Summer is the perfect time for day trips, and my hometown of Mystic is a popular destination. Anyone who's been there knows there are a plethora of seafood and Italian restaurants, but there's always been a lack of places that were truly out-of-the-ordinary.
Enter Tongue and Groove. Located just outside of downtown on Route 1 (behind the Cove Fish Market), the unassuming red building sits square in the middle of an asphalt parking lot. It doesn't look like much from outside, but don't let that deter you.
The dining room is done in shades of butter and caramel, and accented with frosted glass and funky art. Cuban-flavored jazz provides enough background noise that you won't hear the conversation at the table next to you, but you won't be yelling at your dinner guests, either. The menu features tempting treasures such as mini chimies (wonderful little packets of cream cheese and slab bacon, served hot and crisp with a chipotle BBQ dipping sauce), seafood enchiladas (savory chunks of lobster, shrimp, and scallops in a delicate creamy cheese sauce, accented with lime scented sour cream), and thyme and lime chicken (a nicely grilled chicken breast with thyme and lime butter sauce, served with fresh grilled vegetables and couscous). Be sure to save room for dessert - the Margarita Cheesecake (a rich and dense lime cheesecake, served in a scoop at the bottom of a sugared margarita glass) and the Oaxacan Chocolate Cake (a ramekin sized cake filled with smooth cinnamon fudge, and served with a generous dollop of Kahlua whipped cream) are worth the effort.
Looking for something a little more dark and romantic? Head, instead, to the bar area. The dark walnut bar accents the raspberry and burgundy faux finish on the walls. Intimate groupings of butter-soft leather couches surround low tables near the fireplace. Funky tunes blare from the speakers - don't expect to converse with a large party here - this setting is strictly for intimate conversations. The full bar offers a nice selection of beers, an extensive martini list (including a well made Cosmopolitan) and tasty fresh margaritas. Cradled in the cushions of an overstuffed sofa with the perfect drink in your hand, you'll feel like you're in a decadent hot-spot in the City, instead of in a relatively small coastal tourist town.
Tongue and Groove is a definite must-do for the foodies out there, and will be a welcome departure from the fried seafood and pizza joints that are readily available.