Revisiting The Day's recent food reviews

A side of The Cooking Company's Greek vegetable salad and roasted potatoes with pesto rounded out the evening's menu of of burgers and wine. (Marisa Nadolny)
A side of The Cooking Company's Greek vegetable salad and roasted potatoes with pesto rounded out the evening's menu of of burgers and wine. (Marisa Nadolny)

Pequot Hibachi

262 Pequot Ave., New London

(860) 701-0828

This small but tasty Japanese spot, primarily takeout, is located in a short stretch of prime New London real estate along the Thames River — tucked away and essentially hidden by sparkly and mainstream destinations Fred's Shanty and On the Waterfront. Plus, Pequot Hibachi has a new neighbor with an outdoor bar, Sellfish, and this all means it's easy to overlook the food. That would be a shame.

An order of creamy, tangy crab rangoon ($5.99 for 10 huge specimans) is an incredible bargain that can supply a week's worth of fun nibbles if apportioned strategically. Come home from work, crack an icy beverage, microwave a CR or two — and snackage glory is yours!

Vegetable Yaka Sobi ($6.99) is a favorite of my wife's. The thick, perfectly chewy noodles were delicately and deliciously stir-fried with zucchini, onion, broccoli and carrot — suavely nuanced by chili paste, soy sauce and rice-wine ginegar — and not at all greasy.

I'm enamored of a Salmon & Shrimp Combination ($14.99). Over a bed of toothsome rice, and with a melange of snap-happy crisp vegetables, there were slivers of tender chicken breast and a hunk of grill-marked, fresh salmon. So many flavors to play with, and a house-rub, which methinks involves chili powder and cumin, adds resonance.

— Rick Koster

The Cooking Company

1610 Saybrook Road, Haddam

(860) 345-8008

http://thecookingco.com

When I last checked in, the weather was "hell-hot-humid." After a brief respite, we appear to be in the same territory once again. Therefore, you shouldn't cook and instead seek out a fresh prepared meal to go at one of many accommodating shops in the region.

The Cooking Company in Haddam is in my regular dinner-to-go rotation for several reasons. From the pleasant staff to the wide array of salads, entrees, desserts, and other delectables, Cooking Company makes non-cooking a very fun practice. The shop's daily selection of items allows for lots of meal customization.

For weather like this week's, you could create a light feast of, say, Chuncky Gazpacho ($3.95 for a 12-ounce container) with cold sesame noodles ($8.50/lb.).

If we get inundated in rain again, it'll be the perfect time to try a savory entrée, such as the wonderful Spice-Rubbed Pork with Apricot Mustard BBQ Sauce ($8.95) we sampled on a recent visit. Pair it with the salad of your choice — potato, veggie, tossed green, among the options — and dinner is served.

Or, once you view the dessert case at CC, you'll consider my favorite option: dessert for dinner. We recommend the Tres Leches Cake ($4.50) and Cinnamon Swirl Croissants ($2.50) for starters.

Ready to not cook? Off you go!

— Marisa Nadolny

Cafe Sol

346 Main St., Niantic

(860) 739-2933, cafesolniantic.com

Given its status as a lovely and atmospheric New England seaside village — bonus: one of the more affordable ones! — Niantic offers plenty of varied dining options. It's fortunate that Cafe Sol exists as that "hometown cafe"-type option targeting the healthier amongst us with an organic, locally sourced menu.

It's worth noting that Cafe Sol has friendly service because, at peak times in Niantic summer traffic, you might have to wait a while. But it's a pleasant and casually confortable spot with an outdoor patio from which to study the tourist processional. A good start can be had with The Dip ($9), a large basket with stalks of fresh red bell pepper, carrots, celery and cucumber; a rich dollop of feta; and pitted Kalamata olives. The titular sauces are a traditional chickpea and tahini hummus and a delicious and thick lime/black bean concoction. To navigate these sauces? Fresh toasted bagel chips (although, whether by accident or design, our batch included a few raisin bagel slices. Odd. To me, anyway.).

The Goddes ($9) is a whole-wheat wrap stuffed with hummus, avocado, tomato, cukes, lettuce, pea shoots and the house lemon/oregano/kale superslaw. Creamy and tangy with crunch and flavor blasts. Excellent. I also really like the Italian Q ($13), which is a plate-sized quesadilla filled with sweet Italian sausage bites, roasted red peppers and a clever mix of both provolone and American cheeses (the latter of which was unexpected and provided a tremendous spark). This was my fave and something I'll have again.

— Rick Koster

 

 

 

 

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