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Farm-to-Table Dining with Hometown Cooking at Rooster Company

July 6, 2016

You haven’t had chicken until you’ve been to The Rooster Company. I admit – it’s kind of hard for a restaurant to screw up chicken BUT – how many times have you dined at a place where the chicken was…good, but not fantastic? Probably quite frequently. In fact, it happened to me so many times that I just stopped ordering chicken altogether. Until, of course, I went to The Rooster Company in Newington Center. Now – THIS is chicken the way it’s supposed to be!

Founder and Chef Kenneth Ward and his wife, Jaime, have worked in restaurants for nearly 40 years combined and opened The Newington Rooster company in February of 2015. Through their amassed experiences, they answered the demand for affordable, high-end product and service and bridged the gap between fine dining and quick service with every-day food and drink. Here you are served both quality interpretations of classic dishes and daring new ventures incorporating rotisserie style chicken.

Chef Ward has an amazing philosophy when it comes to food and dining. Of course he sources locally for his meats and produce, visiting local farms as often as three times per week, but as he grew to know the local farmers he became fascinated with their farming practices and adopted his own mantra. “Using local products makes your food more important,” he said. “It’s amazing how much work and energy goes into farming that most people are completely unaware of – things like weather patterns from one year to the next that farmers must consistently track if they want their produce to have the same taste and consistency year to year.”

You can even see a list of local farms that he currently uses on a big blackboard behind the bar. Some of his favorites are Young Farms in East Granby where he sources sweet corn, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, radishes and beans. Ward also sources from Eddy Farm right in Newington and Roger’s Orchard. For meats, he sources from Broadbrook Farms Beef and Freebird Amish Country chicken and gets calamari and scallops from Rhode Island and Stonington.

He teaches this philosophy to every single person who works at Rooster Company – from the executive chef to the server to the dishwasher. “Everyone needs to know how important each plate we serve is to me,” Ward said. “Even though we might be doing 200 plates a night – every single one needs to be consistently prepared and presented. I want people to feel like they’re a part of my family when they dine at Rooster Company.” Now that’s dedication! In addition, he feels good that he’s making great food while reducing the carbon footprint by not purchasing produce that was farmed 2000 miles away and shipped here.

The passion for food is so obvious here and it truly comes through when you taste each dish on the menu. Of course the focus is seasonal and sustainable so the menu changes 3-4 times per year. But don’t worry, the rotisserie chicken is always at the core along with other crowd favorites.

We started with the Beef Carpaccio with shaved goat cheese, pickled mushrooms and walnut oil and the Spinach Salad with bleu cheese, saffron poached pear, candied pecans and lemon vinaigrette. Both were outstanding and the salad had the perfect blend of tangy and sweet with a nice crunch from the pecans.

Of course we had to try the Rotisserie Chicken which is locally sourced, organic, free range, brined, spit roasted and served with a parker house roll. To die for – seriously! There’s also a ton of local draft beers to choose from and some fantastic cocktails all made with local, fresh ingredients. The brunch menu looks amazing as well and we’ve been lucky to dine there this past Thanksgiving and Easter and I can tell you it’s a feast not to be missed!

Ward loves to give back to the community and is involved with the local school healthy choices program. He helps children learn about food by doing tastings in the cafeterias and explaining the differences between flavor profiles such as salty, sweet, bitter and sour. He told me he made mac & cheese with butternut puree that all the kids loved!
It’s clear to see that every person from farmer to chef to server loves the product produced at The Rooster Company – which ultimately results in one of the most delicious meals you’ll get to experience.

Submitted by Dr. Diane Hayden. For more information, visit www.roostercompany.net.

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