A good Landing on Main Street in Deep River
For a small town, Deep River sure goes big on restaurants. Main Street offers everything from quickie Chinese food to excellent barbecue in close proximity, and other well-loved dining institutions are about 20 seconds away by car. Among them is the first restaurant I ever heard of in Deep River, The Ivory, so named for Deep River’s history as an ivory-processing hotspot.
After a few incarnations under different management teams, the original owners of The Ivory have reclaimed their spot on Main Street and re-christened the place Landing and Main. Fans of The Ivory need not worry: the cozy, familial atmosphere remains with a menu that very likely offers something for everyone.
With the chill of autumn finally here, we enjoyed dinner recently while basking in the heat produced by a very effective fireplace. (We sat in the adjacent dining room. Sit at the bar or at a pub table in the bar area for the full roasty-toasty effect.)
The evening called for hearty fare, and the Sausage and Peppers Plate appetizer ($12) on the specials menu kicked things off nicely. If you like sausage with a firm kick of spice only to be chased by peppers with their own sturdy kick, this one’s for you. We learned from the owner that the delicious sausage is sourced from a shop in Hartford, and, of course, local makes everything better. The dish came with a side of house marinara, which was quite good with no frills – tomatoes and garlic did the talking to great effect.
We were both lured by the prospect of mashed potatoes when it came time to choose a main course. I picked the Grilled Lemon Chicken, which typically comes with pasta ($20), but for an extra $2 you can sub in mashed potatoes. The entree was preceded by a fresh and actually tasty dinner salad, and we both had a choice of veg on the side. (Brussels sprouts for both of us.) Everything was very good. The lemon and white sauce that bedecked the two large pieces of chicken breast flavored the mashed potatoes and sprouts in a very good way. The chicken itself was very tender with a light char that added flavor and texture nuance. The lemon-pepper seasoning conjured visions of summer days and meals al fresco. No mashed potatoes survived the meal, because they were far too tasty and properly toothy
The mister went out on a limb and ordered the Bone-in Pork Chop entree ($26) – a dish we certainly enjoy but never tend to order abroad. What he received was the single largest chop I’ve ever seen on a dinner plate, and we learned it, too, comes from a local source. It takes a skilled hand to grill such a large piece of meat properly, and rest assured Landing and Main has an expert in the house. It was tender, mildly smoky, and overall delicious. His mashed potatoes were as yummy as mine. As for the sprouts, they were good enough and got a welcome assist from their plate partners. They were not the bacon-covered greens one often encounters in restaurants these days.
On another night, we kept things a little more pub-casual with mixed results. The Bruschetta appetizer ($8) we ordered looked fabulous –toasted baguette slices topped with chopped tomatoes, basil, rounds of fresh mozzarella, and a balsamic reduction glaze. At first, indeed, it was very tasty – and then we both noticed a fishy flavor not accounted for in the menu description. Did anchovies find their way into the mix? Did some part of the dish share space with something that swims? That remains unknown, but the unexpected and pretty prominent flavoring put us both off and we didn’t finish the app.
Our beef quesadilla ($10) scored better, and although it could have come off the grill a little sooner, we did enjoy the lightly spiced beef filling which we suspect would be excellent on nachos. We also appreciated the very fresh accompanying pico de gallo, which brightened up the overall flavor considerably.
The hit of the night was our Philly Cheese Wrap ($14), which was everything someone like me is looking for in such a dish: light grilling on the wrap, finely chopped steak and onions, and no shortage of cheese. It was quite tasty and the stuff of a very filling Lunch of Champions. Bonus: The ample side of fries that came with the wrap were very good –flavorful, with the right ratio of crispiness to soft interior.
Landing and Main offers a good variety of options on the menu, and we look forward to returning to sample more – among them, the cheddar-jalapeno kielbasa app ($12) on the seasonal specials list and the Smokehouse Burger ($15), topped with, among other great things, bacon and onion rings. The wonderful service we enjoyed more than made up for what we’re sure were flukes on an off night. And did we mention there’s a dessert menu? With key lime pie on it? Yep. We’re there for that too.
IF YOU GO
Landing and Main
77 Main St., Deep River
Cuisine: Per the menu, “American cuisine with a twist”; think burgers, pasta dishes, steaks and other entrees, plus pub grub
Atmosphere: Cozy, comfortable, and lodge-like with a great fireplace in the main room; plentiful additional space with a little distance from the bar is also available
Service: Very welcoming and sincerely pleasant
Hours: Open seven days a week; noon-9 p.m.
Prices: Reasonable enough. Entrees (served with side salads) top out at $38 for the ribeye steak; chicken dishes are on average $20; and an Ahi Tuna steak dinner will run you $24. Apps start at $6.
Credit cards: Accepted
Handicapped access: While the interior is fairly spacious, the parking area is a little tight and the entry a little unclear. So: Pull to the back of the restaurant to park, then head toward the doors facing the parking area; turn to the left and enter through THAT door. On the plus side, there are no stairs to enter.
Reservations: Accepted, and private rooms are available for larger gatherings