New Year New Me, isn’t that the saying? Will I ring in the New Year with a dead ringer or a short wicked wet black cat of a dud? You will have to read the damn review to find out! This New Year will hopefully bring many great meals and reviews, and hopefully I wont have to report on any throbbing culinary shit holes. That being said, tonight I thought I’d bring in 2016 in style with the good folks at ON20. I’ve been to ON20 many times before but never for a pre fixe menu. On NYE ON20 offered a 7 course tasting menu with optional wine pairing. Was it a good idea to do a review on a restaurant on NYE during the offering of a set menu? LET’S SEE! Here’s a little background story taken from the “about us” section of ON20’s website
Lets state some facts straight right off the rip. Reservation for 8:30, wasn’t seated till 9:00 and had to wait in the bar at a dark table with our coats, no sparkling wine and no candle. I only point this out because every other guest had their coats checked, was seated at a table with a candle and was given a beverage for having to wait. In the grand scheme of things did I really give two fucks? No, but I notice the little things. I got up, gave the girl at the door our coats and returned to our table in the bar where a candle had since been placed. Fine, felling a little better, feeling maybe NOT like a tattooed felon, but still, I’m here to take note. Finally we were seated and the small mousey quiet not such maitre d’ not quite server came over and asked if there was anything she could get us. “Some food in my mouth would be absolutely delightful” I spewed with a cunty smile. Hangriness was overcoming me and I was trying to compose myself, and just as I was about to flip the table and leap out of the 20th story window into a prismatic pool of my own plasma smeared across the I91-I84 interchange, something changed. We were greeted by one of the most pleasurable servers I have ever dealt with in my life. His name was Ryan and he was my shining New Year’s angel. I will say right now that this was not the best meal I’ve ever had at ON20, but this was indeed the best service, and that’s what made this meal a special NYE experience. Let’s get started.
First was the fritter, or what I remember as a cod fritter. Couldn’t really tell you because it wasn’t on the menu card they supplied at the start of the evening. It was good, it cured my hangriness for a few minutes and that’s all I asked for. Sweet Ryan then came to then table and asked me If I wanted a drink, I explained to him that I don’t drink and he told me he could have the bartender whip something up for me and he’d be right back. He retuned with a beautiful gingery citrus mocktail and I took a sip. I asked Ryan, “What do you call this.” He said, “That’s the beauty of NYE, you’re going to name this drink.” I told him “fine” and I’d have the drink named by the time he returned with the next course. When Ryan had returned with the next course I told him the drink would be dubbed, “The Christmas Conifer” aka Throwing out the Wreath because the rosemary in the drink reminded me of when you throw a wreath out, moving on. The Wagyu tartare, how can I say this… um, not good. I don’t know, I just wasn’t into it. It really had no flavor, no texture and lacked any salt. The yuzu curd couldn’t ramp up the flavor but I’ll tell you one thing, I sure as shit ate all those truffles!
Now, this egg florentine dish??? I hope they add this to the regular menu because this shit was STELLAR and may have been my favorite dish of the night. The egg was cooked perfectly, plated with a spinach artichoke béchamel, pork belly and hackelback caviar. If I wasn’t in such a fine establishment I would have licked my plate clean. A+. I also enjoyed the fluke that was topped with a mushroom I actually like, a trumpet. This dish was top notch. It was not the prettiest, but taste wise it passed the bar.
The dud of the night was this tortellini. You couldn’t say this was al dente, there’s a difference between al dente and uncooked. I took one bite and pushed it towards the edge of the table, sorry, and can we get away from the fall pumpkin craze? I feel like that should die off after Christmas. Now this hangar steak was cooked perfectly and tasted excellent. A grilled mountain yam?! What the fuck mountain are these yams grown on and how do I get there? I really enjoyed this addition to the dish. It was super sweet and almost sticky in the way it was cooked, the sugar almost seeped out, I enjoyed myself thoroughly.
Now back to sweet server man Ryan. He asked what I wanted to drink next and I told him surprise me. While he was off having the bartender make me another we were visited by the maitre d' Mike. Mike was a pleasant man looking to be in his 50s or 60s. We started talking to Mike and learned he was born and raised in Bermuda, but had been living in Connecticut since he was 17. We discussed his time share and the best time to visit, from this moment on he would be referred to as “Bermuda Mike.” Out came Ryan with my next virgin cocktail, I dubbed this one, “Cranberry Communion.” Why? I do not know, probably because it was a non-alcoholic wine soda, looked like cranberry juice, and Ryan’s man bun reminded me of Jesus. It was now time for dessert and I ordered a cappuccino. While waiting for it to arrive I dove into a most decadent semifreddo. Oh, you’re a culinary cave man? You don’t know what semifreddo is? Here you go? Semifreddo are a class of semi-frozen desserts. The principle ingredients are usually eggs, sugar and cream. It has the texture of frozen mousse. Such a dessert's Spanish counterpart is called semifrío. In Italian cuisine, the semifreddo is commonly made with gelato as a primary ingredient. This was a nice lighter dessert, that’s why I asked Ryan for another one and he accommodated.
We ended dinner with 10 minutes to spare until midnight, Chef came out and greeted all his patrons which I thought was awesome, then I got to watch the ball drop with the whole ON20 staff in a room that overlooked the Hartford skyline. Was this pre fixe menu a good display of the dishes usually offered at this restaurant? No. Is ON20 still one of my favorite restaurants in Connecticut? Yes. Lastly, will I be returning? Frequently. I here by give ON20…
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!! Join me next week when I finally make it out to Cook and the Bear at Millwrights in Simsbury.