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The Thai Breaker
We’ve all had the conversation. Her: Let’s go out for dinner. Him: OK, where? Her: I dunno. Him: What kind of food are you hungry for? Her: I want something simple with lots of different flavors. Sweet — but salty, too, and maybe just a little sour. You know, piquant. Him: Piquant? Her: Yeah. spicy — but not too spicy. Him: Piquant, huh. Her: Yup. And I want textures. Meats and veggies and noodles and... Him. OK, let’s go Japanese. Her: Or Vietnamese? Him: Chinese? Her: Asian Fusion? And that’s right about where that conversation would end — and he’d go pick up a pizza. But not anymore.

Here’s how that conversation goes now. Her: Let’s go out for dinner. Him: OK, where? Her: Let’s go to Somewhere in Bangkok. Him: Bangkok? For dinner? Her: Sure! Him (after a loooong pause): We won’t have any money left for the tip — or the mortgage! Her (laughing): No. Not the Bangkok in Thailand. The restaurant in Avon. Him: Huh? Her: Somewhere in Bangkok. The Thai restaurant in Avon. Their menu is…well, exotic. And everything is freshly prepared and authentic. Oh, and they offer five levels of seasoning, from mild to spicy. They have drinks and appetizers and salads. Stir-fired noodle dishes and fried rice dishes. Soups. Curries and stir-fries and a whole selection of entrees called “Something Special” and they are amazing. Him: How do you know? Her: I had lunch there today. Him: You had…OK, do they have desserts? Her: Absolutely. Him: I’ll get the car.
— J.H.
Somewhere in Bangkok
136 Simsbury Road, Avon
(Riverdale Farms Shopping)
860-470-7822
somewhereinbkk.com


Hungry? Experience the world of difference just around the corner.
Open since 1995, Tangiers International is certainly not the new kid on the proverbial block — though they did relocate a few streets from the original location a few years back, giving their considerable following momentary heart failure. But the angst abated the instant Tangiers International reopened and it was clear that this exotic little getaway remains everything it has always been — and more! Indeed to this day, everything from their superb little menu of sandwiches, salads, small plates, and complete meals is superb, from their legendary Gyros and Kebabs to their Baba Ghanoush and Baked Kibbee. The heavenly pastries are more aptly named than you can possibly imagine. (Do not leave without trying at least one.) And when you’re full, take a taste of the world home with you by visiting their international market, which features specialty foods for all people — Lebanese, Greek, Turkish, Jewish, Macedonian, Italian, Indian, Moroccan, Egyptian, Bulgarian, French, and Armenian. And after a truly fine meal and some equally fine shopping, you’ll agree that this West End favorite is a West End favorite for very good reason.
— J.H.
Tangiers International
550 Farmington Ave., Hartford
860-233-8168
www.tangiersmarket.com




Classic recipes. Clever service.
Toshi Izakaya isn’t just a Farmington Valley restaurant. It’s a favorite among Farmington Valley diners who have a real thing for wonderfully authentic Japanese cuisine. And now it’s not simply a favorite for its food, having become known for its clever service, as well. Why? Because when the pandemic not only challenged its staffing needs but heightened health concerns, Owner Tracy Ma brought in robots. Yup! Robots from a leading-edge company called T-One Technology — all specifically designed and programmed to pinch hit for wait staff by collecting orders from the kitchen and delivering them to each table, while every meal was still deliciously prepared and beautifully plated by the very same Chef and culinary team the restaurant’s fans have come to appreciate. Fortunately, with the pandemic destined to wane sooner than later, the staff is back in full force now and the robots have gone home, leaving Toshi Izakaya’s fans to savor their fresh Maki, Tamaki, and Sushi…appetizers like Shrimp Tempura or Duck Wrap…and entrees like Salmon Teriyaki, Sanshoku Sashimi, or a Poké Bowl served as personably as ever by their gracious servers. However, this robotic chapter of Toshi Izakaya’s success story has proven to be more than a delightful curiosity. It gave their customers the reassurance they needed during a difficult time, thus helping to keep both the restaurant itself and its followers healthy. Kudos to all! — J.H.
Toshi Izakaya
136 Simsbury Rd., Avon
860-677-8242
toshiavon.com


When Present Meats Past
Used to be you could go to your neighborhood grocery store and actually talk to the butcher. You know, ask about his kids, brag about yours, then discuss this week’s best buys so you can order exactly the meats you prefer before heading off to select the freshest produce and dairy possible, hearty homemade breads and baked goods, and all the different seasonings, sauces, soups and snacks you’ll need to keep the whole family healthy and happy. Well, welcome back to the way things were — at Avon Prime Meats. Meats are their “essence,” of course, always locally sourced and incredibly fresh. But this spacious yet intimate market also sells everything you’ll need for every meal you can imagine — and then some, with catering expertly planned and prepared by professional chefs who routinely dazzle. Hot meals to go, as well as heat ‘n serve selections, all made from scratch for genuine home-cooked goodness. Wonderful coffees and teas. Some really nice New England beers. Tasty dog treats. A gluten-free section where flavor still matters. There’s even a nutritionist on staff to help those with other dietary issues make healthy choices. Mulling over next week’s family meals? Maybe it’s time your list started with Avon Prime Meats. And if someone says, “welcome back,” you’ll understand what they mean.
— J.H.
Avon Prime Meats
395 West Main St., Avon
860-676-4444
www.avonprimemeats.com




Creature Comforts
People who love their pets worry. They worry when their pets are well and when their pets are sick. They worry about how their pets look, if their pets are getting enough exercise — and they worry about where their pets will stay if there is ever a few days or weeks when they can’t stay at home. The truth is, all that worrying is precisely why people who love their pets also love Roaring Brook Veterinary
Hospital
. Serving the needs of dogs, cats, birds, exotics, small mammals (and yes! their people) for more than three decades, Roaring Brook makes worrying…well, a lot less of a worry. For one thing, the medical care their veterinary team, including wellness visits and exams, preventative care, comprehensive dental and surgical care, laser therapy, and chiropractic therapy, is all personalized, leading edge, and always delivered with the compassion both the pets and their people deserve and appreciate. This is also the place to go for daycare and grooming services. And when an out-of-town trip or family circumstance necessitates a stay somewhere other than home, Roaring Brook’s Kennels are a wise choice. Thanks to a trained staff that is attentive and warm, an active daily schedule, spacious accommodations, and a Cattery with customized kitty condos, it’s the best place any pet can be when being home isn’t possible. So if you’re one of those people who love their pets, visit Roaring Brook. And don’t worry. You’ll be glad you did. And so will your pet. — J.H.
Roaring Brook Veterinary Hospital
60 Lovely Street, Canton
Hospital/860-693-0214; Kennels/693-0603
www.roaringbrookpet.com

There are a lot of
things in life you
can do without.

But a heating and plumbing expert is not one of them. Nope. Not here in New England, where “brrrrrrrrr” is considered an actual word. Not if you’re planning to redo that tired old kitchen or bath. And not if your home has running water. (We’re assuming it does.) So remember this name: Avon Plumbing & Heating. Their staff is experienced at designing and installing plumbing and heating systems, including radiant heat, whether it’s a small residential project or a major commercial build — and if a repair is all you need, just say the word, because they’ve got one of the best selections of parts in these parts. If remodeling your kitchen or bath is in the cards, you’ll want to collect a few of theirs, because their professional showroom consultants will help you select everything from their actual working displays. And they specialize in the roll-in showers, walk-in tubs, and other accommodations that make living at home easier (and sometimes just plain possible) — as well as the systems and services that homes with well water often need or want. They even install gas logs, so the warmth of a fire can be yours at the flip of a switch. Avon Plumbing & Heating. Their experts will be there when you want them — and there when you need them.
— J.H.
Avon Plumbing & Heating
124 Simsbury Rd., Avon
860-677-9721
www.avonplumbing.com





 

 

 

 



Putting the
“Din” in Dinner

There’s only one place we know of where you are guaranteed actual sizzle with your meal, and that’s Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Fact is, Ruth’s Chris Steak House learned a long time ago that broiling the finest cuts of beef to perfection, topping them with a buttery mix of freshly chopped parsley, then serving them on a 500-degree plate so customers can actually hear the savory flavor isn’t simply the way to a man’s (or woman’s) heart. It’s the shortest route. And when they discovered that they could make chicken and chops and seafood deafeningly delectable, it sort of lit a fire under them — and before you knew it, Ruth’s became an international favorite. The good news is there’s one close by in Newington. Where? Just follow your ears. — J.H.
Ruth's Chris Steak House
2513 Berlin Tpke., Newington
860-666-2202
www.ruthschris.com

Pawsome news! Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming is coming to Canton!
Most dog owners will tell you that dogs are people, too. They just happen to have four legs, fur, and a language that consists largely of barks and yips. Likewise, most dog owners will tell you that dogs, like people, get bored — bored with their toys and foods and treats, and sometimes (though it’s often hard to tell) with their collar, leash, or even that coat they pretend to hate wearing when it’s freezing out — which means that pooches, like people, need some perk-me-ups, too. Well, Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming is the place to go for that. A longtime favorite in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square, Woof Gang is opening this spring at The Shops in Canton, where it’s sure to become Your Neighborhood Pet
Store
, too! They offer high quality dog foods, as well as the treats dogs deserve when “Who’s a good boy?” and a belly scratch isn’t quite enough. And for special occasions (like a birthday or a Tuesday), Woof Gang has a great assortment of fresh-baked cookies and pupcakes for your fluffy friend. Need accessories? They’ve got it all, from collars, harnesses, and leashes to bandanas, sweaters, and raincoats. And toys? There’s a wall of them, many with the built-in squeaks, crackles, and grunts dogs love. And while your pup might not enjoy getting bathed in your kitchen sink or out in the driveway, a Woof Gang grooming is spa-class indulgence — with a great selection of grooming supplies on hand to keep your just-coiffed canine looking and smelling as close to just-coiffed as a good roll in the mud will allow. Got a dog? Go. Or should I say come…? — J.H.
Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming
Blue Back Square, West Hartford
The Shops, Canton
860-216-5917
woofgangct.com



Focusing on potential.
Established in 2000, the FOCUS Center for Autism was founded to help children with autism spectrum disorder achieve the full potential that lies within each — and as the clinical educational day program evolved, Fresh Start, the organization’s school opened in 2017. Designed to offer the kind of classroom in which children belong, learn, and succeed, Fresh Start is clinically supported, with a safe and nurturing atmosphere in which relationships are more easily forged. The curriculum follows Common Core standards in small, structured classes where individualized educational plans promote greater engagement and favorable outcomes. An abundance of field trips and community-based experiences are all part of the social learning program. Sensory diets are followed. And Fresh Start offers a transition program for students preparing for post-graduate studies or employment opportunities. FOCUS also offers adult support services aimed at promoting independence, including weekly social gatherings, weekly parent support groups, sensory–friendly yoga, and additional classes in cooking, robotics, and other real-world pursuits. And FOCUS runs both a Level II Therapeutic Group Home for adolescent males, as well as a Young Adult Supportive Housing Program. Finally, FOCUS offers presentations called The FOCUS Autism Spectrum Unplugged, featuring experts in the field and those struggling with its divergent realities as a means of helping families, educators, and the community at large better to understand autism. As Dr. Stephen Shore, who is both autistic and a Special Education professor at Adelfi University often says, “The potential of those of us on the autism spectrum is unlimited — just like with everyone else.” And we all need to remember that. — J.H.
FOCUS Center for Autism
326 Albany Tpke., Canton
860-693-6127
focuscenterforautism.org

From then to now — without missing a beat.
I was a kid of the sixties. I even aspired to becoming a hippie, but that never worked out. (I mean, I did have tickets to Woodstock, but my father put the kibosh on that — and rightfully so — when I informed him that a whole bunch of us were going and us girls were going to stay in one motel room and the guys were staying in another. I can still hear him laughing.) Anyway, when I see all the retro riches at Trading Post Music and Videos in Canton, it just makes me smile, taking me back to a time when day-glo colors, earthy scents, and vintage designs were new and fresh and (dare I say it) groovy. They sell music, videos, and books, as well as awesome Bohemian clothing and jewelry. Collectible calendars and wall posters. Games and gifts (including lava lamps!). Essential oils, soaps, fragrances, and CBD products. Grateful Dead memorabilia. And Smoke Shop merchandise. Frankly, it’s not possible to take it all in fast enough to satisfy one’s curiosity or slowly enough to appreciate everything fully, so going back frequently is your best bet. But what fun you’ll have, even if you weren’t born waaaay back then. Consider it time travel. And what a trip you’ll have! — J.H.
Trading Post Music & Videos
233 Albany Tpke., Canton
860-693-4679
tradingpostmusic.com

Nature at its bloomin’ best!
Warner’s Nursery and Garden Center is a scrumptious little spot ideally situated just across from the beautiful Farmington River — befittingly within view of Simsbury’s Flower Bridge, which was built in 1892, is now reserved for walkers, joggers, and cyclists, and features 72 flower boxes, 32 hanging baskets, 14 border-column baskets, and cottage gardens at both ends. Ever popular with landscapers and home gardeners, Warner’s also welcomes dreamers who simply fancy a good wander among their vast selection of perennials, annuals, herbs, vines, roses, and Northeastern grown shrubs and trees. After all, who can resist? But for those who find that getting their hands dirty is one of life’s more grounding experiences, Warner’s stocks a wide assortment of soils, mulches, fertilizers, and tools, as well as garden gifts, pottery and baskets that are both essential and inspiring. And for those who prefer to let professionals have their way, they offer full-service residential and commercial landscaping services. Small wonder that three seasons a year, Warner’s beckons anyone with an appreciation for nature at its bloomin’ best. And in winter, it reminds everyone passing by that spring comes next. — J.H.
Warner Nursery and Garden Center
76 Riverside Rd., Simsbury
860-658-7327
www.warnernursery.com


You’re going
to dig
these guys.

Because these are the guys who will come and dig up that overgrown tangle of a garden spanning your entire yard — or the dreadful lawn you couldn’t see for all the snow when you bought your new house last winter. They’re the guys who will dig out that crumbling concrete sidewalk leading from the parking lot to your beautiful new offices — or reclaim all of that wasted space along your store’s stunning glass façade, now choked with old mulch, leftover gravel, and weeds.

And when these guys are through doing their digging, they will replant that massive garden. Re-grade, seed, and fertilize your entire lawn to make it every bit as lovely as your new home. Lay hard-pack gravel and sand along that new walkway to your office before adding the cobblestone pavers that will welcome clients properly. They will even design and build a beguiling little terrace featuring perennials along your store’s exterior approach, inviting window shoppers to do some window shopping before stopping in for a closer look.

But then that’s just some of what these guys, also known as SVL, LLC, do. They’re experts at developing and executing both landscape and hardscape designs — large and small, residential and commercial — all while providing the ongoing lawn, garden, and overall property maintenance required to ensure that each customer’s investment retains its beauty and value for years to come.

And you can dig that, too! — J.H.
SVL, LLC
369 West Main St., Avon
860-819-9929
www.svlct.com

 

 




 

 

 

 

 

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