Outriggers, Stratford, CT
A lot to like - a lot not to like -
First the good things -
The outdoor deck - very pleasant sitting there on a sunny 4th of July, a singer/guitarist entertained - he was annoying at first, but actually turned out to be pretty good.
The appetizers - got a grilled calamari salad - three whole calamari - tentacles separated but tubes intact - grilled simply with garlic, herbs, olive oil - over arugula and a couple of other salady things - this was just about perfect - the calamari was firm but tender - nice grilled flavor, complemented by the peppery and properly (lightly) dressed greens.
Also, a 1/2 dozen clams with their very tomato-y cocktail sauce - good quality clams, the cocktail sauce appeared house-made and not the spicy kind I enjoy, but it worked.
Other apps at the table that met with approval were bacon-wrapped scallops and a NE chowder.
The drinks - the pours on the wine were very generous - almost to the lip - the cocktails were similarly generous.
Service was fine, unobtrusive.
Now the not-so-good things -
The entrees - I ordered a grilled black grouper, with a ragout of crab and portobello mushrooms - My mistake for ordering a ragout of anything on a luscious piece of fish, but I guess I figured it would be ok - unfortunately, it just did not work at all - the mushrooms and crab were so heavy, and everything seemed to be steeped in a brown sauce that reminded me a little bit of those Knorr onion soup pack recipes to make a sauce - it was just so heavy on such an awesome looking piece of fish - the fish itself, while properly grilled, was not properly seasoned, so that the ragout ladled on top was the only source of flavor that I could taste. I think in this case, the ragout should have been light, summery, but it was just heavy and misconceived. Either that or it needed a stronger, oilier fish to compete.
On the other hand, another entree of "grilled" shrimp over linguine was just a total failure in execution - the shrimp, though large and good looking, appeared to have been boiled (or pre-boiled) and were very overcooked. There was no discernable grilling. Also, again the fish was not properly seasoned. It was then paired with linguine that had no measurable seasoning whatsoever. It was really just a total fail.
Other entrees at the table met with the same "meh" - it seemed like there were two completely different chefs at work in the kitchen.
So in sum, go for the apps and drinks and the view - be vigilant with entrees and keep it simple.
Outrigger's is another one of those restaurants that, in my opinion, count on their waterside location to be the big draw. Admittedly, it's been a few years since I've eaten there, but even then, my reason for not coming back was the proliferation of mediocre food at fairly aggressive prices. It IS a shame that almost without exception, restaurants in the Milford, Stratford etc. area that open with a view of the water put out food that is, at best, mediocre. My last recollection of a really good waterview dining venue in the area was the late (and lamented) Plouf in the Lordship area of Stratford. Since then, not a lot to recommend.....
We went there during the spring when they had a 3 course meal for 2 with wine for $40 (price? maybe? I forget). We thought the food was below average. Super boring American continental cuisine. Bob's "Meh" is a great adjective to the food.
It was too cold to sit outside when we weer there but I guess when the weather is fine, you can sit outside, order something safe like a burger or sandwich, have a drink and enjoy the view. But stay away from the dinner entree's.
We dined at Outriggers 5/20/12. For starters, several water glasses had obvious lip imprints still on them, clearly visible from across the table. Some of the bread was thoroughly waterlogged on the bottom; the only explanation I can come up with is that it was "recycled" from a breadbasket cleared from a previous diner's table. My wife was served a florescent orange lobster bisque the consistency of pudding; you could almost stand a spoon up in it, in a bowl which was splattered and blackened with baked-on food (I wish I could post a picture; it was so remarkable I photographed it). My salad was gritty, suggesting that the salad was sandy and hadn't been properly washed. One of our party was served a shrimp Caesar salad where at least 1/3 of the shrimp were still translucent and obviously raw. Another was served a steak which was so overcooked it was reduced to beef jerky which couldn't be penetrated with a knife and fork. Another's baked potato was shriveled, dried out, and cold; nobody believed that it had been cooked within the last 72 hours; perhaps it was "recycled" from another cleared plate, too. Another, who is fond of chicken Caesar salads, declared his to be the worst he'd ever encountered; the chicken had been literally incinerated into charcoal. The time from being seated to being served this repast was nearly two hours, and the attitude of the wait staff was one of palpable indifference. After searching in vain for someone in charge, we asked if there was a manager on the floor. We were assured that there was, but no one ever revealed themselves to speak with us. Outriggers is quite possibly the worst restaurant I've ever encountered.
This is a great place to go for an evening drink some music and a great view from the outdoor deck. With so few places to eat directly on the water in fairfield county it's a shame the food isn't better. Best to stay with basic fare ( burgers, fish and chips). The chef and wait service really can't handle anything else. Even something as simple a a medium rare steak is inevitably incorrectly cooked, cold or both. Requests to the wait staff are routinely ignored or take so long it wasn't worth he wait
Go for drinks, music and few apps, but keep it simple on the food
Agree. We stopped going to Outrigger's years ago. The food is outright BAD and ridiculously priced. The waitstaff could care less about the customers. We booked a table for 6 one night. They led my up these stairs to another dining room and pointed to a table in the corner. But there was a private party already going on there. I said no way are we sitting at someone else's party in this awful room, plus my older dad didn't want to climb stairs. Needless to say our dinner back downstairs was horrible. Overcooked, fishy mussels, soggy calamari, dishwater chowder, bad bread from Sysco. The wine list a joke. We decided we can eat much better at home. And I don't care if they have a nice deck and view. The fact that they don't care and run a shoddy business will keep me from going there period. It is too bad there aren't many restaurants in the area that are worth spending money at. Stowe's in the summer, Turkish Kebob house,. Hao Sechuan in West Haven.