Monday, August 22, 2005

Rachael Ray Challenge - Hartford, CT

One of my favorite blogs - Cooking with Amy - recently contained a link to a "Be Rachael Ray for a Day" challenge. The basic premise is to spend $40 in a day on meals - similar to the show. I've chosen to focus on a place close to home - Hartford, CT - for my challenge. So, here goes ...

Breakfast - Mo's Midtown - 25 Whitney St., 860.236.7741

Mo's is pretty much an institution in Hartford. It's nabbed the Best Breakfast Spot award - as decided by Hartford Advocate readers - 13 years in a row.

Mo's is small - counter seating where you can watch food being swiftly prepared, as well as no more than eight booths. However, that doesn't stop people from lining up outside and waiting patiently for a place to sit and enjoy Mo's great breakfasts.

If you decide to order Mo's famous pancakes (made with whole wheat flour and wheat germ), you will need to make two decisions - what kind and how many? Mo's offers many choices - for example, plain, blueberry, chocolate chip, mixed fruit, and nut. As for how many, you'll need to decide if you want a solo (1), short (2) or large (3) stack. While the solo stack may seem like it wouldn't be enough, Mo's pancakes are huge, so it's plenty ... especially if you've ordered a side of home fries along with it (which I seriously recommend!)

Mo's also offers omelets, French toast and combination plates such as Papa Mo's - eggs cooked to order, choice of meat and home fries.

Recommendation: Solo stack chocolate chip pancake with side of home fries and orange juice - approximately $8.00 ... $32.00 remaining for the day.

Lunch - Mayor Mike's - 283 Asylum St., 860.522.MIKE (6453)

Last year, former Hartford Mayor Mike Peters opened Mayor Mike's downtown. The restaurant is decorated in earth tones, dark cherry and black with huge black and white photographs of The Mayor's Nine on the walls - individuals from diverse backgrounds and professions chosen to represent Hartford. Each photo has a small description of the individual below, and the photographs change periodically.

Mayor Mike's has appetizers, salads, burgers, sandwiches and entrees on the menu, along with daily blackboard specials. I recommend the pesto grilled cheese - grilled Texas toast, pesto mayonnaise, cheddar, Monterey jack, cotija and sliced tomatoes (I usually order it without the tomatoes) with a side of fries and a pickle. It's oooey-gooey and oh-so-good. It's a great update on one of my favorite comfort foods.

Recommendation: Pesto grilled cheese and soda - approximately $10.00 ... $22.00 remaining for the day.

Dinner - Agave Grill - 100 Allyn St., 860.882.1557

Agave is another relative newcomer to the Downtown Hartford dining scene. It's definitely one of the best Mexican food restaurants in the area.

Agave has bright Mexican artwork and accessories throughout the restaurant. It has a good-sized bar area which tends to be busy right after work with the happy hour crowd - especially on Monday when house margaritas are half price, and Agave offers a free taco bar.

Start your meal with guacamole. It's prepared tableside with avocado, serrano chile, tomato, cilantro, and lime. Agave's complimentary chips and salsa are also good, although the salsa is not on the spicy side.

For dinner, Agave offers standard Mexican fare. I recommend the two mixed cheese with chili con queso enchiladas. While cheese enchiladas may sound simple, I've been to plenty of Mexican restaurants which mess them up. Agave's are cheesy and good.

Accompany your meal with a half-price house margarita on the rocks on a Monday night and enjoy the good food, great service and hopping atmosphere at Agave.

Recommendation - Guacamole, cheese enchiladas and a half-price house margarita on the rocks - approximately $22.00 ... $0 remaining ... $40/day challenge met!


At 8/25/2005 1:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hellow sweetie
Rachael here,
you are giving me a run for my mooney, huh?
Maybe you can be my guide when we get round to covering Hartford.

Hang on a second, I'll just give my producer a call and see what she says...

Ciao bella

xx Rachael xx

At 8/25/2005 9:41 PM, Blogger Sam said...

Hi Debra
thanks for taking part in this edition of DIne & Dish. I particularly like the sound of that ooey-gooey cheese. Good choices!


At 8/29/2005 5:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi debra! thanks so much for coming out to play as rachael ray for the dine and dish party! hopefully we'll see you at the next D&D, too!

At 8/30/2005 12:10 AM, Blogger Alice said...

Hi, Debra,

I went to college in Hartford (Trinity) and went to Mo's ALL THE TIME!!

I love it!

At 2/12/2006 12:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your review of Mo's was spot on. In fact, my relationship with my girlfriend is heavily dependent upon our hungover breakfast experiences at Mo's. I would, however, recommend that you eschew the orange juice recommendation for that of cranberry juice. The orange juice is typically lukewarm, due to the number of requests, whereas the cranberry juice is pleasantly chilled. And for urinary tract infections, it can't be beat!

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