A look back over recent reviews by Day dining critics
4 Roosevelt Ave., Mystic
Find them at www.noblesmokehouse.com
The barbecue at Noble Smokehouse is really, really good. It’s the ultimate comfort food, a delicious antidote to help chase away the winter blues.
The Pork Belly Burnt Ends ($15) are greasy good. They’re flavorful and sweet, smokey and sticky in a magical way.
The brisket is served as a platter with two sides, two sauces and jalapeno cheddar cornbread ($30), or as a sandwich ($16), chopped to order with caramelized onion, cheddar cheese and served on brioche.
There are ribs, smoked turkey, pulled pork, or a half-roasted chicken. Choices for the sides include options like cowboy beans, macaroni salad, a sweet potato, or brisket macaroni and cheese.
Want something green? There’s a Smoked Chicken Caesar salad ($14) made with romaine, house-smoked chicken, parmesan croutons, and chipotle dressing. Or the Noble Quesadilla ($16), prepared with your choice of chicken or pork and cheddar, corn pico, caramelized onion, scallions, and sour cream.
Or just go out on a limb — and get the Barbecue Sundae ($15), a sweet potato, mac and cheese, cowboy beans, slaw, pulled pork, cornbread crumble, and a drizzle of Alabama white sauce.
Now that’s a concoction.
— Ann Baldelli
Hartford Giant Grinder
8 Hope St., Niantic
There are grinders, and then there are giant grinders, and here in the region, we have two eateries that offer this particular delicacy. Hartford Giant Grinder locations in Niantic and, more recently, Westbrook raise the bar on sandwich making with supersized flair.
It all starts with excellent ingredients, from the crispy-soft rolls to the house specialty stars, including Angus roast beef — recommended ($8.75 for a half grinder with cheese); Chicken Parmesan — ditto ($9.25 for a half); and Philly cheesesteak — get one right now ($10.50 for a half).
But what makes the fare at HGG particularly special is the preparation and attention to detail that the staff puts into each sandwich. The generous portion sizes are the cherry on top. Of course, if you’re looking for a lighter lunch, consider one of several salads available at HGG — and yes, they are pretty sizeable too. The Garden Salad ($6.25) we tried was loaded with veggies and big enough for two people to share. Plus, we got a kick out of the pickles on top.
Hungry yet? You know where to go.
McQuade's Marketplace Mystic Galley and Deli Counter
14 Clara Drive, Mystic
We paranoiac Kosters are THOSE people: The ones whose COVID masks are identical to those employeed in the deepest contamination chambers at the CDC; who have Dr. Fauci on speed dial; and who refuse to be within 600 yards of any other human.
With the Omicron rockin' in the free world, we're back to a LOT of takeout, and the Galley restaurant and deli counter at McQuades's Market in Mystic is a fine outlet for all things culinary. The fare tends towards hearty and home cooking: burgers, fish and chips, meatloaf, Reubens and so on. Everything we've tried was good, in large portions, and relatively inexpensive. I found the Fish and Chips Platter ($12.95) competitive with famed versions across our region. My wife Eileen also shops at the deli counter next to the Galley and speaks highly of their Quinoa Pilaf, Mediterranean Chickpea Salad and Greek Couscous (all $7.99 a pound).
Worth mentioning is that the dining room of the Galley is ballroom sized with tables and booths so spaciously laid out that even we'd feel (sorta) safe eating there.
— Rick Koster