It’s “smokin” in West Hartford. The Cook and The Bear, a collaboration between Jamie McDonald of Bear’s Smokehouse fame and Millwright’s Tyler Anderson, opened in the Blue Back Square area of West Hartford approximately three months ago. Based on the crowd the night we were invited to sample the menu, it appears to be a big hit.
The Cook and The Bear combines the specialty of Anderson and McDonald, with Anderson providing the New England flavors that are married with McDonald’s Kansas City style smoked meat.
The kitchen is headed by Executive Chef Ed Jones III, whereas general manager duties are preformed by partner A. J. Aurrichio. The menu will change to capture the offerings provided by the different seasons. The menu also offers several gluten-free and vegetarian items.
One wall surrounding the kitchen of the 90-seat restaurant is stacked with firewood and artwork from chalkboard artist, Jamie LaDucer – owner of Chalk Art New England, is featured on the walls. The rustic decor matches perfectly with the inviting aroma of barbecue.
Once seated, you will be presented with a checklist menu where you will select from an array of “Bites”, “Salads”, “From the Smoker”, “Sandwiches”, “Sides”, “Wood Grilled”, and “A Little Something Sweet”. By the way, the Wood Grilled items are only available after 5:00 pm.
The Cook and The Bear offers nine rotating draft beers and five bottle / can beers. Nine wines that pair well with the smoky flavors of the menu offerings are available as well as a well-crafted selection of cocktails. Aaron Stepka leads the bar side, creating a cocktail list that ranges from “vegetal”, “citrusy”, “bubbly”, and “boozy”.
The Cook and the Bear West Hartford is open Monday through Thursday from noon to midnight with the kitchen open until 10:00 pm, Friday and Saturday from noon to midnight with the kitchen closing at 11:00 pm, and Sunday from noon to 10:00 pm with the kitchen closing at 9:00 pm. A brunch menu is available on Sunday from noon to 3:00 pm. Happy Hour is Monday through Wednesday from 4:00 to 6:00 pm and Thursday from 4:00 to 6:00 pm and 10:00 pm to midnight.
The Cook and The Bear is located at 50 Memorial Road in west Hartford, CT.
They seat on a first arrived basis. However, they do accept call aheads that are added to the wait list.
In the coming months, look for our take, as we visit McDonald’s other restaurants his has opened in Hartford: The Blind Pig Pizza Company and Chango Rosa Tacos.