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Mystic dinner- Anthony J's vs Water St vs Bravo Bravo

Hi, NE chowhounders-
Looking for a recommendation for dinner next Saturday in Mystic, CT. I spent a semester studying at the Seaport in 1996, but never really had enough money to eat anywhere good and wasn't old enough to be served alcohol. I'm going to be back for a visit with my husband and meeting my parents and teenage brother. We need some input on a nice restaurant for a party of 5. We're all adventurous eaters, but coming from Boston and NYC I don't think we're interested in Asian food. We love seafood, fresh veggies, and my mom doesn't eat meat. Price range is probably anything mid to mid-high end- I'm thinking $20-30 entrees. I'd also like to know how essential a reservation is for an early (probably 6ish) dinner at each place since my parents refuse to commit to a schedule. Also, I'd prefer somewhere in Mystic- not neighboring towns.

By searching, I've narrowed our choices to:
Anthony J's- pizzas there might be a good choice for my little brother,
Bravo Bravo- no $ listed on online menu
Water St. Cafe

Finally, I've been to the Daniel Packer Inne in the past but their website seems to be defunct and I remember the food as being vaguely hotel-ish so unless I hear otherwise, I've ruled that out.

Thanks for your thoughts!

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  1. bravo bravo is my fave. have been on several occasions and food and service is always great. nice setting as well. they also own azu -- down and across the street - great apps.

    water street is good. anthony j's is good, but not consistent. and, it feels like a cellar inside.

    1. Ditto on kelgia's responses, I would go to Bravo Bravo. Great service and menu and they make a nice martini. Always full or locals, which is a good sign in a touristy location. Most restaurants in the area rely on the come-and-go tourists, you have to be good to keep the locals coming.

      2 Replies
      1. re: citybrunette

        Sounds good! How essential do you think a reservation is for this Saturday (the weekend after New Years) for 5, arriving on the early side? I promise to report back!

        1. re: Parsnipity

          I think you can easily get away without a reservation in the winter, especially going that early. You might want to call ahead though whenever you know when you might be arriving.

          Either Bravo Bravo or Azu would be my recommendations - if your brother is picky, they do have a flatbread pizza at Azu. We like ordering small plates there and sharing. Bravo Bravo is in your price range - I'd guesstimate $25 average for entrees. Azu would be less - more like $15-20 a person.

      2. I hope this reply is not too late...but what about Noah's? Noah's is located in Stonington Borough...I like Bravo Bravo but very noisy and food is heavy italian. Honestly, Water Street was good when it first opened but it is seriously dirty and the cleanliness is off putting for this type of restaurant. If you want a more casual dining experience, I also like the Dogwatch Cafe in Dodson's boatyard (also in the borough)...it has the usual burgers, mussels, etc...but not too pricey. Have fun!

        1 Reply
        1. re: bostongal

          Hands down, bravo bravo is the place. You won't be dissapointed!

        2. Just reporting back- we had an excellent dinner at Bravo Bravo, thanks for the recommendations, Hounds. I did end up making a reservation and actually strong-arming the whole family into sticking with it (helped by the fact that the aquarium closed at 6, so we really had no choice but to be on time).

          We shared starters of fried oysters with a chipotle mayo and the special app of the night which was really incredible. It was a butternut squash ravioli in a brown butter sauce with raisins, currents, sage and nuts (I think walnuts). You know when you hear a list of ingredients and think "that can't possibly taste good together" and then it does? It's like 10 times the chow coup as if you knew it would be good to begin with.

          For entrees, my little brother got the burger which he proclaimed "the best he'd ever had." Personally, I thought for $14 it was going to have a fancy cheese or some remoulade or even shaved truffles, but it was pretty plain looking. We had 2 order the salmon stew special- a nice piece of salmon in a tomato broth with mussels and scallops. Both diners enjoyed theirs.

          My husband got a short rib special with gouda mac and cheese. This dish was just about the richest thing I've ever tasted. In fact, he went to heat up the leftover portion the other night and could only get through half of that, so essentially it was 3 meals' worth of food. The short ribs had excellent flavor and the mac & cheese was really tasty too, and his cholesterol is low enough that he can handle it, thankfully. I had an order of crabcakes. They came with green beans and a potato dauphinoise, which I subbed out for a side of linguine. The crabcakes were really good-- all crab, very little breading, well-seasoned.

          We shared one dessert for the table- a molten chocolate lava cake, which though cliched was gooey and just what you would want one bite of when you were already stuffed.

          Our waitress was phenomenal. She wrote not a thing down and got it all right, anticipating what we'd need before the words were out of our mouths. She later revealed that she's a 7th grade teacher. I'm not sure what this says about our education system that she's waiting tables, but she was one of the best servers I've had in a long time.

          My only complaint was actually with the menu itself- there were many variations of shellfish mixed with pasta-- shrimp and fettuccine, mussels and shrimp with linguine, mixed seafood over pasta-- but not one actual piece of fish not mixed in with shellfish (which I generally find to be overcooked in a mixed seafood enviroment and exude a watery sauce and thus avoid ordering.) I also did not really see any vegetarian options and the meals in general did not come with much in the way of greens.

          Hate to end on a negative note, so I'll just re-iterate that this was a great recommendation that worked out well for us, both in terms of location and food and I'd go back if in Mystic again.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Parsnipity

            Bravo Bravo is offering meal/drink discounts: http://www.bravobravoct.com/bravobrav...
            I "spun" and hit "Grand", which seemed to indicate I would be getting a two for one dinner coupon, though I did not send for it.

            1. re: Scargod

              You know there's a lot of good places to eat in Mystic and though I have never eaten at Water Street, I've eaten at Bravo Bravo and Azus - love 'em... But I wanted to chime in on Anthony J's but for a reason not entirely due to it's menu and food. Chowhound is my radar for food but part of Chowhound is the experience at those places. Years ago, when I didn't live in CT ( at least 17 years ago) as a young guy in my 20's, I took a girl I was seeing on an overnight trip to Mystic CT. Neither of us had ever been there, muchless anywhere on the CT shoreline - at the time I was living in the Bronx. We drove late, after work, one night in June and got to the Whalers Inn fairly late. We didn't have a clue what the area offered other than it was a "nice" town and had an aquarium. It was a total lark and totally different from what we left behind. Hungry, we asked the front desk attendent what was open and if there was a diner ( it was in the range of 11PM give or take and everywhere appeared dead). She said go across the street to Anthony J's where the kitchen should be still open...

              We walked in and it was relatively empty. We were concerned it was closing time but our waitress said everything was cool. We then proceeded to have a meal and a experience straight out of a romantic comedy when all cyclinders are clicking for Reese Witherspoon and her co-star. I still remember the pizza and the garlic bread and the beer and the dessert in this romantic, almost empty restaurant and more importantly the warmth of the moment.

              I am no longer with that person and have since married and eaten and traveled all over the place, but that moment was cinematic perfect for me and to this day has never really been topped no matter where I've gone. So Anthony J's has a spot in my heart. While this might not matter to each individual it is an experience worth reporting on Chowhound because it's all about food and experience:)

              Too be honest, an above poster mentioned the food at Anthony J's is hit or miss and I have to agree. While that late supper 17 plus years ago was wonderful I've since eaten there about a dozen or so times and usually it's mediocre though never bad although one lunch I ate there it was not very good. Despite the memory, I would go to 2 or 3 other places in Mystic first but had to mention this as Anthony J's was at one point the only game in town and I won't forget that:)

              1. re: Nickmerill

                Nice post. I felt the same way about the New Haven Rusty Scupper, which became Leon's and then sorta ruined the mood for me. Fond memories.

                1. re: Scargod

                  What is everyones feeling on S&P OYster?

                  1. re: Alica

                    I think it's good. I like sitting outside by the river and inside is nice as well. However, I haven't eaten there in a full year so my enjoyment is dated. I've eaten there 3 or 4 times and as I said it's good.

                    1. re: Alica

                      I haven't been, but this review, http://www.igougo.com/dining-reviews-..., raises another question: "Go Fish" restaurant located in Old Mystic Village. I haven't heard anything about it; it is said to be good, in this review, but without a view.

                      1. re: Scargod

                        Go Fish is located right next to the aquarium. It is in Old Mystic Village but it's not the town proper. It's right off the highway about 2 miles from the town/village. I know it's confusing, but Old Mystic Village is essentially a really cool, old fashioned strip mall with fudge shops and nick/nack shops that are a little more touristy. There's a movie theater there. It's all about 50 yards from the aquarium parking lot so it's not on the river.

                        I ate lunch at Go Fish a few years ago and it was fine. I don't recall much cause I was with my wife and newborn so the baby was fussy and I had to wolf my food down - I'm sure people know what I mean. Looked like a cool place to eat especially at night.