Sunday, December 2, 2012

Dining Out: Thirty5

Friday evening, my wife and I had our second dinner at Thirty5 in West Hartford Center. In reinventing the former Reuben's Deli, owner Brian Hersh is largely carrying over the existing breakfast and lunch menus (which I haven't had an opportunity to sample yet), but under Thirty5's new chef, dinner and late-night offerings are entirely new.

On our first visit, just days after the early-October reopening, there were some obvious growing pains, as the kitchen seemed a bit backed up, but the staff couldn't have been more gracious, and the delays were quickly forgotten. My wife chose the skirt steak frites with garlicky spinach, Moroccan glaze, and chimichurri, while I selected the crispy buttermilk fried chicken with red bliss potato salad,  grilled corn salad, and roasted tomato salsa. Both were excellent: Straightforward food elevated and really well prepared.

My wife liked the steak frites so well that she ordered it again, this time requesting the red bliss potato salad as a substitute for the fries that normally come with it. I could happily have eaten the fried chicken again -- it was crispy, moist, and deeply flavorful -- but I'm addicted to variety, so on this second visit I chose the daily special soup, a delicious truffled mushroom, and the kung pao shrimp and beef from the Bites portion of the menu, along with a side of the house hand-cut fries.

The kung pao dish was great, with just the right amount of bite from the ancho chili and acid from the lime. Be advised that the Bites dishes are proper appetizer-sized portions (which I mean as a compliment, by the way), rather than the massive, everybody-share plates that are so common these days.

Having not gorged ourselves, we were able to sample dessert: an excellent creme brulee, served with a single piece of house-made rugalach.

The atmosphere at Thirty5 is cozy and friendly, if a bit loud. I can't wait to go back to sample the rest of the menu (the grilled Stonington scallops look good, as does the Reuben's chicken rollatini) and check out some of their special events, including Happy Hour, Sunday brunch (with endless mimosas), and local beer tastings.

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