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From Hartford, CT:

Grants Restaurant & Bar

"Eat and Live Well Always"

by Kim Knox Beckius

We think it's grand

Grants Restaurant & Bar is noted Hartford-area chef Billy Grant's second eatery in lively, upscale West Hartford Center, where dining is as much a social experience as it is the pursuit of sustenance. Bricco, Grant's first solo restaurant venture following a successful tenure with the Max Restaurant Group, was already one of the center's most popular and revered dining spots, with capacity crowds the norm. Diners have a tough choice now that Grants brings the chef's seasoned touch to a diverse and always changing menu of dishes from the land and sea.

Crab cakes

We'd return over and over even if the menu's lone offering was the sautéed lump crab cake starter. There is much more crab than "cake" to these crisp, piping hot appetizers, served drizzled in caper aïoli with a nice-sized frisée salad accompaniment. The raw bar offers plenty of pre-entrée enticements as well, and if you're really aiming to impress a client, you can order a raw bar platter for the table.

The decor, which reminds us of an antique parlor, is cozy and highly styled, featuring distressed wood floors, velvety rust-colored chandeliers, cream stucco walls, large mirrors and murals and tan suede booths.

Grilled Black Pepper and
Fennel Crusted Tuna

Entrées range from classic preparations such as clams casino and “My Mom's” veal meatloaf to complex creations such as fennel-encrusted tuna with watermelon, pancetta and tomato-curry vinaigrette and grilled filet mignon with melted Gorgonzola. Service is extraordinarily professional and attentive, yet we never feel rushed, which is a delight considering that the restaurant is busy, even on weeknights.

Chef Grant's motto, "Eat and live well always," is emblazoned on the menus at his namesake restaurant. An equally appropriate slogan might be, "Two is better than one."

Grants Restaurant & Bar, 977 Farmington Ave. (LaSalle Rd.), West Hartford, CT 06107, 860-236-4726.

(Updated: 09/13/10 NW)


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