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What The Day's food critics reviewed over the past month

St. Bess Jerk Hub

276 West Main St., Norwich

(860) 823-0559

In a well known parable, three blind persons are asked to describe an elephant based on isolated touch of a different body part. Each imagines wildly different creatures. In a similar experiment, three folks, each wearing a blindfold, are led into St. Bess Jerk Hub restaurant in Norwich and, based solely on smell, asked to react. Every one of them instantly speed-dials their travel agents and books trips to Jamaica.

Yes, the delicious food in this small storefront spot in Oaktree Plaza is very redolently authentic — not surprising, as co-owners Dwight Muirhead and Ricardo Blake are originally from St. Elizabeth Parish in Jamaica.

The menu is basic and representative, with stews, curries and jerk dishes featuring chicken, pork, goat and seafood. The sides are also indigenous, and three separate meals convinced me St. Bess is pleasantly distinctive and one of the my favorite new restaurants in the region. Prices are very reasonable, and you get huge amounts of food prepared fresh daily. Dine in surrounded by the bright colors of the Jamaican flag, or order to go. Highly recommended.

— Rick Koster

Saybrook Point Resort and Marina

2 Bridge St., Old Saybrook

(860) 395-2000

Now that Mother's Day crowds have come and gone to local brunch spots, consider taking yourself out to brunch to celebrate ... whatever you'd like. I'm sure you deserve it.

At Saybrook Point Resort and Marina, brunchers have a choice of dozens (literally) of items, and we advise you to save room for dessert.

From brunch basics, including an omelet station, bagel spread, and Eggs Benedict, to savory lunch entrees from the carving and pasta stations, with many more options in between (Hot soup, anyone? On a recent visit, Hot and Sour Soup was available at the pasta station).

Standouts we sampled included the fresh omelets, Belgian waffles (with at least a dozen toppings at the ready), the house meatballs with penne, and pork tenderloin with an apple-bourbon-oat glaze. We weren't able to squeeze in any of the dozen or so desserts available, but next time we just might start with some of the lovely options we spotted, including mini chocolate-covered strawberry cannoli, triple chocolate mousse cups, and mini chocolate croissants.

In short: Pace yourself, and you'll discover the region's brunch to beat.

— Marisa Nadolny

C.C. O'Brien's Sports Cafe

8 Mechanic St, Pawcatuck

(860) 599-2034

In these unsteady times with so much tumult around us, consistency is a good thing, and that's what you get at C.C. O'Brien's, where they have been pleasing customers for more than a quarter century.

It's comfort food and it's always good, whether you opt for the beef and bean chili, the garlic parmesan wings, a bacon burger, chicken Caesar salad, or the house-favorite Philly cheesesteak grinder.

Most everything is under $15, and most items are in the $10 to $12 range. Portions are ample, service is friendly and efficient, and the place is entertaining. It's a sports bar, with too many televisions to count, billiard tables, darts, and live music. It's the kind of place where locals go to eat and catch up.

But everyone is welcome at C.C. O'Brien's, and when a customer enters, a waitress or barkeep will offer a greeting as newcomers scan the expansive two-level restaurant to find a seat.

There are daily specials like one on a recent Friday that offered a beer-battered haddock sandwich on a bulkie roll with lettuce, tomato, tartar sauce and chips, and a cup of New England clam chowder, all for just $9.95. The Friday night dinner special was haddock filet topped with panko bread crumbs and served with mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables, for $13.95. How can you beat that?

— Ann Baldelli







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