This year we spent our 8th wedding anniversary alongside Hop Brook falls, dining in a former grist mill. In other words, we finally made our way  up to Millwright’s in Simsbury. Tuesdays are not an easy night to find a special occasion restaurant in Connecticut, but unlike so many other fine dining spots, Millwrights was not only open, but quite busy!

Millwright’s first caught my attention last year when Chef Tyler Anderson swapped restaurants with fellow James Beard nominated Chef, Joel Viehland of Community table. It also came highly recommended by fellow blogger, Leeanne of  A La Carte.   Though we didn’t mind the 1.5 hr drive north to suburban Hartford (including some rush hour traffic), I wasn’t sure how soon we’d be able to return, so we opted for the 7 course tasting menu. Nearly every course was drawn from the nightly dinner menu, which makes the tasting menu a great way to get a handle on the kitchen’s “inspired New England” cuisine.  Once we settled into our quiet half-round booth set back along the wall, we were easily able to take in the leafy view and the hustle and bustle of a busy dining room in one glance. Service, food, decor – all beautifully executed. Fine dining is getting harder to come by in Connecticut, but this option is smartly tempered by a casual tavern downstairs. I would love to be a regular… if only Millwright’s was a little closer to home.

Wellfleet Oysters with Rhubarb and Black Pepper Mignonette

The Harajuku Negroni – easily one of the best cocktails I’ve had all year.

Maine Crab: buttermilk, lemon puree, shaved asparagus

House Made Ricotta: broccoli salad, pickled meyer lemon

Tapioca Custard: all the flavors of clam chowder

Foie Gras: strawberries, rhubarb consomme, brown bread crisps

Portuguese Fisherman’s Stew:
monkfish, mussels + clams, linguica, potatoes

grilled loin + sausage, white bean puree, fennel + sweet peppers

This dessert was inspired by a candy bar (Take 5?)   I wasn’t familiar with it, but you really can’t go wrong with chocolate, pretzel, and peanuts.

Despite dining on a Tuesday night, we were able to see the dining room in full swing. Parties both large and small arrived throughout the evening to celebrate school graduation.

After finishing our leisurely meal, we wandered downstairs to see the more casual dining space/bar that is paired with a tavern menu.

With twilight upon us, we finally took a walk along the water. This mixed-used development has a lovely feel to it, a balanced mix of old and new in a beautiful setting. On our way out, we met general manager AJ who took upstairs to see the space for private events. There, he confided he and Chef Anderson have their eye on New Haven County. These two seem a well-matched duo, paired up originally during their time at the Copper Beach Inn. Of course Millwright’s will remain their flagship spot for fine dining, but I look forward to seeing what they’ll be serving  up – especially in a location much closer to home!