Last week I was feeling curious. My curiosity was peaked by the question "I wonder what the fall Millwrights tasting menu is all about right now?" I quickly texted my friend Niles who is currently a chef at Millwrights and might I add, an amazing chef. I told him not to spoil it for me and that I was coming in to say hi. I sped from West Hartford to Simsbury in about 18 minutes flat which is highly illegal as it is about a 30 minute drive #badboy4life. I walked into the restaurant and was greeted by the best m'aitre d in the state, my main man Jeffrey. I declined a menu and ordered the tasting menu with a non-alcoholic seasonal gingery shrub, #badboy4life. Throughout the meal I would chit-chat with my server and new friend Melanie. We talked about our favorite restaurants throughout CT and the surrounding area and I gained a lot of new information from our chats. Let's get down to it.
First were the gougeres. Gougere are french pastry made from a dough called choux. These gougeres were filled with mornay, a béchamel sauce made with shredded gruyere and egg yolk. Next were the oysters. I have been very spoiled when it comes to oysters lately after eating at restaurants like San Francisco's Foreign Cinema, Eventide Oyster Co in Portland, ME and B&G Oyster Bar in Boston, MA. I'm used to seeing a number of oysters on a menu with their name and beds they're farmed from. These were Malpeque and they come from Malpeque Bay on the north shore of Prince Edward Island. I'm not that big on malpeques as they are not high in salinity and I like a saltier oyster but they were good nonetheless. The mignonette was tart and it gave the oyster a nice finish. This little corn biscuit was a nice intermission before some of the bigger plates started coming out and the butter was good. I had never had a butter with sesame seeds in it before and it was unexpectedly tasty.
Next were the beets, these beets were awesome. The one in the bottom of the picture was by far my favorite. It was smoked. The small one at the top of the picture was roasted. And the red one in the middle was pickled. This plate was so diverse because that little red beet was so salty and tart that it cut through the rest of the flavors and brought a very nice flavor profile to the dish. Paired with caraway yogurt and pumpkinseed pesto, this was a simple yet fantastic beet dish. The pumpkinseed pesto was a meal in itself and I could have ate an entire bowl full of it. Last time I was at Millwrights they had a carrot top pesto, perfectly innovative. The tuna crudo was next to arrive. It was a nice light piece of raw fish paired with pickled green tomato and a soy brown butter sauce. Surprisingly the best thing about this dish was the walnut. Which says a lot, as the rest of the components were delicious as well. The walnut was a standout. They were just so walnutty, as if they had been sitting in walnut oil before they were prepared. I guess thats the difference between a black walnut and a regular walnut. Black walnuts are tastier than your average English or Persian walnut.
Every time I go to Millwrights, the foie gras is so on point that it remains my top foie meal for the entire year. The last best foie meal I had was a year ago at Millwrights, except it was done asian style on a rice cracker. I'll eat anything with husk cherries. There were a few pickled husk cherries in this dish and they were phenomenal. For some reason I thought the pudding under this dish was husk cherry pudding, but after some research and texts with a few chefs at the restaurant I was informed that this was a butternut squash puree. I could have ate ten of these. This was the tastiest piece of swordfish I had in a very long time, it was very buttery, but can we talk about vadouvan?! Vadouvan is a french derivative of masala. It is a curry blend with added shallots and garlic, this made the dish. I would also like to note that hen of the woods , next to morel, chantrelle and trumpet, is my new favorite mushroom. The mushroom itself has a natural smoky flavor, almost like A1 sauce. You all may know that I'm a wimp when it comes to mushrooms and I have been trying to branch out for YOU so I can give the best advice when it comes to what to order. #badboy4life This nice little quail stuffed with brioche is always excellent. I have had this before and there is a reason it is a staple on the menu. Little confit legs with some compressed pear and my other favorite root vegetable, sunchokes!! This is a win win dish. Yeah little quail baby, I eat you LOL.
The roulade is one of my favorite desserts because of the peanut butter cremeux. Cremeux is just a french word for creamy. It's a more dense pudding. It has the consistency of ice cream but it's not cold. It's an enigma to me and I'm on a crusade to conquer all the cremeuxs. ALL THE CREMEUXS! This next dessert pulled on my burnt, charred heart strings that would be attached to my still beating heart if I had one. But we all know that a good food critic has no heart. #badboy4life My dearest friend Niles brought me out this excellent dish prepared by pastry chef Kristen Eddy. This was the exclamation point to the end of an excellent fall tasting meal at one of my favorite restaurants.
There are a lot of good restaurants in the greater Hartford area, all vying for that top spot throughout the year. But for some reason Millwrights always comes out on top. After speaking with Jeffrey I got a lesson on his personal theory of holistic hospitality, how every guest is treated incredibly when they walk in the door, whether its a party of 20 or a single lonely idiot like myself. This mentality paired with the excellent kitchen skills of head chef Tyler Anderson, Jesse Powers, Niles Talbot and Kristen Eddy, is why Millwrights will always stand out above the rest. I hereby give Millwrights Restaurant & Tavern of Simsbury, CT…..
If you're a self proclaimed foodie and you haven't heard of Millwrights, I want you to reach back, punch yourself in the face, and immediately go order the tasting menu. If you have a minute tonight, go to www.jamesbeard.org/awards and nominate Tyler Anderson for best chef in America-Northeast because he deserves it. *drops the mic #badboy4life
Join me after the Thanksgiving Holiday when I review a holiday tasting feast from Cafe Boulud, NY, NY. Thank you for reading, this has been another installment of BENN BREAKS BREAD