If you need an excuse not to cook tonight, here you go: the 2013 Winter Taste of Hartford, a dining discount program that has area chefs assembling prix fixe versions of signature menus for $20.13, is back until Feb. 3.
As usual, the Advocate partnered with the Greater Hartford Arts Council and tons of venues to pull this together, and you reap the benefits. TOH participants can feast on sticky BBQ at Black-Eyed Sally's, high-end sushi rolls at Feng, Colombian specialties at La Fonda, and on and on. (The full list of restaurants appears below.) At this price, you don't have to pick just one either.
Spend an evening at Costa del Sol (901 Wethersfield Ave., costadelsolrestaurant.net), for example, a South End Spanish-food mainstay, and order the sopa de ajo (Andalucian garlic soup with saffron and Fino sherry), tortilla de patatas (Spanish potato and onion omelet) or fabada (white bean stew with Spanish sausage, morcilla sausage and pork belly) to start. Then veer toward the grilled tilapia with mango salsa and coconut rice, or choose the roasted pork loin with Amontillado sherry and saffron almond-raisin couscous. (Big spenders can dish out another $5 for either the grilled ribeye with fire-roasted red peppers and garlic filets or the fabulous house-special paella, piled high with mussels, clams, shrimp, chorizo and chicken, cooked in saffron rice; two people required to order that bad-boy.) Dessert is simple and perfect: caramel flan or arroz con leche (creamy rice pudding).
Then, take the spouse to Vivo Seasonal Trattoria (Marriott Hartford Downtown, 200 Columbus Blvd., vivohartford.com), where you could begin the night with gorgonzola gnocchi, pancetta, baby shrimp with sundried tomato and mascarpone cream, then sup upon grilled hanger steak with green beans and chevre-whipped potatoes. The dessert is a house-made gelato or wild berries laced with a pistachio sabayon.
Some of the participating restaurants have their TOH menus online, so check them out. Here's who's on board so far (updates posted periodically at tasteofhartord.com).
Agave, Bin 228, Black Bear Saloon, Black-Eyed Sally's, Casa Mia Ristorante, Casona, City Steam Brewery and Café, Costa del Sol, Coyote Flaco, Dish Bar & Grill, Feng, Ficara's Restaurant, First and Last Tavern, Francesco's Ristorante, The Half Door, Hot Tomato's, J Restaurant, La Fonda Restaurante & Bar, La Kerencya, M&M Bistro, Max Downtown, Morton's the Steakhouse of Hartford, Nutshell Café and Restaurant, ON20, Peppercorn's Grill, Piolin III, The Royal Masala, Salute Restaurant, Tisane Euro Asian Cafe, Trumbull Kitchen, U.S.S Chowder Pot, Vito's by the Park, Vivo and Wood-n-Tap.