Good eats in New Haven area
My friends and I are planning a trip down to Chocopologie in Norwalk, CT in late March. We'll be traveling from the Wethersfield area. We're hoping to stop somewhere for dinner in between Wethersfield and Norwalk so we have time to digest a bit before stuffing ourselves with chocolate! :) The New Haven area seems like a good in-between.
Now I know of all the delicious pizza and have eaten at a few restaurants in that area, but am hoping some locals or others with experience at some of the restaurants down there can offer some suggestions! We don't want something terribly upscale, but something a bit more than pizza or burgers - something in the $25 and less per plate range. We're open to pretty much any kind of food!
Thank you in advance!
yummy inexpensive ethnic food with friendly service
turkish kebab house http://www.turkishkebaphouse.com/
Mezcal Restaurante Mexicano,
14 Mechanic St
New Haven, CT 06511
These are the five I would recommend to give you the widest range of options:
Caseus - http://www.caseusnewhaven.com/info.html
Parisian style bistro. A tiny bit overpriced and pretentious, but what American bistro isn't? This would be my first choice for a pre-chocolate meal.
116 Crown - http://www.116crown.com/116.Crown.menu.pdf
New American small plates. Their dishes are full of flavor, but won't leave you too full for the chocolate. I'd only recommend this place if you're going to have a drink also, simply because looking through the drink menu and not trying one would be a bummer.
Geronimo - http://www.geronimobarandgrill.com/
Southwestern. I tend to think of Geronimo as more of a warm weather spot, probably because of the porch. However, chocolate and Southwestern cuisine both have their roots in the Uto-Aztecan cultures, so this could be a great choice.
Bentara - http://www.bentara.com/
Malaysian, and possibly the best value in town. If you and your friends like spicy food, their curries and noodle soups are a great bet (and if you don't, they do give you four options for how spicy you want the food).
Thali - http://www.thali.com/home.html
Regional Indian. Of anywhere in town, Thali will do the most to wake up your taste buds so they're good and ready for that chocolate. There are a lot of good restaurants in New Haven, many of which are more refined than Thali, but I find Thali to be the most impressive of all of them.
At Thali, the appetizers are in the $5-$10 range, most meat dishes are around $15 or $16, with a handful in the $17-$19 range, vegetable dishes a few dollars less, and only one dish over $20.
At Bentara, appetizers and salads run $5-$9, the rice and noodle dishes top out at $15, specials and curries are in the $15-$20 range, and three dishes over $20. The noodle dishes in particular are what makes me say Bentara is the best value in town, and I find them to be, for the most part, better than the curries and specials.
Caseus is more expensive than either, with essentially half of the entrees over $20. Overpriced is definitely the wrong word though, because it is well worth every penny. What I meant more is that Caseus, being a bistro, serves very simple food, the kind of simple foods one might not expect to cost anywhere near what they are charging. The prices do, however, make sense, given the quality; they're certainly not price gouging.
Dinner at Geronimo recently. After Passadumkeg and I just ate our way through Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas (to name the ones where we had Mexican oriented food), I left Geronimo disappointed and barely satiated.
This was, perhaps, our fourth meal here and, obviously, there was an attraction that kept us returning. With the recent meals in the Southwest, as a contrast, I felt Geronimo paled in comparison. The food you get for the money is not a bargain. OK, this is supposed to be haute cuisine or Southwestern with a twist.
First, they had some lame excuse for not having the Blue Point I.P.A. I think they said the outdoor seating area was not open so they did not have/were not offering the draft yet (although people were using the porch).
Our pork tacos (a special, or not on their online menu), was composed of bland, dry pork and dried out corn tortillas. Mentioning this to the waitress, she said they "grill" (not steam), the tortillas before serving, which drys out these mediocre, commercial tortillas. This may seem like splitting hairs or an over-critical comment, but since they make tamales it would be little extra effort if they made fresh tortillas. They're really quite easy to make and so superior to these they use, which are the ones we all get at the Stop 'n Shop...
I liked the Three Sister Tamale appetizer, but it had problems, too. The filling of corn, black beans, butternut squash, Oaxaca cheese had way too much masa in proportion to the meager and heavily corn-laden filling. The corn might have been roasted, but didn't look it or taste it. The real disappointment with this appetizer was the Hatch green chile salsa that came on the side. I/we had so many great ones on our trip that this one fell flat in its oily plainness, yet it (oddly), had a lot of cinnamon in it which was very off-putting. Except for the labor involved, the tamales were a whole lot of nothing.
Next was the "Pork Relleno", a stuffed, spicy Poblano pepper. The filling is supposed to be BBQ shredded pork, but in my mind it was a very greasy, poorly executed chili. There was a lot beside shredded pork to it; a lot of red chile seasoning/sauce. The red chile flavor was pretty good, though somewhat flat, but it was hard to get past the level of greasiness, and the fact that IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE SHREDDED BBQ! I liked the smoky flavor of the tomato sauce on top and the spicy pepper was cooked well. The black beans were pretty good, but a bit dry.
I saved the best for last: The "made at your table" guacamole was very good and it is made to order with good, fresh ingredients. Have it made more like a salad or get it simple, with lime. Made with at least two perfect avocados; it was very good and skillfully made in a real molcajete.
I want to like Geronimo and I don't mind the prices or it being a little loud, even on a Monday night. Most people eating here may not realize the failings of some dishes. It begs the question of whether the cook is tasting the food they prepare or are they just doing it by rote and don't care. Whatever your tastes, there is no excuse for overcooked and greasy food. It will be a while before we return, especially when there is Guadalupe la Poblanita only a few minutes away.
Donovan's reopens on Washington StreetDonovan's & Mackenzie carries on SoNo tradition
By John Nickerson
Burgers begin at $7.95 and Patti's famous clam chowder goes for $4.95 a bowl.
The most expensive dishes are the Angus strip steak and baby-back ribs at $18.95.
Ball said the place is a little more upscale than when he owned it, but that is not a bad thing.
"It's a little New York-ish," he said. "But it is still the same place where people can come and get great food for a great value."
Corie Ball helps run Donovan's & Mackenzie, which opened Friday night in South Norwalk. Her father, Richie, opened Donovan's at the site in 1979. The bar's new menu includes the burgers and clam chowder for which Donovan's was known.
the food is great as it always was
I've wanted to try Chocopologie for dinner after having two very nice lunches there over time. Do you realize you can sit right along the windows of the kitchen to eat and watch as some of the chocolates are being made? I hate to state the obvious, and I know you said you want some time between dinner and chocolate indulgence, but they have plenty of lighter fare (sandwiches, crepes, salads from $8 to $13) and dinner options (short ribs sound fantastic to me esp. with the weather we've had lately--entrees are priced from $15 to 19.25). I'd personally rather have a lighter dinner, then dig into the desserts, for which they're known. Here's their all-day food menu:
I would wholeheartedly recommend saving your appetite for your destination and eating there. We've had different savory crepes and sandwiches, both with side salads. I'd say a lighter option like that would well position you to indulge in the desserts and some chocolates.
Have fun and thanks for the reminder we need to get back there soon!
By the way, on the drink menu, don't miss the signature Chocopologie drink--espresso and dark hot chocolate topped with lavender foam. I had it both times I went and it is, just as the menu proclaims, "a truly memorable experience."
We've been talking about fancy/best burgers in New Haven, so you might want to give that a look. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/588237
Christopher Martins, 860 State Street, New Haven, CT 06511, (203) 776-8835, is easy to get to from I-91, as is Mezcal and L'Orcio, a block down, also a recent topic in this thread. There are many great suggestions there: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/559890