Friday, October 12, 2012

Plan B (no, not the morning after pill)

So one of the great perks of my job is that I get to learn about all these new restaurant concepts that I wouldn't otherwise be exposed to.  One of which, being the Hartford, CT based company Locals 8 - owners of Tisane, The Half Door and Plan B Burger Bar (I still can't help but wonder if they thought about the dual meaning of the name).  With Plan B being their flagship brand (six locations to one each of the other two), the company has recognized and capitalized on the up and coming upscale burger trend.

Taking our nation's economic status into account, the restaurant industry has seen a lot of changes in the past two years.  Guests still want great food - that tends not to change no matter how bad their financial state - what changes is where they go to look for it.  While high end steakhouses and fine dining may be seeing a hit, the causal sector of the industry is actually experiencing a surge.  That being said, Locals 8 truly has recognized this opportunity and has developed a growing brand around it.

The atmosphere is relaxed, causal and accessible for nearly any patron.  Jeans are the standard dress code - for staff and management - which leads to the almost rustic, hipster vibe.  The bar in the West Hartford location has a fantastic backdrop wall decked out with bottles of small batch bourbons and craft beers.  It's an atypical display approach for a backbar, but it works (and well).

Since we were en route to a party (with food) when we stopped by Plan B, James and I decided to split the pretzel burger.  I thought it was pretty cool that when you split an entree, for nominal $2 up charge, you can each pick your own side item (their list of sides is pretty insane).  Rather than taking meat temps, they break it down to "some pink" or "no pink" and being that I typically order my beef to the point where a good vet could resuscitate my dinner, we opted for "some pink."  Despite being what I would have typically viewed as an overcooked burger, it was surprisingly juicy.  They actually use a technique they call "loose packing" which does lead to a slightly more crumbly consistency but also keeps you from feeling egregiously full.  The pretzel bread was fantastic - I'm a sucker for good pretzel bread.  

The fancy fries (which are really just shoestring fries but as our server explained, we're in America, not France) were quite tasty... think of a McDonald's style fry that actually came from a potato.  James opted for onion rings and both of our sides came in a quite generous portion.  

If you're a bourbon drinker, their selection is truly unmatched anywhere I've ever been.  They carry all the standards, but also offer a great list of small batch and specialty selections that are truly worth a try.  You can select your pour (just a sip or 2 fingers) which means you could design your own bourbon flight.  Who doesn't love a progressive bourbon tasting?  They also use proper whiskey tulip glasses which really do make a difference in maximizing the aromas (yes glassware really does make a difference but that's a whole blog post unto itself).

If you happen to be in the West Hartford, Simsbury, Glastonbury, Milford, Stamford or Springfield area, Plan B is definitely worth a visit.  

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