Took a short trip up to the Tri-State area for a family gathering this past weekend. Got to spend a little time with one of my best friends eating and drinking our way into early graves via malted hops and fatty meats. I know I usually keep my fare on the healthy side, but hey, I was on vacation. We hit two spots that evening, Two Roads Brewing Company in Stratford, CT and the Walrus & Carpenter Smokehouse and Gastropub in Bridgeport, CT.
Two Roads Brewing
Most of my Connecticut friends have been raving about this place over social media and being a fellow zythophile, Two Roads Brewing Company has been on my radar for quite some time.
We started with flights and I choose the seasonal selection as I figured I can always try their year round sampler at a later time. The beers were flavorful and unique which is something I look for when doing this kind of sampling. Among others, selections included their Road Jam Raspberry and Lemongrass Ale, Hizzoner Maibock and Henry’s Farm Double Bock, which were my favorites of the bunch. The Road Jam had a framboise flavor and mouthfeel which was fruity and refreshing. The Hizzoner was a bold maibock, woody with a light hint of honey. And the Henry’s Farm was a perfect double bock which had some really great toffee and brown sugar notes.
I also gave their Ol’ Factory Pils a whirl and I was pleasantly surprised; it’s a solid, dry, hoppy pilsner. I’ve only been a fan of a few rare pilsners preferring dark malty beers but this one definitely made the list.
One of the coolest things about this brewery is the fact that the tasting room is on the second story with full view of the brewery floor via wall length glass. Was really cool to have this kind of open-access view of the beer-making process while we sampled the goods.
If I was this impressed with this place I will need to make it a point to head in again in the future and sample their Fall and Winter seasonals.
The Walrus & Carpenter Smokehouse and Gastropub
For dinner we decided to head to the Walrus & Carpenter. I’d been to this location years and years ago when it was still the old Black Rock Castle and boy has this place changed. It’s honestly something I’d expect to find in one of the more sophisticated areas of New York City. The Walrus & Carpenter is a foodie’s paradise serving smoked meats and boasting of an impressive bourbon and craft beer list.
We started with some more beers and this time I decided to give the Oskar Blues G’Knight Imperial Red Ale a whirl. It was a really good blend of flavors with the caramel and tropical fruit notes balancing each other around a nice hint of pine. I’ve never had anything by Oskar Blues before but this was enough for me to remember to seek it out in the future.
One of the more entertaining notions was that they served any beer designated for a pint glass in these unique mason jars etched with a dog on the side. I’ve never seen glassware like this before and I was almost tempted to offer to buy one before realizing I’d never get it on the plane when I returned to Florida.
We started with a couple of small plates. I had the Fried Blue Cheese Stuffed Olives and my buddy ordered the Poutine. The olives were phenomenal, crunchy and salty just like you’d expect. Poutine is something that hasn’t worked its way down to Florida yet. Fried potatoes with gravy and mozzarella curds. While I was very curious, the gravy was made from veal which means I couldn’t sample due to my red meat prohibition. My compatriot was throughly impressed however.
Being a smokehouse meant that there were a good number of items on the menu that I couldn’t try but that didn’t stop me from enjoying what I could. I ordered the Southern Fried Chicken which was out of this world. Served with a black pepper biscuit and a srirachia-honey sauce this is about as good a fried chicken gets. My friend got the Maple Bourbon Baby Back Ribs which was served with a bourbon bbq sauce, cole slaw and a slice of cornbread; he was equally impressed.
It’s definitely a trendy place right down to the waiter with the vest and the handlebar moustache and the minimalist outline of a pig on the side of the building. Would you really expect any different from an eatery named after two characters in a Lewis Carroll story? As long as that kind of thing doesn’t bother you, this place is worth the shot.
I usually try to hit new locations but both of these were impressive enough to warrant return visits on my next trip to Connecticut. If you’re already there and haven’t tried either of these, do yourself a favor and make a reminder to do so in the near future. You won’t regret it.
Special thanks go out to my buddy Z for accompanying me on the evening’s culinary adventure.
Tried Two Roads or the Walrus & Carpenter? Leave a note in the comments section below!
And remember… the food abides…