New Haven - Branford - mid-coast area suggestions
I'll be house sitting 1st week in October in Stony Creek and want to explore some interesting (and not break-the-bank) chow while I'm there. I'd be happy to hear recommendations for the following:
1. Good sushi
2. Really good Mexican
3. Best Sichuan
4. Fresh, inventive chef doing yummy things...
Any ideas most welcome.
I'm assuming you want things pretty close to Stony Creek/Branford/Guilford. In which case you are only partially in luck.
For sushi, Yooki Yama on the green in Branford is quite good (even if, since it is run by Koreans, it would not be eligible for a Japanese government seal of approval). A good range of excellent fresh fish, and the most outstanding cold sake list in the state (I think).
For Mexican, others will advise with more authority, but I'm pretty sure you'll have to go into New Haven/Fair Haven for that.
The best Szechuan food in the area is at Lao Sze Chuan on the Post Road in Orange. Closer to Stony Creek, but still not really close, is Taste of China in Clinton. I don't think there's anything worth going to in between (though some people like Royal Palace in New Haven).
For the last category, I guess you will find some things of interest at either Foe or Assaggio in Branford. Both are very good (especially Assaggio), but not wildly unconventional. For that I think you'll have to go farther away: Cafe Routier in Westbrook, maybe, or one of several places in New Haven.
I know that you didn't ask for it, but Darbar in Branford is very tasty Indian. The last vegetarian option listed (something with paneer) is an item I almost always have to see ordered at the table.
You have to travel for good chinese either to New Haven, Orange or Clinton.
Guilford has good Thai (som siam) but not much else that's great, Branford has good Indian with Darbar - IMHO that's about it.
Alot of people I know enjoy Nataz up on Rt. 80 in NorthBranford which is a prix fixe whatever the chef feels like whipping up place (Usually a choice of 6-8 entrees) but it's a fly under the radar kind of place - you won't find much online about it.
I'm a local and really wish the food scene was a little more interesting.
I live close to Stony Creek - here are my recommendations. Stony Creek Market has a good meatball sub - they're open for breakfast and lunch. Creekers (in Stony Creek) has sandwiches, but I haven't actually tried it except for a once a year lobster thing they do (usually in Sept).
For Mexican in Branford - I go to Jalapeno Heaven.
Chinese - the best is Taste of China in Clinton, in Branford - take-out at Lion City.
Thai - Som Siam in Guilford.
Seafood - Guilford Mooring in Guilford, Lenny & joe's Fishtale in Madison, The Blue Cottage in Branford.
Japanese - We go to Kampai in Branford, but i haven't had the sushi there.
Best Brunch - La Luna in Branford.
In Branford - all of these are excellent restaurants: check their menus online - Assaggio, Foe, Campania, La Luna.
Also in Branford - Nellie Green's can be a fun place for drinks and appetizers, but I haven't been impressed by their dinners. And, The Limelight has some good appetizers and stir-fry dishes and is prices are reasonable.
I'd like to hear back from you as to what places you tried and your impressions!
I thought some more about it, and realized that since you're coming from the Boston area, you're looking for what might be good there. Which is not necessarily what's going to be good here.
Chinese, yes, OK you'll find good places in Orange or Clinton. For sushi, although no one else on this board seems to have gone there, Yooki Yama in Branford is fine. I have ALWAYS been disappointed by Darbar for Indian (YMMV): if you want really good, and quite distinctively subtle and interesting Indian food, go to Thali in New Haven (not Thali 2, unless you're strictly vegetarian). And Som Siam in Guilford is quite good for Thai. If you're going to New Haven, you ought to try Bentara for interesting Malaysian food, or Ibiza for the best Spanish food you'll find for a long ways, or a number of other places routinely discussed here.
But if you're going to live in Stony Creek for a while, do what's good here. Stony Creek Market has good brunch stuff and sandwiches (and wildly over-rated pizza: almost worth waiting in line at Pepe's or Sally's in New Haven to avoid it), any you'll meet your neighbors there. Lennie's Indian Head is quite good for shoreline seafood things: go on Tuesday night if you dare for the $32.95 two-person lobster dinner, or other weekday nights if you are less enamored of waiting in line. Ask for the hot lobster roll, usually not on the menu but possible if they're doing enough (and not too many) lobsters that night. Fine fried stuff (whole belly clams, shrimps that are remarkably fresh, etc). Part of the Branford shoreline scene that you shouldn't miss in the hopes of finding a trendy new chef. Pasta Cosi is a long-standing local favorite for moderately good fresh made pasta: the new restaurant has a level of stylishness that is almost out of character, but the food is still good (and a lot more diverse than in the old days).
And when you feel like spending a bit more money, go to Le Petit Cafe, a shoreline institution that has always provided really good food and a pleasantly friendly bistro experience, or Assaggio, with interesting semi-Italianate food that is also always worth a visit.
The moral, according to me, is that when in Branford, do as the locals do, and you won't suffer.