They don’t call it soul food for nothing; the comfort fixings at Black-Eyed Sally’s (350 Asylum St., 860/278-7427, www.blackeyedsallys.com , 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. Mon.–Sat.; bar open until 11 p.m. Thurs–Sat., $9–12) are first-rate. Blackened catfish and jambalaya are house specialties, but the big don’t-miss is the rib-and-sausage “piglet platter” (you’ll understand the true meaning of that name after you eat the entire thing).
Can an Irish pub be romantic? If it’s Vaughan’s Public House (59 Pratt St., 860/882-1560, 11:30 a.m.–1 a.m. Sun.–Sat.; bar open until 2 a.m. Fri.–Sat., $10–16), the answer is affirmative. The place is literally furnished with love, in the form of hand-crafted Irish furniture, and the menu spotlights traditional Irish dinners—shepherd’s pie with brown bread, feather-light fish-and-chips, and corned beef and cabbage. Wash it all down with homemade Irish cream, Irish coffees, or something from the top-notch single malt list.
Low-key but snazzy, Bin 228 (228 Pearl St., 860/244-9463, 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. Mon.–Wed.; 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m. Thurs; 11:30 a.m.–midnight Fri.; 4 p.m.–midnight Sat.; closed Sun, $3–8) is a vino-centric Italian spot decorated with bottles everywhere. The menu actually plays second fiddle to the wine, so order up some of the tapas-style light antipasti (cured olives, bruschetta, panini, and smoked meats) and focus on swirling and swilling.
An institution in the area, the New York–style
Rein’s Deli (435 Hartford Turnpike, Vernon, 860/875-1344, www.reinsdeli.com , 7 a.m.–midnight daily, $6–14) is always abuzz with devotees downing delicious traditional Jewish delicacies from matzo ball soup and cheese blintzes to chopped liver and whitefish salad. On your way out the door, grab a few black-and-white cookies for the road.