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Good Seafood Restaurant in Central CT

r
rcianci Apr 11, 2009 09:51 AM

My wife and I will be in Wethersfield, CT next weekend visiting relatives. We are former Hartford area residents (been away for 20 years) and one thing we miss about Central CT is relatively easy access to fresh seafood. Can someone recommend us a good seafood restaurant in the Greater Hartford Area in any price range?

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  1. b
    brookerme Apr 11, 2009 12:30 PM

    Fried seafood at Tinkers in Hartford or City Fish in Wethersfield. High end Carmen Anthony in Wethersfield http://www.carmenanthony.com/wethersf... or Max Oyster Bar in West Hartford or Max Fish in Glastonbury.

    1. j
      jkuhlen Apr 11, 2009 01:21 PM

      I will second Max Fish in Glastonbury. They serve very fresh, high quality seafood in my experience. But you will pay!

      Also high on the freshness and quality of ingredients is Chowderpot (on or near Brainard Road in Hartford). Pretty much straight ahead seafood without much fuss in terms of atmosphere or culinary vision.

      1. t
        TastyNewEngland Apr 11, 2009 03:38 PM

        I'll second Chowderpot with one caveat - every time I go there's also some sort of weird mix up with the service. The food is pretty good if you're into fried stuff but just pray you get a good server and you are very specific with your order. And double check you got what you ordered when the food comes.

        If you're looking seafood more along the lines of real fish, raw bars, etc, consider one of the Max places.

        1. w
          Waquoit Apr 11, 2009 10:22 PM

          Try Max Fish and get the Hi-Rise appitizer. It's a lot of fun.

          1. c
            ctjane Apr 13, 2009 10:45 AM

            We really enjoy Saybrook Fish in Rocky Hill. We prefer to sit in the bar area, because you can order off the bar menu, or the full menu. Sometimes the full menu is a little too much food. When we go we stick with the simpler menu items.

            6 Replies
            1. re: ctjane
              f
              FoodieJim Apr 13, 2009 12:00 PM

              I have always found the Chowderpot to be a giant Red Lobster. "Buses welcome" and all. Max Fish is a good choice.

              1. re: FoodieJim
                Morganna Apr 14, 2009 05:19 AM

                Are there any other good choices that are closer to Old Saybrook? Looks like most of the Max Fish places are a good 45 min drive from Old Saybrook. We're going to be staying there week after next for a few days and I'd like some fish too! :)

                1. re: Morganna
                  kattyeyes Apr 14, 2009 05:33 AM

                  For a nice clam shack fix, try Johnny Ad's. It's not prominent on the menu, but you can even find lobster bisque there. You'll order at the counter, wait for your number to be called, then you can sit inside or outside and chow down!

                  My mom is a huge lobster roll afficionado--her new favorite is Lobster Landing in Clinton (she calls it "The Lobster Lady"), but I *think* she opens May 1st. Next to that, she likes Lenny & Joe's in Westbrook. All these places are super-casual, clam-shacky places where good food is the focus. And as a P.S., I really like the cole slaw at Lenny & Joe's.

                  Welcome to the neighborhood/sort of/almost! :)

                  -----
                  Johnny Ad's Drive-In
                  910 Boston Post Rd, Old Saybrook, CT 06475

                  Lobster Landing
                  152 Commerce St, Clinton, CT

                  Lenny & Joe's
                  Westbrook, CT, Westbrook, CT

                  1. re: kattyeyes
                    Morganna Apr 14, 2009 05:50 AM

                    Ooh we're going just before the season opens, last week in April, to take advantage of the cheaper room rates (at an already cheap motel :) So I'll miss the lobster lade, probably, but the rest sounds promising. Thanks! :)

                    1. re: kattyeyes
                      kattyeyes May 22, 2009 08:52 AM

                      Lobster Landing is now open daily, but closes at 5:45 p.m.--so this is only an option for lunch or a really early dinner. Found this out the hard way the other night. Luckily, Lenny & Joe's is not far from Lobster Landing.

                2. re: ctjane
                  j
                  jkuhlen Apr 13, 2009 04:24 PM

                  We also hit Saybrook Fish, especially for an early midweek bite. They have a very reasonable "early bird" special menu. Their mini Bouillabaisse usually hits the spot for me. All entrees (early bird or not) include a generous selection of breads, a large family style salad, and a bowl of fruit, nuts, and other goodies as a finish. That makes it an excellent value!

                3. c
                  chrism23 Apr 15, 2009 02:25 PM

                  After reading the replies a couple of comments.

                  The Max's-Fish in Glastonbury and the Oyster Bar in West Hartford are your two best bets. Coming from Wethersfield Max Fish in Glastonbury is a little closer, you don't have to drive through the City. But, West Hartford is the dining destination in CT these days and is worth checking out for the scene, its fun.

                  Its telling about the lack of quality in Central Connecticut restaurants that the discussion usual comes down to the Max group. Yea, they do good stuff, not great, but they still manage to be better than their mediocre competition. This really is a foodie wasteland.

                  City Fish is like eating in a warehouse. 0 atmosphere. Way too basic stuff.

                  While I'm venting will people stop mentioning the Chowder Pot. Its the seafood equivalent of a giant chain restaurant-foodie Jim was spot on in calling it "a giant red lobster". Its horrible. Its like one of those banquet halls that serve rubber chicken to bus loads of rubes. Its like saying the Olive Garden has good Italian food.

                  Tinkers, think low end neighborhood fish place. Very basic, boring, uninspired, nothing a serious foodie or chowhound would think about.

                  When the topic diverted to Saybrook and the shore I plead ignorance I never get down there.

                  Carmen Anthony's is overpriced, boring, trying to be high end, it simply sucks.

                  Is that all there is for seafood?. There has to be more. What am I missing?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: chrism23
                    j
                    jkuhlen Apr 21, 2009 04:20 PM

                    chrism23, read the original post. They were looking for fresh seafood in central CT. I agree that Max has it, but in my experience you get fresh seafood at places that move high volume. I shop at City Fish for that reason. I'm not a regular at Chowderpot by any strech, but their fish and shellfish does not sit around, and some people just like a fresh piece of fish simply grilled, broiled or fried. I understand the comparison to Red Lobster, but not when it comes to the food. Do you think the Red Lobster in Kansas City serves fresh not frozen?

                    1. re: jkuhlen
                      c
                      chrism23 Apr 22, 2009 02:53 PM

                      In response to jkhulen: yes I read the original post. I have shopped at City Fish for over 30 years. They are the supplier to most area restaurants serving seafood, and as a result they have very fresh fish at a reasonable price. But. They were looking for a restaurant and not a fish market. As a restaurant experience City Fish is definitely lacking.

                      Also, City Fish is limited in terms of their extent of selection, they stick to basics, albeit of high quality. At Max's somehow, I don't know from where, they get exotica, interesting stuff, stripped bass, mahi mahi, king salmon, fish you don't normally see in the case at City Fish.

                      Yes, many people love a simple piece of ultra fresh grilled fish. Me included. But I like to have a great New Zealand Sauvingnon Blanc to go with it, great appetizers, fresh veggies, and not soggy cole slaw and fries or a foil wrapped bake potato, which is what you end up with at a Chowder Pot, a City Fish (restaurant) or a Tinkers.

                      I am glad that you took the trouble to reply. I think I might be on a mission to up the quality of posts on this board. People in greater Hartford really need to become better consumers. They are being ill-served by the quality to cost ratio of the restaurants in the area.

                      By the way. If you are serious about fish, take the time and trouble to go to Le Bernadin in NYC. It is the best fish-centric restaurant in the world. The gold standard. Then, maybe, you'll better appreciate, and I don't mean to be snide or derogatory, what a "fish" restaurant can be.

                      And, I would never in a million years, obviously, think about going to a Red Lobster in Kansas City. How about Arthur Bryant's Bar B Que instead.

                      1. re: jkuhlen
                        h
                        hollerhither May 18, 2009 06:58 AM

                        Sorry, but add me to the list of Chowder Pot haters. I'd make the half hour/40 minute drive to the coastline (Branford for Lenny's Indian Head, Madison or Westbrook for Lenny & Joe's, and Old Saybrook for Johnny Ad's) before ever setting foot in that place again. Why suffer the mediocrity when there's much better stuff nearby?

                    2. kattyeyes Apr 16, 2009 06:34 AM

                      No one mentioned it yet, but since I went for lunch yesterday and really enjoyed it, Maine Fish Market Restaurant in Warehouse Point (East Windsor) is a good seafood place to add to this list.

                      http://www.mainefishmarket.com/

                      -----
                      Maine Fish Market Restaurant
                      60 Bridge St, East Windsor, CT 06088

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: kattyeyes
                        r
                        rcianci Apr 19, 2009 07:30 PM

                        Thanks everyone for your suggestions. We wound up at City Fish, which, as chrism23 rightly points out, has zero atmosphere, but that suited us just fine. I had a hot lobster roll. My wife had fried whole belly clams. We were both happy.

                        1. re: kattyeyes
                          Anonimo May 16, 2009 11:02 AM

                          We dined at the Maine Fish Mrket last night with our grown niece and her husband. Overall, it was a very good meal. I had a raw shellfish platter of 6 oysters and 6 clams. It was among the best I've ever had.

                          Then, salad AND slaw, potato OR Vegetable.

                          My wife had broiled haddock, which she liked very much. I had the fried whole belly clams. They were wonderful, but so many! The FFs were enough for 3 people. I had to take the WBCs and FF's back to the house to scramble with eggs for breakfast.

                          Niece had a 1 1/4 lb lobster, which she liked a lot. Her husband had a broiled seafood medley with rice.

                          I drank a nice Long Trail Ale, which I'd not had before. It is considerably milder than my favorite Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, but went well with the foods.

                          Naturally, we had no room for dessert.
                          Some photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/doncuevas...

                          Service was unintrusive and "correct".

                        2. e
                          eat2win May 30, 2009 11:54 AM

                          Maine in East Windsor is the best kept secret in Hartford County. Great fresh food, fab service, huge portions and reasonable prices. One minute from I91 exit. As for the others mentioned inthe responses. Tinkers is simply a dump. Always filthy, plastic plates and self service. Unless you bring one of their ubiquitous coupons, its quite overpriced. City Fish is tops for seafood, but you are eating in their warehouse. Limited hours; zero atmosphere. Chowderpot isn't bad, but it's a glorified diner. The Max restaurants are certainly excellent but we're talking serious money here.

                          1. t
                            thebets Jul 28, 2009 08:11 AM

                            I agree with those posters who hated on Chowderpot. The food quality, especially sides, is awful. It is your basic fried fish and soggy pale coleslaw. Really nothing special at all. I actually find the Maine Fish Market in E. Windsor to be the same way. To me they are almost identical.

                            For seafood that is less typically crappy, with nice pasta options, fresh fish, and good desserts, try Calamari's in South Windsor. I always have a fabulous meal there.

                            And chrism23, keep at it. Greater Hartford has terribly low expectations in food. If it isn't a Max restaurant, no one bothers with it.

                            20 Replies
                            1. re: thebets
                              philbkr Jul 28, 2009 02:03 PM

                              I want to second thebets comment. Calamari's has been in S. Windsor for a long time and continues to offer great food, high quality and good service. Used to be the waitresses would be willing, if it seemed OK, to actually sit down and chat about the menu. Seem to remember an apple-pear crumble with ginger ice cream...yum. Believe you can also buy fresh fish there--anyone confirm? They opened a second location in W. Springfield but I don't know how that is doing. Reminds me to get back there soon as I've not been for some time.

                              1. re: philbkr
                                h
                                hollerhither Jul 28, 2009 05:21 PM

                                I've been to the West Springfield location, for lunch, it was probably 2 years ago though, wasn't too excited about it, unfortunately. Didn't see anything there re fresh fish. I may give the S. Windsor location a try, though, when I'm down that way.

                              2. re: thebets
                                kattyeyes Jul 28, 2009 04:28 PM

                                <<Greater Hartford has terribly low expectations in food.>>
                                That's a rather odd statement. How have you arrived at such a conclusion? I'm willing to bet most regular posters on this board (of which I am one) certainly don't feel they fit your description whatsoever...or else why would we be posting on a site such as this?!

                                1. re: kattyeyes
                                  t
                                  thebets Aug 10, 2009 10:15 AM

                                  kattyeyes: no offense meant by my comment. Certainly, the regular posters on this board don't have low expectations of food, or they wouldn't be here. What I meant was to agree with chrism23's comment that "central connecticut...is a foodie wasteland". Having lived here for 30 years, I have eaten at most of the "good" restaurants; and know the reputation of those "good" restaurants; and have eaten with and discussed what the people of central CT think is a "good" restaurant. My experience has been that most people around here don't know good cooking or good restaurants. They are content with restaurants that meet their relatively low expectations, and ecstatic about those that exceed them. For example, I really like some of the Max restaurants; but they certainly aren't the be all and end all of food. But to most people around here, they are; because they exceed their relatively low expectations about what a good restaurant is.This is probably true, however, for most non-metropolitan areas.

                                  Anyway, my comment wasn't meant for you or other foodies in central CT. I thought that was pretty obvious.

                                  1. re: thebets
                                    f
                                    FoodieJim Aug 10, 2009 01:45 PM

                                    While I might agree with your conclusion that folks in central CT appear willing to accept a lower baseline of "top quality food", I do not agree with your premise that this is because they don't know what it is. There is a fair level of sophistication in these parts, and plenty of people who have traveled to food meccas like NYC, Boston, Napa Valley, New Orleans and the like enough times to be able to tell what great food is. I could write a disertaion on the subject, but I think that the root cause of the "problem" lies in what makes central CT such a great place to live. And this is exactly the problem that keeps Hartford from thriving as a city. And this "problem" is that central CT has such great suburbs in such close proximity to downtown that people flock to the comfort of their suburban nests far mor quickly and frequently than people in almost any other city I can think of. I have traveled for business and pleasue to virtually every major, and most second-tier cities in this country and I have yet to find a place where a short, painless, (comparatively speaking), commute can get you to such wonderful, affordable bucolic suburbs. And I will add that when business visitors come to Hartford and experience places like Simsbury, Avon, Farmington, West Hartford, Glastonbury and the like, they say the exact same thing. They can't get over how great and affordable a quality of life a 10-30 minute commute can bring. This is where people spend their free time. And suburbs, for the most part, do not lend themselves to high end dining. Certainly not a plethora of high end dining that is. The cost is too high and there are not enough crossover (from other suburbs) patrons to make a go of it. How often do people west of the river venture east of the river to dine. And vice versa. Sure, it happens, but folks here stay in their bubble by and large. How often is a person in Hebron going to travel to Avon to go out to dinner? For the most part, people in these parts stay close to their nests, and such habits are the death-knell of high end dining. Really great restaurants charge big bucks. So you can't depend on just your local neighbors for support as they might just come for special occasions. You need a wide net of customers, and central CT lifestyles don't really provide for that. And when people do want to venture out of their bubble, they can get to Boston and NYC with ease.

                                    So the issue isn't one of people not knowing what good cooking is. They get plenty of that in their 700 square food marble kitchens with high end appliances. Or they get it in Boston, New York and all the other places that they travel to. People in central CT simply aren't motivated to travel 30 minutes to another city to dine and spend more money when there are acceptable, lower cost options so close by. People around here are very paternal and proud of their neighborhoods and towns and don't travel to eat the way people in major cities or other suburban enclaves do. This desire and need to stay in the nest is caused by the nest being such a comfortable place to be. But the failure to ever leave the nest makes the main city fed by the suburbs rather stagnant. Unlike other cities, getting a table at one of the better restaurants in Hartford on a Saturday night is a breeze. Suburbanites don't come into town on the weekend. In other cities, Saturday reservations are the hardest to get. If a restaurant can't fill up on Fridays and Saturdays because everyone is heading home, or to the cape, or to Boston or NYC, then survival is in doubt. Not many restauranteurs are willing to risk pulling out all the stops in this environment.

                                    And to conclude, before this gets flamed, the "typical" nested suburbanite is not a Chowhound, so don't start blasting away that you don't mind traveling an hour for great food or iconic chow. Of course you do. That's why we're here on this board. But we aren't the norm and we know it.

                                    1. re: FoodieJim
                                      c
                                      chrism23 Aug 10, 2009 03:37 PM

                                      Ah. The debate continues. And my foodie wasteland comment comes back to haunt me. But I still stand by it. Once again I agree with most of what FoodieJim has to say. For a weeknight dinner, after work, I am not going to drive through Hartford to Glastonbury. Fortunately I live in West Hartford, which is now the restaurant mecca of central Conneciticut And its a short hop over the hill to Avon or Simsbury. So I am lucky to have so many choices.

                                      But. When I criticize the quality of area restaurants I am not just talking about high end expensive eateries. Part of the chowhound gig is to find places of value, under the radar, and hopefully inexpensive. I admit to watching that show on the Food Network, Diners, Drive ins and Dives. Although Guy Fieri is wearing a bit thin. Those kind of places are what I wish we had here. Great food, scratch cooking and great prices. A place I could call a hangout. Go to once a week. Over the years a couple of places came close, Timothy's near Trinity. One Way Fare in Simsbury, but alas they are gone. Let alone the great Hartford eccentic places from the 80's like Panache and the Lion's Head.

                                      To my knowledge, or at least to my taste, there is not one place in easy driving distance that fits the bill. What we have are big chains, small chains-the Max Group, or Plan B, or would be chains like Billy Grant's places.

                                      Now I know its possible for a lot of very good medium priced, unique restaurants to exist in a smallish geographic area, i am not NYC centric. I have relatives that live in Rockville Center Long Island, and within 10 miles of their house there are many restaurants of the type that I wish we had here. And first rate and diverse ethnic places. A myriad of good choices.

                                      I think that's partly because many Long Islanders are transplanted New York City dwellers and simply won't settle for the mediocre. As, once again, we unfortunately are near forced to do here.

                                      1. re: chrism23
                                        f
                                        FoodieJim Aug 11, 2009 06:38 AM

                                        I think you have to be careful with the "grass is greener on the other side of the fence" lament. Remember that a slick production crew can make any Diner, Drive-in or Dive look great. Many of the places featured on that show, as well as in Jane and Michael Stern's books are "not all that" and not the talk of the towns in which they reside. This is not to say that they don't deliver great chow. But their food doesn't really stand out as much as we are led to believe. In fact, if you talk to the locals in the areas of many of the featured places, you'll hear comments such as: "Oh, that place is way over-hyped and too touristy. If you want really good local Chow, you have to try _______" A Food Network production crew could probably have you believing that Augie and Rays in East Hartford, Harry's in Colchester and Woody's in Hartford are all "off the hook". Don't forget that Guy already showed us that O'Rourke's in Middletown was "on point". While you might not think that such places rate with those that you have seen featued on Triple D, rest assured that somewhere in Albuquerque there is a person just like you who is shrugging his shoulders wondering why the places in his area were featured on TV because they just aren't that good. And he pines for the day when there could be a Sea Swirl or Pepe's in his neck of the woods.

                                        1. re: FoodieJim
                                          g
                                          gardencub Aug 11, 2009 02:26 PM

                                          Why not move this discussion a little bit and start making a list of those places in Central Ct that come close to meeting the mark. We could use Manchester to the east, Waterbury to the West, Windsor to the North and Middletown to the South as the rough boundaries of Central Ct and lets start filling in the map.

                                          Instead of bemoaning the lack of Chow worthy places, let's reward those that are worthy, and make others jealous they are not up to level to be included.

                                          I am going to list Harry's in Colchester, if only for old time's sake. It is not what it once was, but it is still the archetype of the old New England Style drive in. The burgers have gotten a bit greasier, and smaller, but they still taste good.

                                          I would sneak The River Tavern adn Lupo's in Chester onto the list even if they are a bit south of my own boundaries.

                                          I am saddly un-informed about the Hartford area, living near the coast in the lower river valley makes me very unwilling to face Hartford. So, educate us complacent middleclass consumers who are too comfortable at home to travel.

                                          1. re: gardencub
                                            c
                                            chrism23 Aug 12, 2009 04:00 AM

                                            A couple of good replies. FoodieJim's 'grass is greener' is well taken. But still some of those places on DDD do look very good that I still wish were in the neighborhood. It was disappointing that it did feature O-Rourke's which is hardly what I had in mind. Gardencub's post also makes a good point. I think I could best respond to it, and maybe we should all do the same, by listing the places we frequent, where we go when on a regular basis. I eat out about 3-4 times a week.
                                            In order my hangouts are:

                                            1. Bricco
                                            2. Arugula
                                            3. Tapas (Elmwood)
                                            4. Harry's Pizza (Bishop's Corner)

                                            There are problems with all 4 choices. Bricco doesn't take reservations but with the economic turndown, its usually possible, except on Fri/Sat to walk in and get a table. Arugula's menu is a little limited, its become too reliant on flatbreads which don't do it for me, but there old standbys like their burgers, hanger steaks, and the elaborate moules et frites still work. And Tapas, in the main room, the tables are just too close, crowded and noisy. But its cheap, and the gyros and specials are usually good. Harry's is really just for take out.

                                            Besito's, the new Mexican place in WH center is threatening to make the list. I've been twice but don't want to comment yet, because my judgment has been clouded by their great margaritas.

                                            Max Burger may have some potential, but like Bricco, its no reservations and crowded. And I don't know whether its me or not, I've been twice, is that the char on their burgers is a little off putting taste wise, a little too burnt and intense.

                                            My list points to the problem. Absent from it is any oriental/chinese place. I would kill for good Chinese take-out. The best I have been able find is Beijing Garden in Farmington and its only average at best. Some thai'ish places-Hot Basil are also just ok. The Indian places are glorified buffet food. We just can't win.

                                            Also absent is any diner. I know people mention the Quaker diner, in WH, but it really doesn't get it done, not close.

                                            There are a bunch of places I'll go to once a month or so-Grant's, Max Oyster, Max a Mia, but lately they have been more inconsistent than usual and don't make me jump up and down. Its these type of places I feel especially ripped off, for they charge near NYC prices with no where near the quality or consistency.

                                            So, full disclosure, my biases exposed by listing where, nearest to my house, I actually eat. Money where my mouth is so to speak.

                                            1. re: chrism23
                                              r
                                              ratbuddy Aug 12, 2009 05:41 AM

                                              Harry's Bishop's Corner just for take out?? Have ya seen their selection of $10 wines? Also, their style of pizza is better fresh out of the oven, rather than having been steaming and toughening up in a box on your way home..

                                              1. re: ratbuddy
                                                t
                                                thebets Aug 12, 2009 06:35 AM

                                                I agree there is little good Asian in the area. If I need Chinese, I try Green Tea in Farmington. For sushi, I have had good luck with Ginza in Bloomfield, although I know others have not. And chrism I know you aren't thrilled with Hot Basil, but I've had good meals there.

                                                I really don't like Plan B for burgers, the quality is not that good. Max Burger is OK but I think still working out the kinks. I have yet to find a place where I get really good burgers in the area, and would welcome suggestions.

                                                Steaks, I really like Fleming's in West Hartford. I have had two excellent meals there, expensive but worth the price.

                                                Italian, I always hit up the old stand by First and Last. It's the only place for old school Italian where I don't feel like I could have made better myself at home. For more upscale, I do like Bricco, but agree with the aforesaid issues mentioned.

                                                Pizza, I'm a Lena's devotee. It was hit and miss for awhile a few years back, but seems to have re-emerged.

                                                chrism, I totally agree about the Quaker diner. It is so hyped. Their stuff is adequate but their omelets are always completely overcooked. It is not worth the frequently long wait.

                                                Let's keep it going...

                                                1. re: thebets
                                                  c
                                                  chowmensch Aug 12, 2009 06:42 AM

                                                  Burger recommendation for thebets: Try Joe Pizza in Canton or Joey Garlic in Farmington. Nice thick, juicy burgers and unlike some places, they'll cook them medium rare.

                                                  1. re: chowmensch
                                                    t
                                                    thebets Aug 12, 2009 06:45 AM

                                                    Hi Chow: I used to live in Canton and loved Joe Pizza, but never had a burger there. Their pizza and entrees were good. I actually tried Joey Garlic with the family a couple of months ago and we HATED it, sorry. I don't think anyone had a burger, but we had calzones, sandwiches, etc., and I found the quality of all the food generally to be very lacking. None of us liked it, not even the kids who had meatball grinders. Which was weird, because I think they were owned by the same person...

                                                    1. re: thebets
                                                      c
                                                      chowmensch Aug 12, 2009 09:52 AM

                                                      Well, give the burgers a try. I'll be interested in your opinion. I thought they were much tastier than 5 guys or plan b. Buf, of course, just my opinion. As Dennis Miller used to say...."I could be wrong..."

                                              2. re: chrism23
                                                g
                                                gardencub Aug 12, 2009 08:39 AM

                                                I second the Tapas Choice
                                                When I was banished to New Britain for 4 years I lived on their greek salad, the sherried clam chowder and the gyros. Also whenever they served Chipotle Cheddar Mashed Taters I had to order something that came with those.

                                                I will also agree with the First and Last, knowing exactly what it is. I can rely on them to give me a tasty meal, well prepared, in a fun atmosphere.

                                                Let's keep the list going

                                        2. re: FoodieJim
                                          t
                                          thebets Aug 11, 2009 06:57 AM

                                          FoodieJim: well said. I agree. Thank you for the well reasoned and in depth insight.

                                          1. re: FoodieJim
                                            h
                                            howaboutthat Aug 12, 2009 12:25 PM

                                            Our current favorites include On20 (Hartford) for fine dining, Utsav (Vernon) for Indian, Puket Cafe (Wethersfield) for Thai, El Serape (Enfield) for Mexican, and Frank Pepe's (Manchester or anywhere they are) for pizza. Have not tried Joey Garlic's for burgers; their pizza was just okay in light of the availability of New Haven pizzerias and their progeny.

                                            We've generally been a bit less inclined to hit up the continental (loose term), near-fine dining spots with any frequency (J.Gilberts, Peppercorns, Max places, Bricco, River Tavern, Morton's, Ruth's Chris and the like), probably due to our preference for either "singular"-type experiences (On20, though we have been more than once!) or ethnic places. Have not gotten to the place in Eastford, yet (Still River Cafe, I believe), but would love to find another super special place to complement On20 with the exit of Restaurant Du Village and Cavey's French (at least back in the day). Might Still River be it? In New Haven, Union League, Bentara and Thali have fit the bill.

                                            1. re: howaboutthat
                                              g
                                              gardencub Aug 12, 2009 02:37 PM

                                              Something new is moving into the old Du Village space, they were painting the sign on the window when I drove by the other day. I couldn't make out what it was going to say, but I will check it out when I drive by next week.

                                              I think calling River Tavern Continental is a bit off the mark, with their committment to farm to table and fresh regional ingredients, I think "new american" might fit better.

                                              1. re: gardencub
                                                h
                                                howaboutthat Aug 12, 2009 03:58 PM

                                                Touche' on the River Tavern description. I sought -- in apparent vain -- a term to broadcast across the array of places I listed, which, while different in style and approach, strike me as somewhat similar from a sophistication level and are not strongly "ethnic" (I find Peppercorns and Bricco somehow less Italian than, say, Thali is Indian, or Bentara, Malaysian).

                                                We enjoyed a recent meal at River Tavern, by the way, and applaud their commitment to regional ingredients. The reference to "near-fine" dining is perhaps also a bit strained, but invoked merely to distinguish between very solid establishments and those providing a bit more of a "wow" factor and constituting an event within themselves.

                                                1. re: howaboutthat
                                                  g
                                                  gardencub Aug 12, 2009 05:16 PM

                                                  I understand the need for a word that fits that type of place, and I agree that Bricco is less 'Italian" than Thali is... .

                                                  Back to the list:
                                                  I forgot to add The Whistlestop Cafe in Deep River for breakfast. Tiny, offbeat, funny, and fun. The omelettes fillings run from the ridiculous to the sublime. Go midweek or plan on waiting for a table. Summer is better as there are picnic tables outside.

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