Something wonderful happened last week. We went to dinner in a restaurant that has been around for many years. We'd been before and loved it : a cozy inn, friendly and discreet staff, tantalizing menu selections. It is wonderful because this establishment is close to so many of us. We usually sit at a table but this time we took seats at the bar because it was a last-minute decision and we had no reservation.
Max, the discerning and considerate bartender, looked after us. Fast forward to departure and the electronic click of the car door lock and then heading home; we felt thoroughly and extremely and deliciously satisfied.
Has anyone guessed where this might be? It's Carpenter & Main at 326 Main street in Norwich. Chef and owner Bruce McLeod is master of his kitchen with such delights as caramelized tofu triangles with charred broccoli rabe, braised kale with raisins, pine nuts and apple or perhaps a short rib bruschetta with horseradish gremolata for meat lovers? I chose some plump oysters to start and then a coconut-infused Thai broth soaking the tasty mussels and infusing each bite with curried Asian spice. As I reached across to steal several of my husband's French fries, I felt transported back to Belgium and this signature combo available in so many bistrots. We've also always enjoyed the Carpenter and Main hamburger : a perfectly neat ball of beef that sits in a perfectly neat bun, sculpted to accommodate its precious cargo.
This was supposed to be a light bite after a film. As our plates were removed, that temptress called dessert came calling in the form of a hand gently conveying a small menu in our general direction. I fully confess that the light bite collapsed under the pressure of two maple cream crêpes, light, triangular flaky tents with oozing white maple innards.
The menu changes seasonally and the restaurant is divided into several sections, all adding to the welcoming setting. There are vegetarian and gluten-free options and there are also daily special days Wednesday through Sunday. Sundays, for example, feature steak tartare. Add some frites and a glass of red wine! It's almost Heaven.
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