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Dinner in New Canaan after the Nature Center

We (me, my husband, our 6 year old) are going to the New Canaan Nature Center for an event tomorrow and we thought it would be nice to have dinner in New Canaan afterwards, since it's not a place we get to with any frequency. We're open to almost any cuisine except steak house, Japanese or vegetarian. It needs to be very casual, since we'll be in jeans and coming from a fall festival that includes hay mazes, tree climbing and pumpkin decorating, we may not all be at our very spiffiest.

What's good?

If there are no good ideas right in New Canaan, we'll be working our way back to NY, so any nearby suggestions heading west are also welcome.

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  1. Here is the good, the bad and the ugly in NC.

    - Roger Sherman Inn - Across from NS, too stuffy
    - Savvy - Across from Fire house. Some like it, jfood can;t stand it and you can sit outside
    - Aloi - Next to firehouse. Sitting outside with a 6 year old would be fun. Chef trained by Luongo, best veal bolognese in CT. Other items also excellent. Top 3 in town
    - Viccolo's - further down street. typical red sauce local place, good family choice. nothing special
    - Ching's Table - great asian fusion, gets a little hectic and they are very quick to serve. if you order everything together you will be in/out in 40
    - Plum Tree - downstairs sushi/terriyaki. used to eat there a lot when the little jfoods were younger. some think the sushi quality down, jfood was always happy with the sushi. and it's japanese so does not hit your requirement
    Across the street -
    - Thalia - Some people think it's the best indianin FFD county. mrs jfood does not eat indian and jfood had his fill in London a few years ago and have not been
    Around the corner on Forrest:
    - Cava - Blech. have received too many raw meals to even suggest
    - Tequilla Mockingbird - 20's type bar with mexican food. not a lot of choice
    - Gates - the family spot in town. everything from burgers to chicken to wraps. mostly families on saturdays with some after movie desserters
    - Bonne Nuit - Best in town, probably not good with a child and your casualness may get a few stares. very pricey
    - Gellitisimo - Best gellato around. worth saving room.

    On Elm St.
    - Sushi 25 - betterish asian with some sushi. jfood and the little jfoods eat here a lot. not a lot of tables but service is very good.
    - Taste of Asia - OK chinese. since susho 25 opened most townies have moved to sush 25
    - Sole - Very noisy, pricey. great pizza for kids and entrees for adults. wood oven is in use for most of the roating. pastas are also very good
    - Chez Luis - Old chef from Sole moved a few doors down. Almost impossible to get a table because it is very small. food service is moving up learning curve very quickly

    So, if you are

    - looking for high end, jfood would recommend Bonne Nuit (must have reso and 99% sure it is too late for one >600); aloi (sit outside with the little one) or sole. Just can not give input into Thalia, sorry.
    - family - go with gates or viccolo
    - asian - chings table of sushi 25 (same owners) are your best bet

    3 Replies
    1. re: jfood

      I can't speak to the Thali in New Canaan, but the New Haven Thali is the best Indian food I've ever had, and I eat a fair amount of Indian food. Chef Chirnomula knows his stuff, hard. There are the usual traditional Indian dishes as well as some meat-centered fusion-esque things.

      www.thali.com

      1. re: jfood

        I've been trying to reach Thali today, but they're not picking up, even during lunch service. They're also off-line at Open Table. I wonder what's up, since it sounds great.

        1. re: jfood

          Probably too late for the OP, but I concur with jfood's recommendations of Bonne Nuit and Aloi -- outstanding food, but quite expensive, reservations are a must on Saturday nights, and it's too cold to eat outside. :^( Gates on Forest Street (between Bonne Nuit and Tequila Mockingbird, same owners) and Ching's Table on Main Street are excellent, casual, moderately priced. Ching's is my favorite pan-Asian place in town; I'll be having lunch there with a friend on Monday. Will have to try Sushi 25. Loved Thali when it first opened, but it slid downhill; much prefer Coromandel, in the Goodwives Shopping Center in Darien.

        2. Gates is a safe bet. I've been going there since before jfood was a puppy.

          1. Went to Tequila Mockingbird and how awful it was! I never had a desire to go but my friend insisted to not write it off before I even tried it claiming they had some good dished, so I gave it a shot.

            2 enchiladas with NO sides for $15.95 - come on, now? Can't you throw some damn rice and beans on the plate? I did order a side of roasted corn and pozole, which was inventive but bland. The plate was fine but not for the outrageous $$. And, I don't notice price when the food is excellent, but I do notice it when it's not.

            Couldn't even get my reposado margarita right, which was sent back 3 times. Oh, tortilla chips straight from the bag, what a surprise, and the salsa/tomato sauce predicament was going on.

            I will have to say the wait staff was excellent and attentive and they got over-tipped.

            I was so hungry after the meal that I needed to grab a pizza slice at the little pizza joint around the corner.

            I hated every aspect of Tequila Mockingbird. I should have followed my initial impression that it was not a place to ever try - now I know that particular friend has no food sense whatsoever and she is not to be trusted with food recommendations.

            15 Replies
            1. re: MasterofLightChick

              MLC

              TM is a hang-out on weekends for drinking as as you saw the food is horrible. And the staff always gets over-tipped because they give away the shop. Why people go there to eat is beyond jfood.

              And Joe's Pizza around the corner is fantastic especially when Lorenzo, the big guy, is making the pies.

              1. re: OhNoJoe

                I was there on Friday and Lorenzo was there. Joe has been retired for a long time, maybe even since they moved from Forest Street, what is the space now occupied by Bistro Bonne Nuit.

                1. re: OhNoJoe

                  Joe retired last year. Lorenzo is there 6 days per week and has a couple of guys he is training. Likewise his Mom ans Sis are also there most of the time. The pizza is the best in town, and after the "majors" probably the best in the surrounding towns as well. Even their new flat-breads are really good.

                  Give it another try.

                  1. re: jfood

                    I'd say stay away from Gates. Your best bet to avoid disappointment and typical New Canaan sticker shock is Ching's Table.

                    1. re: Sam_Spade

                      Gates is what it is, a New Canaan Diner. Jfood likes the Ballagio sandwich and little jfood ordersthe Cobb Salad wrap all the time. jfood would't order anything other than burgers and sandwiches or on Sundays, maybe an omelette.

                      Cava and Tequilla Mock are both DNR and Savvy, thankfully has closed.

                      1. re: jfood

                        Savvy closed? When was that?

                        There's a great place to grab a quick lunch right across from Starbucks - a lady who does alot of catering and is now expanding her lunch and take away items. I don't remember the name but it's yellow and has great, fresh food & freshly baked cookies to die for!

                        1. re: MasterofLightChick

                          The name of the resto is Lemongrass.

                          Jfood has never seen anyone in the place but she has a reputation for being a very good caterer.

                          Good cookies huh? Will have to check outthe baked goods. Thx.

                          Savvy closed two weekends ago. Jfood ate there five times and never finished the meal. The last was the owner calling jfood at home and asking him and mrs jfood to come in on his nickel. Even then, the food was not very good.

                          1. re: jfood

                            50 Coins from Ridgefield is moving into the space. Lengthy article in this week's Advertiser. Family-friendly, with good, not-too-expensive eats.

                              1. re: sam.spade

                                In this week's NC ADvertiser? What page, jfood could not find. TIA

                                1. re: jfood

                                  I've heard it will have a horse theme with TV's throughout the Resturaunt. The menu seems to be like Gates but cheaper and I've also heard they want to cover the patio outside.

                                  1. re: jsan356

                                    Here's a link to their web site. Looks like a combo Gates and Cherry Street

                                    http://www.fiftycoinsrestaurant.com/

                                    1. re: jfood

                                      50 Coins- excellent. Get their chicken potstickers.

                              2. re: jfood

                                Lemongrass is terrific. The owner is Ginger and she used to be a pastry chef, so the baked goods are out of this world. Give it a shot. A guy might not go in initially because it looks kind of girly from the outside, but I am telling you, give it a shot. As for her savory items, she uses the best ingredients, and makes everything fresh every day.

                                1. re: kfood

                                  jfood will go in and introduce himself and buy some stuff.