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Sally's Fish Camp in Hartford

Brought to you by the owners of Black-Eyed Sally's...

Anyone been here yet?

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  1. This place used to be pastisse - no? What the heck did they do here. They had a great place and they decide to throw a great little restaurant out the window and start with a new concept? Like Todd English wanting to wake up as Julia Child. Bizarre. I went to Sally's last week out of curiousity. I left confused. Aside from Jim Calhoun's chair breaking during dinner, not much excitement.

    1. I can understand the confusion. Especially after previewing the menu. The name and the reputation of the original Sally's made me think this was going to be a "fun" fish restaurant, similar to Jasper's Crab Shack at Mohegan. But the menu and drink list on http://www.sallysfishcamp.com/ revealed nothing fun at all - actually the menu looks rather generic and boring. New england clam chowder. Lobster bisque. Sounds like they forgot the intrigue of originality. Even the drink menu - Up All Night Espresso martini. Bellini. Negroni..zzz. Sounds like they invested a considerable amount in revamping the beautiful interior of Pastis, but they did not put energy into the customer's *entire* experience. Too bad.

      1. Elizabeth is correct; it's as boring as it can be. The fish dishes are uninspired, bland and stupid. Pastis was so wonderful-Now, we are 50 mies away from any kind of French Food-Uless you know something I don't-and this useless fish joint is no compensation. If you want a world-class seafood experience, go to Feng on Asylum St.

        2 Replies
        1. re: rdesmond

          Went last week and won't return. I don't think they quite know what they want to be....a hip, fun place or a serious restaurant. Like most places that try to be two things at once, they fail at both. The food was very bland. the service was laughable. The wine list was poor and the wine glasses were an embarrasment, which is really odd, because Pastisse actually had very good wine service with Riedel stems. What did the owner do? Sell them on ebay? I doubt that this concept can last 6 months.

          1. re: rdesmond

            Caveys in Manchester..probably the best French food within 100 miles of hartford.

          2. I went 2 weeks ago wish I had read these reviews first.
            Well, here's my take.
            Decore is gaudy not hip its just The old decore recycled.
            Bathrooms were dirty with no paper towels in the mens room. **health code violation**

            My Clam chowder was cold no more than 110*f **health code violation** and had what seems to be tough lil ole bits of canned clams, Campbels Canned Chowder is better. Why not clam chowder made with fresh Clams? All though the pastery puff crutons are a novel idea.
            I love fried Whole belly clams, but all they offer is clam strips, yuck!!
            My wife had the fried Scallops they tasted very bitter and were tough and small like pencil erasers, Nasty !!

            I had the pan roasted lobster it was very over cooked, it was a $10.00 lobster a few asperagus and a dolop of mashed potatos in the cavity all for $32.00 wow thanks fore the Privelage to let me be ripped off.
            We had no desert we decided to cut our losses and cut and run. with what little cash we had left. Fool me once shame on you! Fool me twice shame on me!

            1. I, too, wish I had looked at this site before going last night. What an awful experience. Will never go back. The waitress was very busy pushing drinks (overpriced) and appetizers (overpriced). The salads were also expensive and nondescript. We had said we would share them, but they neither plated them for us or brought us plates so we could plate them ourselves. Dinners were uninspired and meager portions. I had asked for a vegetable substitute for mashed potatoes and was informed "we don't substitute." (I could have paid $5 or $6 for some asparagus or spinach!) My husband had to dig to find the fish in his bouillabaisse; dish called scallop and shrimp with risotto was really 4 scallops with risotto with some chopped shrimp. My salmon was actually okay, a bit overcooked and no better than what I make at home! During our meal a large party of 14 women was seated next to us, clearly having a wonderful, raucous birthday celebration. What they needed was a private room. We spoke to the manager and he was afraid he'd ruin their time, but offered to move us. We decided to move "elsewhere" for dessert. Bye bye.

              1. I was recently in Hartford for a business meeting. As a group we wanted to go to a seafood restaurant, and someone suggested Sally's. What we found differs from the three reviews prior. Perhaps it has something to do with time in business. Regardless of that, we found the food and atmosphere were wonderful. We had drinks before dinner and the atmosphere at the bar, which borders the street, was energetic and the service was great! They had an ample bar that satisfied all of our varied tastes. The food at dinner was delicious. In all there were ten of us and every person said their dishes tasted great. We especially liked the clam chowder and the lobster bisque, as well as the halibut and scallops. They received rave reviews from the people who enjoyed them. The service was timely and the waitress understood the nuances of the menu and could speak intelligently about all the dishes we had questions on. I look forward to enjoying the food and atmosphere at Sally's every time I go to Hartford and would highly recommend it.

                1. I'm in CT for the week on business. It's been a while since I've been up here. The last time I was in Hartford Pastis had closed, but nothing had replaced it year. I got into Union Station last night and was on my way to dinner at Trumbull Kitchen when I stumbled across Sally's Fish Camp. With fond memories of Mary's Fish Camp and it's sister spot Brooklyn Fish Camp in Park Slope, I decided to cancel my res at TK and give it a try.

                  The decor is thankfully not buried in fishing schlock. The requisite oversized fishing lures and hanging fishing poles are as tastefully placed as possible in the modern dining room. The fish shack look can be fun, the first 10 times you see it, but it gets old after a while.

                  I started out by slurping down 3 plump, meaty oysters. I immediately wanted more, but decided to hold off after the lobster roll that was to be my main. The centerpiece of the oyster plate was a horseradish and cocktail sauce sorbet. It's an interesting idea, but I was glad that some old fashioned cocktail sauce with horseradish was on the side as well.

                  Sadly the lobster roll was not worth the wait. My presumption that being in New England when shellfish is in season guaranteed a great lobster roll turned out to be false.

                  To begin with, the roll itself was far too small to hold anything substantial, even if they had packed it to overflowing in the traditional way, which they didn't.

                  Also breaking with tradition, there was no mayonaise involved. Instead there was butter, lightly coating the lobster, as well as my fingers. To be honest, I never thought the words 'too much butter' would make any sense, but here it was. And really, you've got to have mayo. Butter too, but just a bit on the inside of the roll, not dripping from every bite.

                  Finally, the lobster didn't deserve the name. It lacked that lobster flavor that typically stands out even under a dollop of mayo.

                  To recover from my disappointment, I drowned my sorrows in the liquor of another set of oysters. This time I went straight for the real cocktail sauce.

                  I'd go back for beer and oysters, but I wouldn't touch their lobster rolls again.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ultraclay

                    During the Big East Women's Tournament in March, I had occasion to visit Sally's on four consecutive evenings (the management wisely opened early to catch the basketball fans). I had magnificent meals. The whole belly clams, cooked perfectly, were a mouth watering treat. The trout and sea bass wrer wonderful. And then there was the bouillabaisse - it was beyond memorable. Since the tournament, my spouse and I have have frequented Sally's on several occasions (most recently last Saturday) and have been consistently impressed with the quality of the food and the efficient and friendly service. Sally's is a great find!

                  2. I'm told the owners closed Pastis because business was at best, flat and rents are going way up in Hartford. So, they felt it was time for a change. I've eaten there several times and it's far closer to the latest reviews than the earlier ones...

                    1. Just ate there Saturday night (first time). I thought it was above average. The appetizers and drinks were great (we had several, including the crab and artichoke dip). The meals were 50/50. The fried platter was huge and enjoyable, the lobster roll boring and the stuffed lobster average. The desserts, including their apple crisp, were amazing. Some things were good / some not exciting, but overall pleasant. My big problem was that they were out of every special for the evening (at 7:00PM) and the cheesecake dessert. The staff and management were very friendly. We'd go back.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: rrdrums

                        Went there last night before the theater. I was aware of the mixed reviews. Good news first -- we had a great waiter who understood immediately that we were under some time constraints, and he got us out in time for the show and was very nice about it. I was also happy to see vinho verde on the wine list, and my friend had a nice petite syrah, although it took a while to get our drinks, apparently the bartender was a bit overwhelmed.

                        But for us, the bad outweighed the good. "Wedge" salad was huge and not very flavorful. Whole-belly fried clams were an affordable MP at $21, but were small and had lost that whole-belly texture, they were more like mediocre clam strips. Fries were forgettable, I didn't even bother to eat them. My friend's sea bass wasn't well-seared on the outside and may have been slightly underdone on the inside, and the spinach and mashed potatoes weren't impressive. Side note as I don't normally care about decor, but it is rather odd -- half whimsical and half generic upscale restaurant.

                        Basically, from what I experienced it misses the mark in just about every area except for a good waiter and decent wine list by the glass. It's unfortunate, I wanted to like this place as I am still searching for decent seafood in western CT/MA, but I don't think I'll be back and I won't be recommending it to anyone else.

                        1. re: hollerhither

                          Sally's owner changed Pastis because of the "changing demographics". We have too many of these pseudo chic joints that are run by people who are from the TGI McFunster school of food management. The price is NOT worth the food...despite the attempt to create a hip place with decor. Food always wins..and Sallys Camp loses.

                          1. re: veronaraven

                            I was invited out last night to Sally's with some friends. Exhibit A why this place really needs to get their act in gear:

                            Got the fish-n-chips. Found out that the fish used was tilapia. In New England...fish and chips is Haddock, Pollock, or Cod. Its quite obvious the owner is trying to run a fish joint on the cheap. I can go to Tinkers for 6.95 and get haddock fish-n-chips (with more fries and slaw). Had 4 blue points as well...one of which had the "smell". This place has a death knell unless they get their sh*t together.

                      2. While I miss the old Pastis that was at this site, I do like Sally's. (Caveat, I do know the owners and managers). Pastis was wonderful, but it became confused. One of the two principals left the partnership and it sort of got dumbed down after that. Running a restaurant in Hartford is a tough business and the perceptions are everything whether they are true or not. Pastis was a french bistro.. or at least a valiant attempt at recreating one. A problem with French in CT is most are expensive (Cavey's in Manchester, Du Villages in Chester and Jean-Louis in Greenwhich) and therefore the perception continues. (i.e french=expensive , which Pastis was not, and the fact that most Americans can't read a french wine menu..... I want a Cabernet Sauvignon (Oh, you mean a Bordeaux (ok its got some merlot and cabernet franc in it as well) was a constant struggle for them. Sally's actually follows in this tradition well. It is a slightly upscale simple fish restaurant. As Pastis was simple french cooking (BTW, the wonderful hanger steak from Pastis survives on the menu at Sally's) , Sallys is simple fish prepared well.

                        I like the decor in Sally's. It is not over fishy.. and the whimsical painting over the bar brings a smile to my face every time I see it. The followup on the hallway to the lavaratories is a nice "Conclusion" . That being said, the raw bar is excellent. What this restaurant does is excel at the simple stuff. Fried seafood is excellent. The fish is fresh and the portions are reasonable (i.e. wont' feed a small army). I like the salads, and the lobster roll. The Connecticut lobster roll is bun, lobster and butter. If you want the Mayo, Maine is your destination., No, it is not a 1 1/4 lb lobster packed in a roll... but is yummy! If your want Cheesecake Factory portions, then you know where to head. If you want to eat three or four course meal, then come here. I have eaten my way around half the menu.

                        That being said, one meal didn't go so well. It was over a year ago. Four of us went to dinner. One ordered the special, three off the menu. One of us (me) ordered the whole fish of the night. I think that held up the meal. It took forever between the appetizers/salads and the main course. What is more striking, was the size difference between the entree's . My fish was huge, could have fed two (or maybe more). The special of the night, while elegant and excellent was small and out of proportion to my entre and certainly some of the others. This is not the only restaurant where the portion size perception is an issue.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: jimn01

                          I just read online that Sallys Fish Camp closed recently. Anyone know if that is true? Jay

                          1. re: JayCT

                            Not that I've heard of. Seems to still be open. There are always rumours of their demise. The owner / management are really great people. It's a shame it hasn't taken off. As much as people are inconsistent with their views on this place, I've had a couple of enjoyable meals. I DO miss the old Capitol Fish House from 10 years ago.

                            1. re: rrdrums

                              I just called over there and got their answering machine. That seems a bit odd in the middle of the day but it did not say that the restaurant had closed so I am not sure if it did or did not. Jay

                          1. re: Td61


                            I also just confirmed. It has been sold.