Invites Recap: "Happy Hour" @ Dressing Room

Nic Barbera

As you enter Dressing Room, it is the perfect combination of elegance and charm that attracts you.  When you sit down, it is the warmth that settles you in.  After you have eaten, it is the substance and quality that relaxes you into a food inspired ‘coma.’  Once you have left, it is the overall magnanimity of the Dressing Room restaurant that will entice you back.

Recently, CT Bites sponsored an event at the Dressing Room, known as “Happy Hour on the DR Patio.”  The evening was used to promote that which head chef/owner Michel Nischan has set as his restaurants overarching ideal, comfort.  From the specialty cocktails, to the stunningly made hors d’oeuvres, this is the type of happy hour that I would be a regular at.

The evening was divided amongst three areas of entertainment: the representative from Ripe Bar Juice, the naming of the Dressing Room’s new cocktail, and of course, the food.

Based in Wallingford, CT, Ripe Bar Juice was created in response to the lack of natural ingredient based and 100% pure cocktail mixers.  Their representative J.D. knew everything there was about making a full-flavored drink, which offered more than just the androgynous taste made from ‘mocktail mixes,’ as they would say.  His solution to the problem, a beautifully flavored Strawberry-basil Collins, made with muddled strawberries and basil, gin and Ripe’s own sour mix.  J.D’s drink was fantastic, but it was in a supporting role to the focus of the evening, a naming contest for a new cocktail entering the DR’s menu.

The idea for a new specialty cocktail came from the restaurant’s Beverage Director, John Cronin, who looks to inspire your taste and interests, by offering not only balanced drinks, but also locally sourced products.  As everyone crowded around the caddy cornered makeshift bar, John began mixing up organic vodka, with pear and ginger liqueur.  The pairing of these two tastes is a subtle partnership that flows from the initial sweetness of ginger hitting your palate, to a mild swallow of pear infused liqueur.  The new ‘Pearfect’ cocktail is play on words, but anyone’s dream for a hot summer evening.  Along with the newly inspired cocktail, Executive Chef John Vaast treated his customers to a version of hors d’oeuvres that showed his sense of style, and delivery.

Chef Vaast has been with the Dressing Room since its inception, and it shows in his presentation and imagination for food. This happy hour began when the waitresses started passing around a tomato and cucumber gazpacho, which has become a staple on the DR’s summer menu.  Then the ante was raised by way of trout mousse with a sweet pea puree and caviar.  Chef Vaast then sent out three more hors d’oeuvres: a roasted Shallot custard served in a warm egg shell, white bean puree balanced on a crostini and garnished with sage leaves; and a deconstructed version of the restaurant’s famous chopped salad.  It was when you saw the smoked buffalo wings and mini pork sliders with slaw, you assumed that food would never stop flowing from the kitchens double doors, 

This type of hospitality is not to make you feel bloated, but rather show you love through food and drink.  The Dressing Room does it right!  The same way that your grandmother used to try and fill you up when you would visit; the DR wants you to know that you will always be taken care of when you enter its doors.