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May 3, 2008 07:31 AM

(good) Restaurants with a view near New Haven, CT

I am curious too, so I am going to promote EastRocker's question to a new thread.

Has anyone been to Leon's, Sage, Martin's Riverside, Stone House, etc. lately? Good food... with a view? What others should be on our short list? What's within driving distance of New Haven, on the CT shoreline (or just a great water view/openness feel) that has both great food and a great view? Hopefully, outdoor seating.

I have not been to Sage, so I cannot comment on it. I have commented several times about Stillwater, AKA Martin's Riverside. We like it and our visits are well exceeding a dozen times. I think they have good food and Leon's can do some things well on occasion. We like the location and outdoor seating. Stillwater is smaller, but the couple that own it are hands-on and he is the head chef. They have canoes to use on the river, a bocce court, outside bar and occasionally live music.
We were not impressed at all with the food or service at The Stone House in Guilford and the view can be very marginal or non-existent, when in the restaurant.
We went as far as The River Cat Grill, in Royaton, thinking it was on the river. It has good food but is not ON the river (you can't even see it), and outdoor seating is minimal, and next to a fairly main drag.

River, lake, seashore setting...what have you got? Where are bugs a problem if you sit outside? You can mention seafood shacks that are only open in season but I am mostly interested in table service dining.

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  1. Sometimes it seem like places with a great view feel like they don't have to serve great food. I would love to find one with the best of both worlds.

    Here are some of my near misses, good views with OK food:
    Harborside, Stratford
    Stonebridge, Milford (the crowd turns very bar scene Th, Fri, Sat)
    The Wharf, Madison
    If anyone had been to these recently and noticed an improvement in food, I'd love to know

    Honorable Mention: Lennys, Branford,
    While the view on the back deck is a salt marsh, not open water, it is pleasant. The food at Lenny's is not innovative, but is well prepared basic New England Seafood. The Lenny's Famous Shore Dinner (cup of chowder - (2) Cherrystones, sweet corn - lobster - steamers, coffee - watermelon) usually comes in at around $30, and is my meal of choice when I am craving seafood.

    1. I have always had a great meal with a view at Aqua in Clinton Harbor Marina.
      The Angel Hair Aglia Olio is not to be missed.

      2 Replies
      1. re: chefstu

        I've heard good things in passing about Aqua, but few specifics. What are some of your other favorites there?

        1. re: kattyeyes

          I cannot be more emphatic in stating that I would not eat at Aqua if I was starving. I have never had such bad service in my entire life. I took someone there on a first date, Made reservations two weeks in advance, told them the reason ande asked for a water view table.

          When we arrived we were given a good table, but then asked to move to one that was 3 rows back from the window. Apparently they have an aversion to same sex couples there. We stayed as it was Saturday night and too late to go elsewhere before the movies. We eash ordered a starter, a salad, we split a fish course and each had an entree, plus dessert, drinks before and after. They served the entire meal in less than an hour, bringing each course exactly 5 minutes after the preceding one. At one point we had three plates stacked up, waiting to be eaten.

          Before we had finished with the entrees the waitress brought us our bill and asked if she could take care of it for us now! When I suggested we might want an after dinner drink she asked for our drink order then and there.

          I was insulted and embarrassed in front of my date. I asked to speak to the manager and was told he was too busy to come to the table.

          I left no tip, and told the waitress why, I won't comment on the food as it tasted like sawdust in my mouth after the horrible and offensive service.

          I called the restaurant during the week to speak to the manager, He listened to me for about one minute, put me on hold and never came back to the line.

          This was a couple of years ago, Things may have changed for the better, but I will not give the place another chance.

          Aqua Restaurant
          34 Riverside Drive, Clinton, CT 06413

      2. I second Aqua. Additionally, Boom in Westbrook is nice. Saybrook Point Inn is lovely as well.

        6 Replies
        1. re: madisoneats

          Hi! I realize this thread is just over a year old now, but I'd like to post here as we were all set to eat at Boom this past Sunday afternoon, then aborted that mission quickly. The menu on their site looked promising and I'd read people on this board saying positive things about it, so as it was a beautiful day, I thought it would be fun to try a new place where we could sit outside.

          Here's their posted menu. Looks inventive and interesting, doesn't it?

          Four dishes in particular caught my eye:

          - tuna tartare (OK, so they spelled it "tartar"--I knew what they meant, though!
          )- BBQ duck quesadilla
          - BOAT Sandwich (bacon, olive tapanade, arugula, and tomato) with fries
          - Local Scallop Taco, lightly battered scallops with avocado red onion tartar sauce, lettuce, tomato and housecut fries 10.50

          We arrived shortly after 1:30 on Sunday and it was 4th of July weekend--you'd think the place would be mobbed. Well, the parking lot was mobbed--it must have been for the marina. The entire dining room was EMPTY. We went out to the porch and I had a gut feeling something was off. After taking a look at the menu, NONE of the items above were on it. I politely told the waiter we were going to take a pass--that we had seen some items of interest on their menu when looking at home, but didn't see any of them on the printed menus we were holding. The young man asked us what dishes we were interested in. I named them. He said, no, that they didn't have them. I sure was glad we left.

          So, local shoreline folks, did this place change hands since last year? I can't think of any other reason they'd post a menu that doesn't remotely match what they actually serve.

          1. re: kattyeyes

            To be clear, you went to the Westbrook location, not the Old Lyme location. Their website states: BOOM WESTBROOK HAS RE-OPENED FOR THE 2009 SEASON !!
            Not sure why they were closed. Website mentions the menu as a "sample", but it should not be that far off.
            Is the Old Lyme location any good? They had a Boom in Stonington but that has new owners and is called "Dogwatch".

            1. re: Scargod

              Sorry, yes, I just pulled that dingaling "can't you read my mind" trick--we did go to Westbrook.

              I would be interested to hear if Old Lyme is any good. We were pretty disappointed in what we saw in Westbrook and would need a really compelling case to consider their other location.

              I did notice the "sample" wording re the menu, but you'd think even a "sample" would be somewhat representative of the offerings, rather than some sort of "dream" offerings, while actual food served is just the same ol', same ol'. Weird.

              1. re: kattyeyes

                We discovered Boom in Westbrook 2 years ago. The first time we went it was on a very busy Friday night and we loved sitting outside and the food was wonderful. We went back another time that year and had an equally good experience. Last summer, we went and it wasn't that great. Our food was just okay and my teenage niece order the filet with out the mushroom sauce (she doesn't like mushrooms) and they gave her just a cut up piece of over cooked filet on a plate. Great view but we would only go back for drinks and apps....maybe.

                1. re: acervoni

                  Do you think Boom changed hands since 2 years ago? Knowing you are a fellow Sharpe Hill lover, I trust your judgment. It almost seemed as though different people took over, printed new menus and completely disregarded the more inventive options advertised on their website. I think "maybe" is the right line of thinking (more like "maybe not"). :)

                  1. re: kattyeyes

                    I'm not sure about changing hands. Since it was during the week and not a weekend, the chef wasn't working and his/her substitute just didn't care.

                    We just tried to get reserv. for Sharpe Hill this weekend. They had a 12 and 12:30 available when we called on Sunday but we waited too long to book it. I guess we will have to wait a little longer!

        2. EastRocker, I agree with you! It does seem that the restaurants with the best views have food that are not on par with the views. I have dined at both Sage along the water in New Haven and Harborside Grill at the foot of the Devon Bridge in Stratford.

          Although Sage is better than Harborside, this is not saying much. The food is average at both. Sage has a wannabe upscale interior, but the food is not on par with the decor. I would however suggest that drinks and dessert there with a table overlooking the sound woud be acceptable.

          As far as Harborside is concerend, I would consider the food to be bar food. Nothing special.

          As far as the Stonebridge in Milford is concerned, I would not waste good money on the food there. I have eaten there a few times and have never had a great meal. I would say it is below average. However, it seems to be good for a drink. So if you are there drinking, kill a few taste buds then order something off the menu if you get hungry! :-)

          4 Replies
          1. re: all_about_food

            Thanks to all for the good input.
            AAF, and 'Rocker: I see Stonebridge is on a minor river. Does it have an ambiance that feels like you are in a relaxing place (perhaps removed from the noise and activity of The City), or is it just another shallow, pretty face?
            Since I haven't been there (and can't do them all), I looked at the pics on their site and at satellite images. From your descriptions I would not go there for the food. Is the setting compelling? I do like "marina feel" but don't want more noise than the clinking of the rigging.

            I just thought of our visit to Mill on the River (Windsor, near Hartford); that is a very nice place! Perhaps a little too far for just a meal but definitely worth it if you are going that way.

            Any thoughts of similar places? Perhaps there are not. It seems hard to sniff these out. I used to live on Candlewood Lake, yet can't think of anything there or up the Connecticut River. You would think with Connecticut being rich in lakes and rivers that there would be many places, even if they are destination spots or at a B&B. SInce I have only been here five - going on six years, I still haven't seen a lot of CT.

              1. re: EastRocker

                Yea, great; I'm for expanding it out to infinity, so to speak....
                I think I've heard of this lake. Isn't it in N-W CT?

                1. re: Scargod

                  Yes, just north of New Milford on 202. Nice ride on a sunny summer day.

          2. I was to Leon's on a Saturday night a few weeks ago and it was great! Food was as I had remembered with a huge menu and the service was the best I have had in a long time. I think they have really gotten their rhythm down. My family is going back on Sunday for Mother's Day brunch. Has anyone been to Quattro's in Guilford lately??
            thinking of going for my anniversary tomorrow.

            3 Replies
            1. re: ace39

              Since I have not been in the area that long, how does the reincarnation of Leon's stack up contrasted with Tre Scalini, Scoozi or Luce in Mt. Carmel? I would not compare it against Tony and Lucille's (I don't think they're that good). The others I have enjoyed many times (each).

              1. re: ace39

                Went back to Leon's after a long hiatus. Had lunch outside. We really enjoy the view and atmosphere (outside).
                The service was quite good this time. We can't say so much for the food.
                The bread was from the day before; meaning somewhat stale. The Pinot Grigio, the only one they offer by the glass, is very mediocre.
                One entree was the Chicken Zingara. While the chicken was good, meaning not tough or overcoooked, the sausage was total crap. It was tough, grainy (or coarse), and almost flavorless. There was a brown gravy, which tasted like the sausage, that was bland, unimaginative and rather distastefull. This dish was like something you would get in a Texas diner. Not Italian tasting at all and certainly no "spicy gypsy" (and did I mention the sausage sucked?).
                The other entree was better. Scrod Calabreze. The more I ate, the better I liked it. Nice flavors in the juices. There were pickled green roma tomatoes and pickled peppers in the dish. Why so much pickled, vinegary stuff in one fish dish I don't understand. Some of the peppers tasted slightly bitter. As I said, it grew on me and I ate almost all of it. The linguine pasta was good.
                I can't say we won't return but we feel like it is average and hit-or-miss dining.
                On the way out we noticed that they still have the old, stained dark carpet in the circular bar area from the Scupper days. That, in contrast to the fancy, new desk at the entrance. If you go there avert your eyes form looking behind the bar.

                1. re: Scargod

                  Here are photos from our lunch. It was overcast... The bread is usually good, but this day it was not fresh. The big green things on the fish plate are the pickled green tomatoes.