An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
Jan 10, 2014
03:22 PMThe Connecticut Table
Making Some Noise in the Quiet Corner
The Quiet Corner has been a little less quiet since The Stomping Ground—“Food, Music, Beer and Art in Putnam”—came to town a year–and-a-half ago. And we mean that in a good way. “People love coming here,” says owner Terry Paquette. “It’s almost embarrassing sometimes how grateful they are for this place.” Sounds like they have good reason.
The Stomping Ground features live music five nights a week, the only venue like it for miles around. Before that you had to go to Providence. “We really stick to that five-nights rule,” says Paquette. “We have bands from all over playing jazz, folk, bluegrass, rock ’n’ roll, reggae, Delta blues, really everything but heavy metal, which might be a little much in a 50-seat venue.”
Regulars include Roosevelt Dime (Brooklyn), Big Jon Short (Worcester, Mass.), Otis Grove (Boston), the Satellite Rockers (Worcester), the Ed Tomassi Group. Sundays, it’s open mic night, he says. “We’ve found some amazing talent through that.”
Paquette, 41, and his wife, Sarah, opened the club in June 2012. He’s a musician, she’s an artist, and both had been chafing in unsatisfying jobs at an electric business (albeit for Terry’s dad) for a while. “I love live music, and I’ve driven all over to see it,” says Paquette, “but I kept wondering, ‘Why do we have to drive so far? Why don’t we have the bands come to us?’”
“So we started having these parties in our living room at home,” he says. “We’d invite a few musicians to play and just pass a jar to pay them something. People loved it. A couple of them said, “You should do this for a business.
“Sarah and I decided life was too short to stay at jobs we weren’t enjoying—we’d move to Albuquerque if we couldn’t make the music thing work.” Then, he says, “Things just fell into place. We got help doing a business plan . . . a wine bar in town was struggling and looking for an out . . . 80 percent of our sound equipment was donated by Rational Acoustics,” the developer and provider of Smaart acoustic test and measurement software in Putnam. (What prompted this largesse? The team there wanted a place in the area where they could listen to live music.) Bands are dying to come back, says Paquette, because the sound is so good."
"The place has a living room like feel" (if you happen to have a 20-foot orange, red and blue dragon hanging from the ceiling in yours), says Paquette, "and our staff feels like family. We've got 10 draft lines with all craft and microbrews on tap. The selection changes regularly. “We also have a full bar selection, with many organic liquors on hand, and many wines and sparkling wines.”
The menu at The Stomping Ground is several cuts above what you might expect at a music venue. “We have a full food menu, featuring many organic and local ingredients,” he says. “We make everything here from scratch, including all of our drink mixes, soups, salsa, guac, etc., all in a kitchen that's only 8-by-10 feet.
There are tasty, shareable appetizers like chips & salsa, hummus, and bacon or eggplant jalapeño poppers, homemade soups, salads and Guinness stew. There’s a long list of grilled-cheese sandwiches, with names like “Sinatra” (tomato, basil pesto, roasted garlic, Parmesan & mozzarella, with a balsamic reduction) “David Byrne” (Buffalo-style grilled chicken, Gorgonzola & tomato) and “House of Pain” (applewood-smoked bacon, cheddar, caramelized onion & baked potato). All of their bread products come from Soleil & Suns Bakery in Woodstock.
There are three rib-sticking potpies on the menu, one more delicious-sounding than the next: the “De Niro,” stewed chicken with figs, cremini mushrooms and Marsala; the “Pacino,” hand-battered eggplant, house-made marinara sauce and mozzarella; and the “Billy Bragg,” local beef with Guinness, creamed spinach and onion, topped with scalloped potato and cheddar. (Yum!) Burritos, too, are anything but run-of-the-mill—take the “Big Papi”—pork butt stewed all day in our house salsa, sweet plantain, queso fresco & cilantro pesto.
Sounds like the Putnam definitely has something to stomp about. As the Paquettes like to say, “We’re making a little noise in the Quiet Corner.”
Open for lunch and dinner, Wednesday through Sunday. 132 Main St., Putnam, 860/928-7900, the-stomping-ground.com.Making Some Noise in the Quiet Corner