Tag Archives: Max Downtown

CT Restaurants Make Wine Spectator Annual Award List

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griswoldConnecticut has been honored as part of  Wine Spectator’sesca newly released 2014 Restaurant Awards list, with several well-known area restaurants making the grade when it comes to their wine selections.

Among the CT restaurants included on the magazine’s list are Capital Grille, Viva Seasonal Trattoria , Max Downtown and the Restaurant On20, all in Hartford; Cava in Southington, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Newington, 2 Hopewell in South Glastonbury, Flemings Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in West Hartford, Kensington’s at The Spa at Norwich Inn, David Burke Prime Steakhouse at Foxwoods and Esca in Middletown.

Wine Spectator began its program to recognize and honor the world’s best wine lists in 1981. The 3,748 award winners for 2014 represent  50 U.S. states and over 80 other countries and territories.


The complete list of award winners is featured in the Aug 31 issue of the magazine, available on newsstands July 22.


Greater Hartford Arts Council Dines For Education

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ars22Farm-to-table dinner season got a head start in Hartford as the Greater Hartford Arts Council held its annual “Farm to Table” fundraising dinner at Max Downtown Sunday.

“These are the stars of the show, this is who you should be talking to,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy proudly promoting college students Brandon Couloute from Central Connecticut State University and Gina Salvatore, a student at University of Connecticut, who both benefited from Neighborhood Studios program.

The dinner, which this year included wine paired courses including March Farm’s tomato salad, Secchiaroli Farm’s pork presse, Marwin Farm’s stuffed duck beast and Pell Farm’s strawberry semifreddo, raises money for the council’s art programs offered in cooperation with institutions including The Amistad center for Art & Culture, the Mark Twain House 7 Museum and Real Art ways.

arts11And while the reason was arts, there was talk of the big topics of the week, a minor league ball club being wooed from New Britain to  Hartford.

And while the governor has taken a “hands off” attitude when it comes to the controversial negotiating  being crafted with current New Britain Rock Cats owner, Josh Solomon, there were guests who don’t care about the politics of the deal, they just want it to happen.

“I am very happy about a baseball team coming to Hartford, said Rebecca Dalessio who came to the fundraising dinner with husband, Harry Dalessio.  “I think it will be great.”

Hartford Area Non-Profits Celebrate WFSB’s Haney

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scottyscot1The estimate is that since he arrived on the Connecticut scene in 1998, WFSB meteorologist and show host Scot Haney has either emceed and/or served as auctioneer at over 1,500 non-profit fundraisers, golf tournaments and galas.

His celebrity presence is a sure draw and the dozens of non-profits that have him on the program know it and are grateful. On Tuesday, the organizations joined together to surprise Haney onscot2 his 50th birthday and to say thank-you for his volunteer efforts.

“I am in shock, I don’t even know what to say,” said Haney as his eyes filled tears when he realized the luncheon was not the business meeting he had expected, but rather a room full of agency and organization heads who wanted to fete the guy who has helped them raise money for the past 15 years.

Nearly every major non-profit from the area from Nutmeg Big Brother Big Sisters, Fidelco Guide scot3Dog Foundation and the Bridge, to Foodshare, The Intensive Education Academy and the Petit Family Foundation was represented at the luncheon held at Max Downtown.

“He never asks for anything,” said St. Patrick-St. Anthony Church pastor Father Tom Gallagher, who explained Haney serves each year as the auctioneer for the annual church golf tournament. “He comes in quietly, he gets loud and gets the job done and then leaves quietly.”

“He knows the need out there,” said Sister Helen Dowd of the Intensive Education Academy. “And he steps up to help.”

Besides an interesting assortment ofmugs and tee shirts form the agencies and organizations, Haney was also presented proclamations from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and U.S. Sen. Dick Blumenthal.

HSO’s ‘Playing With Food’ Time Again!

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hso8The concert date is set, April 26,  and so are the restaurants and the chefs that participating in the Hartford Symphony Orchestra’s 2nd annual “Playing with Music” program.

You might remember it from last year. Hartford-area restaurants interpreted pieces of music with food and HSO conductor Carolyn Kuan chose music to go with menu dishes. The event climaxed with a symphony playing the music while the restaurants featured the foods.

This year’s restaurants and chefs  have been announced and they are:

Apricots Restaurant and Pub- Chef and Owner Ann Howard, Grants Restaurant and Bar / Restaurant Bricco- Chef and Owner Billy Grant, Max Downtown- Pastry Chef Warren Hardman,Treva Restaurant / A Vert- Chef and Owner Dorjan Puka and Trumbull Kitchen Executive Chef Chris Torla

A Party On Every Corner In Hartford, Including One For House

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house (3)There was no doubt it was the holiday season in Hartford Wednesday night.

Company parties were as popular as candy canes and tinsel at downtown restaurants.

Various organizations including NBC Connecticut and CT1 Media were celebrating the season at places including The Society Room  and Capital Grille, while the group from public relations company McDowell Jewett,  partied at Max Downtown.

And among the parties, there was one very private but noteworthy one over at Salute where WFSB anchor Dennis House and his immediate family, including mom (who coincidently, is also named Mary Ellen) were celebrating his 50th birthday.

“It’s been a good day,” said House who also dined with wife and co-worker Kara Sundlun and their two children.

House, who by the way, shares a natal day and a Dec. 18, 1963 birthday with a host of celebrities including Brad Pitt, will  be celebrating his half-century birthday  again at a bigger bash in the weeks ahead.

Happy Birthday!



Restaurant Awards and New Restaurant in Hartford!

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Maryellen Fillo/Hartford Courant


Always so politically correct that Olympic coach Bela Karolyi.

The celeb coach was in town last week as part of the 2013 P & G Gymnastics Championships and as part of the event, participating in a “Capital City’s Taste of the Championships,” dine-around.

Karolyi, along with 1984 Olympic speed skating gold-medalist Johann Olav Koss, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, 2004 Olympic all-around champion Carly Patterson, 1984 Olympic gold-medalist, USA Gymnastics Board Chairman Peter Vidmar and USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny dined at the restaurants over a three-day period, with the intent of handing out gold, silver and bronze awards.

But everything was so good that this year everyone was a winner. Presented the “Nutrition Award” was Max Downtown while the “Most Creative Dish” award winner was Agave Grill. The “Carly Patterson Award” went to City Steam Brewery Café and honored for “Best Comfort Food” was Salute. The prestigious “ Bela Karolyi Award” went to Feng Asian Bistro while the “Mayor’s Award” went to DISH Bar & Grill.

Abillings1 (2)nd speaking of restaurants, another one is opening in Hartford and not where you would expect.

On August 28 “The Kitchen at Hartford Public Library” will open its doors at the Main Street main branch of the library. The new farm-to-table café, collaboration between Billings Forge Community Works and Hartford Public Library, will offer job training and permanent job placement services (through the library’s CT Works program) for Hartford residents.

Billings Forge also has a café at its complex on Broad Street in Hartford.

Ribbon cutting for the second location is at 10:15 a.m.

The restaurant will be serving breakfast, lunch and “to go” food Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Catering will also be available.  


Olympic Coach Bela Karolyi Brings Food Critic Game To Town

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MaryEllen Fillo/Hartford Courant


Celebrity Olympics coach Bela Karolyi is in town doing what he does best, coaching some of the 2013 P&G Gymnastics Championship gymnasts who are in Hartford. And then there is that other thing, judging food.

Once again the celebrity coach has been tapped to dine around the city and hand out the gold to the place he feels is the best when it comes to good food.

“It’s going to be tough but I think they will all be scored between 7 and 10,” laughed Karolyi, who, along with “Right to Play” founder and CEO, former Olympic speed skater Johann Olav Koss, stopped at Max Downtown Thursday as part of the contest. There, where executive chef Hunter Morton served the two a Garlic Farm native tomato tart with Wala Wala onions and a side of parmesan ice cream.


MaryEllen Fillo/Hartford Courant

“The stakes are high,” he joked as he tried the glorified appetizer, also being fair and praising the Mexican food he had also tried at nearby Agave as the competition got underway. “Like gymnastics, we are looking for quality.”

Other participating restaurants include Feng Asian Bistro, DISH, Salute and City Steam Brewery. Juding will be completed Saturday.

Karolyi judged a similar restaurant showdown three years ago, the last time the championship was in Hartford. And Karolyi clearly enjoyed being back.

For Koss, who heads up the non-profit that provides sports and play opportunities to children in need, this week marks his first visit to Hartford and he already likes what he sees.

“The people are all so friendly,” he said. “It’s a beautiful city and it’s good to be welcomed.”

CT Restaurant Assn. Announces 2012 Winners

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Hartford’s own Steve Abrams from Max Downtown fame has been tapped as “Restaurateur of the Year” by the CT Restaurant Association. He is among several winners who will be honored at the association’s annual “Excellence Awards Dinner” on Nov. 27 at Mohegan Sun.Others being honored include :  Sysco Connecticut — Vendor of the Year,  State senator Paul Doyle, Friend of the Industry,  The Mill River Group (Mill on the River, Abigail’s, Republic and Market   Grille) — Connecticut Hospitality Hall of Fame and   Lenny & Joe’s Fish Tale– Connecticut Hospitality Hall of FameThere are also some honorees yet to be determined by online voting. Competing for “



2012 Best of CT Announced

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It’s that time of year again when Connecticut Magazine announces its coveted “Best of Connecticut”  list.

The Hartford area did not fare badly with some repeat winners and some new ones as well, according to the list in the September issue.

Shady Glen in Manchester was deemed best cheeseburger; Wood-n-Tap best burger sliders; Grants Restaurant in West Hartford , best chocolate cake,  and Close Harbour Seafood in Southington, best Manhattan clam chowder.

Also in the foods category, Jojo’s in downtown Hartford was deemed best coffee bar, best crab cakes when to Carmen Anthony’s Steakhouse in Waterbury (although the crab cakes are available at all locations including Wethersfield location,) best Jewish deli, Rein’s New York-Style Deli and best diner, O’Rourke’s in Middletown.

On20 in downtown Hartford was deemed Best Bird’s Eye View at Dinner, Best Fried Chicken went to Greer’s in Bristol, and Best Guacamole, Besito in West Hartford. UConn Dairy Bar got the nod for Best Ice Cream and Hartford’s Carbone’s for best Caesar Salad. Best Cobb Salad went to Max Downtown in Hartford while Hartford’s  Salute won Best Side Dish for its mac’n cheese.

When it came to drinking, winners were Best Bloody Mary, Max Fish in Glastonbury ; Best Margarita, Coyote Blue in Middletown; the Cottage Restaurant in Plainville for Best Manhattan; Thomas Hooker Brewing for best Connecticut beer, and McKinnon’s West Hartford for Best Irish Pub.

Rooftop 120 was named Best Outdoor Bar, Sliders in Plainville for Best Sports Bar and Fleming’s in West Hartford for Best Wine By The Glass.

In the attractions category, Hartford’s  Connecticut Science Center won Best Indoor Family Amusement and Lake Compounce in Bristol, Best Outdoor Family Amusement.  New Britain Museum of American Art was named best Art Museum and Cinestudio in Hartford, Best Independent Cinema. New Britain Rock Cats was named Best Night at the Park, Artisan’s Marketplace in Plainville as Best Crafts Gallery, West Hartford Center as Best Destination Shopping, and Lux, Bond & Green in West Hartford,  Best Fine Jewelry Store.


For the complete list go to: http://bit.ly/U8DP6J