Planning a Coastal Drive, Soliciting Suggestions
We'll be taking a few days to hang out along the coast, from East Lyme CT to Newport RI. I'm primarily interested in regional seafood specialties at casual restaurants (with maybe one or two fine dining splurges), and I've compiled a preliminary list.
Near East Lyme: Flanders Fish Market, Captain Scott's Lobster Dock, Frank's Gourmet Grille
Near Narragansett: Matunuck Oyster Bar, Crazy Burger, George's of Galilee, Buster Krab's, Jim's Dock, Champlin's Seafood, Monahan's
Near Newport: Flo's Clam Shack, Anthony's Seafood, Marina Cafe & Pub, The Mooring
I don't eat meat, so it looks like I won't be able to enjoy RI clam chowder (sad face) unless someplace serves a bacon-free version. Ditto for anything involving linguica or chourico. I hope that doesn't completely rule out stuffies.
Thanks in advance for your input!
Reporting back, after a very pleasant (albeit rainy) trip. The highlights: Our first night, we hit Lenny's Indian Head in Branford, CT, which brought back memories of the sprawling seafood palaces I used to go to on the Jersey shore in my youth (Evelyn's in Belmar, Bahr's in Highlands, etc.). We split a special, twin lobsters and a pound of steamers, along with a wedge salad, and happily paid the $3 sharing charge - but can one person actually eat this? It was an enormous amount of food. The head of iceberg that wedge was cut from must've been the size of a basketball. Competing with Lenny's for largest plate of food was my shrimp salad at Lenny and Joe's Fish Tale in Madison (maybe every place with Lenny's in the name is obligated to serve gigantic portions). They make a mean chowder, also. Intensely clammy.
We also hit Captain Scott's in New London for excellent lobster rolls, and somewhat less excellent scallop bisque. The bisque was more of a tomato mushroom soup, with a suggestion of scallop. Our mini-splurge was The Mooring in Newport, where I tried to make a second stab at getting a decent scallop soup. Alas, I was mistakenly served clam chowder instead, which I ate anyway, because it was pretty amazing. I don't think I've ever eaten better littleneck clams. And my partner had a very elegant lobster roll, served on a croissant. Fancy!
I was very much looking forward to the oysters at the Matunuck Oyster Bar in (depending on who you ask) South Kingston, East Matunuck or Wakefield. Our poor GPS was flummoxed, and we had to ask directions from an actual person. The horror. The oysters were faultless, but they only had two kinds, which was a bit of a disappointment as I'd been anticipating a big ol' sampler. But the setting is quite lovely, overlooking a very picturesque marsh, and my arugula salad was terrific. The chowder, though, was rather bland and soulless.
I felt somehow obligated to try Crazy Burger in Narragansett, as it is semi-famous. It was fine, but I can get a perfectly decent vegan mushroom burger at home in Manhattan, so I probably shouldn't have bothered. And my partner became downright surly about their dry and undistinguished margarita pizza, which wasn't *that* bad, but he'd been driving all day and was ready to become surly about just about anything.
There were only two real clunkers. I'm not sure what drew me to the Marina Cafe on Goat Island in Newport, but there's no reason to go out of one's way for a greasy clam roll and limp fries. The other misstep - and it was one of those "we don't want to travel anymore so let's just eat here" meals - was the Main Street Grille in Niantic. Ugh. I dropped $28 on a mealy baked potato, soggy, overcooked vegetables, and a sad little lobster that I could swear was re-heated in the microwave. Oh, well. The service, at least, was very good.
We never made it to Mystic or Noank, and though we passed right by Noah's in Stonington, it wasn't mealtime. Next trip, for sure.
So thanks for the guidance, and I hope my notes are helpful to the next traveler.
re: small h
To clarify your confusion about the location of Matunuck Oyster Bar: South Kingstown is the name of the actual town. There are numerous villages within this rather large area: including Matunuck, East Matunuck and Wakefield, which is the downtown commercial section. I worked in SK for 23 years and could name them all, but I'll spare you.
I now work part time in East Lyme and agree with the Ugh for Main St. Grille. There's been nothing but mediocrity in that space for years.
Thanks for the clarification. I think Wakefield was the city our GPS eventually deigned to recognize. Matunuck Oyster Bar's actual website lists two locations (East Matunuck at the top of the page, South Kingston at the bottom), so I think they're just trying to be difficult.
What kills me about the Niantic debacle is that I knew about La Belle Aurore, and somehow thought by going to Main Street Grille we'd save a few bucks (we didn't) and have a more "down-home" meal (we didn't). Tourist fail!