Fernwood Restaurant - West Hartford, CT
After the closure of the longstanding Cypress Restaurant
in Middletown, I wanted to see what in a similar vein might be around the Hartford area. Enter Fernwood
: a charming, comfy, cozy time-warp that's sat in West Hartford since 1945.
The decor reflected deliberate effort that had gone into making the place feel a certain way - but that didn't make the vibe any less authentic. My first thought on walking in was, "Ahh, perhaps I'll stay a while..."
... and so I did. The food was, as it turned out, only the start of the evening.
With Fernwood being more of a tavern, its menu wasn't as extensive as Cypress', but there was a sturdy array of old American dishes and comfort foods. French onion soup, which I'd not had in quite some time, seemed like a good thing to open with.
This was excellent, and I immediately wished I'd ordered a bigger bowl. A true onion soup - not just beef stock with onion added - and the cheesy crust wasn't too rich. Just the thing on a bitterly cold and windy day.
I had, unintentionally, caught them in their run-up to St. Patrick's Day (you can see some extra kitsch dotting the walls), and so they were offering their limited-time corned beef and cabbage. That made the meal decision easy.
A good old-fashioned boiled dinner that tasted exactly how it looked, and I mean that in the very best way. I will say that there was more corned beef than the photo suggests, but as was so often the case with this dish, I found myself focusing on the cabbage. I could have easily eaten an entire additional plate of just that.
They had some seasonal brew of Sam Adams on tap that went well with the food. I followed it up with a City Steam Naughty Nurse... and then another Sam Adams. By this point, it was five o'clock, and I'd heard the staff talking about some local Irish step-dancers who were due to arrive in half an hour, so I figured, what the hell?
Long story short, I wound up staying over four hours
, having random friendly conversations at the bar with other customers (who, as one would expect, skewed older; one of them did recognize Cypress when I mentioned it) - that's not something I generally do! I'd like to blame the four beers, plus the glass of white wine, plus the shot of Jameson that the proprietor bought for me in recognition of my newness, but the truth is that Fernwood almost seemed like Cheers made real: everyone knew everyone by name, and the atmosphere of camaraderie was one-hundred percent genuine. There were maybe two or three other people my age, and yet I didn't feel out of place at all.
Fortunately, it doesn't yet look like Fernwood is going the way of Riefe's or Cypress. The owner seemed extremely enthusiastic, and has partnered with a somewhat younger individual - as a way, I speculate, of ensuring continuity.
post edited by Ketteract - 2017/03/12 18:14:58