of whom I knew – and was very entertained by the group (I was the quiet one – that’s a rare thing indeed).  Great night.

Pictured above: the starting cocktail Strawberry Martini with Ultimat Vodka

We mixed this ourselves (martini lab) I made a big mess.  My glass was not full.

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Looks easy right?  Well, I’m a klutz.

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Food pairing: strawberry and feta salad

Isn’t the color great?  The green dressing offset the sweet strawberries quite nicely.  Pink food and pink drink – quite clever.

Next up: a delicious, scratch margarita

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Behold the flowing agave

This drink was great as we were able to control our level of tartness, and I went VERY tart, naturally

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Yum.  Patron Tequila, Agave, citrus.  Simple perfection.

Knowing margaritas are simple to make at home, why don’t I do this more often?  I should, particularly in the summer months.  Top shelf tequila doesn’t take much to coax out the flavor.  This paired quite nicely with course number two:

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Chicken and risotto.  Texture was great, breadcrumbs were great, sauce was creamy, chicken well executed.  On point everything.

Last course, dessert: DONUTS

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Teeny eeny bitty donuts with barely any calories.  Or so I told myself!  And strawberry milk.

I finished the donuts.  I’m not proud, but I did.  I passed on the last cocktail however – two full drinks is enough for me!

I enthused to Xavier about his food (particularly the risotto) so he invited me back to sample a couple of his other dishes that he is very proud of (thanks Xavier)

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PLUS I got to hang with Tyler and drink a Pineapple Mojito (Cruzan White Rum/lime/mint/simple syrup/sour mix/soda/pineapple juice).  Oh what a time to be alive.

Xavier made three dishes for me.  One of them was kidnapped by my boyfriend (the salmon – I sampled it, before he ate it).  The other two I polished off myself, in one evening, without any real plans on finishing them.  They were just… so good you guys.  The appetizer in particular.  I will never return to Rooftop 120 without ordering it.

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Appetizer: Loaded “Potato” (House Mad Gnocchi/Pickeled Onions/Pickled Jalapeno/Sour Cream/Bacon/Scallions/Vermont Cheddar Bechamel)

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Squid Ink Spaghetti “Thai” style (Gulf jumpo shrimp/ confit tomato/shaved garlic/Thai bird chili/San Marzano Tomato sauce)

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“Everything” Salmon (Butternut Ginger Puree/lemon creme fraiche/grilled scallions/picked red onions)

So there you have it.  Now is the PERFECT time to visit Rooftop, as their patio space is one of the best around.  Soak up the warm weather, have a cocktail, enjoy a little nosh.  Highly recommended.

 

 

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[oink] Brunch @CaseusBistro and Penelope’s big year in review

2015 has drawn to a close… but not before the recap of Penelope’s year!  This is the second installation because, well, she is two.  Read the first one here.

And do yourself a solid favor and check out [oink] – the new concept from Chef Craig Hutchinson in partnership with the ever so delicious (and cheesy!) Caseus Bistro of New Haven.  This is a month long event, kicking off with the first Sunday in 2016.  Menu is below and tickets are available for purchase here!

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This year, Penelope and Mommy enjoyed some excellent adventures.

We went brunching with dolly at the American Girl Store

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Pancakes, matching outfits, on pointe everything

As well as attending an American Girl Fashion Show in Stamford!

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In addition to micro-fashion, Penelope went with Mommy to Hartford Fashion Week and enjoyed the red carpet experience in vintage apparel from Venom Vintage

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We also had some cultural experiences at Playhouse On Park

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Enjoying the Three Little Pigs

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Watching Gwendolyn and the Graceful Pig with the Ballet Theater Company

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And more red carpet fun at the annual CONNetic Dance Nutcracker

We enjoyed a beach trip or two in the summer

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Becoming mermaid in Wells, Maine

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Playing with cousin Orlando on Singer Island

And we enjoyed some traditional New England activities in the fall, such as

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Pumpkin painting

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Apple picking!

We enjoyed many amazing mommy/daughter dates, including a tea party photoshoot

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Courtesy of Sassy Mouth Photo

and a Farm to Table brunch at Clark Hill Farms in Granbyphoto-38

We finished out the year with our first ever trip to Disney

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Mickey Mouse ice cream, Mickey wand, Elsa dress.  Peak toddler.

And celebrated Christmas Eve with a candlelight service at Grandpa’s church, Christ Fellowship

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Holding our candle like a big girl!

To finish, we would like to wish all our friends and family a very Happy New Year, with many more to follow!

 

But first, whiskey: a recap of the @wehawhiskey festival

There are things that I like, and then there are things that I love.  “LOVE” would be accurate for an event that is:

1/ Classy as hell

2/ Within walking distance from my house

3/ A benefit for Camp Courant and the Ct Children’s Medical Center

4/ Full to the brim of delicious whiskeys to try – all courtesy of Maximum Beverage!

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The lovely CEO of Camp Courant – McKinley Frey Albert, aka the @hautehistorian

I love whiskey.  Love it, love it, love it.  Complimenting the whiskeys were many small bites from Highland Park Market – cool little things like brie in pastry, beef wellingtons, and a friggin’ macaroni and cheese bar.  Hello, yes please, and thank you.  They also had Fischers Island Lemonade – another one of my go-tos for the summer.  Here are some notes from the whiskeys I sampled and thought were particularly noteworthy, and below that, please enjoy some lovely photos taken by my very talented photographer buddy, Kerri Provost.  Thank you to the Weha Whiskey Festival for inviting both myself and Kerri to attend.  We had a truly excellent time.

Glendalough Distillery – a delightful light, bright Irish brand rep – and a whiskey to match.  The taste is crisp with a tangy bite and just enough caramel to finish it off.  I sampled the single barrel and was impressed by how much of a punch this young whiskey packed.  Good for sipping and good for mixing too – I would love to try it in a very dry manhattan.

Rebel Yell Bourbon – now we are talking classic.  Classic Kentucky bourbon.  Malty, smooth, and deep and mysterious.  Dive into this nose first and surface just long enough to enjoy the Billy Idol song which, I am sure, you thought of when you read “Rebel Yell,” and if not you’re thinking about it now, and you’re welcome.

Woodford Reserve Double Barrel – ahhh, this is one of my personal go tos.  The Double Oaked version contains smoke, essence, a nice tangy heat and is perfect for sipping.  You could put this in a cocktail, but if you did, it would have to be one that enhanced versus masked the smokey notes and deep flavor profiles.  I would love to hear from my mixologist friends on what they would recommend for this particular blend.

Hudson Valley Whiskey Baby Bourbon – Hudson Valley is actually home to me in a ways – that’s where my Dad grew up and I still have family out there.  So, I am very excited to visit the distillery with my Uncle Gregory in early December, to further explore the flavor profiles they offer.  The ‘baby bourbon’ was, well, a baby.  It’s got a young feel about it, a freshness, a little sweet, a little bite.  Again, a great whiskey for a cocktail.

Bruichladdach Scotch Whiskey – Oh scotch.  Scotchy Scotch Scotch.  Good enough for Ron Burgundy, yet I still struggle with you.  I know I need to develop my palate to appreciate the honey, the malt, that rare singular bite of a very good scotch.  And I will.  And the Bruichladdach was an excellent starting off point.  I’ll keep at it, I promise Scotch.  Next year, when we meet again, I’ll be ready for you.

As mentioned before, all photo credits below to Kerri Provost.  And all hats off to the Weha Whiskey Festival for such a spectacular and nuanced tasting event!

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A recap of Hartford Fashion Week + a look forward to the #WehaWhiskey Festival!

It’s EVENTS SEASON.  All the things, all the time, all the food, all the sparkle, all the nights out, none of the chill.  Sometimes I have to take a step back and really appreciate the cool things I get to be involved in and collaborate with.  Tonight, for example, I was fortunate enough to attend the March of Dimes Signature Chef’s Auction at the gorgeous Riverview in Simsbury.  And in a couple short weeks, I’ll be back at the same location for Share Our Strength.  More to follow on both of those shortly.  But for now – let’s look forward to this Saturday and the upcoming Weha Whiskey Festival!

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Use promo code KAT for 15% off tickets at checkout!  Enjoy 200 whiskeys, courtesy of Maximum Beverage, food from the Highland Park Market, and the satisfaction of knowing you’re raising funds for Camp Courant and the Ct Children’s Medical Center

I stopped by Maximum Beverage today to sample some of the whiskeys they will be pouring at Saturday’s event, including one of my very favorites – Eagle Rare Bourbon

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Maximum has their own single barrel version.  If that doesn’t impress you, we may have nothing in common (sorry)

I hope all of my local whiskey and foodie friends will join me for this event – which I have never managed to attend before!  Very exciting and more, of course, to follow.

So, off of whiskey and on to Hartford Fashion Week.  Katrina did such a marvelous job, along with the rest of the committee (myself included) in bringing an a week’s worth of fashion and fashion related culture to Hartford.

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Here she is with the stylish and fabulous Debbie Alan Wright, owner of Project Closet, and the dashing and handsome Lorenzo Hall (of Fox CT).  A good looking crew!

For those who missed this year’s event, there were multiple nights of fashion themed fun leading up to the three runway shows at Union Station – from a cultural round table at the Hartford Public Library to a fashion themed First Thursday at the Wadsworth.  The star attraction, was, naturally, twelve local original and independent designers showcasing their very diverse looks – from streetwear to ballgowns – at Union Station.  I would strongly recommend visiting and liking the Hartford Fashion Week Facebook Page for some truly beautiful photo galleries and, of course, to stay on top of next year’s event.  But below are some of my favorite moments from the shows:

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Tribal elegance from the Hartford Denim Company

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Wearing an LBD from Therapy Boutique in New Haven and enjoying red carpet fun with my favorite, Jon Aidukonis…

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And my beautiful, tiny diva, Penelope (dressed to kill in a vintage from Venom Vintage)

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Who strutted the runway and, alas, became fashion roadkill at one point 

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Talented local artist Nina Salazar instructing the Femme God models backstage

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Another backstage moment with Saints by SJ

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De Muerte

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AER Collections

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Funkenomics (not pictured: breakdancing)

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Show finale: Saints by SJ

Plus!  Several cool afterparties.  Cuginos in Downtown Hartford provided a lovely buffet after Saturday’s show, and I failed miserably at photographing any of it because Fashion Week hanger is a real thing as either Katrina or Man Repeller will attest to.  However, Amanda, Kate and I had our own marvelous little afterparty at Treva:

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Two inky brunettes and one happy blondie

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And I enjoyed my very favorite local cocktail: the Giardino.  It’s a glorious aromatic gin libation, made special by the full rose ice cube which will slowly melt into your glass, releasing delicious botanicals.  Highly recommended!

However hectic and chaotic backstage may have been, however many flaws we may have noticed during the first go round, Hartford Fashion Week was a truly special event, and I am honored that I was able to participate in its inception – and of course, looking forward to contributing again next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

@SBShades #StevieBoi #NYFW2015 show plus @NolchaEvents told through a #Snapchat story

I have some really, really talented friends, whom I got to watch in action during New York Fashion Week.  Top of mind right now are two people:

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Kelly Hart of “That Girl” – who was the lead make up artist for the Stevie Boi shades fashion show 

and:

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Carolyn Paine, seen practicing resting bitch face with me as we lined up for the show, and who is currently deep in Nutcracker planning mode

Kelly was in charge of make up and styling for this show, which focused on blinged out glasses and a constructuralist aesthetic.  The venue was very Chelsea chic – the No. 8 Lounge, with the show itself happening quite casually with models strolling and and out of the crowd.

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Whatever this chandelier is – I’m into it

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After the show, we popped  upstairs to congratulate Kelly and meet the models
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Seen here being fierce

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Also extraordinarily fierce – Carolyn’s friend Andrae, modeling a pair of the Stevie Boi shades

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With some very fine Jeffrey Campbells

After the show, we headed over to the Vanity Fair after party, at the Empire Hotel Rooftop

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My entire outfit is from Therapy (minus the Alexis Bittar pendant) – a lovely slouchy black tee and a black leather skirt – casual but dressy, perfect for venue hopping in the city.  I like Therapy so much that I wore a SECOND outfit for the store for my follow up trip to the city for Nolcha on Sunday:

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This is, quite possibly, my favorite little black dress.  The only reason I say ‘possibly’ is that I have an absurd amount of LBDs in my closet (but can you really ever have too many?  I think not)

Nolcha is a showcase of some independent and up and coming designers, with several high impact runway shows occurring back to back.  It takes place at Pier 59 Studios, another excellent venue with onsite valet parking and a really excellent lounge and rooftop space.

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I missed the 6 pm shows this year, but was delighted to attend the 9 pm ones to see Danny Nguyen, Acid NYC, and Intrepid by AO’C

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Selfies were taken with Danny

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As well as solo with a photobomb from one of the lovely gents from BE Magazine (hurrah new friends!)

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And last but not least, the lovely Paula Mele, who is also the current Mrs. Connecticut International

Alas and alack, last year my good friend Kat attended Nolcha with me and took some killer photos.  This year, my evil camera roll decided to become full within minutes of arriving at the venue and, of course, before the fashion shows commenced.  So I had to resort to good old fashioned Snap Chat to capture the runway shows.  You can find higher res images from the photographers at Nolcha at the following links:

For Danny Nguyen

For Acid NYC

For Intrepid by AOC

… of all the three shows, my favorite element were the textiles by Acid.  their use of colors, particularly on the swimwear, combined with trendy prints, was right in my wheelhouse, aesthetic wise.  Some of the highlights from my Snapchat “gallery” are below as well for your viewing pleasure – enjoy!

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Cheers to New York Fashion Week and all the creativity which goes into each and every designer’s collection!  It’s an honor to attend and experience the new apparels first hand

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Finishing with a glass of bubbly and a new glossy mag for reading at home

Time for Nolcha and the New England BBQ Championships

Fashion week is here.

The most wonderful time of the year.

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I’ll be very excited to attend Nolcha again this fall, which I did and recapped in the middle of the frozen winter and recapped here.   This year’s shows will be on September 12th, and it will be wonderful to attend them and just marinate in new and innovative creative from some truly talented up and coming designers, hurrah.

Speaking of innovation – let’s take a look at Bear’s Smokehouse first ever New England BBQ Championships shall we?  But before we do – let’s discuss that this event which took place last night, with the professional judging and awards ceremony happening today.

It was an opportunity to experience a true BBQ throw down from some of the best local pit masters in the area.  A fundraiser, with 100% of the profits from the event going to Riverfront Recapture.  Little baby cupcakes from Nora and craft beer samples from many great local spots.  All set against the serene backdrop of the Connecticut River.  Cool yes?  But they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so enjoy this photo recap of the event.

And a special shout out to Jamie, photographed in the first picture below, and his wife, Cheryl (not pictured), for their  continued efforts to bring not only great BBQ to the state, but to usher in cool events and do good while doing so.

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Last but not least – this is entirely unrelated to the post – but I took Penelope to Flamig Farm earlier in the day and snapped this picture, and I’m a proud mommy so I have to share it:

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Best

Don’t look now, but there’s a Bear in your Tavern

Birthdays are often wonderful, especially when they are filled with delicious food.  And boy, did I have a foodie birthday this year!  Let’s start with my actual birthday eve, last night, at the Capital Grille.  With impeccable attention to detail and making special occasions as special as can be, they started with a card and confetti:

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So festive!

They also brought out bubbly, which paired nicely with our (not pictured) oysters:

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Making a girl feel special

And finished off with a dessert plate, which our server Michael customized for me upon overhearing me mention I hate cheesecake (which I do, don’t judge me):

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So instead, we were served my very favorite coconut creme pie.  Which is tart, salty, sweet, smothered in hand made whipped cream, and perfectly decadent

That’s just the level of consideration and attention to detail that can be expected at the Capital Grille.

IIn addition to the glorious celebration dinner listed above, I was fortunate enough to finally attend a Bears Smokehouse and Millwrights pop up dinner in the Millwrights Tavern on Monday night.  This will be a ‘thing’ every Monday night for the forseable future, and it involves taking Bear’s glorious BBQ and giving it a high end twist with Tyler Anderson’s signature cooking style.  Behold: “The Cook and the Bear”

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Behold also my Sloe Gin Fizz (sloe gin, lemon, and soda)- Chris Parrot never disappoints

The menu is divided into small plates (priced at $4) salads (priced at $8) proteins ‘from the smoker’ (at $6.50) sandwiches ($10.50), sides (also $4), and sweet stuff, aka dessert ($6).  It’s quite affordable and, well, let’s just look at some food porn shall we?

cocktail and pickles at millwrights

Tyler always makes a good pickle.  It helps that he works with the Community Farm at Simsbury and always sources fresh and local.  Also pictured: a “Dirty Holiday” cocktail (tequila, coconut, pineapple, and lime)

corn on the cob at millwrights

Grilled corn with the flavors of Greek salad.  Like Mexican style corn, this is drizzled and drenched in decadent toppings.  It’s, quite obviously, corn season, so the best time of the year to be eating the stuff anyway.  Tyler’s preparation of it is very signature of his style – a simple vegetable dish elevated with masterful flavors and a twist on a traditional technique. 

beet salad

It might seem difficult to order a salad when there’s so much meaty BBQ to be had – but get your dang salad.  It’s good for you – pictured is the: “smoked beets, ricotta, and walnut pesto.”  The beets packed flavor and texture and the citrusy, earthy flavors balanced nicely against the creamy cheese sauce.

ribs and mac and cheese at millwrights

You should still get BBQ.  Obviously.  Pictured: baby back ribs, baked beans, and mac & cheese with chicken cracklings.  Of all the things on this plate, the mac and cheese really sang to my soul.  In the way that only creamy cheese and crunchy chicken cracklings do

brisket sandwich at millwrights

The burnt ends sandwich – with the flavors of french onion soup.  It was difficult for me not to order this one for myself.  Burnt ends – the fatty, juicy ends of the brisket – are my favorite item to order at Bears Smokehouse.  But I restrained myself and will get it next time, because I simply, absolutely needed this:

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The nashville hot chicken sandwich, iceberg, pickles.  Also known as the chicken sandwich against which all others will now be judged and found wanting.  Sorry Chick Fil A.  I don’t need you or your bigot chicken anymore.  I’ll take this local, better version instead.  And pair it with a nice Maine “Baxter” IPA.

The cozy Millwright’s Tavern is a perfect back drop for a decadent BBQ dinner – moving into the fall, this will be epically good comfort food.  Please go, check it out, and enjoy.  It’s a unique local collaboration which we are very fortunate to have here.