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Is there a decent restaurant on the CT shore?

I'm seriously asking.... have been to some wonderful smaller places, but when it comes to sit-down service I feel like the options are terrible.

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  1. the CT shore is the entire West to East southern border of the state.
    There are many decent restaurants in Cities such as Greenwich, Stamford, Norwalk, New Haven, New London, etc., as well as in smaller locales such as Milford, Branford, Guilford, etc.

    I think you need to narrow down your complaint/question to specificic communities in prder to get a proper response.

    11 Replies
    1. re: bagelman01

      OK, fair enough. Let's narrow it down to the shore towns between New Haven and New London. Based on my experience, sitting down for a nice seafood meal anywhere in Guilford, Madison, Branford, Old Saybrook, etc is a miserable time. Frozen junk barely microwaved for $25. Can this really be true all along the shoreline? I mean, I'm sure Greenwich has some nice restaurants, and I know this area is on the sound and not the ocean, but man have I had some bad meals over the last couple summers.

      1. re: chorosch

        There are many fine restaurants along the shore.
        Guess chorosch has never eaten at the following great restaurants between New Haven and New London:

        Cafe Rouiter, Liv's, Gabrielles, Bea and Thistle, Pips, Foe, Le Petit Cafe, or Quattro.

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

        1. re: jdgall

          You are right... I have never been to any of those places. This is why I am asking. Pretty much every town I have visited, I've asked locals for a quality places, and I always get sent to some lousy seafood joint that charges NYC prices for microwaved food. I need to find REAL restaurants, not just tourist traps!

          1. re: jdgall

            Methinks you have been brainwashed by seafood restaurants in the SW corner of the state. There are plenty in the New (Haven-to-London) area which are excellent (and much easier on the wallet). You can't go wrong with any of jdgall's choices ( I have not been to Foe, but we see eye to eye on other things so if he recommends it, it must be good). Just thought I should mention that in case you were looking for these on the web the correct spellings are: Cafe Routier, Bee and Thistle Inn, and Brasserie Pip.

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            Brasserie Pip
            46 Main Street, Ivoryton, CT 06442

            Bee and Thistle Inn
            100 Lyme St, Old Lyme, CT 06371

            1. re: DonShirer

              I would stay away from Brasserie Pip for the time being - we went in late summer and it was a terrible disappointment - they are using contracted chef help from a national food service and it shows

              I loved that place - and hope they get a fire lit and get a real chef there again

              1. re: few

                Pip now has Noel Jones as part owner and head chef, and word of mouth has been good so far.

                1. re: DonShirer

                  Noel Jones is leaving Brasserie Pip in a couple of weeks to become a private chef.
                  http://articles.courant.com/2013-01-2...

          2. re: chorosch

            Tough one...youre right. So if I understand correctly youre looking for a more upscale experience, and good quality vs a fried seafood shack or a Rusty Scupper *shudder* am I right? Do you want waterviews or just shoreline area?

            1. re: lovesublime

              Well, it doesn't have to be upscale necessarily... just something that isn't a lobster roll joint with picnic tables (of which I have found several great ones!) and isn't a rip-off fried seafood place. Had dinner at Dock and Dine in Old Saybrook last night on the recommendation of a local resident, and it was honestly one of the worst meals I have had in a long time. I had the same experience last summer at a couple of restaurants in Guilford. I don't need a shore view, just a real restaurant that isn't going to serve me microwaved broccoli next to frozen cod for $25.

              1. re: chorosch

                ugh I know exactly what you mean..Ive pretty much given up. I go to Black Duck in Westport which has good steamers, lobster rolls, OK stuffed clams, soft shell crab, and fresh whole belly fried clams, but mainly because its convenient for me and not what you described. It wont blow you away but its good considering other options in the area.

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                Black Duck Cafe
                605 Riverside Ave, Westport, CT 06880

                1. re: lovesublime

                  While I do like the Black Duck for burgers, I don't think the bar-like atmosphere will sway the OP into thinking it's a good shoreline restaurant.

                  -----
                  Black Duck Cafe
                  605 Riverside Ave, Westport, CT 06880

        2. My mother in law told me about this place last night. I havent been here. But she said it was great and a refreshing change from the usual junk seafood places. Its in Stratford CT which is south of new Haven, but consider it. Also check out the YELP ratings. http://knappslanding.com/

          3 Replies
          1. re: lovesublime

            have only been for lunch once but based on the sub-par lobster roll, hav had no desire to return

            1. re: lovesublime

              Mediocre...mediocre....mediocre
              Had one of the worst crab cakes ever there...
              IMO, another restaurant whose view is far better than the food.

              1. re: lovesublime

                Knapps Landing is really not a dining experience - great view, bar is OK - grab a burgerr but that's pretty much it. The outdoor seating, while exposing a great view is really not well done or inviting -

              2. grewenwich- L'escale - overpriced and a bit snooty- but you wont have a "bad" meal there

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                L'escale
                500 Steamboat Rd., Greenwich, CT 06830

                1. To jdgall's list I'd add http://www.thesuburbanrestaurant.com/ and Bar Bouchon in Madison

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                  Bar Bouchon
                  8 Scotland Ave., Madison, CT 06443

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: brookerme

                    And I would add Assaggio in Branford — not in the same class with, say, Cafe Routier or Le Petit Cafe, but certainly providing a very nice meal with none of the problems the OP claims to find everywhere s/he gohere Or maybe the Stone House in Guilford, though this is somewhat uneven. There are also more specialized places, like Yooki Yama in Branford for very good sushi/sashimi and the state's best cold sake list…
                    I found the original post rather strange. Is the OP only interested in seafood? If so, there are still good sit-down meals to be had at, say, Lenny's Indian Head in Branford, or, if the atmosphere there is too funky for you, across the road at Blue Cottage. There's no branch of McCormick & Schmick's around here (hey, if it's good enough for Dominique Strauss-Kahn, it's good enough for you! :-), but there's no lack of good seafood you don't have to eat at a picnic table. And if, as the post says, you're just looking for a good meal in a nice restaurant, the range of choices actually available (none of which you say you've actually tried before insulting the whole region!) should keep you at least modestly happy for quite a while.

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

                    Assaggio's Restaurant
                    168 Montowese St, Branford, CT 06405

                    1. re: linguist

                      I agree, confused as to what the OP is actually looking for. Tons of great restaurants in FFLD County...but are they only looking for water views? Seafood?

                      1. re: sibeats

                        No need to be confused. In the OP's reply to my statement that the shore is the entire southern border of the state, the OP narrowed it to New Haven to New London.

                        That means New Haven, Middlesex and New London counties only

                      2. re: linguist

                        OK, hey...I'm not trying to insult the whole region. I had a bunch of lousy meals in a row at places that were recommended to me as top quality (including the Stone House in Guilford, which was incredibly disappointing.)

                        I'm not only interested in seafood, or water views, but since I spend a considerable amount of time each summer in what is basically the middle of the state shoreline (as I posted above, roughly between NH and NL,) I'm trying to figure out where the good restaurants are. I'm kind of done with asking for local recommendations, because they inevitably send me to the nearest "big name" restaurant, which is always some version of an amateur chef preparing barely warmed over frozen food, near the marina.

                        I want to know where the chowhounds eat. I have already taken notes on the postings above. I'm sorry if my original post came across as snooty or something, but I was really pissed off having spent $100 on another terrible meal with bad service. I know there have to be better places than the ones I am pointed to.

                        I like to do lunch casually, and I have sought out and found some great places. I am not too precious for picnic tables or fried food.... in fact, I love that stuff. But when it turns to evening, I want a nice, refined restaurant that has servers who know what they are doing and a chef who actually cooks.

                        Please don't read this as insulting. I'm not that guy. Maybe I'm irritated but my intention is not to be negative about the region.

                        1. re: chorosch

                          Out of curiosity, could you identify some of the places where you have been disappointed? Your description of "an amateur chef preparing barely warmed over frozen food near the marina" doesn't fit any place I know of around here, but maybe I've just been lucky.
                          I agree the Stone House can be disappointing (it can also be pretty good, but life is short). Every restaurant can disappoint sometimes, though, and most of the places people have listed above, and more, are pretty reliably "decent restaurants." Branford alone offers at least half a dozen excellent possibilities within a couple of hundred meters of the town green: Le Petit Cafe, Foe, Assaggio, Yooki Yama, Darbar India, The Suburban, plus a couple of lesser choices. Guilford is much less favored - if you don't like the Stone House, there's Quattro (never a favorite of mine, but still better than your description). One consistent disappointment is the current inhabitant of the green's best property, Whitfield's. In Madison, Cafe Allegre is to be avoided, but Bar Bouchon is fine (if you can get in). And so on for Clinton (Taste of China is one of the few serious Chinese restaurants in the area), Westbrook (Cafe Routier is consistently excellent), and Old Saybrook (Liv's, among others). For what you say you want, in my opinion, it's easier to be satisfied than to go seriously wrong, which is what makes your post so puzzling. And I really would like to know more about where you've been so disappointed.

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

                          Assaggio's Restaurant
                          168 Montowese St, Branford, CT 06405

                          Darbar India
                          1070 Main St, Branford, CT 06405

                          Cafe Allegre
                          725 Boston Post Rd, Madison, CT 06443

                          Bar Bouchon
                          8 Scotland Ave., Madison, CT 06443

                          1. re: linguist

                            Well, the last few places I can think of that were majorly disappointing were Stone House (Guilford,) Allegre (Madison,) Chowder Pot (Branford,) and Dock and Dine (Old Saybrook.)

                            Places I have really liked have been more casual... The Place (Guilford,) pizza at Stony Creek Market (Branford,) Captain Scott's (New London,) and I guess Lenny & Joe's falls kind of in the middle for me.

                            So you can see a pattern here... it's not that I am impossible to please or need super high end treatment, I think I just haven't found good suggestions for an evening restaurant with proper service. All of the feedback so far has been great, and I will look into those places.

                            I am going to redirect this post in a more positive way, as I will be back up in the Branford/Guilford/Madison area in about 3 weeks. My new post will be more specific and not negative.

                            -----
                            Lenny & Joe's
                            Westbrook, CT, Westbrook, CT

                            Stony Creek Market
                            178 Thimble Island Rd, Branford, CT 06405

                            1. re: chorosch

                              Just came across this thread and upon reading the places you have dined at, I understand your frustration. I've eaten at all of them except Allegre and agree with your assesments. We've spent a lot of time in the area over the years and eaten at a lot of places and IMO the concentration of better restaurants is higher in Branford than the other towns on the Shoreline. I will echo prior posts and say Foe is great for contemporary American and the space is quite nice since they moved a few years back into a larger place. Petite Cafe is great for the splurge on French though I do wish they would change the menu more often. Pasta Cosi has pretty good italian but can get loud if they have live music but you may enjoy that. The ethnic choices are pretty good too. Yooki Yama is very good quality sushi, Darbar is Indian and Siam Orchids for Thai is awesome. There is even a new korean place Yamadora in East Haven by the Stop & Shop. These places are actually better than the typical "ethnic" places in NYC. I have not been to Suburban yet but have been meaning to try it. Maybe this weekend. There is a prety good variety of dining options available where the chefs are professional and the wait staff accomodating. You've just had some bad luck. Keep exploring and good eats to ya!

                              -----
                              Pasta Cosi
                              1018 Main St, Branford, CT 06405

                    2. If you are interested in Stamford, Paradise Grill has great food & ambiance w/indoor & outdoor dining right on the water . The seafood is wonderful as well as the other menu items. Make a resv. & check it out!

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: temilove

                        the OP has stated that OP is interested in between Nedw Haven and New London, you're suggesting something at least an hour west of the target area.

                        1. re: bagelman01

                          I also really like Cafe Routier (though it has been discusse on CH many times that the bar is better than the dining room.)
                          Liv's and Gabrielles are always consistent, I prefer the starters to the main dishes.
                          Brasserie Pip has excellent food, if you can get past the attitude, which I cannot.
                          One of my favorites is River Tavern in Chester (I know some CHounds don't like it as much as I do) for locally sourced, very good food. It's not spectacular fine dining, but consistently good. Also, great seasonal drinks with fresh juices, no mixes.
                          Taste of China in Clinton has real Chinese food, some American stuff, but mostly authentic.

                          There are plenty of horrible places on the shore, touristy places that locals recommend because they are so used to them they don't notice or they're palates are such that they don't notice. Luckily CH does not have a lot of posts from them, so should be helpful.

                          -----
                          Brasserie Pip
                          46 Main Street, Ivoryton, CT 06442

                          River Tavern
                          23 Main St, Chester, CT 06412

                          1. re: dennisl

                            I agree with most of your choices except Taste of China, which I find to be fair at best. IO have eaten Chinese food in The Chinatowns of NY, Phila, Boston, Montral, San Fran, London, as well as dining in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Guanzhou.
                            Youngest Bagelman child is from Guanzhou and we are picky about Chinese food .
                            Taste of China may be the best in the hinterlands of the Middlesex county shoreline, but I wouldn't call its cuisine 'real' Chinese food, or even more than acceotable.

                            1. re: bagelman01

                              <<Taste of China may be the best in the hinterlands of the Middlesex county shoreline, but I wouldn't call its cuisine 'real' Chinese food, or even more than acceotable.>>

                              I can't say whether Taste of China is "real" or not, but they have a Chinese menu on request...and I will gladly drive 30+ minutes to eat there over other locally available options in Middlesex county, shoreline or otherwise. Never had a bad meal there. For reference, Lao Sze Chuan in Milford is my favorite (but a longer drive), followed by ToC and Samurai in no special order.

                              1. re: kattyeyes

                                absolutely agree with you on Lao Sze Chuan

                                1. re: bagelman01

                                  Well, bagelman, last night at Clinton's Taste of China, we sat between two tables of people who ordered from the "real" Chinese (Mandarin?) menu, so we chatted a bit and even shared some food. I have the written characters in my wallet so I can order the soup we tried...(thin) rice noodles in sour soup (approximation). It had some sort of (soy?) beans in it that were supposed to be crispy, but were just plain hard. The soup itself was tasty, tho', and the people on the opposite side appeared to order the same thing.

                                  I can't tell you the other (more authentic) dishes they ordered. With a bit of a language barrier, it was hard to describe what part of the cow we were talking about--I kept getting "stomach" and at least we figured out tripe, but the other parts remain a mystery.

                                  The girl I spoke to is a UCONN student from China. I also told them about Lao Sze Chuan. When she tried our "Chengdu dumplings in spicy sauce" she giggled and said in China, they don't put sugar in such dishes. Honestly, I thought they were more salty than sweet, but was interested in her feedback. Next time I go, I'll ask if I can have the dumplings from the Chinese menu instead.

                                  ALSO, sad to report Samurai (down the street in OS) no longer has a Chinese menu--just hibachi and sushi.