218 Kent Road
New Milford, CT 06776
Adrienne’s restaurant is a lovely old manor house of which this alumna of The Waldorf-Astoria’s Peacock Alley by way of the Arizona Biltmore and the New Orleans’ Commander’s Palace also calls home. The welcoming, elegant yet relaxed environment is perfect for married couples who want a quiet, romantic night out with a world-class meal prepared by a top chef.
The menu at Adrienne’s is representative of the finest in American cuisine, with a special New England touch. That means clam chowder, butternut squash bisque, Maine scallops, Vermont quail, pheasant pot pie, roast venison and rice pudding, along with whatever strikes the chef’s whimsy (which can range from Indonesian chicken curry stew to Italian polenta).
Adrienne’s is elegant, quiet, romantic and surprisingly affordable – four key things that harried parents look for and need to make dinner out on Valentine’s Day both memorable and doable.
Black Rabbit Bar & Grille
2 Ethan Allen St.
Lakeville, CT 06039
Sometimes Valentine’s Day – or evening – should be something light, simple and quiet, without fancy waiters or pricey menus. The Black Rabbit Bar & Grille in Lakeville, up in the northwest corner, is just such a place. The bistro atmosphere is friendly and the pommes frites are to French fries what Godiva is to chocolate treats. Deep fried and served with truffle oil, herb aioli and shaved Parmesan, they are a great appetizer or a nice side to share with plates of the chef’s signature “Duck Drums” of Asian steak.
The Black Rabbit has a full bar and a full grille menu, comfortable and private seating and nice large windows to give it an open and airy look even at night. For those who can make Valentine’s Day a day in the country, it is a charming little place to stop while driving to or from the Berkshires or the nearby ski resorts, and where a couple can relax after a day out – without having to get all dolled up.
The Griswold Inn
36 Main St.
Essex, CT 06426
If it was good enough for General George Washington and his staff, then it must be good enough for parents seeking an historic night out. The Griswold Inn in Essex has bee pulling the taps and serving up seafood since the Declaration of Independence was penned. The tavern, like the town, is steeped in colonial history, and a short walk around before dining at the Inn can whet the appetite for more than just lobster pot pie and a tankard of ale (or a nice white wine) to wash it down.
The Griswold is old, but in a romantic way that only someplace with so much history can offer. A favorite not only of Revolutionary War heroes but also other famous residents and visitors – from Albert Einstein to Katherine Hepburn – The Griswold Inn is a unique and charming place for parents to get away not just from their kids and worries, but also to go back in time.
Eric Town Square
120 Hebron Ave.
Glastonbury, CT 06033
While starring across a table into a partner’s eyes is of course what Valentine’s Day is all about, it is also nice to have another view, and one to share. The view from Rooftop 120 in Glastonbury is just such a view, and one made even more romantic if the weather cooperates and makes a waltz around the outdoor terrace an option. While only three stories tall, the building at 120 Hebron Avenue in Glastonbury’s Eric Town Square does offer a charming overlook of the town.
The food, service, presentation and even names of the cocktails and desserts at this little hidden gem in Glastonbury will only enhance the mood. The “I Dream of Chocolate” is a sweet creamy treat with a vodka kick, and the Chocolate Molten Cake dessert is a nice take on the traditional flowing chocolaty lava delight. In between, of course, there are many wonderful beef, chicken and fish entrees, offered both a la carte or as part of a three-course prix fixe Valentine’s dinner special (which is available all week, starting with the Tuesday prior to the big day).
103 Pratt St.
Hartford, CT 06103
Valentine’s Day need not be limited to or end with dinner – although Hugh Russell sets a fine table at his Caribbean-themed restaurant, bar and night club on Pratt Street in Hartford. The cajun blackened tilapia and jerk chicken are very good, but what is even better than the food is the music and the setting, which is intentionally reminiscent of not one but at least three beach hotels he recalls from his youth. The ground floor has huge windows that overlook the street and give a grand hotel feel. The first floor and mezzanine offer two very different experiences with the latter having many quiet, dim, private little nooks where a couple can canoodle and cuddle with a cocktail.
Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at Examiner.com.