With its low self-esteem and high urban blight, Hartford is the ultimate underdog city. Sad City Hartford documents the joys, sorrows and eccentricities of New England's Rising Star.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hartford Food Guy Reviews: Feng Asian Bistro

The stretch of Asylum Street between Main and Trumbull has seen much better days. Now it just is surface parking on one side and a hodge-podge of old buildings and an ugly parking garage on the other. As late as the 1980’s, however, the block was still anchored by the venerable men’s store, Stackpole Moore & Tryon at the Trumbull Street end and the Hartford-Aetna National Bank Building (Hartford’s first skyscraper) at the Main Street end.

Jammed in along that stretch is an ugly old five story building that had the bad luck of having its faƧade re-done at the worst possible time (somewhere between 1960-1980). For many years the building was the home of Song Hays, probably the worst Chinese restaurant in which it was ever my displeasure to eat. A few years ago, however, the Ginza Restaurant Group gutted the place and opened Feng Asian Bistro, which has been a very welcome addition to the Hartford culinary scene. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hartford Business: The Half Door

Long time Sad City readers might get the impression that we aren't fans of The Half Door.  We've anointed one of their bathrooms The Most Awkward Bathroom In Hartford.  We've complained that our aging has rendered us unable to tolerate visiting their on Wednesday night when there is not only live music, but $2 drafts on Harp and Guinness.  That impression would be wrong.  The Half Door is without a doubt one of the best bars in Hartford.  In fact, the list of bars in Hartford that we have been to more than the Half Door is a short one.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Shawn Wooden Chats With Sad City

Image courtesy of Wooden For Mayor
Shawn Wooden has thrown his hat into the proverbial political ring and is making his bid for Mayor.  Mr. Wooden recently took some time to answer some of Sad City's questions becoming the fourth candiate for Mayor to do so in the last few months.  (Incumbent Mayor Segarra, J. Stan McCauley, and Edwin Vargas have previously done so)  As the election draws closer it will be interesting to see how the candidates distinguish themselves over the next couple months.  We would like to thank Mr. Wooden and his staff for their time. Interview after the jump.

Monday, June 27, 2011

More Hartford Houses Of Worship

We continue our series on Hartford Houses Of Worship with this hodgepodge collection of Houses scattered pretty much all over the city except the South End, which reminds us that we haven't got out to the there enough lately.  This brilliant mural is on the side of the North End Church of Christ on Albany Ave and is a welcome colorful addition to the cityscape.

One of our real disappointments in Hartford is the lack of good graffiti. We feel like all cities, especially somewhat downtrodden cities, should have a lot of exciting, vibrant graffiti. For whatever reason Hartford seems to be lacking in that respect. Maybe we are just looking in the wrong places.  Either way this is a welcome addition.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mayoral Mud Slung

Hartford's Mayoral race is underway and of course that means some good old mudslinging is sure to follow.  Sad City has already interviewed three of the four main players in the Mayoral race and continues our lengthy wait for the much promised fourth interview.

The main characters in the drama that will unfold over the next few months are the incumbent Pedro Segarra, the career educator Edwin Vargas, the tv personality J.Stan McCauley, and the well financed law partner Shawn Wooden.  Today we look at J.Stan's interesting response to some mudslinging in his direction.

Ducks On A...Roof?

We thought we might be seeing things when we noticed what appeared to be a row of ducks on this West End home.  After some further inspection we were able to confirm that there were in fact ducks on this roof and our sanity was, at least for the moment, intact.   Upon even further inspection it appeared that decorations of this sort is something of a hallmark of this street.  The West End is certainly unique in it's own right and certainly the only part of Hartford that we might describe as "quaint."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hartford Food Guy Reviews: J's Restaurant/Bar

Image courtesy of menusearch.net

The Hartford Food Guy returns to review J's Restaurant/Bar located on Washington Street, just down the road from the two abandoned buildings we discussed earlier this week

About ten years I asked a pretty young lady to go to lunch with me. I was somewhat surprised that she said yes and when she asked where I wanted to go, I blurted out “Pizza Plus on Washington Street.” She said nothing, which I took as a sign of great skepticism and likely regret for having agreed to lunch, but I assured her that she would not be disappointed.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dutch Point: A Hartford Novel

This blog has given us the opportunity to do a handful of things that we might not have otherwise done.  When Kareem R. Muhammad contacted us about reading his book Dutch Point a couple months ago, book reviewer got added to that list.  Having been vociferous readers for most of our lives we felt qualified to give it an attempt.

Dutch Point is a self-published, fictional novel based in Hartford and focuses primarily on Andrew Edwards, a Hartford social worker.   Mr. Muhammed himself has spent over a decade as a Hartford social worker investigating cases of abuse and neglect, which lends credibility to the characters and situations we encounter throughout the book.   Having had social workers as family members and close friends we know from first-hand accounts that social workers encounter some of the most horrific situations imaginable and deal with some of the most unsavory people imaginable. Dutch Point gives us a glimpse into that world.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Moving On Down

Washington Street leading to Hartford Hospital is a very interesting stretch of Hartford road.   It starts across from the renowned State Capitol,  the Bushnell is right there, and just a little further down Washington Street is the Hartford Superior Court, an impressive building in its own right. Directly across from the Superior Court is Troop H, the Connecticut State Police's Hartford Barracks.  Across Park Street is of course Hartford Hospital which is, as far as we known, a well-respected state of the art hospital.   Despite this impressive array of law making, law enforcing, justice deciding, and care giving facilities crammed into the area, there still exists a very seedy underbelly to the area.

Monday, June 20, 2011

We Are Moral Cowards

On June 7 we visited our good friends at WNPR as guests on The Colin McEnroe Show.  The theme of the show was "Nom De Plume: A (Secret) History Of Pseudonyms."  (Hear the full show here) Towards the end of the show we were taking some calls and James from New London called in.  Now James called in with an agenda, and his agenda was to legislate morality.   James immediately clued us into "reality" and let it be known that we are "unadulterated moral cowards". We can only imagine that James is a wonderfully fulfilled and exciting man.  Thanks James! Now we know that we are moral cowards and knowing is half the battle!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Really Bizarre Marketing Slogan

It makes sense after you think about it for a minute, but in our opinion this slogan might be just a little bit rough around the edges.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Hartford Food Guy Reviews: The Russell

The HFG has been pretty inactive lately because of Mrs. HFG's surgery (she is recovering quite nicely) but the other night she felt up to taking a walk over to The Russell for dinner. Located at the corner of Pratt and Trumbull in what was once Zu-Zu's coffee bar (which became Xando's then Cosi's or the other way around) The Russell is operated by my neighbor and friend Hugh Russell (if you know Hugh, you know he is charming, on-point, and always impeccably dressed).

Hugh is from Jamacia and The Russsell's cuisine does reflect somewhat his Carrebian heritage, with offerings like jerk or curried chicken sandwiches, wraps, and flatbreads, but the cuisine is actually very eclectic. I've been there for lunch quite a few times, but I was excited to try the dinner menu.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Eddie Vedder Coming To The Bushnell

Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam fame will be playing the Bushnell at a sold out show on June 18th.   While the idea of a rock star like Eddie Vedder playing the Bushnell might strike you as odd, it gets better. Vedder will be playing songs recorded with a ukulele on his album "Ukulele Songs."  That's cool. We are willing to give Eddie Vedder the benefit of the doubt on something like this.  But the show is accompanied by even more disturbing news. Eddie and the rest of his Pearl Jam bandmates are planning a music festival later this year in celebration of the bands twentieth anniversary celebration.  Pearl Jam has been around for twenty years? That is not cool at all.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Creepy Picture Of The Day

This picture was taken accidentally under the I-91 overpass and later discovered on a phone.  Kind of creepy.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Hindenburg Over Hartford

Sad City reader Bruce B. clued us into this amazing video of the ill-fated Hindenburg blimp zeppelin flying over Hartford in 1936.  The Hindenburg would famously  be destroyed in a May 6, 1937 fire and crash that killed 35 passengers and one person on the ground and ended the era of blimps as passenger transportation.  Photographs of the Hindenburg crashing are some of the most recognizable photos ever taken.

Easily recognizable Hartford landmarks the Traveler's tower and the State Capitol can be seen in this clip.

The YouTube page with this upload adds the following:

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Hartford Food Guy Reviews: Broasterant

My neighbor who came with me to the Primevera Pub back in July has been raving for weeks (if not longer) about a "chicken lady" on Park Street in Hartford who serves up delicious pressure-cooked chickens. I'd heard of (and eaten) steamed cheeseburgers at the famous Ted's in Meriden (I'll be going again soon and will blog about it), but I'd never heard of a pressure-cooked chicken.

Today, my neighbor took me for lunch to check it out. The place is actually called "Broasterant" and it is on Park Street in Hartford, just west of the corner of Broad and Park and it was well worth the trip.

If you don't spend time there, it is easy to write off Park Street as a dirty, crime-ridden and drug-infested stretch of road, but the corner of Broad and Park is the heart of Hartford's Hispanic community and I read or heard somewhere that that intersection is the busiest in the state on Saturdays. I don't know if that is true, but I have been caught in traffic there on a Saturday and it is wicked, as there are many little shops, restaurants, and bars in that area that are pillars of the Hispanic business community. In fact, while it may not be LaSalle Road in West Hartford Center (but what is, right?), that stretch of Park Street is a viable, thriving commercial area that probably is not too much different than Front Street was 100-120 years ago; i.e. a cluster of small businesses on a very congested city street serving (mostly) the needs of a particular ethnic group that lives close by.

A Monster Mattress Colony

Regular Sad City readers are familiar with our fascination with the mattress colonies that pop up out of the concrete to add a certain flair to our city's streets.   Some readers even take it upon themselves to become amateur mattressoligists and submit their own finds.   This colony, which really can only be defined as a tower, was submitted by reader Zazzattack, and we must say we are impressed.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hartford Houses Of Worship: North End

The North End is an area of Hartford that gets a bad rap, and in many respects that reputation is deserved.  While it is a very poor area with a fair share of crime some out of town readers and Sad City residents might be surprised to learn that we do on occasion walk the streets of the Hartford neighborhood and to date we have yet to be shot but we will keep you posted if that changes.  While exploring the North End and stuffing our faces with Jamaican beef patties, we took some more pictures of Hartford houses of worship.  The above house is located on the corner of Albany and Woodland across the street from an abandoned lot we profiled last summer.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Rocket Bike Man

We really can't think of much to say about this video clip. Except....could this be the Park St Batman trying out a new crime fighting toy?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Party With HPSU Tonight

Looking for a place to party tonight in Hartford? Look no further than Mad Dawgs with our good friends over at the Hartford Party Starters Union.  These guys are always a great time and on the cutting edge of the music scene.  Who is Samo Sound Boy and what will be going down at Mad Dawgs? Well we don't know who anyone is unless they recorded an album pre-2000 (we're kind of old) so we'll just grab from the info from the HPSU blog;

We are bringing back our boy Samo Sound Boy all the way from Cali to get the dance floor rolling. we are also going to celebrate the birthdays of two of Hartford finest young ladies Molly Lantagne and Gabbie Barnes. So get the word out and come out and party like its 2009! SEE YOU THERE!!!

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Force Is Strong With Gerry Brooks

More Hakaan master photoshopping for your pleasure

Gerry Brooks is a good friend of Sad City.  Not only have we been watching him on the local news for years, but we have managed to become kind on "internet friends" through Sad City.  Gerry has been a commenter, subject of an interview, and a contestant in "Hot In Hartford" on Sad City.  We thought we knew a lot about Gerry. Wednesday night we may have learned a whole lot more.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Hartford Food Guy Reviews: Monte Alban

When my wife told me last night that she had to drive to Worcester on business this morning my first thought was that there wouldn't be any delicious pancakes when I got back from the gym. My second thought was that I should go to Monte Alban for breakfast.

Monte Alban is a tiny little restaurant on the south side of Farmington Avenue in the West End of Hartford. It has been around for at least a decade and it serves up delicious Mexican food at a very fair price.

I have eaten there dozens of times and, setting aside the seafood, I have probably had almost everything on the menu at one time or another. I read a review on one of those websites that said the mole sauce wasn't great and I tend to agree, but otherwise I've always eaten very, very well.

Are You Sure This Is Safe?

This picture was taken down at the banks of the Connecticut River when the water was very high.  Now we are sure that modern day electricians have figured out that lampposts near a river might become partially submerged and have dealt with that in a safe manner.  Still that old electricity and water thing couldn't help but creep up in the back of our minds when we saw this.   Keep the lights off please!