An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
Feb 12, 2014
09:32 PMThe Connecticut Table
New Dinners at Truffles Bakery in Farmington: Gourmet and a Bargain Too
Mediterranean chicken kebabs with rice, tzatziki sauce and tomato onion relish and more, in a photo from Truffles' Facebook page.
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The main course of this story—the thing that’s going to have you salivating, get your fingers clicking on links to menus and make you blush with happiness from knowing how few “Jacksons” will be departing your wallet—involves the new dinners at Truffles Bakery and Kitchen in Farmington.
Always having had far more of a savory side than most realize, Truffles is that bakery located in a small historic building along the vertiginous curve on Route 4 that you rocket around if you’re heading from Unionville/Farmington onto I-84, or creep along in a line of traffic waiting to be liberated from the traffic lights of Farmington center if you’re coming from the other direction, off the highway.
Only last year on Mother’s Day did Truffles open a dining space inside—before that it was just the al fresco tables in warm weather or take-out—and dinners arrived on the menu this past September.
But indulge in one little “appetizer” before reading more about dinner, lunch, breakfast, brunch and all those yummy baked goods; it defines how Truffles focuses on satisfying customers in a way that is uniquely its own.
Let’s say you strolled into Truffles (see the parking tip at the end) on a Saturday morning, or any time before 3 p.m., and ordered a simple Breakfast Egg Sandwich to go, a fried egg on a soft Kaiser roll with American cheese, for $2.99. When you open the bag, you’ll find an extra treat, a little something sweet, say a piece of coffeecake or vanilla sheet cake.
“It’s like a surprise when you open the box,” says Shannon Walton, a former CPA who bought Truffles from two gentlemen in 2003. “They used to just give away whatever they had left over,” she says. The formula made sense: You make customers feel like they’re getting a bonus by dispensing items heading toward the end of their shelf life, and, in the process, you just may tempt folks to come back and buy more of the item they’ve sampled.
Walton kept up the practice not only because customers liked it, but also because it embodied the Truffles ethos of not hewing to any look-alike restaurant industry template. And these days, the baked goods—which range from cookies to cakes, muffins, scones, brownies, bars and more—don’t linger long enough on the shelf to become accompaniments to sandwiches. Instead, Truffles is often baking specifically to make the sweet-treat extras.
In fact, it’s such a popular culinary fillip that customers who buy lunch entrees can opt to skip the side of pasta salad that comes with a panini, say, and get two sweet treats instead—sort of a cult thing that’s definitely also a uniquely Truffles thing, at least in this region.
Whether it’s a case of having fallen behind while running errands on a weeknight when the children begin loudly demanding food, or planning ahead for a nice Friday or Saturday dinner, most Connecticut families share similar goals—to go somewhere warm, welcoming, cozy and delicious, but without breaking the bank.
So many restaurants satisfy some of those goals, but—truth be told—so few satisfy all of them, and Truffles is one of those.
“We’re trying to make dinner more special,” says Walton. Special in this case means you enjoy the meal in the bakery’s upstairs dining space, take it home, or—in the Farmington area—have it delivered for free.
And special also notably means terrific comfort food made with fresh top-tier ingredients, and, yes, there's a terrific children's menu. (Above, Lobster Mac ‘n Cheese for adults.)
What it doesn’t mean is more expensive—and just one example is that mom and dad can bring their own bottle of wine to enjoy with Truffles’ dinners. No 100 percent or more mark-up over the retail price; just the opportunity to enjoy a highly-rated bargain wine with food that sports those same qualities; highly-rated and a bargain.
Here’s the evidence in Truffles’ own words, based on last week’s menu :
Our dinner entrees are served with a slice of freshly baked bread and butter. (Walton says it’s a country white bread and “it’s really good.”)
Steakhouse Steak $15.99
Seared 8oz sirloin steak with garlic compound butter, served with broccolini and spaghetti squash.
Pecan-Crusted Chicken $12.99
served in a Dijon cream sauce with broccolini and oven-roasted potatoes.
Seafood Linguine $15.99
Shrimp, crabmeat, tomatoes, arugula, herbs and seasonings in a light wine sauce.
Lobster Mac ‘n Cheese $13.99
Our creamy macaroni and cheese with lobster claw and knuckle meat.
Macaroni and Cheese $4.99
Vegetable of the Day $2.25
Pasta or Starch of the Day $1.99
Freshly baked bread with butter $2.25
Side Garden or Caesar Salad $2.99
Pasta or Starch of the Day $1.99
Kids' Dinner Menu $6.99
Chicken tenders homemade cut them and bread them with panko, fried in olive oil
Mac and cheese with Cabot cheese.
Always green vegetables.
Kids portion of most of the adult entrees.
“It’s the equivalent of what you would cook at home if you had the time to do it,” Walton says of the dinners that are served Wednesday through Saturday, from 4 to 8 p.m.
Even though Truffles is still getting the word out about its dinners, the steak dish already sells out every week. “We try to offer a new salad every week,” says Walton, and other aspects of the menu are routinely tweaked.
Truffles is so accommodating that you can even order from the lunch menu at dinner, meaning the full range of choices includes things like the really nice (I had it recently) Chicken Panini ($9.29), which is made with grilled chicken, Swiss cheese, oven-roasted tomatoes and honey Dijon dressing and served on panini bread. And speaking of bread, Truffles makes a homemade country white loaf (right) and serves slices with the dinners.
One thing that’s not on the dinner menu right now is a special list of desserts. The why might be obvious: “We have a case full of options to choose from,” says Walton of Truffles’ broad range of baked goods and sweet treats.