The Day's dining writers look back on recent meals

Bream Cover Tavern's Billy Bomb is a burger with macaroni and cheese and a layer of bacon. (Peter Huoppi/The Day)
Bream Cover Tavern's Billy Bomb is a burger with macaroni and cheese and a layer of bacon. (Peter Huoppi/The Day)

Bream Cove Tavern

345 Bank St., New London

(860) 574-9235, www.breamcovetavern.com

In the fashion of someone standing sedately on the deck of a ferry during a breezy day, watching the ebb and flow of commerce on New London's Bank Street can make one slightly queasy. Those of us rooting hard for stability and prosperity are always happy when an empty storefront suddenly blossoms into a new venture — and this was particularly true when the Bream Cove Tavern opened a few months back in a most iconic spot. It's the white-brick building where such establishments as Ye Olde Tavern, Hughie's, Dev's on Bank and the Seehund once existed.

Bream Cove maintained the charming, comfort-pub interior, including the cheery fireplace, and has come up with a neo-Heartland menu of big-plate comfort food.

The appetizers were seductive, with standouts like the huge pretzel ($8, your choice of dipping sauces), a clever and bountiful bruschetta ($9) highlighted by pine buts in the mixture. "Long burgers" are sandwich highlights, with beautifully cooked ground beef patties served on grinder rolls. Phil's Chili Burger ($10) was accented by gooey cheddar and a tang-happy, Texas-style chili. And the "Billy Bomb" ($10), with macaroni 'n' cheese AND crispy bacon, was a joyful if caloric triumph.

Veggie enthusiasts will love the eggplant spin on a traditional schnitzel ($7), with delicate and thin slices of fresh eggplant breaded and lovingly fried. It was a nice confluence of flavors and textures, and the requested boiled potatoes and carrots were perfect sides.

— Rick Koster

Friar Tuck's Tavern

15 Water St., Mystic

(860) 572-6069

www.friartucksmystic.com

Fish and chips and Scotch eggs, anyone? Pop over to Friar Tuck's Tavern in Mystic, specializing in "English fare with New England flair," and your wish is their command.

Other menu items fit for a merry man or woman include outstanding Shepherd's Pie ($17); the open-faced steak sandwich ($20 and worth it); and the aforementioned Scotch eggs ($7; $4 during Happy Hour).

You likely have noted that Friar Tuck's is not light fare, so plan to settle in and digest while you sample one of several beers on tap (flights available). You might be treated to some live music, and you'll definitely get in some prime people-watching as folks wander down from street level to the little tavern in the lower level of The Emporium building.

Even better, the tavern is open until 1 a.m. every night of the week, ready to accommodate those late-night urges for bangers and mash.

— Marisa Nadolny

Drwb@24

24 West Main St., Mystic

(860) 245-5686

www.drawbridgeat24.com/

Drwb@24 combines the best of both worlds. The food is good and the atmosphere relaxed — what you might expect when heading into a sit-down place for a nice long meal. But, at the same time, it's quick: you order at the register and get your food served directly to your table in minutes. In my mind, it's the perfect combination for sightseers and amblers.

The menu includes an impressive array of breakfast options, including a biscuit sandwich with egg, cheese, and choice of meat ($7), quinoa wrap with eggs, black bean salsa, spinach, tomatoes, and cheddar ($8), and "Salmon Benny" Benedict ($12).

On a recent trip, I tried a number of lunch options and was impressed: the "Power Bowl" of roasted veggies, chickpeas, and choice of quinoa or brown rice ($12), "Triple Grill Cheese" with Swiss, brie, herbed cheese and pears on panini pressed sourdough($10), and black bean veggie burger ($11).

— Alex Nunes

Friar Tuck's chicken pot pie (Marisa Nadolny)
Friar Tuck's chicken pot pie (Marisa Nadolny)

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