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Most Overrated in New Haven, Most Mediocre, Flat-out Nastiest

I was reading the worst on Cape Cod thread with great amusement. And I thought, why should they have all the fun? I get up to the Cape about once every fifteen years. But what about New Haven? Much has been written about the great and good food here. What would you warn people about?

In the overrated, I'd have to say Modern. I just can't fathom why people like it. It's cheese death, is what it is. For mediocrity, I'd give the award to Delaney's in Westville. It is just a bar, but I've ended up there with groups. I wish they would step up their game, food wise.

Geronimo's iz phail. I've lived in the southwest and that ain't no southwestern fare. Frustrating because there is potential here.

The place that actually pisses me off is Pot au Pho. The Vietnamese Ministry of Cultural Affairs should hire a lawyer to go after these people. The half-assed approach they take to such a wonderful cuisine has got to be grounds for some kind of legal action, defamation or such. I've had overcooked food, undercooked food and just funky stuff here. I've been served main dishes that would have barely made adequate appetizers. And I am not the kind of person who feels she need a huge plate of food.

Last time I went (with a group, because I would not chose to eat at this place) several people in the group ordered pho. The side dish of sprouts and herbs never showed up. When we asked about it, the server hemmed and hawed and said, oh, it was coming, as if it had just been delayed. That was a lie, because many tables in the room were having pho and not a single side dish of vegetables was to be seen. The sprouts finally arrived, with a sprig of basil. No lime, no chili, no cilantro, no mint. Really annoying. I am never going back there, no matter what the situation. I was pissed.

I've never, as a matter of fact, gone to a place that has such a vibe of weirdness. I do not know what goes on in that kitchen, but it can't be good.

So, what are your tales of woe?

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  1. Oh fun! hmm..
    Most over-rated--to me is Claire's Corner Copia. Everything I have had (except the Carrot Cake) was just--meh. Overpriced, poor service and quality along with the general attitude of the staff and I wouldn't go back if given a choice.

    Most mediocre-Leon's. Have been there a few times and was disappointed each time. for the prices I expect MUCH better.

    As far as flat-out nastinest.....Black Bear. I know it is just a bar, but the few times I have been there for apps with friends it was pretty bad. It smells, most things are deep-fried and covered with cheese...really not good at all.

    Claire's Corner Copia
    1000 Chapel St, New Haven, CT 06510

    1. I'm gonna get flack for this, but IMHO Pepe's is way overrated. They used to be awesome, but their crust thickened up, they started cutting pizza just like everyone else does and they developed huge egos. I was always a Sally's person. Can't share OP's disdain for Modern -- I think they have the most consistent top-notch pie in the city. (I put Sally's at the top for white pies, but not red.) I suspect the original poster visited Modern on a bad day.

      It actually pains me to say this, but Louis Burgers are overrated, too. They're a great novelty and I still take out-of-towners there. But I never crave them the way I used to crave the sliders at the Yankee Doodle.

      1. Overrated doesn't mean bad. It just means that the rating is OVER what is should be.The problem is that some places have developed such a high reputation that the expectation in eating such a place will be something really special....and its not.

        In my opinion, places like Pepe's, Modern and Louis Lunch are all good. Nothing wrong with them. But due to their reputation, I think they are OVER-rated. When out of towners ask about those places, I tell them that those places are good but manage your expectations.

        1. Another vote for Pepe's. I find it entirely too greasy and the crust overly chewy; very unpleasant to eat.

          Claire's has some of the driest, most mediocre baked goods I've ever tried.

          2 Replies
          1. re: alexinct

            I agree with you on Claires. The baked goods always looked good but once you have that first bite they are stale.

            1. re: javaandjazz

              In which case I suggest a lobster tail pastry at Libby's or a cannoli at Lucibellos. If those are unsatisfactory I suggest hemlock.

          2. I agree 100% on Claire's. Having been subjected to it many times during my college years, I can honestly say the only good item I ever had there was a vegetable bisque. Other than that, meh.

            I will also add Mamoun's to the overrated list. I enjoy their falafel and all but it isn't the best falafel w/tahini sauce I have ever had, or even close. They do get bonus points for being open late enough to catch the post-bar crowds.

            Also overrated: Louis Lunch. I can't stand that place. I am not a fan of the taste of their burgers, the condiment police state, or serving it on bread. Blech.

            I do love Modern Pizza. Their charred crust and tomato sauce are what makes it for me.

            2 Replies
            1. re: mels

              I feel like I'm forgetting a bunch, but...
              Overrated: BAR/Louis' Lunch
              Mediocre: Kasbah Garden Cafe/Hot Tomatoes/Press 200
              Nastiest: Aladdin/Black Bear/Old Saloon and Grill

              Kasbah Garden Cafe
              105 Howe St, New Haven, CT 06511

              1. re: Emg48

                Emg48.....While I don't necessarily disagree with your choices, please not that Hot Tomato's has been closed for quite some time. It has been replaced by Downtown at the Taft (which has gotten generally poor reviews).

                Hot Tomato's
                1 Union Pl, Hartford, CT 06103

            2. Great thread. Okay, I'm gonna say ALL New Haven pizza places are overrated. (I go to Grand Apizza when I need to, nothing special, no rep, no wait, no expectations) Plus, definitely Claire's and Pot au Pho. I'll add: Scoozi's (yuck) and Bangkok Garden (inedible).

              Bangkok Garden Restaurant
              172 York St, New Haven, CT 06511

              1 Reply
              1. re: JackNH

                oh yeah! forgot about Scoozi! I love the ambiance of the outside the two or three days a year it is nice to eat out there, but otherwise- overpriced, underwhelming....bleh....