Monday, October 19, 2009

Firebox - Hartford, CT

We recently had dinner at Firebox, located in a renovated factory building on Broad St, in Hartford, CT. An absolute jewel of a restaurant, Firebox epitomizes the farm-to-table movement with local, freshly prepared dishes.

The space itself is large, with a clean, sophisticated décor. A fireplace in the main area gives cozy warmth to the room. The bar area is spacious and inviting, with its own menu for casual dining. The drink list is interesting (try the Cucumber Limeade or Thomas Hooker “Octoberfest”).

Where to start? On this particular evening, after ordering a Blackburn Cabernet from the approachable wine list, we decide to start with the P.E.I mussels. It’s not an easy choice, with the Duck Confit salad piquing our interest. The mussels arrive in a broth of Octoberfest beer, grain mustard, and chunks of garlicky kielbasa. We sop up the broth with the homemade multi grain bread that is placed before us, warm and crusty. Things are good in our world.

The main menu, which changes seasonally, typically consists of 8 or 9 entrees. Firebox is one of the few restaurants in the area where I could literally order every single item without hesitation. So, I opt for the Beef Short Rib braised in red wine. The Mr. orders the Maple and Ginger Roasted Chicken. The beef rib was cooked to perfection, sitting on a potato and celery root puree. Roast Brussels sprouts and carrots round out the dish nicely. (One of the reasons I love Firebox is that they always have Brussels sprouts on the menu, a refreshing change from the usual vegetable sides.) The meat falls off the bone, creating a luscious stew of flavors. The chicken is moist with a faint sweet flavor of local maple syrup. The farro (a type of wheat grain) that accompanies is loaded with thick chunks of bacon and tomatoes. Have you made your reservation yet?

You must know by now that we won’t be skipping dessert! So, after 2.3 seconds of deliberation, we decide to order Ashlawn Farm coffee, Apple Cobbler and the Chocolate Semifreddo. The cobbler is the perfect fall dessert, large pieces of apple baked with a crumb crust. The semifreddo is light and chocolaty, adorned with crème anglaise. We shared our plates and enjoyed the warmth of a satisfying cup of coffee. Another dessert of note is the cheese plate, which features Cato Corner Cheese. They produce some of the finest cheeses in the country. (sore topic…I grew up a couple of miles from their farm, and they had the audacity to open after I left town…and don’t get me started on the winery!)

Firebox continues to be one of the finest restaurants in Hartford. Not only are they producing incredible food, but they have made an obvious commitment to the community through their on-site farmer’s market, and community workshops held at Billings Forge, the adjacent building.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.


zoe p. said...

I'm a fan of Firebox too. Wish I had more time and money to enjoy this place!