Fine dining in Clinton? Yes, and what a treat to find this elegant little gem via a pleasant drive through the countryside.
Copper Falls is situated in a beautiful historic building at the end of Allen Street. It has outdoor seating that looks out onto railroad tracks and a wooded area—a lovely setting for diners who enjoy eating al fresco.
We decided to dine indoors, so we entered through the bar which has a tin ceiling, hardwood floors and rustic exposed-brick walls. We continued to the dining area and were seated immediately on a quiet Tuesday evening. In fact, we had the spacious dining room all to ourselves for a bit.
Painted a muted-yellow butter color, the charming room with its carpet and paintings on the walls offered a serene feel—good for conversation and digestion.
Helene and Jennifer started with drinks, a mojito and Moscow mule ($6.50 each), respectively. The mojito was dry, fresh and rejuvenating with bits of mint swirling in the glass. The Moscow mule, in its traditional copper mug, was just as invigorating.
We could easily have ordered everything in the menu’s “starters” section.
One thing we knew for sure was that we had to have the pork belly bites ($7.50). If you’ve never had them, they are a must. Almost pure fat, the chunks of pork were crispy and juicy and were served with a brown, peanut wasabi sauce that was a little visually off-putting but added a unique zing.
The surprise hit of the evening was the cheese fritters ($6.50). Similar to cheese “poppers,” they were not greasy but instead delectably creamy with warm and tangy cheese encased in a tempura-style batter. They paired nicely with the sweet and sour essence of the accompanying honey mustard sauce.
The evening’s entree special, which Helene chose, was a beef short rib with braising sauce and fettuccine ($23). For an extra $2, she upgraded her soup to the cream of wild mushroom.
The soup came out piping hot, and while not as flavorful as she was expecting, the velvety texture complimented the chewy crostini nicely. The short rib came out on a bed of pasta mixed with bits of asparagus and carrots. Each of the vegetables was distinctly flavorful and cooked al dente, but the pasta was a bit overcooked. The beef was lightly seasoned, and the savory taste stood on its own. The meat also was fork tender.
I ordered the seared salmon florentine ($21). Spinach and tomatoes in a light wine sauce surrounded the generous piece of perfectly prepared salmon. It tasted as good as it looked. The house salad also was quite nice with a house-made blue cheese dressing.
Jennifer chose to try the soup of the day, tomato bisque. Smooth and creamy, it was served with a piece of crusty bread on top and shredded Parmesan.
She decided to go with the seared pork medallions ($17) for her entree. Three oversized medallions arrived with a rosemary and cranberry red wine jus. Baked cranberries arranged on top added just the right amount of sweetness. The pork, although tasty, could have been a tad more tender, but the overall flavor was outstanding. The Parmesan au gratin potatoes were top-notch with thin layers of potatoes laced with soft, melted cheese.
Nikki ordered the surf and turf ($29). The dish was served with two cuts of sirloin steak hidden under scallops and the biggest shrimp we have ever seen—all covered in a garlic cream sauce. Seriously, the shrimp were almost as big as lobster tails and were just as delicious.
The scallops were cooked just right, with a slightly sweet flavor and melt-in-your-mouth texture. By the time she got down to the turf, Nikki realized it had been cooked longer than the medium rare she had requested. She mentioned it to the server, who apologized and immediately went back to the kitchen to have another one prepared.
Although the rest of the table was packing up leftovers by the time the second steak arrived, it was definitely worth the delay because it was just as exquisitely prepared as the seafood.
Although we were all full, we were tempted by the dessert selections—which our server told us were all made a block away at Serendipity bakery. We decided to split a s’mores swirl chocolate cake—a dark, rich layer cake with marshmallows, chocolate and a fantastic frosting. It was the perfect way to end a great meal.
The Four Dishes—Nikki Bolka, Helene Ramsdell, Jennifer Spangler and Beth Webb—review regional restaurants for The Gazette.