By Susan Hayes
Tisane, a self-described Euro-Asian café exudes indie cool the minute you enter. With paprika red walls behind the curvy bar, vintage tea storage boxes you need a ladder to reach and a casual seat your self among the trendy art and dim deco lighting scene, you pretty much know you’ve entered an enclave of the forward thinkers in the Hartford area. Music playing is current and usually something you are likely to hear on Austin City Limits, the PBS weekly concert program. (Tip: This place is a great place to celebrate Valentine’s Day if you are ready to think a bit outside of the Whitman’s box!)
The first decision you are hit with is what to order to drink? Of course hot drinks, teas and coffees and such are brewed with care, but the martini menu is extensive and well thought out. Each martini is hand crafted. I watched them make ours and there are no pre-bottled mixers polluting these drinks. I ordered the “causemopolitan” because they were donating a portion of the proceeds to breast cancer research when I visited. I liked their philanthropic spirit, but I liked the drink even better! As I was there with others, I can tell you first hand that the chocolate covered strawberry martini was a confection in a glass rivaling those big juicy gems you see when you walk by the Godiva store at the mall. On cupid’s day, what better way to celebrate!
The appetizer selection is where the whole “Euro-Asian” theme becomes apparent. Tofu vegetable pot stickers with a soy and green onion dipping sauce share menu space with a Portobello melt which is adorned with roasted tomatoes; fresh basil and melted mozzarella atop garlic toast and drizzled with an aged balsamic dressing. If you are there with a loved one or someone up for sharing there is a warm mushroom, artichoke and Brie fondue served with pita triangles that looked amazing.
Main courses include a number of sandwiches AND are all over the board internationally. My party embraced the global offerings. I recommend the sesame salmon, pan roasted, and encrusted with sesame ginger and served over a wonderful ginger infused vegetable lo mein. A caprese flatbread was ordered and the thin flatbread was crispy and adorned with the traditional mozzarella, tomato and basil with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Lastly, we also got a seared tuna sandwich which is not always easy to do, but did not disappoint, cooked to rare perfection.
You absolutely need to leave room for the chocolate fondue, which could easily be shared among three to four people who have the ability to show some restraint. This molten chocolate was served with homemade snow-white marshmallows, pretzels, apples and strawberries. You bounce from salty to sweet and if there was no smile on your face before, there will be now. Chocolate peanut butter is another fondue option and comes highly recommended as well, but I am a purist who wanted to delve into pure high quality chocolate. I left happy!
Tisane hosts a variety of events. Check out their website for Dj nights or karaoke events which happen later on some evenings. Parking can be a bit tricky, as they have limited spots right outside. The atmosphere is cozy and visually nourishing, the food is just the other side of ordinary with offerings to tempt most appetites and best of all there is chocolate fondue and memorable martinis.
37 Farmington Ave
Hartford CT, 06105
Hours: Mon – Thurs 7:30 am – 1 am; Fri 7:30 am – 2 am; Sat 8 am – 2 am; Sun 8 am – 1 am; Sun Brunch: 9 am – 3 pm
Susan Hayes works at a local High School in her spare time, but her true passion lies in culinary pursuits, cooking, gardening, blogging and discovering new dining spots. Her work can be found at http://www.blackcatcookingchronicles.blogspot.com.