Dining roundup: a look back at our critics' recent reviews

Chicken pesto (Alex Nunes/Special to The Day)
Chicken pesto (Alex Nunes/Special to The Day)

Karma Kitchen & Juicery

15 Holmes St., Mystic

(860) 536-7233

karmakitchenmystic.com

Off the main drag and located in a bright and open space on Holmes Street in Mystic, Karma Kitchen & Juicery is a solid bet for the types of smoothies, cold pressed juices, and health food meals you're less likely to find at other establishments. The staff members are friendly, prompt and willing to share their knowledge of the process that goes into their beverage concoctions, some even made with water processed through an alkaline machine designed to raise pH levels.

Drinks I liked and recommend include the slightly sweet "Feel the Beet" juice with beets, carrot, apple, lime, and ginger ($5.50 for 9-ounces and $9 for 16-ounces); the "Green Medley" juice with kale, chard, collard greens, apple, lime, and ginger ($5.95 and $9.75); and the potent "Ginger Immunity Elixir" made from juiced ginger, apple, lemon, apple cider vinegar, turmeric, and alkaline water ($7.50 for 12-ounce). For lunch, try the cauliflower rice bowl ($7.50) with raw carrot, red cabbage, scallions, cilantro, sprouts, and Thai peanut sauce, or the pesto chicken wrap ($8.75) made with organic meat and no-cheese pesto wrapped in a bed of organic greens and a spinach herb wrap.

— Alex Nunes

Ivy's Simply Homemade

316 Boston Post Road, Waterford

(860) 442-8646, ivyssimplyhomemade.com

Grocery stores bring me down, and not just because they increasingly use computer algorithms to track what I like to eat — and then, cackling, remove it from their shelves. There are many other solid reasons — which was enough for us to recently head to Ivy's Simply Homemade in Waterford, where their takeout prepared meals, which you then take home, heat up and enjoy, crooned to us seductively.

As a vegetarian, my wife Eileen loaded up on stuff in mix 'n' match fashion. In addition to a tin of mac 'n' cheese ($7), for example, she added a small container of roasted broccoli ($2). The flavor of her subsequent dish was subtle, with a real cream base as opposed to over-goo-ing the cheese. The broccoli was crisp and fresh with hints of char and sweetness, and the overall effect made her truly happy — for three meals, BTW.

My favorite dish was an entrée container of Thai peanut chicken over coconut rice ($11.95). It was seriously good and featured plenty of cubes of succulent boneless breast meat in a delicate peanutty sauce ladled atop perfectly chewy rice with sliced red pepper. In addition to the peanut and coconut flavors, a wizard's fusion of ginger, lime, brown sugar and garlic were in each bite.

— Rick Koster

La Vita

9 Main St., East Haddam

(860) 873-8999

Lavita9main.com

Like the Goodspeed Opera House across the street, La Vita is capable of setting many scenes for its patrons. There's the cozy, polished-wood bar-area scene; the casual al fresco dining scene; the dressier dining-room scene; or the bustling takeout scene. Chances are, if you've got a hankering for a snack, drink, or meal in a hurry or with a view, La Vita can help.

There's even a pizza menu, and, unlike many eateries that throw pizza on the menu as an afterthought, La Vita is putting out quality artisan pies worth the trip. (We recommend the Eggplant and Ricotta pizza; $15). The rest of the menu offers a good variety of classic dishes and more modern American fare, from Chicken Piccata (very good, though modest in portion; $24) to the excellent Tuna Nachos ($15), with some comfort foods like mac and cheese ($10), burgers, and chicken wings in between.

Also, if you're looking for a fun, lower key spot to grab drinks with a date or friends, consider La Vita. The array of craft cocktails, often sourced with local spirits, will leave the mixology fans among you puzzled at what to order first. I'm here to help, though: try the Lady Kathrine martini ($11), a gin-based concoction flavored with basil, blueberry syrup, and lemon juice that's perfect for toasting the end of the summer.

— Marisa Nadolny

 

Ivy's corn salad and orzo salad. (Photo by Eileen Jenkins)
Ivy's corn salad and orzo salad. (Photo by Eileen Jenkins)
Nachos and mussels at La Vita (Marisa Nadolny, Special to The Day)
Nachos and mussels at La Vita (Marisa Nadolny, Special to The Day)

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