Diaspora

Haitian, Puerto Rican and soul food merge to create Prime Indulgence in Southington – Yahoo News

Prime Indulgence is a labor of love. Shawn Shelton was a construction worker who wanted to use his culinary arts degree to open a restaurant. Shelton’s partner in life and in business, Shirley Bradley, is a social worker who likes to make fancy martinis and tend bar. Their sous chef, Alex “Papo” Mesidor, also was a construction worker, but he loves making the recipes he learned from his Puerto Rican mother and Haitian father.
The three are the backbone of Prime Indulgence Restaurant & Bar, which opened in late February at 1217 Queen St. in Southington, in the former location of El Pulpo.
The eatery combines a fun bar ambience with soul food, Puerto Rican cuisine, Haitian flavors and deep-fried and cheesy dishes. Just how indulgent is the fare at Prime Indulgence? Its Death by Chocolate dessert comes in both regular and large sizes. And Bradley mixes up 16 different kinds of martinis, some of them inspired by cake or candy bars.
“I love cooking. This has always been a dream for me. I wanted to show my culinary talents,” says Shelton, a Meriden resident who graduated from the culinary program at Lincoln Tech in Hartford.
Bradley says she talked Shelton into opening his own restaurant last year when he started helping a cousin with his restaurant. One of Bradley’s cousins owns Mind Body & Soulfood and Tequila Galore, both in Meriden. Another cousin owns Pappas Seafood in East Haven.
“I said to him, hey, you could do this yourself. And I’ll do the bar,” Bradley said. “It’s a nice thing to start together, for our kids when they get older.”
The menu includes a lot of popular appetizers: fried mozzarella, calamari, wings, tenders, meatballs, fried pickles, eggplant and empanadas. Two appetizers are particularly popular: The egg rolls — buffalo chicken or steak and cheese — are deep fried, crispy and golden and come with a selection of sauces. The deep-fried potato ball, as big as a fist, is stuffed with spiced meat. Appetizers cost from $3 to $12.99.
Mesidor’s signature entrees are the roast chicken or pernil with rice, gandules and tostones; tacos with beef, chicken, fish, steak or shrimp; and fried salmon tacos, which Shelton says is his favorite dish. Entrees range from $11.99 to $20.99.
Shelton loves to make the prime pasta — a rich creamy and cheesy dish with chicken, shrimp or salmon that Shelton calls “kind of al alfredo but not an alfredo” — and chicken breast stuffed with spinach and cheese. Other dishes are fried seafood baskets, burgers and sandwiches, eggplant parmesan and lobster mac and cheese.
Bradley still works as a psychiatric social worker, helping families whose loved ones are in hospice. So it’s not surprising that she’s an easy conversationalist, making the bar a comfortable place to drink and chat.
She has come up with a fun variety of martinis, including blood orange, pineapple upside-down, lime, espresso, dirty, Manhattan, lemon drop, apple, caramel apple, Caribbean sunset, Hawaiian, sidecar, cranberry, Bailey’s vanilla, Malibu and Milky Way, a vanilla and chocolate creation with Bailey’s Irish cream.
Friday menu specials focus on Haitian cuisine, Saturday on Puerto Rican and Sunday on soul food.
“What we have is something special, something different,” Shelton says.
“We’ve only been open a month and we already have regulars,” Bradley adds. “We know what they want when they walk in the door.”
Prime Indulgence is open Monday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and Sunday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. primeindulgence1217.com.
Susan Dunne can be reached at sdunne@courant.com.
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