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Best Bites: The Clover House


Published June 2, 2009 at 3:00 p.m.

42 Church Road, Colchester 860-3631

Strange business models excite me. A Vietnamese restaurant/deli/ice cream parlor? I'm so there. On entering the dimly lit space, once primarily a bar, it is clear that most diners have been coming here for a few decades, which only adds to clubhouse vibe. Sure, they've got the burgers and platters of fried food one would expect, but I was there for something different – a rack of veal, perhaps? That's right, Chef Levi Carter, formerly of NECI and A Single Pebble, is at work in a space that could double as the bar in Walter Matthau's basement. And he's not cooking up your grandpa's pub food.

I started with a plate of the finest fried selections. The cornflake-crusted boneless wings in maple barbeque sauce were a unique addition. Other items were out-of-the-bag, but fried is fried, right? Entrées come with a formidable mix of warm rolls from the Quality Bake Shop (which shares an owner with the Clover House) and choice of soup or salad. My Guinness beef stew was deeply redolent of the booze therein with tender carrots and spuds and wisps of braised meat. The French onion soup was rich and beefy, with a hint of sherry.

My boyfriend James enjoyed his pecan-crusted soft shell crab. The pair of mollusks danced around a pile of garlic mash on the plate as if they were still enjoying life on the beach. My rack of veal came in four segments, with what appeared to be dozens of tiny bones ready for lollipopping. The pink medium-rare flesh, juicy and covered in a dried cherry demi-glace paired surprisingly well with the unconventional side of sweet potato fries.

A chambord chocolate mousse crowned the proceedings with an old-school flair. I hear that the kitchen often does ethnic theme weeks, with authentic Chinese and Mexican dishes. No doubt, I will have to return to see what surprises Chef Carter has in store.