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(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 http://www.harborsidebargrill.com/
    Stonebridge, Milford (the crowd turns very bar scene Th, Fri, Sat) http://www.stonebridgerestaurant.com/
    The Wharf, Madison http://www.madisonbeachhotel.com/
    If anyone had been to these recently and noticed an improvement in food, I'd love to know

    Honorable Mention: Lennys, Branford, http://www.lennysnow.com/
    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! http://www.themillontheriver.com/ 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.

              2. How about Outriggers and Knapps Landing, both in Stratford. Or the Beach House in Milford. Or Oyster River Tavern in West Haven.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Jen288

                  How about them?
                  I haven't been to any of them....Have you been to any of them and what's your take?

                  1. re: Scargod

                    oops...sorry. I'm a complete space cadet today...

                    Both Knapps Lading and Outriggers are on the water. Knapps Landing can get a little buggy, mid summer. I prefer Outriggers food to Knapps though.

                    It's been a few years since I've been to ORT...but I do remember the view (even though its across the street) was very pituresque.

                    1. re: Jen288

                      Thanks for that. The ones in Stratford look very interesting. I found one rec. for Outriggers on CH. Knapp's Landing has some good reviews, but nothing here.
                      Reviews are very mixed for Oyster River Tavern and one said: "It is located in a small strip mall". Does this "mall" sit on the water's edge, or is this incorrect? In my looking I found some other related threads:
                      and http://www.chowhound.com/topics/422092.

                      1. re: Scargod

                        It's been a few years but I distinctly remember it's not in a strip mall.

                        I've never been, but what about Jeffery's Steakhouse in Milford?


                2. From another CH suggestion I decided to try The Dock and Dine (Saybrook Point), in Old Saybrook. We sat outside. It was early; no later than 5:20 when we arrived. We had intended to try some kayaks at a local beach but they gave me bad info. They are doing it next week...
                  So we decided to have a leisurely dinner at Dock and Dine. Wednesday night is senior's night, not that that had any affect on us.
                  This spot does have a very good view. Lots of boats pass by. You can sit outside, in the shade (about a dozen tables), or the dining room has lots of glass to accentuate the view.
                  Food is not cheap! Expensive for not getting classy dining and first class food. This is what you would expect elsewhere at this price level. $20-28 entrees. I paid $25 for my tuna, $2.50 each for my raw oysters and $10 for a burger. Again, you pay for the view. If you are outside, they treat you like children by not allowing glass. They do not bring you clean silverware for the entree. You get paper napkins. Salad was pre-made and uninspired. My tuna was cooked properly, but, like everything else, was not seasoned and would have been very tiring had it not been for the bit of spicey sauce decorating the plate and the shitake mushrooms. The asparagus was four, thin, emaciated half-shafts. The rice was al dente and had NO seasoning.
                  The (red) potato salad (with the burger), was BORING and tasteless with mayonaise bits of green and red bell pepper and no seasoning. Three little rings of red onion lay on top. The burger was properly cooked rare on one side and fully done on the other side. This was the "angry angus" burger and had good chipotle heat and flavor with sauteed onions inside. The bun was common, boring grocery store stuff.
                  Overall, service was good. Ryan was a good waiter.
                  It was explained by Ryan that because there are a lot of retired people who eat here, much food is under-seasoned. I see this as a sorry excuse. Is it a restaurant or a retirement home cafeteria? Also, there are a lot of kids of all ages.
                  I would give this a two and a half of five stars. Enjoy the view of all the boats passing by. Bring your own salt shaker and pepper shaker! Actually, those are on the table...

                  145 College St
                  Old Saybrook, CT 06475
                  (860) 388-4665

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Scargod

                    I forgot that of the ten Raspberry Point oysters I ordered; three had shell bits in them and about half of them were torn up. Kind of like "pre-chewed". They did taste great, though.
                    If you sit outside you are faced with the dilemma of heavy traffic on the service/entrance (back into the restaurant), end and the quiter end, where you may smell people smoking or talking loudly on their cellphones and pacing around. This is a smoking area, with deck chairs, where you can sit-and smoke. At the table across from us some heavy drinking was happening. They had to help one woman out. They would leave the table to smoke.
                    If you go out the exit (through the fence) you will find a lovely park with some seating. Many people were gathered there to relax, picnic or drink and watch the boats/scenery.

                    1. re: Scargod

                      Scargood, since you ventured as far as Old Saybrook, next time you might try the Back Porch, a bit farther up the Ct. river, or Boom off Rt. 1 in the Westbrook Marina. You can see lots of boats from either one, but Back Porch has the better view.

                  2. My husband and I went to Martin's Riverside on Sunday early-evening for a drink and some appetizers. It was a beautiful night, so we sat out on the deck. It's a big deck and it's nice to look out on the water and the marina across the river. We ordered 2 appetizers to share. One was large scallops with a brown sauce and shredded zucchini. It was wonderful! The 2nd appetizer was 4 huge shrimp with a salsa made up of fresh vegetables. It was sweet at first tasting, but then had quite a kick. It was delicous. Both appetizers would have been too big to eat if we were going to have dinner, as well. If you're going for dinner, I would recommend ordering a few of the appetizers to share with your table. The bread that was put on the table was a great crusty bread. We had a thoroughly enjoyable time eating, drinking and watching the sunset! The waitress told us that they are working on exteding the season with the deck open with heaters and a covering overhead.

                    1. I have seen others suggest several restaurants around Stratford. I would suggest staying away from Harborside and Knapps Landing. Neither place has produced anything worthy of my return after two visits. I have been lacking in my long reviews, but I need to do one on Harborside, so look out for it. Knapps has mediocre food with a decent view. Dishes sound good, but are average. Price does not match quality in either place.

                      Outriggers is the best choice in Stratford. Very nice service, clean, good views. Little expensive for the food quality, but we would return for another meal.

                      Obviously, stay AWAY from Margarita Grille. I have a review up if you search for it.

                      1. I recently went to Nellie Greens, Branford. We sat on the patio - it was a beautiful and warm day (not like today!). We had wine and appetizers. They now have a cheese platter which was nice (not the most sophisticated I've ever had, but we enjoyed it). My favorite was the green grape and apple salad on greens with goat cheese. Also had the open-face mini burgers which were good. One of us had the shrimp cocktail which I didn't taste, but he loved it - shrimp were large. All in all, when I want to go someplace to sit outside and eat, I think of Nellie Green's for a pleasant and relaxing outing.