Tipping Point: Our picks and pans
The Engine Room, 14 Holmes St., Mystic
There are always jokes about monkeys throwing, ah, waste at zoo visitors (and who can blame them? WE put them in zoos). While no monkeys have ever thrown anything at me, I don’t particularly like them because, during one of my visits to the Dallas Zoo when I was young, I lost a staring contest with a chimp. Cold, dead eyes. I felt like Dr. Loomis in the “Halloween” franchise, who described looking at Michael Myers as “staring into the face of pure Ee-vil.” Yes, Dr. Loomis. I saw the same thing in the zoo chimp’s eyes — and I looked away in fear and weakness. However, all bad feelings are gone because the Monkey Bread dessert at Mystic’s Engine Room is one of the most sublime things I’ve ever eaten. A towering muffin/croissant construct with a soft, chewy interior, the Monkey Bread has a thick exterior wall of cinnamon and sugar, fused by butter. Served warm, and with a side of rich caramel sauce, I’ve decided there is nothing finer in this world. If Michael Myers had served this to Dr. Loomis in the first “Halloween,” there would have been no sequels; the pair would have thrown their arms around one another and opened a world famous bakery.
— Rick Koster
Wild Atlantic Salmon Filet
Tony D’s, 92 Huntington St., New London
I realize that the menu at Tony D’s is an embarrassment of riches, but don’t overlook the Wild Atlantic Salmon Filet ($34). The herb-crusted salmon was succulent and flavorful. I kind of expected that. What surprised me was how tasty the accompanying veggies were. The spinach, which was made with Tony D’s inimitable fried style, was an unusual preparation — crispy, salty — but oh-so good. The roasted potatoes were mighty fine, too.
— Kristina Dorsey
Clay McLeod Chapman
Just in time for the Season of Deviltry comes the latest novel from Clay McLeod Chapman, who is one of the Latest Wave of Highly Credible Horror Writers. Along with his “Whisper Down the Lane,” “The Betrayal,” “Ghost Eaters” makes a nice one-two-three punch of October reading treats. In “Ghost Eaters,” a charismatic young man named Silas has OD’d and died, the victim of his own relentless quest for adventure of any kind — including drugs. But he’s left behind a new amateur pharmaceutical of his own design. It’s a street hallucinogen called Ghost, and among its psychotropic properties is the ability to see and communicate with the dead. For our narrator Erin, whose complex relationship with Silas defied classification but seemed destined for eternity in that perhaps naive way Young People have, her Ghost-fueled efforts for closer and more frequent contact with Silas seem an increasingly bad idea. Chapman is really good at characterization and plot, but his descriptions of what happens while you’re tripping on Ghost would have forced Bosch to start doing kiddies’ watercolors.
— Rick Koster