Classic Connecticut: Blackie’s Hotdog Stand in Cheshire


Connecticut holds many timeless restaurants. People consider these restaurants “timeless” because they are untouched by the changes of our twenty-first century ways of life. When you step inside, you might forget that you’re in the digital age for a moment. We expected this magical quality when we discovered Blackie’s Hot Dog stand in Connecticut. Founded in 1925 by Mary Mahoney and Art Blackman, Blackie’s maintains its family tradition of serving Blackie’s hot dogs smothered in homemade relish, birch beer on tap, cartons of chocolate milk, being closed on Fridays and offering chips instead of fries. We couldn’t wait to take part in Blackie’s traditions.

For more on Blackie’s history, click here.

Blackie’s Hotdog Stand

Grade: B+

Location: 2200 Waterbury Road, Cheshire, CT

Website

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christina Atmosphere: 9.5/10-When you enter Blackie’s, you’ll notice the double garage doors that pay homage to the original building, a gas station that burnt to the ground in 1945. You’ll also notice historical pictures and newspaper articles mounted to the walls. When we walked in, we noticed people eating hotdogs at metal counters and sitting at the wooden tables.  They represented ages young and old. We also saw the legendary “no dancing” sign on the wall. The restaurant put it up during the 1940s to avoid a cabaret tax. These elements make your experience feel like a true time warp. A juke box would have been the so-called “icing on the cake.”

Service: 9/10-Unlike the previous restaurant, Blackie’s CAN handle the pressure of a crowded interior. The staff uses a number system for each order and delivers them quickly. The tables appeared slightly messy, but this is understandable for a busy day. The staff maintained its most important duties with ease.

menu Price: 5/5-You might do a double take at the prices. $2 hot dogs, $3 cheeseburgers and hamburgers that cost $2.75 might make you do a double-take. The times changed, but Blackie’s changed very moderately over the years. This speaks to Blackie’s authenticity and loyalty to tradition.

Selection: 4/5-Blackie’s offers a modest selection of hotdogs, burgers, fries, chips, ice cream, soda and milkshakes. We would call this selection “limited” for a modern day restaurant, but for Blackie’s, it speaks of the simplicity of the “good old days” and the restaurant’s noble attempts to stick to tradition.

relishTaste: 4/5-Blackie’s boasts about its hot pepper relish and for good reason. For eighty years, Blackie’s has offered its delicious hot pepper relish to its customers. The recipe remains a “closely guarded secret.” Without the relish,  Blackie’s hotdogs and hamburgers aren’t particularly stellar, but they will still satisfy your taste buds.

Composition: 3.5/5-There is nothing particularly special about the looks or size of Blackie’s hotdogs and hamburgers. A handful customers have commented on other websites that the looks have varied over the years. We suggest buying multiple items.

In a nutshell: 35/40-We recommend you visit Blackie’s Hotdog Stand in Cheshire for its rich history and inexpensive eating. While the portions aren’t big, you can purchase multiple items to satisfy your hunger and save a significant amount of money in your wallets.

Check out some of the additional pictures from our adventure!

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Blackies Hotdog Stand on Urbanspoon

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diva la crepe

COMING UP NEXT: Yes, Connecticut has a Creperie. Their prices are more than reasonable and their food looks delicious! Will they live up to the hype? Stay tuned.

Italian Take 2- Procaccini’s Italian Family Restaurant in East Hartford


We dared to try Italian cuisine via Groupon again to kick off the new year. Groupon provided us with a few Italian cuisine options, but Procaccini’s stood out the most due to its unique chef logo and welcoming name.  Since 1969, Procaccini’s has serviced the East Hartford area.  This fact intrigued us.  We expected a family-run  restaurant with old fashioned service and traditional values.  We were a little surprised by the mixed reviews on Urbanspoon.  One user wrote, “We are originally from East Hartford – and have never been able to find a better pizza anywhere!” Another user complained that “…the Waitress did not attend to us being in her section and would not bring us additional seasoned bread after sitting 20 minutes.” With the opposing reviews in mind, it was time to put Procaccini’s to the test!

Procaccini’s Italian Family Restaurant

Grade: B-

Location: 46 Main Street, East Hartford

Facebook Menu Groupon

chef

familiesAtmosphere: 9/10- When we walked into Procaccini’s,we noticed the eye-catching decor on the walls.  We enjoyed seeing a painted cutout of the Procaccini’s chef  on the wall and a beautiful painting of Venice near the kitchen.  Christina commented that the chef reminded her of Little Caesar’s “Pizza, Pizza”  mascot that sports the same name because of its cuteness and likability. Procaccini’s has the necessary eye candy to elate its customers before seating. We were also intrigued by the number of customers in the restaurant. By 6 pm,  Procaccini’s was filled with hungry families.

Service: 7/10-We found our host and waitress friendly.  They tried their best to bring food out in a timely fashion. Unfortunately,  Procaccini’s is understaffed on a busy night and barely able to handle the pressure. We didn’t wait long for our appetizers, but when the restaurant started to fill, we waited quite awhile for entrees, dessert and check. Procaccini’s needs more employees.

pizza

Price/Selection: 8/10-From burgers to pizza, Procaccini’s has a diverse selection of menu items. You’ll find plenty of soups, salads, pastas, pizzas and desserts.  If you’re looking to order burgers or grinders, you’ll spend on average $10-13.  Pasta averages $12-17  and pizza ranges from $7-26 depending on the size.  You might spend more than you expect, but the prices match the portion size.  You will receive plenty to eat and plenty to take home. If you’re reading this in early January 2013, take advantage of the Groupon deal we provided in the link at the top of the page. If you spend $15, you’ll receive $30 worth of food. This is a standard Groupon Deal.

Taste/Composition: 8/10-We added composition to this category because how a dish looks will influence the way the customers reflects on his or her experience. Procaccini’s composition differs from traditional Italian cuisine.  Most notably, they layer their pizza toppings and serve spumoni without a shell.  We weren’t sure what to make of it, but enjoyed our savory dishes.

spumoniIn a nutshell: 32/40-Procaccini’s Italian Family Restaurant is a restaurant with history and potential to make even more history. We largely enjoyed the atmosphere and the diverse selection. Procaccini’s has the makings of a solid Italian restaurant and people see this potential. We cannot stress enough that this restaurant needs more employees.  A larger staff would help speed up service on those busy weekend nights.

Why you might want to check out Procaccini’s:

1. The onion soup-Procaccini’s offers a delicious onion soup topped with mozzarella cheese.

2. The layered pizza-We found the style a bit unusual, but you might enjoy the toppings layered inside the pizza.

3. The atmosphere-Procaccini’s unique logo and beautiful painting will catch your eye when you walk in.

blackies

Coming up next-Blackies Hotdog Stand exists as a time warp and treasured restaurant in Cheshire.  Will it live up to its reputation? Stay tuned!

Procaccini's on Urbanspoon

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Grab some Gobi Mongolian Grill in Southington


Life feels different in Connecticut lately. We feel different. People seem a little more on edge and for good reason.  You might feel sad and you might be looking for a return to normalcy. We’ve found comfort in spending time with family and friends around the holiday season in an entertaining atmosphere. If you’re looking for some holiday cheer in the nutmeg state, why not try Gobi Mongolian Grill in Southington! We’ve visited twice and definitely enjoyed ourselves.

What is Mongolian Barbecue? Gobi Mongolian Grill in Southington serves a type of cuisine called Mongolian barbecue. Ironically, Mongolian barbecue relates to neither Mongolian cuisine nor barbecue. Taiwanese restaurants developed Mongolian barbecue during the 1970s. The restaurants’ chefs cooked diverse varieties of meats, vegetables and noodles on round, iron griddles. Imagine a hibachi dinner in which you CHOOSE the contents.  Customers handed chefs the vegetables, noodles and sauces and they cooked them without hesitation. This type of tradition caught on in America and has maintained popularity into the 21st century.

Check our Mongolian barbecue adventure-

Gobi Mongolian Grill

Grade A-

Location: 855 Queen St, Southington, CT

Website Menu Drinks Facebook

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from the official website

ImageAtmosphere: 9.5/10: Gobi Mongolian Grill has a spacious interior with an orange and brown color scheme that will likely contribute to your hunger. You will also notice the giant iron griddles that rest in the middle of the room. People wait at marble counters by the griddles with the dishes they selected. Before you visit the counter, go to the buffet area in the back of the room to choose from a variety of noodles, vegetables, meats and sauces for the chefs to cook. Remember-this is all you can eat so grab as many dishes as you desire. You can also choose dessert!

ImageService of chefs: 5/5-These chefs will cook any type of ingredients and quickly. I added pineapple and strawberries to my plate and they cooked it! I was greeted with a few laughs by the chefs and odd looks by Christina and our friend Brandon.

Service of waiters/waitresses: 3/5-On a busy night, you might have to wait a little while for refills of drinks. Your table could benefit from ordering a bottle of wine to prevent waiting or a large pitcher of water. When we visited a second time for Brandon’s going away party, we encountered much faster service.

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Price/selection: 9.5/10-The picture shows only the vegetables you have to choose from! The meats, noodles and sauces boast the same type of variety! You can have as much of this as you want for $15.95. During lunch hours, you can have the same type of buffet for only $8.95. You’ll spend less than you would at a hibachi dinner!  The drink prices are reasonable too.

Taste: 9/10-You can create a seemingly endless amount of tasty combinations. Unlike most buffets, the ingredients do not sit out to spoil. We encourage you to try new foods, but be careful of your choices. Pay attention to the spiciness warnings if you don’t like spicy foods. If you’re not a daring person, choose foods that you are familiar with. Otherwise, you’ll end up wasting a lot of ingredients.

In a nutshell-36/40-Whether you’re visiting at lunch or dinner, with friends or family, Gobi Mongolian grill is a “must try” place in the state of Connecticut.  We encourage you to try this place as a date or with a large group of people. You’ll find good times and holiday cheer at this restaurant!

Gobi Mongolian Grill on Urbanspoon

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Tapas, tapas, tapas! Ibiza Tapas and Wine Bar in Hamden


We almost missed it. Driving down the traffic filled Dixwell avenue, we almost missed the entrance for Ibiza Tapas and Wine Bar, a tapas and wine bar near the border of Hamden and New Haven.  If you’re not familiar with the term, “tapas” are a variety of appetizers and snacks in Spanish cuisine. Chefs create tapas with unique ingredients such as baby squid, raisins and olives. They are served hot or cold and designed to stimulate conversation so people can enjoy the ambiance as well as their meals. Spaniards typically frequent tapas bars in the early evening/late afternoon because they do not eat dinner until the hours of 9 to 11 p.m.

If you enter a Google search for “Ibiza Tapas,” you’ll garner multiple results because several restaurants exist in the United States with a similar name.  This particular restaurant, however, exists only in Northampton, Massachusetts and Hamden, Connecticut.  We visited Ibiza in Northampton and enjoyed our tapas and wine. We decided to visit its sister restaurant in Connecticut and see if it measured up. We almost missed it but, noticed the “I” logo from the window and made a quick U-Turn.  With our bellies rumbling and our taste buds tingling, we entered Ibiza.

Note: the photos on our phones came out blurry so we used pictures from their official Facebook page to try and recreate the experience as best as we could.

Ibiza Tapas and Wine Bar in Hamden

Grade: A-

Location: 1832 Dixwell Avenue, Hamden, CT

Website Menu Drinks Facebook

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Atmosphere: 9/10-When you enter Ibiza, you’ll likely notice the small size of the building’s interior.  Every square inch seems to be covered by tables of all sizes. You’ll also notice that almost every table is full with people enjoying their tapas and wine. This, along with the vibrant red/yellow schema of the interior and the abstract paintings, is likely to intrigue you. During the spring and summer months, crowded tables align the beautiful patio outside.

Service: 9/10-Our hostess held the door open and seated us immediately. We waited a little longer than we expected for our menus but, our waitress brought them out to us and apologized. We understood because it was a busy night.  She also brought us an extra tapa plate that we did not order.  When we informed her, she corrected this error immediately. When your restaurant is filled to its limit of people, waiters and waitresses are going to make mistakes every once in awhile.  Our waitress’s ability to correct it in a quick fashion signifies her quality as a waitress. We also appreciated our quick refills.

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Our hats also go off to the chefs for their creative ingenuity. We enjoyed all of our tapas, but remembered the Lubina a la sal (Salt-baked sea bass with tomato, scallions,   pinenuts, raisins, potato, carrot comfit,   and smoked Spanish paprika oil) and Pollo al Ajillo con Vegetales (Free range chicken sautéed in garlic sauce served with vegetables) the most for their unique culinary design.

Taste: 10/10: We usually place this category last, but it seems like the perfect transition after a paragraph about design.  These tapas taste as delicious as they look. Ibiza’s chefs place an emphasis on flavor. We often said “wow” out loud after sinking our teeth into a tapa. The taste made us pay attention to the ingredients and question what made everything so delicious. We enjoyed experiencing flavors that had never mixed on our palettes before.

Price: 3/5-Tapas prices range from $4.75 to $9.95.  They come as tradicionales (small tapas) and raciones (larger tapas). Keep in mind that the tradicionales, while beautifully designed, are not particularly filling. The raciones can be filling depending on the size.  The idea is for you to order multiple tapas. Depending on your appetite, things can get somewhat pricy. If you’re on a date for two, we recommend you order two tradicionales and two raciones. We also recommend visiting with a group to enjoy company and split the tab.

Making the choice: Ibiza, compared to other tapas bars in Connecticut, is more affordable and more creative.  Ibiza continues to reinvent its menu and offer intriguing daily specials. If you visit Barcelona West Hartford, prices rank up to $10.50 for traicionales and $14.50 for raciones. You won’t pay more than $9.95 for any tapas dish at Ibiza.

Selection: 5/5-Ibiza has a creative, diverse selection of tapas and drinks.  Check out our top 5 picks for most creative tapas and drinks:

1.   Lubina a la sal (Salt-baked sea bass with tomato, scallions,   pinenuts, raisins, potato, carrot comfit,   and smoked Spanish paprika oil)-$6.75.

2.  Pollo al Ajillo con Vegetales (Free range chicken sautéed in garlic sauce served with vegetables)-$9.95.

3. Salmon con Ensalada de Manzanas Verdes (Caramelized Scottish Salmon, green apple, avocado and cucumber salad with extra virgin olive oil and lemon)-$7.75.

4. Moscatel de Valenica-$5.50 per glass.

5. Caves de Cepa-$6.50 per glass.

In a nutshell-36/40-Ibiza Tapas and Wine Bar exists as one of the best (if not best) tapas bars in Connecticut. We recommend you stop by the Hamden location or the one in Northampton for an evening of tapas and wine! We also you recommend you stop by their facebook for the daily specials and other information.

Ibiza Tapas Wine Bar and Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Saigon City in Old Saybrook: Vietnamese with An Artistic Attitude


Old Saybrook is a small, seaside town in Middlesex County. It’s also one of the oldest towns in Connecticut with roots that date back to 1624! A New York Times review of Saigon City, a quaint Vietnamese restaurant, inspired us to stop by the town for dinner and a round of mini golf.  We felt excited to try a new Vietnamese restaurant for the first time in almost a year.  We were equally delighted to find that Old Saybrook still had a mini golf course by the docks. With our two year anniversary around the corner,  we were eager to embark on a pre-celebration in this town.

Saigon City

Grade: A

Location:  1315 Boston Post Road, Old Saybrook, CT

Website Menu

from the official website.

Atmosphere: 10/10-When you step into the Saigon City, you’ll notice the beautiful Vietnamese paintings that decorate the walls.  Chef Vu Nguyen, who co-owns Saigon City with his wife, Bernadette, painted some of these! This speaks to Saigon City’s authentic, creative atmosphere and to the talent of Nguyen.  The  paintings represent a wonderful, welcoming expression of the Vietnamese culture.  Saigon City’s dining room fireplace is an added bonus, especially for those frigid, Fall and Winter  nights.  We opted  to sit on the deck  and soak in the sun.  We noticed that Saigon City differs from other restaurants in that it keeps both its interior and exterior clean!

Service: 9/10-We waited a little longer than we expected for refills but, we found our waitress to be personable and efficient.  We also give props to the chef(s) who prepared our dishes in under 15 minutes.  Vietnamese  cuisine (if done well) boasts complexity in its taste and design. The quick preparation time highlights the experience of Saigon City’s chefs.

Price: 4/5-Lunch prices range from $7.95 to $10.95.  Dinner prices range from $11.95 to $17.95.  If you want a glass of wine, you’ll spend an average of $5-$6. These are some pretty sweet deals!  Our experience  caused us to re-evaluate our perspective on price. We visited an Italian restaurant the other week in which the price of entrees ranged from $17.95 and above!  We expected superior, gourmet cuisine for this amount.  We tasted tasty, overpriced cuisine.  At Saigon City, you will pay significantly less for dishes with filling portions and damn good taste!

Selection: 5/5-Click on the menu link above and scroll down. This extensive menu spans ten pages! From Vietnamese spring rolls to Red Curry pork, you have plenty to choose from! We suggest you review this extensive menu before you stop by.

Taste: 9/10-Lemon grass, peanuts, limes, vegetables, coconut milk, curry and chili-paste: these are some of the key ingredients to signature Vietnamese dishes.  Saigon City’s chefs honored this culinary tradition and the results proved downright delectable!  If you’re a fan of spice, you might want to tell your server beforehand. The dishes marked as “spicy” may not  taste as spicy as you might anticipate without this suggestion.  

Below you’ll find our picks for the top 5 most creative entrees:

1.   Saigon Spicy Chicken (Slices of tender chicken breast marinated with coconut milk, yellow curry, and chili pepper.  Stir-fried with onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, and clear noodles.  Sprinkled with ground peanuts)-$12.95

2.  Spicy Vegetarian Curry (Tofu marinated with coconut milk, curry, and chili pepper.  Stir-fried with onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, carrots, and clear noodles.  Sprinkled with ground peanuts)-$12.95

3. Red Curry Pork (Sliced pork marinated with red curry and simmered in coconut milk with bamboo shoots, red chili, and bell peppers)-$12.95

4.  Saigon Beef Delight (Slices of flank steak stir-fried with pineapple, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, and cucumbers)-$14.95

5.  Squid Sate-(Squid sautéed with carrots, onions, bell peppers, celery, mushrooms, broccoli, bamboo shoots, and baby corn)-$14,95

In a nutshell: 37/40-Saigon City proved that it is possible for restaurants to serve authentic, delicious cuisine at affordable prices. Yes, this includes wine too! You can treat yourself this to an exquisite dinner or lunch  without burdening your wallet. We strongly recommend you visit and immerse yourself in the artistic and culinary gem that is Saigon City.

Saigon City on Urbanspoon

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Hiking & Lunch in CT: Talcott Mountain & Apollo’s Pizza and Pasta in Simsbury


With the summer winding down, we decided to explore the natural side of Connecticut.  We took a week’s vacation to Delaware and discovered that we missed Connecticut’s nature most of all.   To satisfy  our longing, we hiked Talcott Mountain in Simsbury on Saturday and stumbled into Apollo’s Pizza  and Pasta on our way home.    Then it hit us-hiking and lunch is an ideal outing  for friends, family and dates!  If  you choose a mountain  with a great  view and eat great local food nearby,  you might make a tradition out of it!  We knew Talcott mountain had a great  view, but we had no idea about its historical significance.  Here is how our afternoon panned out-

Talcott Mountain

Overall Grade: A-

Location: Talcott Mountain State Park, 560 Simsbury Road, Bloomfield, CT

Website

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Parking fee: 10/10-There is no parking fee!. Your trip to Talcott Mountain is actually free fun!  Please note that you must park on the grass on the side of the road that lies before the trail.  Parking  fills quickly.  If you want to find a decent parking spot,  your best bet is to go  before noon.   Talcott Mountain State Park closes at 5:00 P.M.

Atmosphere of Mountain:  4/5-Talcott Mountain is located just 6 miles west of the city of Hartford, bordering Farmington, West Hartford, Bloomfield, Simsbury and Avon.  It is comprised of many notable cliffs, including the 950 ft high point on which the historic  Heublein tower stands.  We enjoyed  the variety of hikers, animals and vegetation.   The mountain is suitable for all ages .  We  saw kids as young as three and adults well into their eighties walk to the top.    If you’re looking for a longer hike, you might want to start at Penwood State Park, which located a short distance away from Talcott Mountain State Park.

Atmosphere of Tower:  5/5-The historic Heublein Tower has a lot of history.  The setup is like a mini museum inside.   Every room is a mini exhibit that tells a great deal about the tower’s history.   We don’t want to spoil the rich history for you, so we’ve selected five interesting facts to  share about the tower-

1.   It served as Gilbert Heublein’s home and retreat from the 1914 until his death in the 1930s.  He founded Heublein Inc, an American producer of beverages and food.  He was most notably a manufacturer of Smirnoff Vodka and A1 steak sauce.

2,   While hiking with his wife on Talcott Mountain, Gilbert promised her he would one day build her a tower.

3.   Ronald Reagan,  Prescott Bush and Dwight D. Eisenhower were guests at the tower during the 1950s.  The staff threw an election party for Eisenhower during the 1950s.

4.   The Hartford Times used the tower to operate its FM station from 1948 to 1950.

5.   The State of Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection now manages the tower.

Trail: 8/10-The trail is short, considering Talcott Mountain spans only three miles at its widest point.   The trail, however, offers a nice view of the Greater Hartford area a short distance from the top.

View from Tower and Mountain  9/10-From the top of the tower, you’ll get a  great view of Farmington, West Hartford, Bloomfield, Simsbury and the Farmington River.  The tower offers a panoramic view of the Hartford skyline, the Farmington River, the Farmington valley, Mt. Tom and four New England states.  We were more than delighted to receive these incredible views for free.  The view from the top of the tower was a perfect way to   top off our hike.

In a nutshell: 36/40-We thoroughly enjoyed our hike and we recommend you visit for….

-The free parking

-The scenic trail

-The historic Heublein Tower

-The Snapple machine inside the tower. (This machine offers Snapple in a can.  A rarity at most venues).

-The view from the top of the tower and the top of the mountain.

Apollo’s Pizza and Pasta

Overall Grade: B+

Location:  775 Hopmeadow Street,  Simsbury, CT

Website  Menu

Atmosphere:  9/10-Our hike inspired us to venture into Simsbury for lunch.  We stumbled upon Apollo’s Pizza and Pasta on Hopmeadow street, a five minute drive from the mountain.  When we entered the restaurant, we we noticed the small, classy interior.  You’ll notice that the staff advertises Avery’s Soda at the front counter.   Avery’s Soda is old fashioned  soda that comes in  a glass bottle.   Avery’s boasts a variety of flavors   from Black Cherry to odder flavors such as Bug Barf soda.  No, we’re not kidding.  The old fashioned sodas sparked us with a sense of wonder about the menu items.

Service:  9/10-We appreciated our service.  We received our food in under 15 minutes and constant refills from our waitress.

Price/selection of lunch:  4.5/5-The lunch menu is noticeably cheaper than the dinner menu.   Entrees average around $10 to $14.   You’ll receive  a considerable amount of food for the price you pay.

Price/selection of dinner: 3.5/5-Entrees ranges from $11.5o to $19.50.   A large, traditional pizza costs only $11.25!  This is considerably cheaper than the price for most large pizzas.  If you want a large, gourmet pizza you will pay around $18.  Apollo’s entrees are still  considerably cheaper than many restaurants in Simsbury.

Taste: 8.5/10-We enjoyed our entrees but expected slightly more because of the flavorful composition of the  dish.   The portion size definitely matches the price.  You won’t leave the restaurant hungry.

In a nutshell: 34.5/40-Apollo’s scores a solid  B+  for its good food, good service and great lunch prices.   We recommend you visit, especially if you’re looking for a nice hole in the wall restaurant after you hike Talcott Mountain.   Check out our top four picks for  the most creative items!

1.  The Simsbury Burger (this may not be the name).  Apollo’s does not have a lunch a menu online so we cannot double check.

2. Scallops Ala Vodka

3.  Florentine Pizza

4.  Eggplant Rollatini

Below you’ll find additional pics from our Simsbury adventure!

The top of the tower
View of Mt. Tom
View of dining room
Heublein’s bedroom
Christina’s burger

Historical Ghost Tours in New Haven & Quick Tips on Groupon/Living Social


There are a lot of interesting deals on the Groupon and Living Social websites. These websites seem to offer great deals on dining, fun activities, products and vacations because of their intriguing descriptions. Recently, Groupon posted a deal for CoCo Key Water Resort, an indoor water resort in Waterbury. The Groupon description reads, “Regardless of the weather outside, CoCo Key Water Resort simulates an 84-degree Key West day.” A Key West setting in Waterbury? This sounds amazing and a little too good to be true. When we scrolled down to the reviews, we noticed 143 reviews with an average two star rating. One user wrote, “The smell inside was horrible who knows if they even use chlorine to sanitize. Asked an employee for the manager and didn’t see anyone for at least 20 min until we asked someone else.” Many of the other reviews mirrored this one. Before buying a Groupon or Living Social Deal, always check the reviews and purchase at your own risk.

Of course, many deals on Groupon match their descriptions. El Flamboyan  in Wallingford exceeded our expectations with their savory Puerto Rican cuisine.  Groupon offers the catchy descriptions to get the ball rolling on business.  Businesses that choose to use Groupon either live up to those standards or fall short of them.  We gave Groupon another go with the Historical Ghost tours of New Haven.  Connecticut missed out on Halloween last year due to a violent snowstorm.  We’ve been craving some creepy fun ever since.  This is how our night played out-

Walking Tours of New Haven

Historical Ghost Tours (approx 90 minutes)

Overall Grade: B-

Meeting Place:  1070 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT

Website Groupon

Contact: info@walkingtoursofnewhaven.com.

Atmosphere: 8.5/10-If you’re not from the New Haven area, you might have trouble finding parking.  If you can’t find street parking on Chapel Street, we recommend you park at the garage on College Street where the Shubert Theatre lies.  Chapel Street is a short walk from the garage.  We met our tour guide and our group in front of the Starbucks on Chapel Street.  Our tour guide led us to a number of interesting destinations in a ninety minute period. We wished could have gone inside some of the tour destinations.  If we were allowed to go inside the Grove Street cemetery or the Skull & Bones society, we would have enjoyed the tour a lot more.  Check out our picks for the most interesting destinations:

Skull & Bones Secret Society:  Located on High St, this secret society is known for its mysterious rituals and traditions.  The ghost of Geronimo, a famous Apache chief, supposedly haunts these grounds.  Legend has it that Prescott Bush, our former presidents’ father and grandfather, stole Geronimo’s skull from his burial site.  The members of the secret society reportedly require new members to kiss Geronimo’s skull!

New Haven Green: Bounded by Chapel, Church, Elm and College Streets, the green rests over thousands of burials of yellow fever victims that died during the late 1700s.

Grove Street Cemetery:  This is cemetery is home to many historical figures such as Eli Whitney, the inventor of the cotton gin and Noah Webster, the creator of the Webster Dictionary.  Grove Street Cemetery is also home to Midnight Mary.  You can read her story on Damned Connecticut.

Service: 8.5/10-Our tour guide displayed vast knowledge of New Haven’s haunted history.  She was quirky but did not project the spooky vibe one might expect for this type of tour. Nonetheless,  we enjoyed following our tour guide to the various destinations on the tour and listening to her stories.

Price: 6.5/10-Without the Groupon deal, Historical Ghost Tours loses points on its price.  $25 per person is steep for a 90 minute tour, especially one that does not venture into most of its destinations.

Variety:  8.5/10-The tour covers a handful of places in a 90 minute period.  We found this to be the most desirable aspect of the tour.

In a nutshell: 32/40-Historical Ghost Tours in New Haven-it’s a good idea and has a lot of interesting elements.  We recommend you try this tour if they launch another Groupon deal or if you feel the price matches the quality.  We would like to look into more of Connecticut’s haunted history and we’ll most likely try this type of tour again in the near future.