Stopping by The Sloppy Waffle in Newington


It always fascinates us to see restaurants develop a cult following. When people typically think of the phrase “cult following,” they apply it to movies, bands, television shows or occasionally novels. Restaurants develop cult followings when they offer something new and exciting to customers. When GoldBurgers opened in Newington, residents developed a love for their savory burgers, terrific staff and creative specials. The word spread fast and GoldBurgers quickly earned the reputation as one of the best burger places in Connecticut. Since its opening a couple of years ago,  The Sloppy Waffle has started to earn a similar reputation as evidenced by almost 2000 likes on Facebook and an endorsement from Bob Kaufman, the founder of Bob’s Discount Furniture. Would The Sloppy Waffle develop the same “cult following” that GoldBurgers has? We had to find out for ourselves.

The Sloppy Waffle

B+

Location: 2551 Berlin Turnpike, Newington, CT 06111

Website Menu Facebook

 sloppy waffles

DSC00041Atmosphere-9/10: The Sloppy Waffle has a certain charm about it in both its interior and exterior. When we entered the restaurant, we noticed plenty of decorative pictures on the walls along with signs detailed with humorous sayings. Several restaurants down south decorate their interior in a similar fashion. During the spring and summer months, customers can sit outside and enjoy their waffles under quaint little tables with red umbrellas. On a sunny, Saturday morning, it’s a picturesque place to be.

Service: 8.5/10-The staff members at The Sloppy Waffle always have a cheerful disposition and try their best to satisfy customers. While the restaurant can be quite busy and sometimes understaffed, we were never dissatisfied by their attempts. One fact about The Sloppy Waffle that we found interesting and somewhat strange is that they do not accept credit cards. Instead, they have an ATM machine in the lobby to make up for the trouble. This works to both The Sloppy Waffle’s advantage and detriment. The cash only policy will remind some customers of a more innocent time when most restaurants were of this mindset. For younger customers, the historical resemblance will be lost upon them.

Price/Selection: 8.5/10-The Sloppy Waffle offers a unique selection in terms of their specialty waffles. When customers open up the  menu, they are often taken by the variety and the creativity of the waffles. Some of the more unique selections include chicken and waffles, apple cobbler, chocolate lover and s’mores that are gluten free. The restaurant also offers eggs, burgers and an option that allows you to build your own waffles.  In terms of the price to portion ratio, the waffles tend to be smaller than some customers would expect for what they pay. The waffles, however, are quite filling with a side of eggs, bacon or sausage.

DSC00043Taste: 9/10-We have visited The Sloppy Waffle several times since their opening two years ago because we have been consistently satisfied by their entrees. While some Yelp and Facebook users would beg to differ, we consider their specialty waffles to be delicious in terms of their taste and texture. We were especially taken by their chicken and waffles dish along with their s’mores waffle. The chicken and waffles dish impressed us because of how well the staff succeeded in replicating a southern favorite in a New England  Kitchen. The s’mores waffle was so delicious that it inspired us to go out to Price Chopper and buy ingredients to make the real thing.

In a nutshell: 35/40-Despite a few kinks, we wouldn’t be surprised if The Sloppy Waffle becomes a Newington classic and earns a cult following. The restaurant has improved since its humble beginnings and we expect it to continue to improve as long as it maintains its dedicated staff and has a presence in Newington. As the town of Newington continues to transform into a hot spot for hole in the wall restaurants, it’s nice to see The Sloppy Waffle contribute to that reputation.

The Authentic Abyssinian (Ethiopian Cuisine in Hartford)


After another long winter-spring break, we’re back! While the break lasted a little too long, it allowed us to visit a few places that we plan to write about in the near future and research new places to visit.  Hartford’s Abyssinian Ethiopian Restaurant intrigued us because it exists as one of the few known African restaurants in Connecticut.  When only a few restaurants of a certain cuisine exist in Connecticut, they tend to be expensive.  This rule generally applies to French restaurants and Russian restaurants in the state.   We saw the $12 for $24 deal on Groupon and hoped Abyssinian would prove to be the exception. Here’s how our night panned out.

Abyssinian Ethiopian Restaurant

Grade: B+

Location:  535 Farmington Ave, Hartford, CT

Website  Menu  Groupon

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ethiopian3Atmosphere: 8.5/10-When we walked into Abyssinian, we were drawn to the African paintings on the wall, the miniature statues that were placed above the cashier’s counter and the music that played in the background. These three factors intrigued us. These factors let us know that the owner(s) wanted to distinguish this restaurant as uniquely Ethiopian.  We also noticed the dim lighting in the restaurant and unlit candles that sat atop our tables. If the staff altered the lighting or lit the candles on the tables, they would be more likely to attract customers from the outside.

Service: 9/10-We found the staff to be pleasant and quick-handed. We received our meals in a timely fashion. We wondered how the staff would fare on a busy night because we were only one of few groups of people in the restaurant that night. If Abyssinian finds that they are understaffed on those nights, the management should consider hiring more employees to help, especially when the Groupon deal results in an increase of customers.

Price/Selection: 8.5/10-The prices are reasonable and affordable. Appetizers range from $6.95 to $7.95. Entrees range from $11.95 to $16.95.  You won’t make a dent in your wallet here and with the Groupon deal, you can get much more for your money! Abyssinian also offers a diverse selection of Ethiopian cuisine with plenty to choose from.

ethiopian2Composition/Taste: 9.5/10-If you have never tried Ethiopian cuisine, we strongly recommend you do so. Ethiopian cuisine typically consists of a variety of vegetables and spicy meats that are served atop injera, a sourdough flatbread that is so large you might mistake it for a napkin! Ethiopians eat this cuisine with their right hands. They use pieces of the injera to pick up the various meats and vegetables. Don’t make the mistake we did. We used our spoon to pick up the ingredients. When the ingredients entered our mouths, we found ourselves immensely enjoying the flavors that touched our taste buds, especially the flavors absorbed by the injera.  We recommend you try any of the chicken, lamb, beef, seafood, vegetarian or rice dishes to taste what we’re talking about.

In a nutshell: 35.5/40-Abyssinian has the look, the taste and the staff, but they need the extra “wow” factor to make their restaurant stand out.  In other words, they need something from the outside to draw the customers from this busy street in, something that says “look at us.”  Abyssinian is  restaurant worth stopping by.  The management needs to find “something” to let Connecticut know this.

Abyssinian Ethiopian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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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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

Hole In The Walls: Monster Mini Golf & RollerMagic


Okay, we admit it.  We promise to review “fun” and “food” but we’ve kind of strayed away from the “fun” aspect lately. It’s the weekend. You’ve enjoyed a great meal at an unconventional restaurant.  Now, you want to enjoy yourself. You want move around! You want to be active! Or, somewhat active.  We recently visited Monster Mini Golf in Windsor Locks and Roller Magic in Waterbury for our after-meal fun.  Monster Mini Golf is a glow in the dark, indoor miniature golf course with plenty of scary props and a decent sized arcade. Roller Magic is a combination of a roller rink and an arcade.  This is the breakdown-

Monster Mini Golf in Windsor Locks

Overall Grade: B+

NEW ADDRESS:  14 starr road, Danbury, CT

Facebook

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Course:  8.5/10-When we entered Monster Mini Golf, we immediately noticed the glow in the dark lighting and Halloween themed props. We felt as if we stepped into an episode of 90′s Nickelodeon’s Are You Afraid Of The Dark, a Twilight Zone/camp fire story show for kids and nostalgic adults. Are You Afraid Of The Dark featured an episode with a murderous clown named Zeebo who haunts a fun house. The creepy clown face (see the picture above) reminded us of him! Monster Mini Golf changes their props around Christmas to create a Nightmare Before Christmas feel!  We found the course itself a little tricky. You need to calculate each shot around winding corners and tricky props. We enjoyed the challenge but felt that it slows down the progress of the game. You might spend a little extra time waiting from one hole to another.

Service: 9/10-We appreciated the creativity of the staff. During your game, a staff member will announce an upcoming challenge for players with a certain color ball. Another staff member (wearing a white lab coat) will randomly select a player for a challenge.  The staff member challenged me to a mini golf shoot off! The objective: one hole, one shot. The person who putts closest to the hole wins the challenge. Unfortunately, I lost the challenge.  Nonetheless, he awarded me with glow in the dark fangs as a complimentary prize!

Price of Course:  8.5/10-$8 for adults. $7 for kids.  It’s a fairly standard price among mini golf courses in Connecticut.  Monster Mini Golf will offer discount deals on their facebook page.  They’ll often post secret words for weekly discounts on group games. Check back with their facebook page often for secret words and other prizes.  Monster Mini Golf held a costume sweepstakes last October.

Arcade: 9/10-We loved their arcade!  It’s a nice kick back to the 80s/90s with classic games like Pacman and shuffle board.  Like drive-in movies, Connecticut  seems to lack arcades so it’s always a delight when we find one.

In a nutshell: 35/40-Monster Mini Golf delivers Halloween fun all year round and pays respect to the classics   with its retro arcade.  Despite its tricky course, we recommend you visit for the creative staff, spooky props, glow in the dark lighting and, of course, Zeebo the clown!  We will be back very soon (especially for Halloween). Here are the top three features we would love to see the staff add to   Monster Mini Golf:

1.  Scarier music:  Music enhances the atmosphere of any environment. Scary music would definitely compliment the spooky props.

2.  Remixed holes:  Mini golf courses change up the structure of their holes every once in awhile.  We would love for Monster Mini golf to add new, spooky holes with different obstacle courses when the customers least expect it.  People love the element of unpredictability!

3.  Tournaments:  Farmington Mini Golf holds a tournament every August.  The top prize pays $100. Monster Mini Golf could hold a tournament at Halloween that pays this amount.

On a final note:  There are several Monster Mini Golf courses throughout the U.S. and Canada. We would love to see more of them in the Hartford county area. Monster Mini Golf will soon open in Stamford and Orange.

Roller Magic in Waterbury

a.k.a Waterbury Skating Center

Overall Grade: A-

 Location:  60 Harvester Road, Waterbury, CT

Website Facebook

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Atmosphere: 9.5/10-RollerMagic is located in a part of Waterbury that looks like San Fransisco with its very long streets and houses/condos with decks on each story.  The rink itself is hidden behind some factory buildings. These factors added to the adventure.  They made us feel like we were in a place far removed from our state.  When we found the rink, we  discovered a parking lot filled with cars!  We knew then that this place was a community secret.  Families, teenagers and young adults poured into the rink the way college students pour into clubs in downtown New Haven.  But unlike those clubs, the RollerMagic holds the crowd with ease. The building is spacious.  It contains a large rink, a small food venue and an average sized arcade. We enjoyed skating around the rink for a good hour and a half. Christina showed off her roller blading expertise while I tried to stay on my feet. You could tell the customers were regulars by their expertise as well.  We enjoyed watching the skaters show off their jumps, dance moves and other crazy tricks.

Service: 9/10-RollerMagic has fast and friendly service.  No matter the size of the crowd, their staff takes care of you in a jiffy. They make you sign a waiver before you skate but do their best to ensure the safety of the skaters.  The staff will skate around the rink to prevent any injuries or other difficulties.  If you have any questions, they will be happy to help you.  If you ask them questions while you’re skating, be sure to watch where you’re going!

Price: 8.5/10-The price is relatively cheap compared to other skate rinks in Conneticut.  They offer deals at certain times during the week. Click here for more detailed information.  RollerMagic could benefit by using Groupon like Ron-A-Roll Skating Center in Vernon does.

Arcade: 9/10-This is yet another arcade that pays tribute to the classic arcade games and incorporates new games as well.  We liked the fact that Pacman costs only 25 cents per player! This is definitely reminiscent of the older arcades.

 In a nutshell: 36/40-Whether you’re a skating pro like Christina or a skating novice (to put it nicely) like me, you’ll have a lot of fun at RollerMagic.  You will burn A LOT of calories without realizing you’re doing so! Here are the top three features we would love to see the staff add to RollerMagic:

1.  Larger lockers:  Larger lockers would offer more room for the customer’s items.

2.  A wider variety of snacks: This would attract more customers who feel hungry or thirsty after a round of skating.

3.  Skate competitions:  I won’t be participating in these anytime soon but it would be nice to see roller derby make a comeback!

Dinner and a Movie at Gilson Cafe Cinema in Winsted


EVERYTHING about Gilson Cafe Cinema in Winsted excited us.  When we learned a dinner and movie cinema existed in Connecticut, we felt elated.  We thought once we visited old fashioned theaters and drive-ins, we were entrepreneurs of the “classic” movie-going experience. Boy were we naive! This cafe cinema has existed in the heart of Winsted for the past twenty-five years.  Twenty-five years ago, Alan Nero, a former firefighter, converted this abandoned vaudeville theatre into a movie house complete with two screens and a built-in restaurant.  Our hopes were high for Gilson Cafe Cinema.   This is how our night panned out-

Gilson Cafe Cinema

Overall Grade: B

Location: 345 Main Street, Winsted, CT

Website Menu

Type of movies: Occasionally current

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Atmosphere: 9/10-When we arrived in Winsted, we were immediately reminded of Northampton. No, Winsted center is not as big or flashy but it comes equipped with plenty of quaint shops, hole in the wall restaurants and historic buildings that somehow age with grace.  Gilson scheduled a jazz band to perform after the movie but canceled at the last minute. This band might have echoed the building’s vaudeville days.  The movie house provides a retro vibe with its retro wall colors, comfy seats and old fashioned movie screens. Our tables, however, stood no taller than a standard footstool.  We had to hunch over to eat our food.

Service: 9/10-Service was fast.  The waitress provided our meal within the first fifteen minutes of the movie.  She also brought us our check before the movie ended.  It was kind of distracting to see waiters/waitresses walking around the theatre during the movie.  We thought  this protocol make might work better if the servers brought the food BEFORE the movie started and left a large pitcher of water on the tables.  Come to think of it, we would have liked it if our tables stood taller than foot stools.

Price of Food: 3.5/5  Don’t be fooled by the seemingly cheap prices on the menu! You don’t get a lot for your money.  Our $6.50 meals came with small sandwiches and a handful of chips.  If our meals came with larger portions, the price would match.  Unfortunately, our meals were no more filling than a snack off the dollar menu at a fast food restaurant. We recommend you eat at one of the nearby hole in the walls before you are seated for your movie.

Taste: 7/10-The taste of our meals left much to be desired.  By that phrase, we mean we took a bite out of mediocrity-it wasn’t particularly good or bad.  The taste lacked complexity and failed to differentiate from a typical movie theatre snack.  We failed to see why we shouldn’t be eating popcorn or candy.  Perhaps we ordered the wrong items or caught the chefs on a rushed day. We are open to broadening our horizons and re-evaluating this category.

Price Of Movie:  5/5-Gilson Cinema Cafe charges $7.50 per movie ticket!  Most movie theaters charge upwards of $10+ dollars. AMC Loews charges around that amount for college students… but only on Thursdays.  Bowtie Cinemas charges $8.50 for students with a college ID.  Gilson’s charges never waiver.  You pay for great sound quality and a large screen with Cinema-quality graphics.

In a nutshell: 33.5/40-Gilson Cafe Cinema left us with mixed emotions.  We valued Gilson’s historical significance, great movie ticket prices and fine staff.  However, we strongly believe that if Gilson adds variety to its menu and larger portions for the price, it will find more success as a dinner + movie venue.  We recommend you visit for the low ticket price, great sound quality and the historical experience.  You might also want to check out the jazz band (and other musical performances) if you stop by on a Saturday night.

Gilson Cafe Cinema on Urbanspoon

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CT Snapshot Plus-Alive in Northampton Center


Sometimes you want to get away from Connecticut but you don’t want to travel far. We totally understand.  We love Connecticut. We love discovering new places.  BUT it’s nice go on a road trip every once in awhile.  Our CT Snapshot Plus reviews will take you just beyond Connecticut for some weekend fun.  We recommend you experience Northampton, MA, a college town that never sleeps!  Northampton Center is full of many restaurants, stores, museums, clubs, ect.  You’ll never run out of things to do!   While you’re there, you might want to check out Amanouz Cafe and The Roost.

 Amanouz Cafe

Grade:  A

Location: 44 Main Street, North Hampton, MA

Website, menu

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Atmosphere: 9/10-  Amanouz Cafe serves Moroccan and Mediterranean cuisine (you probably deduced that from picture above).  This cafe stands out because it rests in the sea of many Mexican and Asian hole in the walls on the strip.  Don’t get us wrong, those places look amazing but we like taking chances with new, authentic foods. Amanouz’ interior looks cute on the inside with a few Moroccan paintings/sculptures mounted to the walls.  But seating is limited and we were stuck in a table for two next to a fridge.  Amanouz would benefit from  more Moroccan decorations and another table or two outside.

Service: 9/10-Amanouz is partially self-serve and partially traditional.  You pay for your food upfront so you are not required to tip (if you love your meals, however, we recommend you do so!). You also handle your own silverware and can refill water via a dispenser. The tap water does not taste that great.  The cooks will serve you your meals in wooden pots and tinfoil wrappers. We didn’t have to wait long for our meals!

Price/Selection:  10/10-Amanouz Cafe offers large portions at an incredibly affordable price.  We’re not messing around here.  The highest price on the menu is 11.95!  The menu provides a wide variety of Moroccan and Mediterranean dishes.

 Taste:  9.5/10- Three words: delicious, authentic, savory.  You will likely enjoy both the quantity and the quality of your dishes.  Your meals are filling, so filling in fact that you’ll have to walk a few blocks to work off those satisfying calories. Your taste buds will thank you for complimenting them with a diversity of spices and juices.  We recommend you try the tagine, a traditional Moroccan dish and the honey battered crepes.  “tajine, or tagine (Berbertajin), is a Berber dish from North Africa, that is named after the special earthenware pot in which it is cooked. A similar dish, known as tavvas, is found in the cuisine of Cyprus. The traditional tajine pot is formed entirely of a heavy clay, which is sometimes painted or glazed. It consists of two parts: a base unit that is flat and circular with low sides, and a large cone or dome-shaped cover that sits on the base during cooking. The cover is so designed to promote the return of all condensation to the bottom. With the cover removed, the base can be taken to the table for serving”  (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/tagine).

In a nutshell-37.5/40-Overall, Amanouz scores a 94% for its incredible price and bold taste.  There aren’t too many Moroccan restaurants in New England so Amanouz also scores high for daring to be different in a town immersed by Asian and Mexican cuisine.

The Roost

Grade: A

Location: 1 Market,  Northampton, MA

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The Roost is a very unique cafe and deserves a unique rating scale.  Check our top four reasons why you should visit The Roost in Northampton, MA!

4.  The Price/selection-9/10

 The Roost boasts a competitive price compared to cafes in Connecticut like Starbucks and Gloria Jeans.  We wouldn’t call it cheap, but it’s “cheaper” than its competitors. You get your money’s worth in proportion size.  You can also choose from soups, salads and sandwiches. We didn’t get a chance to try those but you might want to if you stop by for lunch or an early dinner.  From a glance, the prices appear to rival Panera Bread and Atlanta Bread in those categories.

Good for dates/friends-9.5/10

Whether you’re with friends or lover(s), The Roost is a great place to hang.  The wooden interior projected a log cabin vibe that many stores in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont do.  You never feel like you’re in an establishment restaurant.  You can lose track of time sitting down, conversing or playing board games and still leave before it closes.  Yes, unlike cafes Connecticut, the Roost stays open well into the night!

2.  All nat-ural-9/10

The Roost offers an all-nat-ural feel to its cafe drinks.  Our drinks tasted freshly brewed, blended with mouth watering mocha, vanilla or chocolate.   These specialty drinks prove superior to the the powdery mixes you’ll overpay for at Dunkin Donuts.

1. The Games!-10/10

The Roost offers a variety of board games! You can pick one off the shelf and play for as long as you’d like.  We played Scategories and noticed that the board and the game pieces, though slightly aged,  were still in great shape!  If you plan on staying for awhile, you might want to play a few.  We recommend leaving your names on the scorecards…for historical purposes.  Also, we think it’s part of the traveler’s code.

In a nutshell-37.5/40-The Roost scores an A for its great taste…in drinks, food and board games!  If you’re looking for a place to lose track of time and not pay any attention to your weeknight schedule, we highly recommend you check this place out.  Once you enter The Roost…you’re bound to stay for a drink…maybe two drinks…some food…a conversation…and a plethora of board games!

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