“I swear I tasted my Aunt Ruth’s fried chicken last night, from the family farm in PA… scratching for grain in the morning, killed and cleaned by my Uncle Benny by noon, and fried and heaped onto plates that night for a well-earned haying season supper. Tasting the fried GourmAvian Farms chicken at Engine Room … BAM, there was that flavor I never even knew I’d remembered from 40 years away.” ~ Winter Caplanson
Engine Room is the newly-opened second Mystic restaurant of Daniel Meiser, of Oyster Club fame. Serving locally-sourced, creative American comfort food, in addition to top-quality taste, it boasts Connecticut Food & Farm favorite restaurant essentials: a casual atmosphere (yes to jeans!), pricing that doesn’t leave you regretful the morning after, and bourbon.
To give it a thorough test drive, we brought a big group of joyful eaters including farmers, chefs, and foodies and pretty much ordered the entire menu to share family style. This restaurant is very transparent in its sourcing. If you are a fan of local farms and food producers, you will see lots of familiar names on the menu.
Engine Room boasts sixteen craft beers on tap… including Connecticut favorites like The Beer’d Brewing Company, the area’s largest bourbon selection, craft cocktails, and a full wine list. We started with one of the house’s signature drinks, the Red Headed Whiskey Sour. Fine choice!
The Bar Bites IMPRESS: Bacon Fat Caramel Popcorn (for real!) ~
and the appetizers EXCEL: Half avocado with slow roasted bacon, lime, jalapeno mayo, and fried shallot ~
Fried chicken on a biscuit with picked onions and ranch ~
Chicken liver pate, with rosemary, Calvados, cream, and crisp bread ~
Buttermilk fried squid and pickled cherry peppers with garlic brown butter ~
Dry-aged beef burgers are a specialty at Engine Room, but also on the menu is a home-run of a smoked pork burger with pork fat onions, Melville cheese from the Mystic Cheese Company, spicy dijonaise, and pickles on a Farm to Hearth brioche roll baked in a woodfired oven.
The creamy, buttery Melville also appears on a grilled cheese with Farm to Hearth’s bread ~
Do not fear the onion soup here! It bears no resemblance to the salty, greasy mess we avoid at most restaurants! Engine Room’s onion soup is savory and aromatic, topped with Comté and croutons.
You’ll find gorgeous salads with flavor, color and nutrition-packed vegetable choices, such as a Caesar Salad with baby spinach leaves instead of romaine, a roasted beet and carrot salad with whipped goat cheese, and side dish options that can stand in for a main dish, like skillet-baked mac and cheese.
Not to be missed are the cornbread with maple butter
and the zingy deviled farm egg… like an updated 1950’s picnic on a plate!
Our favorite of the two desserts was the Monkey Bread, a cinnamon-y pull apart treat perfect for sharing.
Advice: Get here!
If you think cooking is a spectator sport, request a seat at the counter looking into the gorgeous open kitchen where all the action happens.
This is a busy place: you’ll be glad you made a reservation!