Branford,Guilford or nearby CT
Best lunch on the water please? What to order and want clean food, not fried, thank you.
On the water: let's see. In Guilford there are really only two choices, and they're across the street from one another. Guilford Mooring is right on the docks, and has a nice view. They have all the fried stuff, but other things as well - it's not a clam shack. Food varies in quality (the onion rings are consistently good, but you said "not fried"), but isn't bad, Across the street, the Stone House has rather classier food offerings, but less of a view. Scargod has said he wasn't impressed with the food here, but my wife and I go reasonably often, and while we have never been blown away, we have had pretty consistent good food: fish, steaks, lamb, etc - no particular recommendations, apart from the general advice to go for one of the specials if anything there appeals to you. And essentially nothing fried here.
I'll let others speak for Branford, where my favorite place near water is Lennie's, definitely a haven for fried stuff (though they also have lots that isn't fried). If by "on the water" you just mean "in a shoreline community," I would highly recommend Assaggio just below the Branford Green on Montwese St. This place occasionally gets mentioned (always positively) on this board, though I can't find a full review. Outdoor seating in summer (with a bit of street noise), consistently excellent food and a modestly interesting wine list. But the only water you'll see there is a puddle in the parking lot from all the rain lately.
In addition to linguist's parsing of Guilford and Branford, there are a few shore places east of Guilford.
In Clinton, Aqua is near the Sound but last time I was there I didn't see much of the water from an inner table. In Westbrook, Boom is in the middle of the marina and you can see boats going in and out, but it is not "on" the sound. Old Saybrook has several restaurants on the river, but it's not "near" Guilford, so I won't give details. Madison has "The Wharf", but has had mixed reviews for service in the past . Maybe new staff this year will help.
Food is ok by the way, but none of these is 4 star.
We haven't visited Aqua in Clinton this year, but last year they were really getting their act together food-wise. If it's water you want, ask the servers to sit you in the rear of the dining room, with a view of the patio, dock, and the Sound.
If you're willing to go all the way to Westbrook, Bill's Seafood is not right on the Sound (it's on an inlet across from a large marina), but you can eat on a lovely patio and get the whole "seaside" experience. Warning: keep your ordering simple -- don't be lured by anything that's too complex from this kitchen or you'll be disappointed. However, their standard bill of fare is quite good for what it is.
I'm confused by this and other posts where you have asked for restaurants meeting specific criteria. Previously you have asked for "clean' restaurants. Now you are asking for "clean food". Are these one in the same and you just don't eat fried foods?
I can suggest this place:
"The Place", Outdoor Restaurant
BYOB primitive outdoor eating place famous for its ambiance and seafood. Steamed mussels, steamers, clams, grilled lobster, roasted corn, catfish and steak. BBQ pit. Sit on stumps and no "table" service!
I don't believe much, if anything, is fried.
I've been to both Guilford Mooring and Lenny's. We went to Lenny's with friends on July 4. It's not really on the water, but the outside deck backs up to the marsh. The seafood was decent, huge portions.
Been to Guilford Mooring twice, both on a weekend. Very good clam chowder...went for a quick lunch on a rainy Saturday and then with friends on a Friday night. Very crowded on the weekends. I've heard people say not to go there during the week b/c the food is terrible.
I've not been to Guilford Mooring, and I understand that your information is second hand, so please excuse me if I am off base. Your comment about Guilford Mooring is ironic to me. During the week , when they are not as busy, they serve poorer quality food? Then on the weekends, when they are stressed to the max, they serve good food? How can this be? Do they have a different set of people in the kitchen on the weekend?
BTW, I intend to visit Lenny's very soon!
I have been to Lenny's, the Mooring & the stone house and would not recommend any of them. Stone House & the Mooring were mediocre at best. Lenny's was better but did not impress.
For seafood we go to Lenny & Joe's (madison or Westbrook - neither on the water)
For an on the water VERY casual lunch we like Lobster Landing on the dock in Clinton. Lobster rolls, chips, hot dogs & sodas.
good luck - I would recommend expanding your town criteria.
What to say? I live here, and I go to all of these places regularly. No one would call any of the three (Stone House, Guilford Mooring, or Lennie's) a destination "qui vaut le voyage." But assuming you're starting in or around Guilford/Branford, going to Lennie's is at least as rewarding as going out to Westbrook to Lenny & Joe's. I like Lenny & Joe's in Westbrook, but the fact that you have to organize your own beverage service for the Madison location is a turnoff for me. YMMV. In any case, I do not think the food is significantly better at L&J's in either location. And we are not talking about gastronomic pilgrimages, so convenience matters.
Guilford Mooring is a place that is perfectly acceptable if you're in the neighborhood: again, not worth going out of your way for, but a nice view of the water and perfectly OK waterfront food.
The Stone House is actually pretty good much of the time. Again,not a place to go a long way way out of your way for, but quite acceptable for a "good" dinner (i.e., not fried stuff)) if you're in the neighborhood, And depending on where you sit, you might get a little bit of water view.
For the nec plus ultra in lobster rolls, you should probably go to Clinton or Westbrook (or to Maine, really...). But you can still have a worthwhile dinner at Lennie's, Guilford Mooring or the Stone House.
The Stone House has been through a number of incarnations over the time I've lived in Guilford (15 years now), some more successful than others. The current format seems pretty stable, and you have to be pretty picky not to find anything to your taste there. Hardly a young crowd, even in the bar, but I don't see wheelchair accessibility as a major issue....