Friday, September 28, 2012

Lunch at Temple Grill

This week's restaurant review is Temple Grill, located at 152 Temple Street, New Haven, Connecticut. It's just a couple blocks walk from where I work and close to the green, the center of Elm city's downtown. I have been to Temple Grill before, but it's been  a while. Since I was having a lunch with my colleagues, I'd thought I take advantage of the outing and make it my blog post this week.

The Grill has a steady lunch crowd and for me that is a good sign. However, one of the downsides is that their dining area is fairly small and gets packed quickly. Although they have a patio for outside dinning, this is not an option when it rains. Be prepared to wait during the lunch rush if you plan to dine-in. Lucky for us our wait was only five minutes.

They provide American-style entrees with an international flair and a homecooked feel. You can create your own salad or pasta, a popular choice for their lunch crowds. I like that they offer half  portion sizes for some of their entrees and feel like their menu offers something for everyone which is good when you are dining in a group.

During my lunch visit with my colleagues, I started with a Caesar salad and opted to be bad for my entree selection. I ordered the fried clamstrips platter (comes with coleslaw and waffle fries). Other orders for the table included sweet potatoe fries, Gazpacho soup, a chicken wrap, and grilled meatloaf with mashed potatoes. I loved their sweet potatoe fries and highly recommend them. My fried clamstrips platter could have feed two people. The fried clamstrips had a light and crunchy batter that I thoroughly enjoyed. These were some of the best friend clamstrips I've had in a long time.

I was the only person who didn't finish my lunch and had to take a doggybag home, which was fine by me. It saved me from having to cook something when I got home, a win-win in my book.

The Grill also has a full bar and if you're dining solo, it's a great option for a sit-down lunch. Another plus is that they take reservations and their waitstaff can get you in and out within an hour, which is why I think they also have strong lunch crowds.  If you are larger than a party of five you may want to rethink the location for space concerns.

Here are my final ratings based on a scale from one to five:

Food: 4
Price: 3.5
Service: 4
Atmosphere: 3
Overall dining experience: 3.5

If you're in downtown New Haven, Temple Grill is worth a visit.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Coffee Break at Willoughby's

Greetings from Atlanta,

I had the wonderful opportunity to come south for a work-related project and have decided to chill for the weekend with a bestie that lives in the area. Before I flew to Atlanta, I made my first visit to a New Haven food establishment. Wanting to be budget friendly since I was traveling I opted to check out a coffee shop. My choice was Willoughby's Coffee and Tea shop, located at 258 Church Street in downtown New Haven. It's right on the corner between Church and Groove Street.

Willoughby's window display
Around three p.m. Monday afternoon I was ready for a caffeine pick-me-up and headed to Willoughby's. When I arrived in front of the building I was drawn to their window display. It was very decorative and I instantly learned that they were voted "Best Place" to buy coffee beans in the New Haven Advocate's 2012 Reader's Poll.  They roast their own beans.

Upon entering the building I saw that it was standing room only. That's a promising sign I thought to myself. All their tables were taken with customers either engaged in conversations, working on their electronic devices, and reading books. I felt like I was in the midst of a friendly, community coffee shop. I noticed a community info board behind the counter. They also had a plethora of coffee beans on display that one could order by the pound and Willoughby's t-shirts or coffee travel mugs.
Got Coffee? Something for everyone Willoughby's.
I scanned through their menu. I wanted a something that I wouldn't find on the menu at Starbucks or another coffee shop. I choose a chai latte with soy milk. I've always seen chai tea, but this was the first time I've seen a chai latte. I was excited. In addition to coffee you can order baked goods like muffins, cookies, scones, etc. They also have cups of chopped fruit and yogurt parfaits.

After a few minutes, my chai latte was ready.  Two people got up from a table and I snatched up a seat and sipped on my latte. It was good, very good. When you look at their coffee container, it says, "Dedication to Quality." I have to agree, you can taste it.

Next time, I visit I'll buy a pound of their beans to talk home for Karim and I. I really enjoyed my chai latte and recommend you give one of their coffee blends a try if you in downtown New Haven.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tasting and Reviewing New Haven's Restaurants

Pacifico's Paella
I'm still adjusting to the fact that the drive-in I've grown accustomed to these last seven years will be over on December 21, 2012, maybe sooner, if I can manage to line up a new job. Traveling to New Haven takes me about an hour, if the merge onto Interstate 95 isn't backed-up due to an accident or everyday traffic. Since Gateway Community college re-opened downtown, I've added another 10 to 15 minutes getting off the highway and into the parking garage.

New Haven is more than one of Connecticut's largest cities and home to Yale University, the prominent Ivy League college. It's a cultural center with a rich history, that boasts diversity and character that makes it unique. Although I have been driving to and from New Haven for seven plus years, I have to acknowledge that I haven't taken full advantage of all the city has to offer. Especially when it comes to all the great dinning options. That's going to change.

Sally's famous pie. Can't wait to try!
With less than 90 working days left in the "Elm" city I've decided that I'm going to taste my way through the city and visit restaurants that I haven't been to before. From now until the end of year I will dine-in or order take-out from one of New Haven's many restaurants, coffee-shops, and cafes. I will then write a review of my experience for In the Mix.

There are more than 50 ethnic restaurants to choose from which is nice since I have a divers palate. I get to try new food and also will have content to post for the blog every week. It's a win-win situation. I'll probably also post some of my reviews on websites like Chowhound, Yelp, or Urbanspoon.
Tandoori shrimp from Sitar Restaurant.

I'm traveling and out of the office most of next week so I'll have to make my first restaurant visit on Monday. If you have a restaurant recommendation, leave it in the comment section. I'm looking forward to getting my taste of New Haven on. It's going to be a yummy endeavor.

Friday, September 7, 2012

TGIF and Week in Review

TGIF everyone,

So glad it's Friday. I'm looking forward to the weekend. Tomorrow Karim and I will be heading to the city to see Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark on Broadway. Shout out to Travelzoo for their entertainment discount on Broadway tickets. The shows aren't typically Broadway's best sellers, but the shows are popular with good reviews and one can save from 30 to 50 percent off standard ticket prices.

I remember when the Spiderman preview week was the talk of the town and not in a good way. Julie Taymor, the show's original director was forced out of the production after actors injuries and a slew of bad audience and critic reviews.  Despite the rough start, cast and crew managed to turn it around and word on the street says it's a spectacular show.

This week has had many national news highlights. Trending topics on Twitter included the passing of actor Michael Clark Duncan, the US Openhurricane Issac, Love and Hip-Hop Atlanta's reunion special (Stevie J is still a hot mess), MTV's music video awards, and last but not least, the Democratic National Convention (DNC).

I don't know about you, but I've was glued to my television and twitter from 8 p.m. until around midnight during the three nights of the DNC convention. The hour of power was the 10 p.m. time slot with the night's most anticipated and watched speeches.  Strong speeches from Michelle Obama, former President Clinton, Joe Biden, and President Obama gave the party a much needed lift that reinvigorated the base. The diversity in the audience provided a stark contrast to what I saw in last week's Republican National Convention (RNC) and not at all a surprise.  Compare the DNC and the RNC's official websites and one can see the DNC's site is more engaging.

A personal highlight for me came when I heard Karl Rove give our first lady her props. His remarks were a powerful validation of a good first night, but the convention was not without its critics, rightfully so. Fox News commentators played down many of the good speeches and the impact it will have for the party. I expected this, but I also listened to David Brooks and he laid out areas that are still struggles for the president and the reality is it still remains an uphill battle due to the state of the economy.

Overall, this was a stellar week for the DNC's convention. Here's John Stewart's highlight of former President Bill Clinton's speech. I know people were worried about Clinton's remarks. I wasn't. I knew he would hit his mark and set the stage for President Obama. For the most part the commentary for the DNC has been more favorable than that of the RNC's, especially if you compare objectives and goals for both parties.

Now the fanfare is over. Reality has set in. Today's jobs report wasn't the best of news for the President and his campaign. Romney and the Republicans are going to continue to use these slow job growth numbers to hammer away at him. However, if I see the glass half-full, rather than half-empty and look back to the speeches I heard at the convention, I realize that although it's slow, job growth is happening in our country.

In my review the Democrats had a good week, they needed it. The base is re-energized, the case for four more years has been made, and I can go into this weekend feeling some optimism about the state of this election and the future of our country.