An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
Jul 2, 2014
06:52 AM
The Connecticut Table

Coriander Cafe in Eastford Offers Gourmet Dinners, Great Sandwiches and Breakfast All Day

Coriander Cafe in Eastford Offers Gourmet Dinners, Great Sandwiches and Breakfast All Day

Coriander's Turkey Apple Sandwich is just one of the many lunchtime treats.

Don’t be misled: Coriander Cafe may be located in the heart of sleepy little Eastford, but its big menu and gourmet offerings are enough to wake up any appetite.

Since opening nearly four years ago, the cafe—housed in a barn red building on a spit of land at the quaint junction of Route 198 (Eastford Road), Old Colony Road and Country Road that marks “downtown” Eastford—has drawn fans from across the region. Chef-owner Brett Laffert, a New England Culinary Institute grad and former chef of the nearby Vanilla Bean Café who also has cooked at Flora and L’Espalier in Boston, decided to put out his own shingle and acquired the building—a former general store—which he had been eyeing for some time. With his brother Jason, he’s created a fine dining destination that he describes as having a “Cheers” vibe, where the atmosphere is “comfy and relaxed.” The attention to the quality of food, however, is anything but.

“We make everything from scratch,” says Laffert, who strives to source as much locally as possible, such as peaches from Buell’s Orchards down the road or herbs that he’s growing in a garden behind Coriander. “I can just walk back there and get rosemary when I need it. It’s great to have it fresh at my disposal—and it’s a great place when it gets crazy. I can just go there and take a deep breath.”

Laffert also spends his days “off” searching for the ideal ingredients, usually using Tuesdays and Wednesdays to gather what he needs for Coriander’s popular dinner series that runs Wednesday through Saturday nights. Every week the menu changes (although Laffert acknowledges that the crab cakes—made with jumbo lump crab meat—are too popular to leave off); usually the selections include a fish dish, a steak one, something for vegetarians and then pasta or “something else” to keep it interesting. (For example, a recent week offered yellowfin tuna, grilled hangar steak, fried chicken and biscuit and herb-marinated tofu as entrées with crab cakes and fresh fig and black berries as appetizers.) Dinners are BYOB, with many patrons opting to linger over their meals on Coriander’s front deck as the “traffic” (read: about 7 cars an hour, maybe) trickles past.

Even though dinners are special, Coriander also offers a impressive lunch and breakfast menus as well. Breakfast is served all day, and ranges from egg sandwiches to pancakes (apple cheddar and chocolate chip!), French toast and oatmeal. On weekends, it’s expanded to include six or seven specials like eggs Benedict and omelets.

To get mornings off to a good start, Laffert recently added an oak espresso bar, which he built himself, and also formally trained to be a barista. “I want to learn how to do it right before we opened,” he says. “If I can’t do it right, then why even do it?” His aim is to keep it simple and pure, letting the espresso speak for itself. “Every barista chases the right shot,” he says. “It’s an art form.”

Lunch options also demonstrate creative flair. Sandwiches include mouth-watering favorites like meatloaf (homemade meatloaf, caramelized onions, melted cheddar and spicy ketchup on a grilled kaiser roll), turkey apple (white meat turkey, aged cheddar, Granny Smith apple slices and maple dijon mustard on multigrain bread) or The Jacqueline (roasted chicken, sautéed with bacon, barbecue sauce, tomato and lettuce wrappted in a flour tortilla). Subs can also be built to personal tastes, and there’s soup, salad, and grill selections: burgers (smokehouse, portobello, black bean, garden and bacon cheddar) as well as barbecue and grilled lemon rosemary chicken sandwiches.

For those who indulge their sweet tooth, Coriander puts out an assortment of home-baked goods every day, including muffins, scones, bagels, banana chocolate bread and cookies, plus there’s also brittle and other sweet treats from Nutty Grace in neighboring Woodstock.

Patrons can take food to go, or enjoy it at one of the small tables or counters in the rustic-feeling country shop, which also has arts, crafts and other items from local artisans. “We like to support our arts community,” says Laffert.

Gauging by the steady stream of customers morning, noon and evening, the community more than likes to support Coriander.

192 Eastford Rd., Eastford, (860) 315-7691, coriandercafeeastford.com. Open Wed.-Sat. 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sun. & Mon. 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Tues. 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

 

Coriander Cafe in Eastford Offers Gourmet Dinners, Great Sandwiches and Breakfast All Day

Reader Comments

comments powered by Disqus
 
Bookmark and Share Email this page Email Print this page Print Feed Feed