Grant’s Restaurant and Bar in West Hartford has a new chef de cuisine, new hours, and is rolling out some significant menu changes.
By Ronni Newton
Chef Billy Grant is excited about ringing in the new year with some changes to his namesake restaurant – Grant’s Restaurant and Bar in West Hartford Center.
The dining scene in West Hartford – which continues to expand and thrive, particularly for the dinner crowd – is ever-changing, and Grant is looking to kickstart 2019 with a return to the restaurant’s food-centered roots and at the same time bringing more youthful and innovative flair to the menu courtesy of his newly-hired and talented chef de cuisine, Ashley Flagg.
“I’m super-excited about working with the first female chef leading one of my kitchens,” Grant said of Flagg.
As chef du cuisine, Grant said that Flagg will bring great leadership to the the restaurant, as well as an excellent palate, experience, and technique.
“She’s worked with lots of great chefs,” Grant said. “She’s also a great leader and I am proud to work with her. I’m looking forward to her youthful approach.”
Grant said Flagg is smart, and will bring a “dynamic and innovative energy to the dining experience.”
Flagg actually worked at Grant’s in the past – back in 2010, when she was in culinary school. Some of her past experience includes working at Winvian in Litchfield, and with famed restaurateur Jamie Bissonnette of Little Donkey and Toro in Boston.
Her family roots are in the Basque region of Spain – a prime foodie destination – and she brings those Spanish traditions to her cooking as well.
“Everyone knows that working for Billy Grant is like working with an extended family,” Flagg said in the announcement of her hiring. “I am humbled to be back at Grant’s, to be a part of his family, and to bring my family’s traditions to the table while introducing new interesting flavor combinations to the menu.”
Shareable plates will be a new focus at Grant’s, along with an expanded selection of burgers, and in honor of the restaurant’s roots, a section of the menu will be devoted to steaks served a la carte.
Some new starters will include Moroccan hummus and crab and avocado toast. There will also be an expanded selection of side dishes.
The focus will continue to be “simple, fresh, and delicious,” Grant said.
“It’s a work in progress on the new menu,” Grant said. Flagg is already on board, and the new menu will be rolled out gradually throughout January and February. Click here for the latest menu.
“We will also have strong menu changes with the season,” he said. When the growing season returns, there will be an emphasis on locally-grown ingredients.
Grant’s, which has occupied its prime spot on Farmington Avenue for well over a decade, originally developed a reputation as a fine dining restaurant. Over time it has also evolved into a popular night spot with a lively bar scene.
“That’s not really what we are,” Grant said. “Yes, we still have a great wine list, and a great cocktail program, but the focus is not on a DJ and a disco ball.”
The focus will be on dinner, Grant said, and the basics.
Flagg said she will ensure consistency in the menu. “Grant’s will again be a destination for food-lovers looking for a fresh plate and full stomach,” she said.
“This is a chef-driven restaurant, led from the back of the kitchen by myself and Ashley Flagg,” Grant said.
Further emphasizing the focus on dinner will be a change in hours. As of Jan. 8, Grant’s will no longer be open for lunch.
There are many lunch options in West Hartford Center, Grant said. “Concentrating on the dinner program is what I feel is best.”
Grant’s popular Sunday brunch will continue, as will happy hour, and when patio season returns, Grant said he may add a Saturday “brunch/lunch” option.
“We don’t want to be known as super-expensive,” said Grant. A focus on burgers, and shareables, he believes, will cement the reputation as a “more comfortable, neighborhood, American comfort food place to eat” rather than a fine dining or special occasion restaurant, or a bar.
Physical renovations to the space are not planned at this time, Grant said.
Along with the hiring of Flagg as chef de cuisine, Grant has also promoted Jason Cass to front of house manager.
New hours are: Tuesday and Wednesday, 4-9 p.m. with dinner service beginning at 5 p.m; Thursday through Saturday from 4-10 p.m. with dinner beginning at 5 p.m.; and Sunday from 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. The bar will have extended hours. Happy hour is six days a week, Tuesday through Saturday from 4-6 p.m. and Sunday from 3-8 p.m. Sunday brunch is served from 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
Grant’s is located at 977 Farmington Ave. in West Hartford Center. For more information visit their website, follow on Facebook, or on Instagram (@grantsrestaurant or @chef_billy_grantiii). Reservations can also be made by calling the restaurant at 860-236-1930, and for catering questions email Michelle McMahon at [email protected].
Billy Grant is also chef/owner of Restaurant Bricco in West Hartford Center, and Bricco Trattoria in Glastonbury.
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