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Best of Eastern CT Shore? Trip 6/15-6/19

opinionatedchef Jun 15, 2011 01:11 AM

Been doing lots of research, some because of:

Aside from Pita Spot in Mystic and The Suburban in No. Branford, which are definite, these are the places we will choose from, for 2 lunches and 3 dinners:
Plse share any experiences not alrdy on this thread! >>http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/789407
For us, it's all about the food, the best food we can find. Innovative is what really excites us, but otherwise, just the best prepared best quality food:

Liv's Old Saybrook
La Belle Aurore Niantic
S and P Oyster Co. Mystic
Bravo Bravo Mystic
Fresh Salt Saybrook Inn
Ortega's Groton
Cuckoo's Nest Old Saybrook
Dog Watch Stonington

And thanks so much for your help!

Bravo Bravo Restaurant
20 E Main St, Mystic, CT 06355

Dog Watch Cafe
194 Water St, Stonington, CT 06378

La Belle Aurore
75 Pennsylvania Ave, East Lyme, CT 06333

Pita Spot
45 Williams Ave, Mystic, CT 06355

  1. opinionatedchef Jun 20, 2011 11:55 PM

    Here are links to all my reports on where we ate. thanks so much for all your help, CHs. Hope these are useful to you as well.








    La Belle Aurore I reviewed elsewhere in this thread.

    1. DonShirer Jun 16, 2011 04:08 PM

      You have gotten good advice from others re Cuckoo's Nest, so I won't repeat that. Of those mentioned by you and others, I have had good meals at Liv's , Cafe Routier, Brassiere Pip, the Saybrook Inn (when it was the Terre Mar), Le Petit Cafe, Gabrielle's and have heard good things about River Tavern. I note that outside of CN, you have not listed any "ethnic" restaurants. CT does have some good ones. To me, one of the joys of eating out is finding a place with an unfamiliar cuisine that tickles my taste buds. At least that is innovative to me!

      Le Petit Cafe
      225 Montowese St Ste 7, Branford, CT 06405

      River Tavern
      23 Main St, Chester, CT 06412

      9 Replies
      1. re: DonShirer
        opinionatedchef Jun 16, 2011 08:10 PM

        don, i live in boston, and, we have , i'm guessing here, better ethnic foods there (being a major metropolis)than i would expect to find on the CT shore. Not saying that that is true across the board ; i am the first to look for great mexican, thai, sushi, south indian --wherever I go. Were we to be staying in New Haven, i would be wanting to try Oaxaca, but the mexican places in this area on the CT magazine 'best of ct' list- were all slammed in this thread, and no one suggested any great ethnic place.
        Last night, we had a mixed review of La Belle Aurore; and we had a tremendous dinner tonight at consistently great The Suburban in Branford. Will report more details later. Am hoping dennisl is going to post his review tonight, as we have tomorr reservations at Saybrooke Inn's 'new place'.

        La Belle Aurore
        75 Pennsylvania Ave, East Lyme, CT 06333

        1. re: opinionatedchef
          kattyeyes Jun 17, 2011 05:14 AM

          She did (dennisl)--you missed it, but here 'tis re Fresh Salt:

          1. re: opinionatedchef
            DonShirer Jun 17, 2011 04:07 PM

            I guessed you didn't want to go as far as New Haven, the good food magnet of the CT shore, so I didn't mention any ethnic restaurants there. If you are ever in the Old Saybrook area again, Som Siam East is a quite respectable Thai restaurant.

            1. re: DonShirer
              opinionatedchef Jun 17, 2011 08:14 PM

              don, we'll be in o.saybr. tomorr night at liv's oyster bar.thanks for the tip.

              can you believe it, CT shore CHs, my post on where to have Sun. dinner in Providence- has rcvd just ONE response!! gee, i thought Prov. had a fairly active CH scene......bummer. Can there really only be one good restnt in Prov that's open on Sundays?(the poster suggested Louie Fuller's)

              If you have any suggestions about Prov., I'm all ears! Th you.
              p.s. we had another tremendous lick-the-plates-clean dinner at The Suburban tonight. Longer detailed post later.........

              1. re: opinionatedchef
                ajh05004 Jun 18, 2011 07:25 AM

                For Providence I would suggest either Chez Pascal, Gracies, or New River. These are consistently the three best restaurants in Providence IMO. I would skip Louie Fuller's.

                Chez Pascal Restaurant
                960 Hope St, Providence, RI 02906

                1. re: ajh05004
                  dennisl Jun 18, 2011 08:19 AM

                  Thanks to kattyeyes for linking my review, I didn't think to do so.

                  opinionatedchef- would like to hear about La Belle Aurore when you can. Love Liv's, but I prefer to sit at the bar, much more fun (unless you have more than 2.)

                  I was in Providence 5/1 doing the Marathon, we ate at Zooma Trattoria, it was good (not sure they are open on Sundays.) They make their own pasta (but everyone on Federal Hill does if they're half decent.) I would try somewhere else before I would go back, wasn't wowed.

                  245 Atwells Ave., Providence, RI 02903

                  La Belle Aurore
                  75 Pennsylvania Ave, East Lyme, CT 06333

                  1. re: dennisl
                    opinionatedchef Jun 18, 2011 08:48 AM

                    that was MEEEEEE that linked your review!!! will post late tonite if i can on belle aur. will also be more valuable bec. we will have eaten at liv's so i can have them both in mind.

                    only open sun night appealing restnts i can find are louie fullers and Local 121.

                    Local 121
                    121 Washington St, Providence, RI 02903

                    1. re: opinionatedchef
                      dennisl Jun 18, 2011 10:23 AM

                      Liv's *can* be spotty at times, but drinks, starters and raw bar are consistently good.
                      I really like the fried oyster app (& I don't like oysters.)

                      Interested to hear choices in Providence.

                      1. re: dennisl
                        opinionatedchef Jun 18, 2011 10:51 PM

                        dennisl et al, tonight, Liv's was terrific in all ways. will report later. just finished looooong CH review of our 2 great nights at The Suburban(our second bravura night thanks to you ,d, and your warning about Fresh Salt -which caused us to cancel our Fri. reservation there, and return to The Suburban instead.)

                        La Belle Aurore could not compare to Liv's, much less The Suburban. To be very direct, which i am, LBA reminded me of a shoestring operation of an aspiring chef just out of high school.'Decor' was put together from restaurant auctions, wall 'artwork' looked to be 9th grade art class pieces. Young girl server? had worked there 2 yrs and , as sweet as she was, knew nothing. We tasted the seafood chowder before ordering> literally light cream and seafood. no herbs, no onions etc, no fish or clam stock.So we did not order it. Watermelon salad w/ feta and tomatoes and mint- generous portion but watermelon was not ripe. Our other app, a half portion of artichoke tomato ravs (bought in from a talented vendor), left us flabbergasted: THREE regular sized ravs.... for $12 !!! THREE! no sauce or other components; just ravs sauteed in butter.

                        The only entree that appealed to us on the small menu- was excellent, delicious and simple: curried coconut rice topped w/ a plentitude of perfectly cooked sweet seared scallops (and at $24, quite the bargain! go figure) Blueberry crisp dessert was adequate; ginger ice cream tasted great but was half ice/ half ___? and should not have been served. Strawberry sour cream ice cream was tasty and creamy.

                        I do not enjoy dissing places when a chef/ entrepreneur(esp. a young one, as i can only imagine she must be) works so hard on their first place (again, i am guessing here)but we found the experience very inconsistent and no part of it beckons our return.

                        La Belle Aurore
                        75 Pennsylvania Ave, East Lyme, CT 06333

        2. philbkr Jun 15, 2011 05:12 PM

          Friends have RAVED about L&E in Chester - "it's now our go-to restaurant."

          1 Reply
          1. re: philbkr
            HungryChris Jun 15, 2011 08:27 PM

            I realize I am late to the Prom, but nuff said about Cuckoos Nest (and I concur), I would substitute Johnny Ad's, The Place, Noah's or even the tavern at Captain Danial Packer Inn for a more meaningful taste of local color.


            Cuckoos Nest
            1712 Boston Post Rd, Old Saybrook, CT 06475

          2. k
            KROB Jun 15, 2011 02:44 PM

            I would pass on S&P Oyster house. Great view but mediocre tourist appealing food.

            1. c
              chowmensch Jun 15, 2011 10:43 AM

              Agree with most of the comments here. I would delete Cuckoo's Nest and Dog Watch. One place I would add is Pip's at the Copper Beech Inn in Ivoryton. Let us know how it goes. Enjoy!

              Copper Beech Inn
              46 Main Street, Ivoryton, CT 06442

              Dog Watch Cafe
              194 Water St, Stonington, CT 06378

              1. linguist Jun 15, 2011 04:00 AM

                A rather broad request … just a couple of comments. Still River is great, and the food is definitely interesting. Don't miss it. I have found The Suburban over-priced and uneven in quality, however much I wanted to like it, though the food can be quite interesting. Liv's is definitely good too. On the other hand, The Cuckoo's Nest is just pseudo-TexMex junk food (likewise Su Casa in Branford: CT Magazine really has no idea of Mexican food, or sushi either, but there's no reason to look for either on your short itinerary). Maybe it's changed lately (I haven't been there for some time), but I have no reason to think that.

                Cafe Routier should certainly be on your list, too. CT Mag only refers to their bar, but the restaurant is consistently good, and interesting. Another place to consider is Restaurant L&E in Chester (successor to Cafe du Village). Good food, prepared with care. Not on the shoreline. But closer to it than Still River.

                Still River Cafe
                134 Union Rd, Eastford, CT 06242

                4 Replies
                1. re: linguist
                  jdgall Jun 15, 2011 07:51 AM

                  Ditto on Cuckoo;s Nest, don't waste your money.(CT Mag likes to plug advertisers) Others to consider Foe, and Le Petit Cafe in Branford. Gabrielle's in Centerbrook.

                  Le Petit Cafe
                  225 Montowese St Ste 7, Branford, CT 06405

                  1. re: jdgall
                    dennisl Jun 15, 2011 09:26 AM

                    At both Liv's and Routier I've had great experiences at the bar, dining room not so much (for me.)
                    +3 on Cuckoo's Nest, they may have been good back in the day, but that day is long gone and are resting on CT Mag.

                    I like The River Tavern in Chester, nothing crazy but consistently good, local food.

                    I am trying Fresh Salt tomorrow, so I plan a posting then.

                    River Tavern
                    23 Main St, Chester, CT 06412

                    1. re: dennisl
                      kattyeyes Jun 15, 2011 12:14 PM

                      +4 then (5,counting chowmensch!), just for EXTREME EMPHASIS. dennisl is right--the sun set on the Cuckoo's Nest so long ago, it's unfunny...you won't find what you're looking for there. We all promise. :)

                      I'll heartily second Brasserie Pip in Ivoryton--LOVE that place, especially this time of year when you can sit out on their deck. Try to ask for a reservation there if our two votes (and other reviews on this board) sway you.

                      Oh, and +1 for Liv's, too.

                      Brasserie Pip
                      46 Main Street, Ivoryton, CT 06442

                      1. re: dennisl
                        opinionatedchef Jun 15, 2011 07:19 PM

                        dennis, can't wait to read your report! we have reservations for fri.which i will keep or change depending on your report and my research into other rec'd spots new to me as of today.I must say though, for the upscale place they think they are-how could oysters not be on their menu?

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