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Casual dinner (with a child) between New Haven and Essex?

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We'll be heading from New Haven on 95 and to Essex for the steam train ride on 11/28. The train is at 7pm. So we'd like to have an early dinner enroute. It will be my mom and myself and we'll have one 4 yo with us.

Mom and I especially love seafood but we'll eat anything except Thai or Indian.

I thought about the Chowder Pot since it's very casual...is that any good? I haven't been there in, oh, 15 years. LOL

Any alternate suggestions?

Thanks! :`)

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  1. Lenny and Joe's in Westbrook would probably be a good choice.
    Good seafood, no issues with accomodating a four year old.

    1. I could not recommend the Chowder Pot, but do agree with mensch about Lenny and Joe's ThoughI personally prefer the Madison location, very kid friendly, not sure if it still operates this time of the year but there is a carousel there

      1. Check out my two page map of places. Be sure and look at both pages. http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?oe=UTF...
        Many seafood places: they are in light blue. There are many that are easy off and on from I-95. Open them up and read the blurbs. All are Chowhound recommended.

        1. I would not recommend Chowder Pot with a 4yo aboard, it is very noisy with a rambunctious bar crowd.

          Near Essex, you might consider Gabrielles in Centerbrook for a formal sit down dinner. They usually have 2 or 3 seafood dishes like salmon, scallops or fish and chips. For a less formal meal, try Lenny&Joes FishTail in Westbrook, (Westbrook Lobster is also nearby) or Johnny Ad's in Old Saybrook. Al Forno in OS is a family Italian type place. The Griswold Inn (Essex) is inconsistent in food but has an impressive dining room with lots of nautical pictures the child might find interesting.

          An as long as you are in Essex, you might also visit the River Museum just down the road from the Griz. It has a holiday model train exhibit starting Nov. 20.

          1. The Fish Tale, as several have already suggested, would be a great bet. However, I'd go with the original location in Madison. It's more child friendly, even if it is too cold for the merry go round. When I was four years old, I would beg my parents to take me to the Fish Tale anytime we were in Madison. I'd check out the menus for both locations though, in case there is something on the Westbrook menu you'd rather have. Also, the Madison location is BYO and Westbrook serves alcohol.
            http://ljfishtale.com/

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            Fish Tale Restaurant
            1301 Boston Post Rd, Madison, CT 06443

            1. Funny - We are going on the 27th at 7PM from Milford and were considering Oliver's Tavern, Penny Lane Pub, L&Js or Alforno for pizza. Anyone know anything good or bad about Oliver's or Penny Lane or Alforno for pizza--websites seem fine. We will be dining with six adults, three 7 year olds and two toddlers--UGGHHH. We want casual for Friday after Thanksgiving late lunch/early dinner, like around 5PM?? Last year we did pizza in Old Saybrook at this place near the train station, and service was disasterous in this tight squeeze area on the upper floor near the model train set-ups.

              2 Replies
              1. re: cheereeo

                Alforno has good pizza plus standard Italian fare. Olivers has good burgers and sandwiches, and I usually choose those instead of their entrees. They do have a children's menu. Penny Lane pub has a much more ambitious menu, but I like the shepherd's pie and liver&onions. I was disappointed with the pizza at the train station Pizza Works, but the kids might enjoy the model trains.

                1. re: cheereeo

                  Hi--Al Forno makes great pizza and has good food. I've been there several times and enjoyed the pizza and the food. It will be perfect for your group, although, if it is crowded, you will have to keep the 3 yr. olds and toddlers in line. At 5PM, it should be just fine.

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                  Alforno Ristorante and Brick Oven Pizzeria
                  1654 Boston Post Rd, Old Saybrook, CT 06475

                2. Lenny's Indian Head Inn isn't as convenient to 95 as the other suggestions, but it is between NH and Essex, it has seafood, and it is great for kids and adults alike. Especially off-season and/or early, when there's no wait. Fireplaces for the adults, and and crayons and coloring placemats for the kids. Last time I was there - with kids - I tasted the kids' menu fried fish dish and it was lovely food too.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: zoe p.

                    I second Lenny's Indian Head

                  2. Pat's Country Kitchen in Old Saybrook is very child friendly, even down to the huge stuffed teddy bears that they'll let sit in a seat next to the child. Food is simple and basic, but good. Its location is right at the I-95 exit that one could take to get onto Ct Rte i54 leading up to the Essex Steam Train.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: FarFar

                      Thanks so much to everyone for taking the time to reply! I'm making a list and will let my mom decide what she'd prefer. I'll report back! :`)

                      1. re: Brens Mom

                        We decided to go to Westbrook Lobster in Clinton. They were having a special, 1.5 lb lobster dinner for $11.99 I think it was. It was very casual, just what we wanted.

                        We were there early, around 4:30pm, and were hoping to be out of there by 5:30ish in order to stop at the Westbrook outlets before heading to the Steam Train. That didn't happen, as it was, we barely made the steam train.

                        We ordered 2 of the lobster dinners and an appetizer that my son would fill up on so we didn't order a dinner for him. We received rolls (they were warm!) and salad. And then waited, and waited, then realized others who'd come in well behind us were being served. Asked our waitress, she said it would just be a minute, and we continued to wait and wait. We were pretty close to leaving at that point, we were starving and we didn't think we'd even have enough time to eat.

                        Our meals finally came out around 6pm. The waitress apologized and said our order had gotten lost, and that they'd run out of 1.5lb lobsters so one of us got a 2lb one. Lot of good it did us, we had to wolf down our meals. My son by that point was going beserk, we'd been asking a 4 year old (who was great for the first hour) to sit quietly for far too long. The lobsters tasted fine, though.

                        I guess if I had a hankering for a whole lobster and was in the area and had no time limit I might go again and hope for the best!

                        Thanks all for the suggestions!

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                        Westbrook Lobster Market & Restaurant
                        346 E Main St, Clinton, CT 06413