Having lived in the state for over a dacade, I did my best to try as many restaurants as I could. There are certainly a lot very solid food places, but my stochmach goes for ones with both flavor and creativity. Here are two places that I would feel excited when I think of where to eat locally.
This might be the best kept secret of Hartford. It situates on the 20th floor (thus its name) of the Steam Boiler Building in downtown Hartford, overlooking the city. Its deco is down to earth, nothing fancy but the service is top notch, making the haute cusine experience complete in a very relaxing way. Best time to go in my mind would be for lunch and definetly ask for window seats.
In addition to their a-la-cart menu, they offer a tasting menu which is my kind of way to eat - no need to make dicisions but just surprise me! Do call ahead if ordering the tasting menu and set 3 hours aside for the dining length. And in those 3 hours, you will fully enjoy a symphony of favor, texture and color.
This is another place that will make me smile when I know I'm going. Located in the trendy West Hartford right in the middle of the shopping neigborhood, it is a winebar with wine on the tap. Reservation is recommended but they are usally less crowded before 6 if you want to play it by ear.
The menu is based on small plates, perfect way to sample a good varieties. The risotto ball and the pork belly taco are not to be missed, simply the best I've ever had! They also got a foire Berger that has big chucks of foire gras in it and a sunny side egg on the side as the dipping sauce, talking about big flavors!
Hope you will enjoy these two places as much as I did! I'll come back with more places to try in CT.