@ The Barn
I’m very excited to write this page. This is the 9th of what may ultimately be 169 town completion celebration pages! Yes, of course I am fully aware of how absurd that is. Send your condolences to my wife and children, care of the comments below.
For those of you who are new here… In late 2016, after a decade of writing CTMQ, I decided to try to “complete” towns. In that decade of traveling and writing, I had already done a lot of stuff in most of our towns already. However, I have been continually surprised by how much more there often is to do. This page you’re reading includes my “town completion celebration meal.” These will sometimes be at the best restaurant in town. Or the most historic. Or the most iconic. Or the most unique. Or the only one. Or at a gas station. Every town is different!
Let’s get to it.
Granby, Hartford County
Granby was my: 9th town completed
CTMQ Entities/Pages: 29 or so
First CTMQ Visit: The Dewey/Granby Oak, September 2007
Last CTMQ Visit: MGR: Pine Cone Trail, July 2018
Latest CTMQ Visit (opened after “completion”): The Brewery at Maple View Farm
The Celebration Meal
I was presented with a few options to celebrate the completion of Granby. Many of my friends were pushing for Tiger Belly Noodle Bar. It is very well-reviewed and I trust my friends. But this celebration would include my son Calvin, who is allergic to many things Tiger Belly uses with impunity, so we enjoyed lunch up the road @The Barn instead.
Distracting name aside, @ The Barn is an excellent alternative to be sure. There is also an @ The Corner in Litchfield. I don’t know why these restaurants do this, but… they do. Fortunately, both restaurants are good enough that we can ignore their names.
Hoang and Calvin met me on an absolutely dreary day for lunch at @ The Barn. (You see what the nomenclature is so annoying now? I know I’m supposed to just say “lunch @ The Barn” but I don’t like that either.) Yes, it is a renovated barn.
The owner is James Chen who has had some success in the past in this part of the state with three Asian restaurants in Simsbury, East Windsor, and here in Granby. (Fans of Chen’s Green Tea Chinese Restaurant in Simsbury now know it as Table 570 Fusion and I think he also owns Farmers Kitchen in Granby – a breakfast and BBQ place.) For @ The Barn, Chen wanted to do something totally not Asian. I’d think an airy old barn in Granby, Connecticut is a pretty good “not Asian” start. (Farmers Kitchen too I guess.)
He brought on the chef who got the Infinity Bistro in Hartford up and running and the two of them created an Americanish menu with lots of influences… except anything from Asian cuisine apparently.
(As impossible as that is.)
But I respect Chen for moving forward with his restaurants. I can tell you that when I worked on Day Hill Road in Windsor, we’d take clients all the way out to here for meals rather than anywhere closer. That speaks volumes I think.
Despite being slightly higher-end than you may expect at this location, @ The Barn is sure to cater to the kids and those with less adventurous palates. Calvin enjoyed a simple flatbread cheese pizza and was more than happy to do so. Hoang and I began with a calamari appetizer that was inventive enough to be different than the usual, but not so wacky as to be off-putting.
We loved it. Not the overly battered and fried marinara sauced variety, these were very lightly battered; almost a gossamer coating to them, and the mix of peppers and scallions tossed with them were all the “saucing” we really needed. Although the lemon harissa sauce that was drizzled on top was very good. This dish is perfection.
Hoang had a 4-cheese truffle risotto which she claimed was awesome. She took the leftovers home, which she almost never does, so I believe her. I went with the portobello sandwich, which came on soft, buttered and seared focaccia bread. It was excellent, but was served with waaaaaaaaaay too many sauteed onions. An obscene amount. This was the only flaw – an easily fixable one – of our entire meal.
Because this was a celebration meal, Hoang and I shared a Granby Sparkler martini which was really good, but I forget what was in it and it’s not on their current menu. I wouldn’t have enjoyed it if it was too sweet, which means it wasn’t.
Eh, who cares. Go to @ The Barn. It’s excellent and there are many more inventive – but not stupid inventive – items on the menu.
If Tiger Belly is as good as my friends say it is (and I trust them), and Farmer’s Kitchen is a funky and cool place, both near @ The Barn, then… Hooray for Granby! No need to travel down to Simsbury or West Hartford for an excellent meal. Unless you just NEED to pay $100 more or something. (Our lunch was still 67 bucks though, as an FYI.)
There’s a Cowboy Museum in Granby. For real. Sure, the local historical society museums are full of cool old Granby stuff, but I’m still stuck on the fact that there’s a Cowboy Museum here. And it was fun!
But really, when I think of Granby, I think of the woods and farms. I hiked a lot of miles in Granby, and without thinking, I’m going to say that Granby is second only to Burlington for trail miles in Hartford County. Not sure, but regardless, the miles in Granby are almost all pretty great.
I found unexpected and exceptional views at Mary Edwards Mountain and Western Barndoor Hill, both Granby Land Trust properties. The waterfalls at Enders and in the McLean Game Refuge are fantastic during wet periods. The solitude of North Granby is such that I sometimes felt like I was much farther north. Lost Acres Vineyard is out there – almost in Hartland, actually. And Hartland, as we know, is another planet.
Even with one of the best ice cream joints in the state (Grass Roots!) and many miles of excellent hiking throughout town, (and the cowboy museum!), I would say that the incursion of the Southwick Jog is perhaps the most important Granby thing to me. Imagine if Granby included Lake Congamond?
Anyway, as I wrap up Granby, I’m sort of struck by the fact that it has a winery, a brewpub, a top tier ice cream place, great waterfalls, accessible and fun hiking, all the required town history museums, one of the coolest trees in the entire state… and people don’t really think about Granby too much.
You should, it’s a lovely town.
Thought exercise: If I had to send someone to Granby for a day… it’s would be a day of hiking with a reward or two at the end. Hm. I’d start at the Granby Oak and then up to the Mary Edwards Mountain Property before looping around to Enders Falls. From that point, I’d offer a choice of hikes, but would probably nudge towards Western Barndoor Hill. After that you’d deserve some of the best ice cream in the state at Grass Roots which is only a few miles from Cambridge House Brewpub.
Surprise: That despite McLean’s best efforts, the Simsbury & Granby Land Trusts, the state at Enders State Forest, as well as Holcomb Farm connect with their trails and that’s great because they should.
Favorite fact: According to this book about early Granby, you literally couldn’t pay people to live in Granby.
Disappointment: The good and honest people of Granby have not banded together (yet) to TAKE BACK THE NOTCH!