The Jerk and the Lobster

Today officially marks the one month anniversary of us moving out of Atlanta. More importantly, it also marks five months since I said, “I do” to the most amazing man I’ve ever met. When we first started dating, I don’t think either of us could have anticipated the adventure we’d be on so soon into our marriage, but there’s no one else in the world with whom I could imagine sharing this journey.

The Jerk

Speaking of journey, we made our rounds in Connecticut this weekend starting first at Carl’s Barbecue & Jerk, a mom and pop, Caribbean-style restaurant in East Hartford. After leaving Olde Burnside Brewery on Friday, we needed some nourishment and turned to Urbanspoon for recommendations. The restaurant came up with a 94% “like it” rating, so it seemed like a good bet.

If you judge a restaurant by its façade, you’d probably turn around as soon as you got there. Carl’s BBQ is in a tiny, rundown-looking strip of businesses (right next to a sketchy looking liquor store). A beer truck was blocking the main parking lot when we pulled up, so we had to park just down the street. As we walked along the side of the building, we noticed a sign warning people not to loiter or sell drugs–the police are watching. In most circumstances, that would have made us get back in our car right away, but the Urbanspoon reviews kept us pushing ahead.

I’m so we glad did. The inside of the restaurant may not wow you, but the food will. If you go, be prepared to get your food to-go as there are only four booths and, the night we went, a constant stream of people were coming in to order.

The menu features an array of traditional Caribbean dishes, ranging from jerk chicken and pork to rice and beans. We ordered the reggae chicken (which came with savory rice and beans and buttery cabbage), jerk pork salad (just to make sure we got in some greens) and coco bread with cheese.

As you can see from the picture above, the portions are very healthy. The meat was fall-off-the-bone tender and perfectly seasoned–not to spicy and not too mild. We did find a few pieces of gristle in the pork, but the flavor was good enough for us to look past it.

The bread, oh where do I start with that? I am a bit biased to begin with. Bread and cheese? It’s almost always going to be amazing to me (unless it’s that nasty blue cheese or a loaf of mass-produced, processed bread). The coco bread at Carl’s has a nice crust on the outside, but is light as a cloud when you bite into it. When you top it with melted cheese, well let’s just say Matt is lucky I even gave him half.

We left Carl’s stuffed and happy. Here are some details if you want to check it out.

Address: 285 Silver Ln, East Hartford, CT 06118

Phone: (860) 568-3644

Prices: $10-$15 per entrée

The Lobster

On Saturday, we took Matt’s mom and grandmother (Mom and Gram) out for an early Mother’s Day lunch at Westbrook Lobster in Wallingford. The setting and ambiance at this restaurant was very different from where we went on Friday. Located off of Church Street in a rural part of Connecticut, the restaurant backs up to a rushing brook and lush greenery that diners can gaze out upon from the dining room.

We made a reservation since we were going at noon on a holiday weekend, but the dining room was fairly empty when we got there. Interestingly it began to fill up around 1:30–I guess folks out there eat lunch a little later than we do.

Being in the New England and having never tried a lobster roll, I decided this was the perfect time. I ordered it “Connecticut style” which meant it came out hot and on a bun with a side of melted butter.

The lobster was tender and cooked well, but it came on a piece of white bread that looked (and tasted) like it came from a plastic bag. The fries were battered and salted just enough. I’m not really a coleslaw person, so didn’t end up trying that. If I had to change one thing about the meal (aside from the bread) I would have added at least the option of some kind of vegetable side (I don’t count cabbage soaked in mayonnaise as a veggie).

Matt ordered the clam strips which came on a bed of fries and a side of coleslaw. The clam was pretty good, but it was a lot of fried food to get through. If you’re going for a “fish and chips” dish, though, it’s perfect.
Mom also got the Connecticut lobster roll and Gram got the lobster mac and cheese, which I had seriously considered ordering. It came out with large chunks of lobster floating on a bed of gooey cheese sauce and spiral noodles.

My favorite part about the meal, aside from the great company, was dessert. We ordered the tableside s’mores which came with our own little “campfire,” two Hershey bars and enough marshmallows and graham crackers to make four s’mores. Maybe not the most gourmet of dishes, but it was a lot of fun toasting our own marshmallows and assembling our treats. Mom and Gram shared the peaches and cream cheesecake, which was the runner up in dessert picks for Matt and me.

If you want to check out Westbrook Lobster, there are locations in both Wallingford and Clinton. Prices range from about $6-$15 for lunch and about $10-$33 for dinner.

This week we got back to running–I’m sure our reason requires no explanation.

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