Baby, it's cold outside, but that shouldn't stop CT residents from seeking out great dining experiences. There are literally dozens of cozy fireside dining venues with hearths and fireplaces all over the state. Whether you're looking for a warm barside cocktail or an elegant 4-star meal, one of these 20 CT restaurants and pubs will keep guests feeling warm and welcome.
If we missed one of your favorite spots, please let us know by posting a comment below.
155 Alain White Road, Morris www.winvian.com
Win + Vian...a combination of the previous owners' names, Winthrop and Vivian. True love began it all! On 113 acres, this luxury resort has 18 luxury resort cottages, each designed by 15 different architects. There’s a beaver lodge! A room that makes you feel like you are on a campground! A treehouse with a wood burning fireplace!...and a “helicopter” with a Jacuzzi and wood burning fireplace?? Yup! Winvian also abounds with private gardens, a greenhouse, henhouse, apiary, a glorious dining room and spa. Honestly, just book the reservation now.
972 Post Road, Darien www.thegoosedarien.com
The Black Goose is now simply The Goose, standing proud. With its luxurious old style bar and welcoming tavern feel in the dining area, you will enjoy soups, salads, sandwiches, seaside-inspired lobster tacos, and entrees like St. Louis-Style Ribs and Steak Frites. There are also Valentine’s specials such as Oysters Rockefeller and Truffle and Fois Gras Crusted Filed Mignon to enjoy. No babysitter? If you bring the kids, they have a “Goslings” menu. Ryan not included. Sorry, ladies.
Gabriele's Italian Steakhouse
35 Church Street, Greenwich www.gabrielesofgreenwich.com
Gabriele’s is a quintessential clubby steakhouse that also offers Italian specialties. Win-win! Aged leather wingback chairs, a hulking stone hearth, cozy banquette and fireside tables, private dining in the wine room (home to over 2000 bottles!) all set the scene for some hearty food...Truffle Short Rib Arancini, Russian King Crab Legs, steaks and chops, seafood towers (lobster, lump crab, shrimp, oysters, clams) and a good variety of pastas. Move over ol’ boys club, this place is for everyone.
The Griswold Inn
36 Main Street, Griswold www.griswoldinn.com
This is one of the oldest continually operating inns in America (how often do you hear that a restaurant opened its doors in....1776). With its traditional white clapboard and gold-leaf lettered hanging sign, it sits in the picturesque town of Essex on the shores of the CT river. In addition to fine dining, it does function as an Inn, where they even hold art tours due to the impressive collection of maritime art and artifacts. Have a drink then drink in some art! Serving classic American fare such as clams casino, roasted cod, braised short ribs, and sticky toffee pudding, you will thoroughly enjoy this dose of Connecticut history.
The Copper Beech Inn
46 Main Street, Ivoryton www.copperbeechinn.com
Alongside the reaching branches of the old Beech tree, at this intimate Essex country inn in the charming CT river valley, you can enjoy a Love Me Tender Valentine’s package (avail. Feb 13-14). Spend an overnight at the Inn, champagne, a 4-course dinner, full breakfast and romance basket. With both formal and more relaxed dining areas, you are sure to enjoy their Goat Cheese Beet Ravioli, Crispy Skin Pearl Salmon or 2500 bottle award winning wine cellar. It will be you and your honey, sittin’ in a (Beech) tree...k-i-s-s-...
The White Horse Country Pub & Restaurant
Route 202, Marbledale www.whitehorsecountrypub.com
An order for bottles of port written by Charles Dickens, a piece of Martha Washington’s wedding dress, a table that has been used for dining for a cool 400 years, this is no ordinary pub! In addition to copious “artifacts” to look at, you will enjoy the juicy burgers, Guinness Beef Stew, Lobster and Scallop Pie, English Toffee Pecan Pie and a dessert called Wisdom Pie (butterscotch/caramel with oat cookie crust). Please, grant us Wisdom. Gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian dishes are available and much of their produce comes from the Back Forty Farm in Washington. And how’s this for accommodating? Have a special request like fresh Dover Sole from England or Truffles from Perigord? Give ‘em a weeks notice and they can make it happen!
Harbour House at the Inn at Mystic
Three Williams Avenue, Mystic www.innatmystic.com
Let’s set the tone: Bogey and Bacall spent their honeymoon at the Inn at Mystic. Capture a little of that golden era of romance and head to Harbour House for Valentine’s Day weekend. Saturday through Monday (Feb 13-15), they have brunches, lunches, music and dinners planned! Roses and champagne, lobsters, prime rib and other classic offerings are abundant and flowing! You might want to rent To Have and Have Not to top off the evening.
2 Forest Street, New Canaan www.cavawinebar.com
Slip down this cute little street to an Italian restaurant that has endured. Enjoy a perfectly seasonal Flirtini (strawberry vodka, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, cranberry juice and Prosecco) or a glass of wine. It is, afterall a wine bar, so their wine list is extensive...Sparkling, Italian, Californian, Blends, Toscana, Veneto, California Reds, Merlots...you getting the picture? Their menu also bubbles over with Italian delights like grilled octopus, pizzas (broccoli rabe and sausage, anyone?) and desserts like profiteroles and biscotti. Brava!
Union League Café
1032 Chapel Street, New Haven www.unionleaguecafe.com
In a 19th century Beaux Arts building across from the Yale campus, the old world feeling of a Parisian Brasserie is captured and elegantly delivers the best of French traditional food with a modern flair. Whether in the refined (yet not stuffy) dining room or the club room, the dark wood, stained glass windows and crisp tablecloths set the scene for highly lauded culinary selections. Escargots, Moules (mussels), Croque Monsieur (the most delectable ham and cheese grilled sandwich-to describe it verrrry simply), are all re-imagined. ULC also takes their wines seriously, but, as they put it, the list is designed for the enjoyment of temptation and exploration. Bon Appetit!
New Haven, Norwalk and Stamford locations www.caskrepublic.com
Looking for a more relaxed atmosphere for your Valentine’s dinner? Head to this communal tavern, with its long, shared tables and fireside seating. Cask serves comfort-inducing food in a fun atmosphere...cheese and meat boards, extensive wine and beer lists, small plates (Duck Cassoulette, Bacon Popcorn (!), large plates, flatbread pizzas)...cozy and convivial, lots of bourbon, whisky and scotch and a cocktail called Vice and Virtue. Perfect.
O’Neill’s Pub and Restaurant
93 N. Main Street, Norwalk www.oneillsono.com
Head to “The Soul of Ireland in the Heart of SoNo” for brunch, lunch and dinner with your lovely lass or lad. They serve big plates of traditional Irish fare, spirit and cordiality! There is a top notch pour on their Guinness, and soul-warming dishes like Irish Rasher and Apple Panini, Shepard’s Pie, Bangers and Mash, Gaelic Steak and a variety of salmon dishes abound. You also might want to imbibe a bit (hey, when in Rome...or Ireland) by way of their single malt scotches and creamy Irish coffees. Go get your Craic (Gaelic for fun and music) on!
2 Bridge Street, Old Saybrook www.saybrook.com
At Fresh Salt in the Saybrook Point Inn & Spa, views of LI Sound pair beautifully with nautical modern feel of this space, with its gleaming wood and natural elements. Their local food commitment features seafood, naturally! Cioppino, raw bar offerings, Icelandic Cod and Lobster Wontons are highlights and they also have meat and vegetarian dishes (Duck Confit Nachos, Swiss Chard and Butternut Squash Lasagna, Braised Veal). Enjoy the less formal lounge that serves salads, soups, sandwiches or attend their wine dinner cuisine series!
406 Redding Road, Redding www.thereddingroadhouse.com
Cuddle up with your honey at the Roadhouse, “Where all roads meet in the middle of nowhere”, so the folks say. There is live music (on select nights), happy hours, a fireplace-d tap room for pub grub and ten beers on (said) tap. There is also a more formal dining room or the lounge for watching the game and having a drink by (another!) fireplace. Sip on a Fireside Old Fashion or a Snowflake Martini, enjoy creamy, dreamy soups and bisques, cheese and charcuterie platters or just a great burgers and wings.
Bernard’s Inn & Sarah’s Wine Bar
20 West Lane, Ridgefield www.bernardsridgefield.com
There is fine dining downstairs and a jazzy wine bar upstairs in this circa 1875 inn that regularly features local musicians and jazz masters, along with local art. Bernard’s has been going strong for 15 years with its French-inspired Black truffle risottos, crispy pork belly, signature fois gras trio, game menu, and tasting menus! The owners, Sarah and Bernard met while cooking at Le Cirque...love was served, apparently! There will be special Valentine’s menus, pour sur.
59 Ethan Allen Highway, Ridgefield
26 Danbury Road, Wilton
531 East Putnam Avenue, Greenwich www.littlepub.com
If you can’t hop a plane to cross the pond, then you might as well head to the Little Pub. Dark beams, tapestries and a lively ol‘ pubby atmosphere make this a fun and cozy (albeit loud) evening. Offering hardy selections like Lobster Mac and Cheese, Poutine, Queso Fundido, Fish-n-chips, or a Going to Graceland burger (a burger with grilled bananas?) to name a few, you’ll have much to choose from that accompanies their copious beers.
The Restaurant at Rowayton Seafood
89 Rowayton Avenue, Rowayton www.rowaytonseafood.com
There’s something about dining near the water, even on a cold, blustery day. This upscale yet “comfortable and low-key” restaurant on a darling little cove serves sustainable, local, and fresh seafood. The seafood market next door of the same name supplies much of the seafood for the restaurant. From shack to plate in one fell swoop! Truffled lobster mac and cheese, raw bar selections, tuna sashimi flatbreads, buffalo calamari wraps, beer battered entrees, brunch options (Maine lobster or Smoked Salmon Benedict-yum)...this is where to get fresh delights from the sea.
77 West Street, Simsbury www.millwrightsrestaurant.com
Centuries-worn wood beams and old New England stone keep this 17th century mill standing strong in the heart of Simsbury. Millwright’s graciously serves New England inspired cuisine and about 80% of the ingredients come from local CT and upstate NY purveyors. Alongside a waterfall, enjoy their Valentine’s Weekend Prix Fix menu, featuring such happiness as Wellfleet Oysters with Ginger and Pink Peppercorn Mignonette, Waygu Beef Sirloin and Black Current Mousse with Prosecco Gelee. New England really is so lovely...
275 Old Post Road, Southport www.artisansouthport.com
Dine along with the New England seasons and farms, in a most artisanal way. Utilizing area farms for meats, cheeses, honey and greens, the resulting menus are created with discerning palates in mind. Enjoy heritage pork chops, seafood chowders, carpaccio or unique drinks like their rummy Velvet Hat Trick or the bourbon-based Breaking and Entering. The dining spaces are ethereal, modern and subtle yet warm and inviting. All perfectly and locally appetizing.
The Grey Goose Cafe
246 Old Post Road, Southport www.thegraygoosecafe.com
Keep your geese straight! There’s The Goose in Darien (see above) and the Grey Goose Cafe in Southport, and nothin’ foul going on at either (har har). This is New England with a touch of Manhattan, straight up. Start with a signature cocktail such as the Raspberry Mojito or a Nutty Goose martini (vodka, Frangelico and Bailey’s). Then cuddle up to Fire-Roasted Oysters, Crispy Vegetarian Spring Rolls, a juicy Black & Blue burger, or local, farm fresh salads. At the mere sight of that black and white awning, you will start to salivate...
118 Woodbury Road, Route 47, Washington www.gracehotels.com
On 58 beautiful acres of woodlands and gardens sits this luxury inn and spa, a hideaway, if you will. Housing thirty luxury rooms, The Mayflower Grille restaurant, and the more casual Tap Room featuring live piano music on select nights, you are sure to love the bucolic luxury that the Mayflower Grace bestows. Using regionally sourced ingredients, their Special Valentine’s Day menu features Hudson Valley Fois Gras Terrine, Guinea Hen with Heirloom Grits and Square Mint Mousse, just to name a few dishes you will be enjoying!
Tavern on Main
150 Main Avenue, Westport www.tavernonmain.com
Once a sea captain’s home, this uber-cozy tavern boasts three original fireplaces where you can bask in a glow (what better on Valentine’s Day!). This is colonial New England in a nutshell, serving up Mediterranean and Latin inspired foods from land and sea. Artisan cheese boards, Parmesan Truffle Frites, Hot Potato Chips, House-Smoked Salmon on Sweet Potato Blini, Lobster Pappardelle, Spiked Mulled Hot Cider...a cold February evening never felt so nice.