It's Friday afternoon and the sun is shining through the fiery autumn trees. Cozy downtown Newington is quiet but for the chirping of a massive flock of birds, the rustling of leaves on the cobblestone sidewalk and the rumble of a few cars that roll by. Most people are still at work; it's barely 4 p.m. after all. The sun is warm on my face and I sit alone at the table outside, perusing the Rooster Co. menu, waiting for Chris to join me for an early dinner.
I hear the potato-potato-potato sound of the Harley before I turn my head to see Chris approach. I know which drink he'd choose and point it out to him: the "Gold Rush," made with bourbon, fresh lemon juice and housemade honey syrup. I stick with a glass of Pinot Noir (Unconditional, Willamette Valley, OR), expecting that the medium body, light tannins and juiciness will pair nicely with the chicken dish I plan to order. (I'm right.)
Chris had Halloween Buffet at his school today, so he's not starving like I am. I eat a teacher's lunch at 10:30 a.m., so by 4 I can start to feel "hangry." And since I've been here longer, I know exactly what I want. I order the clams casino appetizer while Chris gets the cheese plate. My six littlenecks are plated beautifully, resting on bright green rock salt, and the color has my curiosity piqued. While the clams themselves are slightly overcooked, I love the flavors - smoky bacon and crunchy garlicky breadcrumbs, with a pinch of lemon zest adding a citrusy zing that reminds me of summer steamers. The cheese plate, made with three local(ish) cheeses (VT cheddar, NY camembert, MA bleu), comes with thin, crispy breadsticks, and pistachio honey. Each cheese is packed with such pungency, each so different from the others, it's an intriguing selection.
Chris orders some local oysters that are served with a brightly acidic pink peppercorn mignonette. Then my "Chef's Plate" of chicken arrives and I can't wait to dig in. It looks and smells like Sunday dinner, only a bit fancier - 1/2 rotisserie chicken, chicken leg confit (served on bruschetta), chicken pate (that's for Chris), and cracklin' (that's all mine). These are accompanied by a dollop of something akin to ginger-apple marmalade and a warm, crusty roll. The rotisserie is served with a choice of sauces, and the server suggests the walnut herb. Like nearly everyone on the planet, I love herbs with chicken, and this olive-oil based dipping sauce is definitely something I will attempt at home. The chicken itself is moist and juicy and the cracklin' shatters in my mouth. God, I love crispy chicken skin!
I'm so focused on my plate that it takes me some time to notice that the sun is barely peeking through the tree branches now, and without it, I'm getting chilly. The traffic will be bad if we wait much longer before we leave, so I ask for a box (they are biodegradable!) to take home what little is left of my platter. I'll heat it up for lunch tomorrow, I think, since Chris won't be home. I hope that the skin on the drumstick and that last cracklin' will crisp up in the broiler. (They do.) We pay the check, thank the server, and promise to return. For comfort food this interesting that's also happens to be made with local ingredients, who wouldn't?
Rooster Co. is located at 1076 Main Street, Newington, CT. They serve lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, along with daily specials and a kids' menu. News, events, menus, and recipes can be found on their website: http://www.roostercompany.net/.
Cozy Downtown Newington
(View from Rooster Co.)