An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
Jul 25, 2013
09:21 AM
The Connecticut Table

In Willimantic, Cafémantic Does Dinner & a Movie Like No One Else

In Willimantic, Cafémantic Does Dinner & a Movie Like No One Else

A menu addition this past spring at Cafemantic: 'Bacon & Eggs,' with house cured bacon, glazed asparagus and a sunny side up quail egg.

Downtown Willimantic has long been in need of a touch of dining class, and Cafémantic has come through in the nick of time.

Proprietor Andrew Gutt didn’t always have great expectations. After he opened the place in early 2010—in a renovated office building that formerly housed a local radio station and the Hartford Courant—it soldiered on for a few years as a coffee bar popular with the UConn and CCSU crowds, serv­ing omelets for breakfast and pa­nini for lunch. Then, about eight months ago, Gutt developed a yen for experimentation. With the help of a for­mer executive chef from Grant’s  in West Hartford, he crafted a dinner menu com­posed entirely of American small plates—from “snacks” such as Thai cucumber salad ($3)  to  “warm plates” like Maine crab cake with sugar snap-pea remoulade ($8)—and taught his kitchen staff the finer points of wait-service.

Cafémantic currently partners with the Coventry Regional Farmer’s Market  (CRFM) Heirloom Project, a local farm-to-table initiative, so on a given evening menu specials may include watermelon and arugula salad or bacon-wrapped rabbit ($12) sourced by any of a dozen different Connecticut farms. In June, Gutt inaugurated the café’s Sunday  brunch, a mixture of entrées and small plates that I was lucky enough to try—actually, I had a tough time putting on the brakes. After a champagne mojito (yes, there’s a full bar), I enjoyed small plates of spicy gazpacho and superb  smoked salmon flatbread (with lemon  crème fraiche) before indulging in the supremely satisfying five-cheese lobster mac & cheese. My only regret is that I didn’t have the appetite to take on the local strawberry shortcake for dessert.

Brunchers can enjoy live entertainment on the café’s backyard patio (created by a Herculean cleanup ef­fort). This summer, the backyard plays host to another Cafémantic inno­vation: Thursday night “Dinner and a Movie,” July 25 through Sept. 26.

Cafemantic: 948 Main St., Willimantic, (860) 423-4243  (cafemantic.com).  Mon. 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m., Tues. & Wed. 7:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Thurs. & Fri. 7:30 a.m.-late, Sat. 8 a.m.-late, Sun. 8 a.m.-9 p.m.

    

In Willimantic, Cafémantic Does Dinner & a Movie Like No One Else

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