I have been spending a lot of time in Mystic, CT this summer, as I have two friends getting married there. I've already been for one bridal shower and one of the weddings, and I'm going back the first weekend in October for the second wedding.
When I saw one of the grooms at the tail end of the bridal shower in Mystic, he recommended that I try the Engine Room on my next visit. I completely trust his taste in food (he worked in the restaurant industry for many years) and promptly made a reservation.
This past weekend, the morning after the wedding, we arrived at the Engine Room just a few minutes before they opened at 11:00am. The restaurant is located on Schooner's Wharf, an idyllic waterfront street.
The Engine Room has a small parking lot directly in front of the entrance, making a visit here easy as can be.
The building, formerly home to the Lathrop Engine Company, still has that warehouse feel. I love the exposed brick and the dark beams.
The beer taps at the bar are made to look they're part of one of the engines.
There are 16 craft beers on tap. Each brew is showcased on a chalkboard tile hanging behind the bar.
The dining room has a very Restoration Hardware feel to it, with dark wood table tops and neutral leather banquettes.
On the other side of the bar is a second dining room with a black leather bench running against one wall. Notice all of the wildflowers on each table.
The second dining room overlooks the very patriotic open kitchen.
To the left of the bar is a piece of art work that tells the story of J.W. Lathrop, a man who created a gasoline one-cynlinder marine engine. As I mentioned before, the restaurant is in a space that used to be one of his factories.
While I was totally smitten with the look and feel of the dining rooms, the weather was too beautiful to pass up so we opted to sit outside. The Engine Room has a spacious deck which they've tented to provide some shade.
Against one side of the deck is a comfy bench lined with pillows.
The opposite side features another row of tables and chairs for dining al fresco.
Should you happen to arrive at a busy time, they have plenty of outdoor seating to enjoy while you wait for a table.
You can relax into one of these wooden recliners with a cocktail in hand.
Just like at the Oyster Club, the Engine Room celebrates all of their local farm partners on their menu. I didn't learn until after we had dined at both places that they are actually sister restaurants under the same ownership!
While I should have been looking at the lunch menu I got very distracted by the dessert options.
Just as we thought we had decided on what to have, we saw one of the appetizer specials go by on its way to a neighboring table and knew we had to have it. We quickly adjusted our game plan.
The appetizer that caught our eye was Hillandale Farm tomatoes with roasted corn, basil, sea salt and crispy corn bread.
Is there anything better than the taste of a farm fresh tomato in the summer? Nope. This dish was amazing. It was light and refreshing. The roasted corn and the crispy corn bread were excellent toppings for the juicy tomatoes. The corn cream sauce on the bottom of the plate was super delicious and we both wanted more!
Continuing the tomato theme, we also shared the grilled corn bread topped with pimento cheese, roasted corn and pickled tomatoes.
Let's be honest, I ordered this for the pimento cheese. Though the menu described the corn bread as grilled, it didn't have a grilled or charred taste to it at all. That being said, the corn bread was very yummy. Corn bread can tend to be too dense or too dry and this was neither. The spicy pimento cheese gave every bite a kick and the pickled tomatoes added a nice freshness.
For the main course, my lunch date went with the chopped salad. It came topped with roasted chicken, roasted carrots, avocado, onions, hot cherry peppers, feta cheese and green goddess dressing.
After several bites I asked for her thoughts on the dish and she said, "This combination of ingredients is very flavorful and each bite has great crunch. The chicken is crispy on the outside and really tender on the inside. There are a ton of goodies (not just lettuce) and I love all the avocado and feta. These croutons are addicting! The green goddess dressing is perfect and has wonderful, fresh flavor. This is a great portion size and for a salad, it's very filling."
I had decided on the kale Caesar salad. A few moments after placing our order, our waitress returned to let me know that they were out of kale (which was a bit shocking, since the restaurant opened at 11:00am and our reservation was right at 11:00am). She asked if it would be ok to have romaine instead and I agreed.
The salad was a much larger size than I was expecting. The Caesar dressing was creamy and the croutons were out-of-this-world delicious. We were both wondering exactly how they make them and what type of bread they use. They should bag and sell these!
Knowing the Caesar salad wouldn't have enough protein to keep me full, I also ordered a side of the deviled eggs which came topped with crispy onion strings. Don't mind if I do!
The eggs were fantastic and I could have easily eaten two more.
If we're connected on Instagram then you already know I ran into two college friends on the deck during our lunch. They had also driven down from Massachusetts to spend the day in Mystic. They wound up being seated directly next to us on the patio and when I saw their plate of chicken and waffles arrive, I had to pop over and snap it.
This is like the Leaning Tower of Waffles! The dish is made up of country fried chicken - thigh, drumstick and wing - sandwiched between two corn meal waffles, drizzled with honey hot sauce and topped with maple butter.
Look at that scoop of maple butter melting on the top!
The dish also comes with a bed of greens drenched in buttermilk ranch dressing.
After they had started to attack the Leaning Tower of Waffles I asked for their impressions. One friend said, "We were really wowed by this vertical presentation. The waffles are excellent - crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. The chicken has a great crisp on the skin. When you take bites with both waffle and chicken you taste salt, sweetness, crispiness and butter all at the same time. Also, the buttermilk dressing on the greens is delicious."
All four of us were really impressed with the Engine Room. The restaurant is beautiful, the deck is comfortably shaded and has a great water view, the food is fresh as can be and the menu items are original and fun. I can't wait to go back and try more things.
For all my fellow pup parents, the patio at the Engine Room is dog-friendly! The afternoon we were there we dined alongside three Corgis!
I am headed back to Mystic in eight weeks. Any restaurants I should add to my list?