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anniversary dinner in New Haven

j
justme123 Oct 13, 2008 09:40 AM

Hi all-
I have been viewing the board for quite some time, and value your culinary advice (sound of kissing up).

I will be celebrating my wedding anniversary (21 yrs)next weekend, and would like your opinions regarding the best restaurant to enjoy. The ones I am listing are ones we have never been to, and so any advice is appreciated. We would most likely go out on Friday night for dinner (the 'actual' anniversary) and then were considering spreading the celebration out over saturday for lunch or dinner as well, although another thought was to go to the winery in Wallingford, and pack some gourmet munchies...so any suggestions about shopping for that is appreciated as well. We enjoy good food of almost any kind ..and a great wine list is essential for dinner. I have it narrowed down to a few places....If you had to pick one place out of the following, where would you suggest? (Please, don't mention Union League or Bespoke/Sabor--I am SO NOT a fan of either place--sacrilage on this board, I know......)

Dinner
L'Orico
Barcelona
Leon's
Casseus
Basta
Stillwater

Lunch
Prime 16
Casseus (might they do pre-packaged picnics?)
Landsdowne
Christopher Martins

  1. Scargod Oct 16, 2008 02:30 PM

    Los Mariachis is a great Mexican restaurant in Wallingford...

    5 Replies
    1. re: Scargod
      s
      spork5150 Oct 16, 2008 04:23 PM

      Did anyone rec Ibiza yet? Great food, wines, etc.

      1. re: spork5150
        Scargod Oct 17, 2008 05:08 AM

        May be a moot point by now (?), but OP "justme123" provided a "narrowed down" list and I thought the rules were that we had to work within it (especially since some good restaurants were verbotten).
        I suggested the mexican place in Wallingford since OP mentioned going there and having lunch (OP mentioned a picnic).
        BTW, it's been a while since I've been to Ibiza, but I recall that I felt like it was too expensive for what we got (wine included); not that it wasn't good...

        1. re: Scargod
          s
          spork5150 Oct 18, 2008 11:55 AM

          You were so right. Thank you. And what a coincidence. I dislike one of your restaurants and you dislike one of mine. Hmmm what a familiar theme.

          1. re: spork5150
            Scargod Oct 18, 2008 03:37 PM

            I wasn't keeping score or I've forgotten. Curious which two those were? Do you know wines pretty well? I usually stay below $50. Irks me to pay more when I know I can get a killer one for $30-40 at Amity, Wine Thief or Mt. Carmel.

            I certainly intend to go back to Ibiza but it's not at the top of my list. Last time I tried to go there (a few months back), they were closed. I think not open on the weekend?

            1. re: Scargod
              s
              spork5150 Oct 18, 2008 04:45 PM

              Big kudos to Bob Fein for what he does at Mt Carmel. Been in business for a long time and has built quite a rep for French wines. Now how come you can mention those 3 wine shops and as soon as I mention my favorite shop, CH kicks me off??
              Do I know wines pretty well....I know what I like. I can pick out a good one for my friends when they call and ask me.
              Currently, I am drinking a great Australian red from Fetish Winery...Playmates 2005 GSM and the 2005 Bogle Phantom. If not those then the 2006 Clos de las Siete from Argentina. All great reds under $20.
              $30 to 40....I'm going for the Ste Michelle Ethos Cab or Numanthia from the Toro region of Spain. If I wan to overindulge...then I'm going with the Whitehall Lane 2004 Silver Anniversary Cab or Clos Apalta. I don't do a lot of French to be honest with you, nothing personal. If I do the it's right bank Boprdeaux...easy straight forward.
              What do you like? what are you drinking? etc....Be happy to lend a hand and guide you.

    2. EastRocker Oct 13, 2008 10:42 AM

      I'd go with Caseus, it has a small cozy feel that would be great for an anniversary. L'Orcio would be my second choice. Barcelona has a good wine selection, and the food is decent, but I sometimes feel like they are trying too hard to be trendy/hip. Stillwater is good, and is a great place to sit outside in the summer, but they are not quite in the same league as the others. Basta and Leon's don't make my list at all.

      2 Replies
      1. re: EastRocker
        Scargod Oct 13, 2008 10:55 AM

        ER, it's not Stillwater and hasn't been for over four months. SO doesn't like it a s much since the changeover but I, personally, have not been since they expanded.
        Caseus is small and almost claustrophobic downstairs. The front area is very public and busy. Wouldn't be my choice. Is there an upstairs?

        1. re: Scargod
          EastRocker Oct 13, 2008 11:18 AM

          the brain's not firing on all cylinders today, I have been to martin's several times since the change too. Your claustrophobic is my cozy and intimate. But since this is a 21st anniversary it sounds like justme is more in your age bracket, so maybe they better listen to you! :) L'Orcio is pretty fool proof.

      2. Scargod Oct 13, 2008 10:36 AM

        For me... it would help me in making suggestions if I knew what it is you don't like about our top two places in town? In turn, I think l'Orcio would be good. What is it that puts it at the top of the list and Barcelona second?

        About others, for special meals: I like Christopher Martin's, and Stillwater is now Martin's Riverside (and remodelled). I don't think they're good enough for a special dinner, but fine for lunch. The last, if you want to sit outside for lunch I would certainly consider. Same for Leon's for outside dining. I think Leon's has gotten better. If you go to Leon's and order wine, get a bottle. I don't trust the quality of their wines by the glass.
        Caseus would be OK for lunch, but it's not that exciting (or romantic). I'll bet they would put together a great picnic lunch for you! (203) 624-3373

        I can't comment too much on the others, but again, why are some on and some off your list? For a handful of very knowledgeable Chowhounders in the area, it would help us to give you the best advice if you could elaborate a little more.

        EDIT: I love controversy! I think it's your loss if you don't go back to Union League! I'm serious! On occasion, I could see the waitstaff as acting bored with you. I think that has happened to me once in a dozen visits. I can understand it being a buzz-kill but I wouldn't let it stop me from going again, especially with the credentials ULC and Bespoke have.

        If you can have a meal outside at L'Orcio, I encourage you to do it. See my reviews and pictures. You may feel your in Italy.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Scargod
          j
          justme123 Oct 13, 2008 11:02 AM

          Oh, I knew discounting those two places would be controversial!!!

          We ate at Union League several years ago--and--I hate to say it, just were not impressed. The food was meh and we got the distinct feeling that they just did not want our business (we were in our mid-thirties at the time). We are both professionals, so it was not as if we were there in sweats or did not 'behave' ourselves. Although we did get mooned there--but that is another story (probably a hazing going on and involved a young lady jumping on one of the tables that faces chapel st and, um...you know). Trust me, it was the best part of the experience.

          As far as Bespoke/Sabor goes--I am probably one of the few people who also did not like Roomba. I found Roomba way overrated, and the staff and owners were arrogant to the point of rudeness. I will not give my business to them again--including at the carts!

          We do eat out frequently,and at high-end places. I LOVE Central Steak, Foster's, Nini's Bistro, Skappo, Zinc, etc. the list above was just places that we had been meaning to try, and in no particular order.

          Thanks for the advice!

          1. re: justme123
            d
            danieljdwyer Oct 13, 2008 12:24 PM

            I've got one foot in the same boat as you on Union League and Bespoke.
            With Union League, I've eaten there only once and actually thought the meal and service were fantastic. At the same time, I felt as if I'd eaten the exact same meal more than once before. That's not a bad thing, but for a special occasion, I would want something that didn't leave me with that feeling. For anything but a special occasion, I can't justify spending that kind of money.
            I never liked Roomba either. The burrito cart drives me crazy, because, seriously, how do you screw up a burrito that badly? I was underwhelmed when I tried Bespoke the first time. Since then, I've had several meals there that I was impressed by. All were for office functions, however, so my expectations were probably a bit different. So, I'm undecided on how I feel about Bespoke until I go there again on my own dime.
            As to the other places you named, here are my thoughts:
            L'Orcio is a fantastic choice. My only problem with it is that they have a tempting array of heavy dishes. The last thing I would want on my anniversary is to be put to sleep by the meal sitting in my stomach.
            Caseus is great, but there is a sort of an overexcitement over bistro food in the US. The French bistro is intended to essentially be the opposite of fancy. Here, that often gets lost. Caseus seems not to totally understand the bistro as humble food concept. It's still delicious, however, and I love humble food, even for special occasions.
            I enjoy Barcelona quite a bit. Initially, like Caseus, they seemed not to totally grasp the humble nature of their food. They do seem to get now that tapas are not intended to be fancy. They still do not seem to entirely understand, however, that tapas are to be served slowly. If you go, make sure to order one dish at a time, or they might bring them all at once. And yes, they do try too hard to be hip.
            Leon's is thoroughly mediocre.
            Though I like some of the food Claire's serves, I think Basta is terrible.
            This is absolutely judging a book by its cover, but, from walking by Lansdowne when it's busy, unless you and your spouse spend all your spare time perfecting your deltoids and spray on tans, you don't want to go there.

            1. re: danieljdwyer
              j
              justme123 Oct 13, 2008 12:39 PM

              and what makes you think I am NOT a gym bunny

              oh, perhaps the list of restaurants and the fact that I have been married 21 years?!

              Scargod- we were in Italy for our 20th, so perhaps L'Orico will make us feel 'young' again!

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