Years after that launch, and years after racking up a wall of “best of” awards and online accolades for its parkside cafe, Rusgrove is at it again, this time in a tiny square in Wolcott at cafe 2 norte in lago de cedro.
café 2 north in cedar lake
2 North Street, Wolcott
hours: breakfast and lunch: Mon.-Sat. 6 a.m.-2 p.m., Sun. 7 a.m. m.- 1 p.m. m., dinner: Wednesday to Saturday from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
accessible for wheelchairs
Opening their new restaurant last fall, Rusgrove and his wife Leeanne not only offer another off-the-radar spot for appealing, better-than-good breakfasts and lunches, but, at last, sophisticated dining service.
Reading: Cafe 2 north wolcott ct
“I always wanted to host dinners,” says Rusgrove, whose limited space and parking in Bristol made that nearly impossible. “I got the opportunity when I opened garnish in forestville,” he says, referring to a short-lived, dinner-only restaurant he tried a few years ago. “but the kids were still young and trying to run in two places, it just wasn’t our time at the time.”
Tucked away in a square on the cusp of cedar lake, cafe 2 north is an even cozier version of rusgrove’s bristol diner. neutral colors rule the decor and there’s just one TV, tuned to soothing music and seasonal scenes rather than the day’s sports. some booths and tables provide comfortable, intimate seating. The dinner menu ranges from entrées to flatbreads and entrees that allow Rusgrove and Executive Chef Matthew McFadden to go above and beyond in the kitchen.
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c2n meatloaf is not your mom’s comfort meatloaf. Wrapped in applewood-smoked bacon, Cafe 2 Norte’s version features a sweet and spicy glaze, served on a bed of garlicky red mashed potatoes and baby carrots. New Brunswick salmon is elegantly drizzled with a pomegranate and horseradish glaze, while Amber’s pork shoulder boasts a cider and port wine stew. (The pork dish is named after Amber Buczko, the daughter of Rusgrove Whites driver Walter Buczko. Amber died last fall in an accident in Coventry.)
Entrees, which range from $15 to $26, also include flank steak with an interesting and flavorful brussels sprout and applewood bacon salad. soups include the mild house-made French onion and always a daily special. The New England Harvest Salad features roasted beets, blue cheese, baby greens and apples, as well as 2 North’s signature Cafe 2 North Greens, Carrot Noodles and Hard-boiled Egg Salad, topped with Cabernet Dressing.
desserts are made on site and include the signature c2n bread pudding with dark and white chocolate, raspberry coulis and nutella.
while breakfast and lunch are served daily, dinner is only Wednesday through Saturday for now.
“We didn’t know what to expect when we opened here,” says Rusgrove. “The first few days we were open for breakfast and lunch, people came in, but not all of them flocked to our doors.”
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but there’s nothing like word of mouth and social media like facebook and instagram. within a week rusgrove had lines waiting for the place to open in the morning. And on the first night of dinner service, usually a dead Wednesday the week between Christmas and New Years, it was serving to a full house.
the new spot is catching on fast in an area where dining options are pretty limited even though it’s minutes from the bristol city line of route 69 as well as the southington areas , plainville and waterbury. rusgrove sees the opportunity.
“I’m already planning to occupy some of the space next door in a couple of months,” says the self-taught chef as he prepares to expand his 55-seat restaurant to around 85 seats. “I want to have a bigger waiting area for people and add more booths, as well as a bigger service counter,” he explains. And that’s not all. plans for spring include an outdoor patio area, another amenity missing from most area restaurants.
established in its own way when it comes to its restaurants, rusgrove’s business model is modern casual dining with a fine-dining twist.
“We’re not a 30-page menu kind of place,” says Rusgrove. “I see this place as the place where I can indulge my culinary curiosity, try things that I think have merit, do something new, take risks,” she says. “and I want my guests to come and enjoy that tasty ride.”
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